April 27, 2015
Having recently joined the US sponsorship team at Save the Children (STC), I have been afforded a privileged perspective of the mechanisms behind US humanitarianism as well as an understanding of its real-world challenges. From building program evaluation tools and data analysis that shape the future of US programming to reviewing thousands of photos of sponsored children, my time with STC sponsorship enables the necessary marriage of lofty goals with knowledge of what supporting children day-to-day in schools across the country takes.
But why children? Why American children?
My time with STC prompts me to reflect on the fruit of our work. As a cultural anthropology Ph.D. student researching humanitarian aid, I perpetually ask why help goes to one and not another person, cause, or place. Through my studies, I know that American children face unique developmental, environmental, and health-related challenges. Few places in the world do we see children experiencing simultaneous malnutrition and obesity or illiteracy amidst free education. My studies also tell me that, despite the challenges, targeting US youth can result in significant and sustainable impacts.
For my colleagues and I, the answer to “Why help American children?” is because STC successfully addresses the unique challenges US children face by making local impact for the next generation. I know this from the program results STC tirelessly tracks, but also as a sponsorship team member, I get to hear from the children themselves. The Lexington, KY office reviews thousands of letters from children to their sponsors. It is common to read “Now I know I’m a smart boy”, or “I’m good at reading” in a child’s scribbly handwriting. While STC tracks program results, hearing first-hand that a child isn’t “afraid to read out loud in class” breathes life to statistics behind sponsorship and the programs it funds.
Knowing that work done by the STC sponsorship team ultimately contributes to benefitting children in local communities and across the states is not only personally gratifying, it substantiates humanitarianism for the many American children facing unique challenges today.
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