There are four places to go where you can sponsor a child online:
This Easter, as millions of children munch their way through chocolate eggs, it is important to remember that the industry that produces the cocoa survives on a massive child trafficking network, says charity World Vision.
200 years after William Wilberforce and the abolition of a state-sanctioned slave trade 27 million people are being trafficked in a modern-day form of slavery.
Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, says that 80% of the children working the cocoa fields in Ghana and the Ivory Coast - which together produce 60% of the world’s cocoa - are being exposed to dangerous practices. These include the unprotected use of chemicals, carrying heavy loads, brush burning and using machetes. Up to 12,000 children have been trafficked for cocoa production in West Africa alone.
World Vision’s child sponsorship scheme works to address the big picture, including systemic problems such as trafficking. Whereas many child sponsorship schemes focus on supporting only individual children, theirs addresses the needs of the wider community within which the child lives.
Participants in the programme say that becoming a child sponsor is a meaningful and rewarding experience for both the child and the sponsor.
The scheme is simple and easy to join. Would-be-sponsors select online, from the World Vision website, the continent (eg Africa) in which they would like to sponsor a child. (Alternatively they can choose a child currently in the most deprived circumstances from around the world). The web site then brings up the details of a child according to the criteria that the would-be-sponsor specifies, with a picture, details of their age, hobbies and situation.
If the sponsor wishes to go ahead, the sponsorship can begin right there in then. Sponsors fill out a form and a direct relationship is set up between the sponsor and the child.
Sponsors are sent an information pack with further details about the child. The sponsor can, in turn, then communicate with the child directly by sending letters and cards.
The charity keeps the sponsor updated on the work that is being carried out in the child's community in partnership with local people. Sponsors receive annual reports on the progress of the child, including such information as how they are getting on at school.
The sponsor's support provides the essentials a child needs to survive such as clean water, basic healthcare and enough food. It also provides an education to try to break the cycle of poverty.
But, the charity points out, the direct relationship between the sponsor and the child also gives the child hope through the knowledge that someone cares. Although each is of course different, every sponsored child has one thing in common says World Vision - the knowledge that someone thousands of miles away cares enough about their future to help them.