Many people, religious or not, choose to sponsor a child through the many programs that are available. While everyone has their own reason for pursuing sponsorship, many do it to help those in need and to share their own resources.
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Our Experience with Sponsorship
Last year, my husband and I researched World Vision and felt we should begin sponsoring a child. We had always wanted to sponsor a child–or three. Our plan was to sponsor three different children–one that corresponded in age to each of our three children, but the money had never been there.
Last December, we sat down with our 8 year old son and helped him choose a child to sponsor. We ended up choosing Janvier, a boy in Africa who was the same age as our son. In fact, he has the exact same birth date!
Some family members questioned our decision to sponsor a child since we were in the middle of repaying quite a bit of debt. Still, we felt the time was right, and we really wanted to show our gratitude that God had provided amply for our family, even while repaying debt.
We also thought it sent a good message to our son.
I'll be honest, I had images in my mind of my son and Janvier corresponding regularly, but that just didn't happen. My son sends off an e-mail to Janvier, and then it's translated and makes its way to him. Janvier responds, but the letter has to be translated and sent to the U.S., and the process can take up to two months.
Still, we were glad to sponsor him, especially when we learned that his mother had abandoned the family.
What To Do When Money Gets Tight
In our household, my husband brings in about 60% of the income, and I bring in the other 40%. In March, I saw quite a dip in income that lasted several months. Other things in our household changed that cost money upfront, and we also faced several thousand dollars in car repairs.
Our debt repayment not only screeched to a halt, we actually accrued some new debt.
I went to the budget and slashed everything I could. Our Ooma service is $17 a month because we get caller ID and some other features. I cut those features, so now Ooma is only $4 a month. I made a few other small cuts where I could.
After slashing everything I could on our already conservative budget, only one extra expense remained–Janvier's monthly sponsorship.
When we signed up for sponsorship, I knew that we were making a 10 year commitment, until Janvier is 18. Still, a small part of me wondered if we were being irresponsible to our own children by paying out $35 every month when we have so much debt and our financial situation felt precarious.
How We Decided To Continue Sponsorship
From the beginning, my husband was adamant about keeping the sponsorship obligation. He felt morally obligated, as did I. Still, I'm the one who handles the bills, not him, and I felt the stress.
We don't have many extras in our budget. We don't have smart phones or iPads. We never go out to eat. We don't take vacations. We don't have a babysitter, and we don't have date night unless grandma's in town. My husband packs his lunch for work every week, and just this year we took our kids out of a private religious school to homeschool them.
Still, we do still have some small extras such as my and my husband's $20 each of spending money, as long as we have the money in the budget for it.
Ultimately, we decided as long as there is any fat in the budget, even something as small as $40 in spending money, we have the money to continue sponsorship.
If we ever reached the point where we couldn't pay our bills in a timely manner, than that desperate situation would warrant cancelling sponsorship. However, we've never been in that position and don't intend to be, so we'll continue to happily sponsor Janvier.
Have you sponsored a child before? How did you decide whether or not to terminate sponsorship?