Even though child sponsorship has been widely discredited internationally as a fair and effective form of aid, this seems to have passed unnoticed by Variety – The Children’s Charity. In New Zealand, they are calling for Kiwi Kid sponsors in response to “the growing divide between the haves and the have nots”.
My gripe with this policy may seem churlish and I am certainly not denying that poverty is a significant problem in New Zealand. But singling out individual children for charity of this type is not the solution. There are other ways to help families feed and clothe their own children, as well as enable them to access education and health services: joining the fight for a living wage is one; building a strong union movement is another; and electing a government that supports such actions – rather than undermining them as this current one has done – will make a difference too.
There is no doubt that it is easier for agencies to use children to attract donations, but this should make us more wary of giving. Wouldn’t most parents prefer to be able to provide for their own children if they could? How can we help parents do this? The lessons learnt in the aid and development field suggest that this is best done through working with whole communities, not just one family or one individual child. The whole Kiwi Kid thing smacks of eighteenth century charity to me.