Friday, September 28, 2007

Ruminations

On www.children.org, we recently featured a slideshow which contained sponsor Marci Wulf's personal photos and her first person account of what it was like for her and her husband Ryan to vist their sponsored child in a village outside of Calcutta, India. Our conversation was so illuminating that we wanted to print a condensed version of Marci expressing her views and outlooks on a variety of subjects.

On Begging:
We got stopped by a train track on our way in, there was about ten little kids tapping on the windows, showing their sad faces and it’s definitely disconcerting to have that happen and probably if that would have been my first experience I would have been really troubled by it, but I’ve done a lot of traveling and have had these kind of experiences before. You know I really believe that if you give a little bit of money it just makes a temporary change, but if you give money in a way that people can use to help themselves through education or community programs, it’ll make a more lasting change and so I had a policy as I travel to not indulge too much in handing out cash as I move along.

I remember the first time I went to Cambodia, going across the border, there were tons of little kids come running up to you and they show you their sad faces and they look dirty and they have their hands out. And instead (of giving them money) I would always play with them, smile back at them or make faces. I was always surprised at how quickly they forgot they were supposed to be getting money and just want to play with you because they are just little kids. We had a really fun time with these kids as we crossed the borders. I would make a point to donate money to an organization that was doing work there, but I’d try not to give money to the kids themselves, because I don’t want their parents to be encouraged to keep sending them out.

On Entering Rinki’s Village:
She’s in a small village, that’s outside of Calcutta that is very green and lush. It was quite poor, there was a lot of little children on our way in that would come running up to the car and beg as we go along. Once we got into her village outside of the little town area and back into where she lived, there was a lot of single or two room homes attached together, that her family members lived in. All of her family was there; aunts and uncles came to meet us. I’d seen these type of living conditions before, so it wasn’t shocking to me by any means, they have a really small, simple home and they do their best to keep it clean and take care of it and make do with what they have.

On Sponsorship:
I definitely believe in the value of education, and I know that the money I give to the organization (Children International) helps her to go to school and get the materials and the uniforms that she needs and so I definitely see an impact in that portion. When I was there they also brought out all the functional gifts that the family had received through being part of the program. Whether it was a blanket or pot or pans, or everyday useful items. And I really believe in that type of charity, I don’t like that word. But I think that functional gifts, things that are going to be used day to day are the kind of things that need to happen.

I was also really impressed, they told me a little bit about some of the community programs that they have there that they have there, the organization (Children International) creates with the moms of the sponsored kids and some of the programs that the moms have come up with to help improve the circumstances of their community and I think that that is really fantastic way to make a lasting change for a group of people and to get moms involved to better their own community. That’s a way to really make changes, to empower people to change it for themselves.

On Rinki’s Future:
I really want her to continue in school and I want her to wait to get married. It’s part of their culture, they get married younger, they have the arranged marriages in India, and her sister just got married and her sister just finished her school, she’s 17 maybe 18. And want Rinki to finish school, and I really want her to go to college and I’m encouraging her in that direction in the letters that I write. Because I want her be able to help improve her circumstances, and the circumstances of those around her and that’s really the way to do it. She writes me letters that she is interested in it and she is learning English. Finishing school and also being able to speak English is really important skills in the world today and in India as well. So, I’d really love to see her to be able to grow up before she gets married and be able to get some information and be in a position to help improve her circumstances in her community, instead of being a victim of the circumstances.

On Children International:
I’m always recommending it to my friends that they sponsor children because it I feel like people who want to make a contribution, it feels more worthwhile when you see what happens with your contribution, when you can actually see the results and talk to a person and have that personal contact. I really think that is an excellent way to involve people in helping.

I like the way that Children International goes about the program. I like that they include everybody in all the activities whether or not their sponsors give extra money. I like that they keep their sponsors involved in what is happening in the country of the kids they are sponsoring. I’ve also been impressed with the way Children International is so forthcoming with their funding. Every year we get a report on how funding comes out. I’ve spent a lot of time working with nonprofits and I really appreciate that transparency in an organization.

I actually have a second child that I sponsor from Zambia now; it’s a younger girl. I’ve been really happy with how Children International runs their programs and we had a great experience in India going with the regional officer directly, and so I would absolutely recommend Children International to everyone. I haven’t seen any flaws so far.

On International Connections:
I think everybody should do more travels and especially if you can go to a place where you can know somebody who lives there and make a relationship with that person, I think that that would do a lot to help improve the circumstances in our world. You know, I’m optimistic.

1 comment:

Dana said...

a very insightful persepective... thanks!