So the royal baby has finally arrived! Kate and William gave birth to a baby boy this morning, who weighed 3.8 kg or 8 pounds 6. I’m not going to have any trouble remembering the weight because that’s exactly the weight of my first child. I’m sure every parent remembers how wonderful, scary and amazing it is to give birth to your first child. Nothing really compares to that. So it’s lovely to celebrate with the royal couple as they enjoy their little miracle. But it’s also amazing that this particular child has come into the world, so welcomed, so loved and so showered with privilege.
By contrast there are still so many children in the world who lack the basics in life – good food, clean water, an education. A few weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing Tony Campolo speak on what was his last ever trip to Australia. He was out here for Compassion Australia, so I knew that his talk would focus on child sponsorship, but I was keen to hear him beause I also knew he would be lively, entertaining and spiritually challenging. Tony Campolo is a great storyteller and has always spoken out with great conviction on behalf of the marginilised and voiceless, including children, which is a cause dear to my heart.
The main thing I learned is that we’ve made a lot of progress in recent decades and child sponsorship has been an important part of that. Just a few decades ago, 45,000 children died of poverty related causes in one night, now that figure is down to 23 000. Almost halved. So that’s encouraging. Sponsoring a child really does make a difference to those children and their communities. But I think it also has a really positive impact on the person who does the sponsoring.
Our sponsor child is a little girl called Elda who lives with her family in the province of Papua in Indonesia. We deliberately chose a girl who is roughly the same age as Birdy to try to encourage a friendship between them. We also chose a child who lives in a country that my husband and I have visited to make it more real for her. We can show her photos and talk about some of their customs. We’ve also made a conscious effort to talk about Elda and pray for her.
It’s really only now, after about 3 or 4 years of exchanging letters, that we’re starting to see a friendship develop between the two girls. Just the other night Caillie drew a picture of her and Elda meeting for the first time. In the picture, the two girls were holding hands and my husband and I were quite touched by that.
Part of the value of child sponsorship is that it helps Aussie kids to develop a sense of compassion, although in our case it hasn’t come easily! We’ve really had to work on it. When we first started sponsoring her, I remember Birdy saying that she didn’t like her dress! Kids here just have so much that its very hard for them to understand poverty. But showing care for someone outside of your day-to-day world shows your kids that that you don’t just love them, you also care about the wider world. Love is bigger than geography or proximity.
Compassion have recently started sending a once a year letter from project staff to give sponsors a bit more information about the work they’re doing on the ground. One of the things our project manager said was that when they show care for the children, when they take an interest in a child’s welfare, health, education and spiritual growth, the parents start to take better care of their children too. They see someone else caring for their child and they start to see that child as more valuable.
So if you are sponsoring a child, be encouraged. You’re not only providing for their needs, you’re also helping to create a culture where children are cherished and nutured and invested in. Would it be wonderful if every child born into the world was as welcome, loved, safe and well-provided for as the royal baby?
Are you excited about the royal baby? Does your family sponsor a child? Have your children started to take an interest in or show concern for the sponsored child?