When I was unemployed after graduation, I was a pretty miserable person to be around. Sponsoring a child was certainly the last thing on my mind. I was depressed, broke and had nightmares that I would wake up at 30 and still be a bum living in my parents’ basement. I tried to keep my spirits up by working out a few times a week and completing meaningless certifications online (I’ve got the Serving It Right certificate to prove it), but I still felt like I was a useless member of society.

That’s when I thought about doing something to give back. I had been a volunteer at a few arts events during that time, but I knew I was doing that more for me and my résumé than to help out. I wanted to do something completely selfless, though if anyone is a Friends fan like I am, you may remember the episode where they argue that no good deed can be truly selfless. I wanted to do something that would help someone else, and not benefit me whatsoever besides making me feel like I am — in my small way — making the world a better place. So, I started sponsoring a child.

I wasn’t always interested in sponsoring a child, mainly because all those World Vision propaganda videos really turned me off, but my sister had sponsored a child for a while and she’s not one to just throw money at a charity without knowing what she’s doing. She was going through Compassion Canada, and after doing my research, I decided to follow her lead. The main reason I chose to go with Compassion Canada was because they actually encourage sponsors to go visit their sponsor child. Sure, it’s not like I could have easily afforded a plane ticket to Ethiopia back then, but I have always thought it would be such an amazing life experience to sponsor a child and visit them when they reached adulthood. Plus, I’ve always dreamed of doing a documentary about it all — then winning an Oscar for it.

I sponsored a young girl for about 10 months. The reason the sponsorship ended was because her family moved away and no longer needed financial aid. I was told by a representative from Compassion Canada that although they couldn’t release any details, this happens often and was most likely because one of the parents got a well-paying job and could afford to provide for their family again.

Since then, I haven’t sponsored another child. As much as I loved doing it, there were some cons for sure. First off, I don’t really like the idea of picking your child. They all have such sad stories, and it’s almost like going to the SPCA, you want to adopt them all!

Secondly, the rates have definitely gone up. When I started it was only $30/month, then it slowly jumped to $35/month and now it’s $41/month. I know that’s still not much money, especially if it means providing a child with clean water, food, shelter and an education. But it’s definitely something to consider.

Thirdly, although I was brought up Catholic, I’m not 100% on board with these Christian organizations. The idea that they’re providing care to these children with the expectation or hope that these children will convert to Christianity really bothers me. I’m not sure exactly how it all works, but I don’t like that there’s a catch to all of this good will.

Fourthly, I found it really strange writing a letter to a child I never met. Not only did I feel obligated to write when my child wrote to me, but I never knew what to say. I couldn’t exactly talk about my life and all the “problems” I had in my First World homestead. Talk about feeling guilty!

Lastly, depending on how old your sponsor child is, it could end up being a 15 year commitment. I have issues committing to a three-pack of deodorant at Costco for goodness sakes! 15 years of monthly automatic-deposits scares the crap out of me.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever sponsor a child again, but I may end up changing my mind down the road. That being said, if you are considering sponsoring a child, I definitely recommend shying away from the mega-organizations like World Vision, Plan or Christian’s Children Fund. Remember, the bigger the organization, the more of your money is going towards their advertising campaigns and staff salaries, instead of the child you thought you were helping.

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