Every child has the right to be protected, nurtured and empowered.
We know God loves children, and we call it our mission to show His love to each child in our care. Each of them starts in the womb with God-given potential, yet many enter this world challenged by malnutrition, HIV/AIDS, crises and chronic poverty. There are also many who don’t have the opportunity to attend even primary school because their parents face a daily choice between providing food and educating their children. Through no fault of their own, children’s options are limited by extreme poverty, and they carry a much higher risk of continuing this cycle into another generation of children.
Since ERDO was established in 1983, PAOC global workers have been concerned about helping children in need. Although providing meals for children has been a priority, food never seemed to be enough of a solution. Wanting the very best for them, and more of a lasting solution, there was a desire to create child-based programming that would impact and transform their lives. As a result, ERDO launched ChildCARE Plus, the child sponsorship program, in 1992 to give children living in poverty the opportunity to have an education and ultimately a chance at a better life.
Every child has the right to be protected, nurtured and empowered. Over the last 25 years, ChildCARE Plus sponsors have provided these rights to children in the program. Many children who have received the blessing of sponsorship have become leaders in their communities and are leaving an impact:
- In Haiti, Mona was sponsored through ChildCARE Plus until she completed her high school education. After she graduated from post-secondary studies in 2015, she was hired as a kindergarten teacher. Mona also teaches Sunday school to over 120 children and loves to spread the gospel in the areas neighbouring her church.
- In Tanzania, David is another former ChildCARE Plus child who was empowered through the program. After losing his mother at the age of five, he was sponsored through ChildCARE Plus. David had the opportunity to attend school and earned great academic standing. As a result, David received a government grant and recently finished his first year of medical school.
- Patricia grew up in a children’s home at Village of Hope Zimbabwe and is now studying at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec.
These are just a few examples of children who, through child sponsorship, were given the support they needed to rise out of poverty and live out their God-given potential.
Child sponsorship can also create a unique relationship between a sponsor and a child in need. When a sponsor takes the time to write to their child, this allows the child to understand that there is someone special behind the support they are receiving. ERDO’s ChildCARE Plus assistant, Sue Seres, has been working with ERDO for 10 years, handling correspondence between sponsors and children. Sue says, “One little guy wrote to his sponsor telling them that his mother was dying. I remember he wrote, ‘But I know it will be OK because I have another mom who loves me too.’ ” Sue also recalls reading a final letter from a sponsor to their child, who was graduating from the program. “I remember the sponsor telling their child how much they loved him and thanking him for allowing them to be part of his life for 14 years. They told him that he would ‘always, always, always’ be in their daily prayers.”
Throughout the last 25 years, ChildCARE Plus has given both children and sponsors life-changing opportunities. Sponsors have been blessing children’s lives, and children have been blessing the lives of their sponsors. Sponsors also learn about different cultures and gain a better understanding of global issues in the context where their child lives.
Currently, more than 7,800 children are sponsored through ChildCARE Plus in 29 countries. ChildCARE Plus focuses on a holistic approach, where each child is known by name and has personal relationships with ERDO’s global workers. Sponsored children not only receive access to education, nutritious food and health care, but in keeping with the “Plus,” each child is taught the transformative message of the gospel. Recently, six children from the Telay ChildCARE Plus site in Cambodia made the decision to be baptized in water. Many children have not heard about Jesus before the program and, once they are sponsored, have the opportunity to hear and see God’s love first-hand.
ChildCARE Plus, ERDO’s child sponsorship program, is celebrating 25 years this year. If you are a child sponsor and would like to share your story for our anniversary celebrations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To see the children who are available for sponsorship and to make a difference in a young life, visit www.erdo.ca/sponsor-now or call 1-800-779-7262. Samantha Burnside is ERDO’s communications officer.
Photos © ERDO