Always Picked Last (Extreme Poverty Style)

Imagine a world where you grow up with a mommy and a daddy and live in a nice warm house with your family.

You have your own bed, and sleep each night with a full belly. You go to school, and in the afternoon you go to sports practice on a green grassy lawn that is safely guarded from speeding cars and other dangers.

Imagine a world where your toys are bought from Wal-Mart, and you get a new Christmas, Easter and birthday outfit every year.

That’s not very hard to imagine … is it? Most of us grew up in that setting — or one very similar.

The situation that is hard to truly grasp is living in the circumstances the children in our sponsorship program live in.

We’ve seen the pictures; some of us have had the chance to see poverty firsthand. The reality the children in our sponsorship program live in is mostly the opposite of ours.

While some children are blessed with both parents still living, many live with other family members or older siblings. They eat one meal a day *maybe*, and play with toys that they find in the trash dumps outside their wood-walled, tin-roofed, one-room shanty.

Carlos from Colombia So imagine how it brightens a child’s day when he or she goes to the child development center and receives a letter from you — the sponsor.

Now imagine a child who doesn’t have a sponsor. When all the children receive letters at the center, one never comes for this child.

This child, Carlos from Colombia, was registered into the sponsorship program in April, 2008, and has never — I repeat NEVER — had a sponsor.

What questions do you think run through his head when he attends the center during letter-writing and receiving time? What would run through your mind?

“Wait!” You say. “Doesn’t the sponsorship program still provide Carlos everything he needs? He is registered, after all.”

Let me see if I can explain.

Remember Valentine’s Day in grade school?

You set out your decorated box to receive notes from your classmates. After exchange time is over, you check your box.

You stick your hand inside with anticipation. You grope around for a moment before the realization hits — no one gave you a Valentine message. Not one person.

The rest of the class got one from each class member. Your feelings are very hurt. You continue your school day, and receive all of the benefits from the education your teachers provide. You also receive a nutritious meal during lunch time and exercise during PE.

When you get in the car to go home, your mom knows something is wrong, but not even her hug can console you. A hug won’t ease the ache in your heart caused by not receiving a Valentine from any of your classmates. Understand?

Regrettably, there are more than 18,000 children in our sponsorship program just like Carlos — children who have been waiting for 12 months or longer for a sponsor. This number has skyrocketed 500 percent since June 2008, when it was just over 3,600.

Should this cause us to be disheartened? I don’t think so.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” — 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

I think this is a time for us to search out our purpose in this cause and press forward as God leads us. This is a time to rally — to advocate for these children. What will you do?

Here are some ways to help:

Most of all, please pray.

Pray that God would raise up sponsors for these children. Pray that the children in our program will receive hope and love from the church staff, friends and family — despite their circumstances.

If you’d like to sponsor Carlos, please call us toll free at (888) 503-4586.

20 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Stacey March 13, 2012

    I do think that people tend to pick “cute” kids who look happy, quite often. It’s human nature, and it’s something that we do that we’re not aware of – it’s subconscious. Humans are attracted to “cuties” and feel a connection to cute kids without realizing it, and they often feel more nurturing toward a little child and not as much toward a bigger kid. So perhaps some of these kids are right – it is because they aren’t “pretty enough” or something like that. Once I realized that we humans do that, I once asked for the most awful looking teenager they could find, and they sent me a girl from Bolivia who was so down and out after a famine that she looked hopeless w/ no smile… just a dull eyed, sunken in looking child. Her first letter was incredibly depressing – “my father died, all the animals died, the crops all died. I’m so sad.” But over time, her letters became more cheerful “We got some goats, I have a new friend at school… I love math (!?)…I play soccer now”. All this to say that the child blossomed into a vibrant young woman with light in her eyes and the whole world in front of her. She furthered her education in the city of La Paz, and as far as I could tell, graduated as a hopeful, joyful young woman who had overcome a lot in her life and had great hope for the future. Sponsoring a teenager who hasn’t had a sponsor, who doesn’t look good in her picture is one of the most rewarding sponsorships I’ve ever had!

  2. Juli Jarvis December 18, 2009

    As a member of the Advocate’s Network, I would certainly highlight child packets with stickers on them saying “This child has been waiting more than 6 months for a sponsor…” I’ve seen those packets at events, but not sure if they’re coming to us for church presentations.

  3. Shaina December 16, 2009

    I wanted to let you know that Carlos has been sponsored! I wish I could be there to tell him myself. He is going to be so blessed!

  4. Stacey December 13, 2009

    As much as I would love to sponsor an additional child, I just can’t. I have four through Compassion and one through ChildFund. If Eugene leaves the program or when he graduates, I will most definitely sponsor another boy through Compassion. I think Compassion is the best, simply because they refuse to compromise their Christian beliefs. My heart breaks for these children who have been waiting for over year for a sponsor. If I had a lot of money, I’d sponsor them all! The most I can do right now is to pray for those children. I even frequent the Compassion website looking for children to pray for. I pray for the children the Lord convicts me to. Perhaps in the future, I can increase the number of sponsored children. But right now, five is my limit. I pray that this boy is soon sponsored. He’s such a cutie.

  5. Michelle December 13, 2009

    Aw… I would have sent some cards if I had known it was possible! 🙁

    Did Carlos get his sponsor?

  6. Dana December 12, 2009

    I really hope that Carlos has found a sponsor. Three of my children were priority children who’d been waiting more than a year for a sponsor.

