When a child is sponsored, their life is changed forever. But what does this mean? We’re here to break it down for you with a new five-part blog series talking about how sponsorship impacts a child’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual development. Poverty doesn’t just attack one area of a child’s life. To help a child break free from poverty, we need to address every aspect of a child’s development.

So, how does sponsorship help a child’s mental development? Many children that Tearfund and our partner Compassion International serve come from families where parents were unable to finish school. This is often due to a lack of resources. This limits employment options and often means a child’s parents barely make enough to provide for their families. Without an education, their children follow in their footsteps, continuing the generational cycle.

MicrosoftTeams-image-(63).pngSponsored children have the opportunity to receive an education.

 

When you sponsor a child, you’re ensuring they receive a primary school education and are helping to pay for things like school supplies, fees and uniforms. In the case of youths, sponsorship supplements the cost of secondary school education or, in situations where that isn’t feasible, provides them with alternatives like vocational training or access to apprenticeships.

But every child and every situation are different. That means that sometimes Compassion centre staff need to find creative ways to help children access education.


MicrosoftTeams-image-(60).png David with his tutor, Ruth.

For example, 13-year-old David from Honduras has Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He also has a speech impediment that inhibits his ability to communicate. He was so aggressive toward his peers and disruptive at school that when he was 10, he was refused school entry. Unsure how to address his needs, the tutors at his Compassion centre decided to take a course to learn how to work with children with special needs.

As well as helping them understand David’s needs and provide him with specialised care at the programme, centre staff helped David enrol at Juana Leclerc Private Institute. The institute is considered the best school in the area for children with special needs. With regular therapy, David has overcome his speech impediment and, through the school’s individualised approach, he now relates well with his classmates and is thriving at a grade-six level.

MicrosoftTeams-image-(59).png Carine from Burkino Faso.

Another example is that of Carine from Burkina Faso. She was also able to access individualised education to suit her circumstances. The 19-year-old high school student had to repeat grade 10 due to poor marks. Most schools in Burkina Faso are overcrowded with an average of 90 students per class. This makes it difficult for students to get one-on-one help with their schoolwork. Schools also lack basic infrastructure, resources and well-trained teachers.

But a few years ago, Carine’s Compassion centre set up a library to support students in their studies. Now Carine, who is determined to improve her grades, graduate and continue to university, spends most of her time there studying. The centre also organises academic tutoring to support students like Carine who are preparing to take their exams.

Learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom. Income-generation workshops, such as a baking course in El Salvador, is teaching teens valuable personal and employment skills. The courses also help participants decide what they might like to do when they graduate.

MicrosoftTeams-image-(58).png Workshops cover the skills that are in demand in a child's community.

Workshops cover everything from welding to electrical work, carpentry, hairdressing, weaving, computer classes—whatever skills are in demand in a child’s community. While the programme focuses specifically on child development, it also helps parents improve their circumstances because a child’s wellbeing is affected by their parent’s situation.

Informal education is also important. Mothers and parents from a rural community in east Indonesia learned how to read and write through a literacy programme at their local church. Education isn’t just about finishing school. Parents who receive training in disease prevention can help improve their family’s health. Communities that are educated about stigmatised diseases like Hepatitis or HIV are more likely to receive testing or treatment.

MicrosoftTeams-image-(1).png These new Mums in Brazil have been educated and empowered in the best way to look after their child.

Education can also dispel traditional beliefs. For instance, mums in Maranhão, Brazil, believed breast milk wasn’t sufficient for a baby’s diet and fed their babies a mixture of cassava, water and cow’s milk instead. But through education and encouragement from programme staff, many mums are now breastfeeding their babies and seeing their little ones grow stronger every day.

These are just a few ways our church partners address the educational needs in their communities to improve a child’s mental development. Join us for our next blog as we answer some of your questions about the emotional development of a sponsored child.
 




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