The town has literally been painted red for the coming Valentine’s Day. If you have someone special to share it with, you may be walking on air for the rest of the week. If single, you are likely dreading being asked about your plans (there are none), seeing others get flowers and chocolates (while you’re empty handed) and being stuck in traffic as couples rush to their dinner reservations (you just want to go home and be reunited with your couch).
Young or old, being chosen as a special someone on this red letter day is quite the romantic gesture. But what if the one doing the choosing is a child?
Empowering Children to Change their Lives
A few months ago, World Vision turned the tables around and empowered the children in its care to choose their sponsors. This is the first time in over 70 years that one of the largest child sponsorship organizations in the world made changes to what has been a well-established and very successful fundraising method.
It’s a simple, yet powerful switch at the beginning of the sponsorship relationship that recognizes the dignity and value of children living in extreme poverty. This innovative experience is called Chosen, and expresses World Vison’s belief that children have the power to change their own lives and their communities; and even to touch the lives of their sponsors.
“Chosen puts the power to choose their sponsor in the hands of the child,” says World Vision International President and CEO, Andrew Morley. “Our World Vision launch offices are already seeing God move in miraculous ways through Chosen.”
Ready to be Chosen?
How does it work? First, sign up and submit your photo. Your name and photo will be sent to a sponsorship community, where World Vision will set up the choosing event.
Then a child will make her or his choice. The heartbreaking thing here is that some kids have waited years to be chosen by a sponsor. Now, at the choosing event set up as a community celebration, it’s their turn. Wait for a photo of your new sponsored child holding your photo, plus a letter about why you were chosen.
Then, sit back and watch your P750 monthly contribution go to work. Your gift is combined with other sponsors’ to support community projects that help your sponsored child and other kids thrive. Clean water, healthcare, nutrition, education — whatever they need. And you’ll get regular updates on the changes you’re making together.
Over 100 Filipino Children Chosen…and Counting
Introduced in the Philippines only in December, one of the pilot events was the Christmas party of the Philippine Dermatological Society. Its members agreed to have their photos taken and sent to children in World Vision communities in Batangas.
“Everyone was excited to see how things would turn out as children one by one entered the room and approached the set up showing the photos of sponsors. Each child selected her or his preferred sponsor based on the photos which we labelled and sent back to Manila for the reveal. Much like the children, the sponsors slowly, quite nervously, opened their envelopes and burst into either excited laughter or tears of joy seeing for the first time their sponsored children,” relates Rommel Fuerte, Executive Director for World Vision Philippines.
In the past, a World Vision sponsor chooses her or his child according to a set of preferences, from gender to age to geography. Blessed with two daughters, I chose a boy for my first World Vision scholar, one who is younger than both my children, and from a place in Mindanao I have yet to visit hoping that will give me an excuse to further explore our country at some point.
With Chosen, they are flipping the script and sponsors are finding it to be a meaningful experience. World Vision has yet to formally launch Chosen but from two pilot events alone in December, 117 kids have made their choices and were sponsored.
How are the kids reacting to this? “There is a sense of serious decision-making on their part. Almost all of them took their time to choose who they want their sponsors to be. Their messages to sponsors also reflect their eye for details. One message reads: “I chose you because you seem kind, helpful, intelligent and beautiful.” Chosen provides interesting insights into how children think, feel, act and decide,” shares Fuerte.
Empowering people out of poverty has been at the heart of World Vision’s work around the world since the organization started in 1950. Through its efforts, World Vision has impacted the lives of more than 200 million vulnerable children by tackling the root causes of poverty.
If you’re ready to be Chosen, visit their website at https://www.worldvision.org.ph/about-chosen/ or their Facebook page: World Vision Philippines. You may also call or text +639178664824 or email [email protected]
Raising My Hand To Be Chosen
And since we’re on this topic, may I share how deeply honored I am to have been elected into the Board of Trustees of World Vision Philippines last week. I am dwarfed by the great company I keep – from our chairperson, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno, to our vice chairperson who also sits as chair of the Microfinance Council of the Philippines (among his many hats), Ed Jimenez, to former Congresswoman and Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Atty. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, to Omnipay CEO and Maybank Philippines Director Simoun Ung.
I wish I could list all of them here, as every Board Member are leaders from the public, private or civic sectors. When I looked around the room, they reminded me that choosing to believe in each other gives us a greater sense of purpose. And that together in His service, we can enable children and their families, who may have been rendered powerless by poverty, to still have choices.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.