Our Sponsorship Program / Distance Adoption Program serves over 5000 indigent children in Andhra Pradesh. Through the program, a family or individual commits to support a destitute child. For most of the children, who generally live with their families, the yearly sponsorship fee is US$ 365. The money covers the most basic necessities: clothing, school tuition, books, and uniforms. We have also set up sponsorship programs for street kids and orphan children (sponsorship fee is US$ 550), disabled children (sponsorship fee is US$ 550) and abandoned babies (sponsorship fee is US$ 1,300).
Become A Sponsor
The hallmark of our program is that we encourage sponsors to keep in close touch with their sponsored children through regular correspondence. Many sponsors write and send packages multiple times a year.* In addition, we encourage our donors to come and see with their own eyes the reality on the ground; each year, dozens among them come to India to personally meet their children. The children are always thrilled to get news from their sponsors and to get to know them, whether in person or by letter. Sponsors can expect to receive letters and photographs from their children at least thrice a year; we collect correspondence from the children in July – September, October – December and January – March.
The Sponsor is expected to help the Child until his/her studies are completed. In India, children go to school at age 5 and attend 10 years of basic education. They go to school from June 15th to April 15th; summer holidays typically run from April 15th to June 15th. In Andhra, children have the option of attending a Telugu Medium School or an English Medium School. If the child is a particularly good student, we encourage him/her to continue until 12th class and then on tocollege and beyond. Some of our sponsors have continued to help their children through the completion of a Master’s degree. Should the child unfortunately decide to drop out of our program, the sponsor will be promptly informed; if for some reason the sponsor decides to discontinue his/her support, s/he are kindly requested to notify us in a timely fashion.
Most of the children we help live in or around the city of Vijayawada. We help children of all creeds – Christians, Hindus, and Muslims – but the majority are “low caste.” They are “untouchables.” “Untouchability,” in principle, should no longer exist – it was banned by the Indian Constitution after Independence was achieved – but still remains a powerful stigma. “Low caste” Indians remain at the lowest rung of the social ladder. There is little intermarriage between high and low castes; interactions are kept to a minimum. In rural areas, the huts inhabited by low caste families lie outside the villages; in many cases, these people are not allowed to drink water from the same wells as everyone else.
Mahatma Gandhi strove to remove such stigma and he lovingly called the people of the low castes “Harijans” – Children of God. In reality, though, untouchables remain the children of a much lesser God. Only about 18% of the Harijans are literate. Child mortality is high (one reason why families have many children) and the life span is much lower than the average. Most of the men (and women) are “coolies” – an Indian word for “laborer.” These people own no land of their own and work mainly as farm laborers in the fields of wealthy landlords. The men earn about US$ 5 a day; women make even less. The families live mainly in straw huts, which are often blown away during the monsoon season. They sit on the ground, sleep on the floor, and eat with their hands. Those who don’t have the luxury of owning a metal dish eat on leaves. If they’re lucky, they get a bowl of rice twice a day.
Extra Help for Sponsored Kids
It is possible to donate extra gifts to the children you sponsor. For example you can donate a Bicycle for the amount of US$ 100. The child will select locally the right size and favorite color.
You can also decide to open a local Bank Savings Account in the name of the child. You can open an account with any amount and make subsequent deposits. You will receive a copy of the statement of Savings every year. Once the child becomes of age and/or finishes his/her education the amount saved in the account will be given to him/her.
You can also donate clothes to your child either by sending a package or by donating a minimum of US$ 60 for shopping for a full pair of clothes (the child will select what he/she needs and favorite colors and correct size). You might like to help the family of the child in some way (pots & pans, clothes, debts, home repairs, new home/hut).