    At our advocacy conference this past spring, our guest speaker shared that children who have been waiting a long time sometimes blame themselves and will think that they haven’t been chosen because their picture isn’t “pretty” enough – that if they had a better picture or were a better person, someone would have sponsored them by now. So heartbreaking!

    I know what you mean, Amy. It’s so hard to know how many children have been waiting a very long time. I’m not able to sponsor another child right now but am torn between a child who’s been waiting a long time, a child who is older or calling and asking for a child who has had many different sponsors. So heartbreaking to think about.

  7. Diane December 12, 2009

    One thing I notice, is the huge majority of waiting longest and older children are boys..
    Could a campaign be run for older boys needing sponsors? I don’t know if they’ve never been sponsored or anything, but they still need help as long as they’re in the age category for sponsorship.
    The longest waiting children will always be my first choice.

  8. Shaina December 11, 2009

    Regrettably, sponsors are unable to write letters to unsponsored children at this time. Compassion did allow sponsors to send Christmas cards to unsponsored children this Christmas, but the deadline has already passed. You are welcome to contact us next fall to see if we will be organizing that program again.

  9. Haley Birdyshaw December 11, 2009


    Generally, unless we have been directed otherwise by the sponsor, we will send a “like” child – same gender/same country or region as the child who left the program. We will only send a child who has absolutely been waiting the longest (no other criteria given) if the sponsor has indicated to us that is their preference.

  10. valerielong December 10, 2009

    Is there any way to send a generic card to an unsponsored child? Kind of how they send generic letters to military people overseas??

    As much as I would love to sponsor another child and ESPECIALLY one that's waited so long (6 out of my 7 were all ones that had waited at least 6 months for a sponsor), I just can't right now. But I think about them a lot and it'd be great if there was some way to send something to an unsponsored child. Something just to say that someone's praying for them and to encourage them to hang in there.

    Is there any way to do that? Is that even something Compassion's considering?

    1. Stacey March 13, 2012

      You could sign up to be a correspondent, but I wonder if that is only to a sponsored child? It might seem confusing to a nonsponsored child to receive mail – they might think that you ARE their sponsor. I was a correspondent to a sponsored child for years, and she never did “get it” that someone else was the one helping her and I was just writing to her. She kept thanking me for my help, and I felt guilty that she thought I was the one paying for her needs to be met. I tried to explain it to her several times. I think that quite possibly she simply chose to treat me as if I were the sponsor just so that it would feel the same. The actual sponsor was a corporation. In spite of the confusion, it was very rewarding to be able to correspond w/ her and be an encouragement to her, as she was to me, and I felt a strong bond with her! -Stacey

  11. vickismall December 10, 2009

    Chris, the rest of my sentence was “who has been waiting the longest.” I don't think that part is automatic, but I would be grateful to hear about that from someone on the inside. Sorry my sentence was so convoluted!

  12. Chris Hall December 9, 2009

    I think they do send replacement children.
    I know when our first sponsor child moved out of a Compassion area, they advised us and also sent a profile of a new child. If we didn't want our sponsorship to carry across to the new child then we needed to phone up and advise them, and they would cancel the sponsorship. So that certainly was an automatic replacement (one which we were happy about, of course).
    I haven't had a sponsor child yet that has graduated, but my guess would be it would be a similar situation, where they offer another child.

  13. vickismall December 9, 2009

    I don't think they routinely send a “replacement” child (no, no child can be replaced!) who has been waiting the longest. I could be wrong, and I'd like to hear some “insider information,” on that.

  14. Chris Hall December 8, 2009

    Having a sponsor child actually changes lives. Not only the life of the child (and family) that you sponsor, but also your own life as your eyes are opened up to the world that we live in, and how selfish we have become in the Western World.
    I wrote a blog only a few days ago about our sponsor child in Indonesia. He has had an impact on my life through the model that he is.
    I encourage you all to read it and reflect upon it, and if you don't have a sponsor child yet, then what are you waiting for? Read it here (it is called “My Indonesian Child – A model for Life”):

  15. lesleemoats December 8, 2009

    Shaina, How much is it to sponsor a child? Maybe Steve and I could???? Love, Leslee

  16. tauradediego777 December 8, 2009

    I feel very blessed to be your Mom right now! I hope that someone special puts Carlos and others like him into their lives.

  17. Sara Benson December 8, 2009

    He probably had been waiting a while, but in some countries they accept kids as old as 10. I am glad to hear that the child packets Compassion sends to replace children who have graduated/left the program are those who have been waiting the longest.

  18. Becky December 8, 2009

    I called Compassion last Fall, after having a new child sent to me when my other child left the program, to find out how many sponsors my 9 year and 3 month old child had previously. I was shocked to find out he had none previously and I was his first sponsor. I didn't ask how long he had been waiting, but I am sure it was quite awhile since I didn't think Compassion had kids older than 7 at the initial child registration. My child is from a center in Brazil that opened 11 years ago. Right now as a graduate student I cannot take on more children, and I am praying that others will, especially my one friend whom I have been encouraging to become a sponsor.

  19. Amy Wallace December 8, 2009

    It always breaks my heart to see the children who have been waiting for a sponsor for so long. I wish I could sponsor them all, but that just isn't possible. So, this will encourage me to work even harder as an advocate and find some sponsors for these children!

Add a Comment

Read the ground rules for comments.