Guest Author: Kristen Olsen
Every Saturday morning, my 9 year old Peter wakes up early as the sun rises on the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah. He is a list-maker, and finds tremendous joy in checking off each to-do item he has planned. Among the things on his Saturday lists are his chores – some of which help him earn a few extra dollars to spend on legos, toys, or treats.
But there is one chore that is reserved for a special purpose, and it is called the “Dapika chore”. He and his 11 year old sister, Eliza both do a Dapika chore each month for which they each earn $5. And every month they donate that $5 to a young girl they have never met named Dapika who lives in Nepal (mom and dad cover the additional $20/month that is costs to sponsor her).
The Dapika chores began after I took them to a traveling exhibit called the Compassion Experience where they walked through two semi-trucks hearing voices of children telling stories about their lives. They could see what homes and schools in different countries looked like. They learned about sad family and life situations, and about how after the children got sponsored, their lives changed for the better and were able to get needed medical care and schooling, etc. All of it was based on true stories. After it was over, Peter and Eliza were convinced that our family needed to sponsor child.
Choosing an Way to Give
We did a lot of research before choosing an organization through which to sponsor a child. We wanted to be sure that the funds would be used well, and that there was no pressure on the sponsored children to join any religious group, etc. Our research helped us to find Plan International USA. As an organization, it met or exceeded all of our requirements. It has an excellent rating on Charity Navigator (a non-profit company that independently rates charities based on things like how they handle finances, how transparent they are, etc.). It also allows and encourages sponsors to stay in touch with the children they sponsor. There is even the option to go and visit the child you sponsor. Something I like about Plan International comes from the FAQ page of their website:
“More than 75 years of experience have taught us that helping families and communities become self-sufficient is the best way to secure children’s futures. Community-owned projects focus on Education; Youth and Economic Empowerment; Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; Health; Disaster Relief and Recovery; and Protection. […] ongoing sponsorship donations ensure that Plan can provide long-term support for sponsorship communities.”
(By the way, if a monthly payment to sponsor a child is too much, consider an alternative gift from the International Rescue Committee. They do amazing work and have affordable options as low as $18 for mosquito nets.)
So, we decided as a family to sponsor a girl in Nepal because my husband, Marshall worked at base camp at Mount Everest where he fell in love with concept of trekking. He hopes to one day take us all on a family trek in Nepal, and we plan to visit Dapika while we are there.
Making a Difference
I have noticed that my children love learning more about what it is like to live in Nepal when letters between the children are exchanged. Peter specifically asked for money for Christmas and has earned more since just to give to Dapika. He has about $35 saved up to ship her a soccer ball. I think it is nice to see my children sacrifice in small ways for Dapika. They never complain about their Dapika chores. It’s a good thing when my children are able to see how much they have, how lucky they are, and how important it is to think of others and share.