Child Sponsorship, Evangelism, and Belonging (Chapter 3)
Child Sponsorship is a type of aid that allows for individuals, usually from developed countries, to fund and support a child in a developing country. These funds are provided, usually through an organization, in hopes that child will have the needed resources and supplies to live a good life full of health and opportunity.
- World Vision receives “monthly payments” which benefit rural economic development.
- The sponsorship for children last between “one and ten years”
- In 1997 the United States sponsored “526,694 children around the world … over 30,000 children were sponsored by an estimated 26,000” sponsors.
Bornstein gives her readers two different perspectives on child sponsorship:
- One from the perspective of a sponsor:
- Interested to see the results of his sponsorship.
- Was “disappointed” in his lack of ability to connect with his sponsored because he had given money but had never written the child.
- The other from the perspective of the sponsored child.
- Sponsorship can shows a “complex and contradictory nature of humanitarian assistance.”
Throughout the entire third chapter there are examples of both sides of the child sponsorship debate. Bornstein writes about child sponsorship creating a relationship across the world.
- Corresponding with the children, developing the relationship, creating an “international family”
- Bornstein describes letters as seeming “reasonable attempts to bridge the intimacy and strangeness of sponsoring a child in a country [they] had never been to.”
- Many of the relationships seems too been sincere. Sponsors attempted to share Jesus with the children they were developing an international relationship with.
The other half of the debate discusses what Bornstein describes as “generic humanity,” claiming that child sponsorship threatens to make children commodities. That the relationships previously mentioned are “being purchased,” in turn exploiting the children.
- Sponsorship can create jealousy and division in local developing communities. Not all children receive the same attention from their sponsors.
- While sponsorship empowers the child, it seems to come at the expense of parental/familial authority/power.
- The children are forced to write back and if they can’t write, someone writes for them and the child “send[s] a drawing.”
The Politics of Transcendence (Chapter 4)
Bornstein delineated the definitions of “civil society” and “NGO” – innumerable numbers of which have led to tensions between society and state:
- Civil society as:
- A social movement characterized by protests, strikes, and other citizen-led events that situate it in the middle ground between state and society.
- A structure that replaces pre-existing structures in order to align with the values of free-market democracy. A structure applied with regard to context – social, economic, historical.
- A global force, part of a grassroots resistance.
- NGO as:
- “Nationalist, autochthonous sphere[s] of grassroots political advocacy.”
- “International sphere of humanitarian aid,” likened to a global network of an international civil society that functions outside of states.
- Fulfilling the “coming to the rescue” paradigm that is so prevalent throughout the West.
Similarly, Bornstein recognized the varying definitions of the functions and interactions NGOS, civil society, and states engage in, noting that they, too, were ambiguous, as well as being too abstract:
- Neoliberalism draws the central point of power away from the state.
- Civil society engages with the state at a consistent level yet is not bound to it.
- NGOs should not work against the state Vs. NGOs should be a moral critic for the state.
— More in terms of how they are recognized by the state, a further blurring of the definition of an NGO and its function comes about with religious vs. secular:
- Religious NGOs tended to come under the concern of the Church, but in fact dealt far more with tricky subjects and political endeavours than did secular NGOs.
- An interdependent relationship between churches, NGOs, and states exists leading to a “one cannot be without the other” trap.
- Many employees of NGOs are members of the community. While this is “walking with the people” as Jesus did, it also results in complex relationships between bodies of people.
Funding is a point of contention between NGOs and states:
- The transnational context of funding that allows NGOs to bypass state structures has fuelled conflicts of interest. It also means the extent of control states have over NGO finances is very little. Some acts and legislated
- Such control over their own funding threatens the authority of the state,
Being “apolitical” and the Politics of Transcendence:
- NGOs express themselves as being “non-state” actors but by practice they are directly involved. No NGO can be “apolitical” because their actions always incur political effects (Ferguson) that paves the way for the state.
- Religious NGOs in particular play a confident role in challenging controversial issues. Elevating God as the leader of development, combined with the neutrality of neoliberal free markets, means organizations such as World Vision and the Council of Churches transcend boundaries.
- The writer of this blog sees the traditional arguments for/against child sponsorship as being aimed towards the big charities. She defends child sponsorship in the localized sense.
- The large underlying concern is about whether or not child sponsorship actually works. This article written by The University of Chicago Press is on the benefits of child sponsorship:
- The Nazarene Compassionate Ministries has a child sponsorship ministry. This is a video showing examples of adults who had sponsors as children and how it impacted them (this is only one half of the debate):
- A growing trend, governments can use the restriction of funding for NGOs as a weapon against civil society, which is having negative ramifications on opportunities for development: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-sriskandarajah/why-restricting-foreign-ngos_b_5036049.html
- This website, a “gamification” platform, was launched by Matt Kepple. He is a brand strategist who believes charities need to tell the stories of their impact to the world in a way that will make their work more appealing to donors.
- How do you feel about child sponsorship? Do the positives outweigh the negatives (or vice versa)?
- Do you think the apolitical approach favoured by the NGO community has only served to keep the poor oppressed because it is ignoring one of the primary drivers of poverty – the lack of individual rights and economic/political freedoms?
- While websites such as Markerble are attempting to appeal to the masses, do you think they are facilitating too much of a pick and choose, let’s go shopping attitude? (A little like choosing a child to sponsor). Or do you think they help people to realize which cause they are passionate about in a world that is overwhelming us?
- Is the fact it is the haves who are defining what “poverty” and “suffering” etc. mean, damaging to development?
- This BBC article and the following video, “Through Their Eyes,” attempt to show what the sponsored children themselves think of such programs:
- A paper exploring the interplay between transnational religion and secular institutions.
- The evolving definition of global civil society according to Prof. Helmut Anheier:
- Mario Rizzo talking about the state Vs. civil society: