By Alece Ronzino
I sponsor three children in Ethiopia through Food for the Hungry. I had a vague idea of what child sponsorship meant, but if I'm honest, I really had no clue how it worked. Until I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Ethiopia in July to see it all firsthand.
Food for the Hungry believes in child-focused community transformation. They measure the health of a community by the health of its children—physically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. Then by meeting the children’s needs, they empower and build entire families and communities.
They focus on people, meet needs holistically, do things with excellence, and bring lasting change. And they do it all without fostering dependence. They go in to each region with an end-goal and an exit strategy. They aren’t there to be a crutch or even to provide hand-outs. They are there to build capacity and sustainability in both people and communities.
And this all happens through child sponsorship.
I discovered that my monthly support does more than directly impact the beautiful children I sponsor. Yes, it provides Chaltu, Nathinael, and Aklilu with food, medical care, and education. But as if that isn't enough, it also helps to fund the ongoing development of the communities in which they live.
Food for the Hungry works with parents, pastors, and local leaders to address the needs of the community as a whole, not just the individual sponsored children. They build schools, teach effective farming techniques, construct water and sanitation systems, train teachers, provide supplies, and develop child mentorship programs.
And as a result, children all over the world are having their lives transformed. Just like my three precious Ethiopian kids.
One of Food for the Hungry's slogans is “We go to the hard places”. And they definitely do. They took me to visit some remote villages that face seemingly insurmountable challenges. But Food for the Hungry is there, making a difference and working with the most vulnerable of children who live in inescapable poverty.
Ultimately, the greatest gift they offer is hope. Their very presence and the development work they do communicates worth, value, and significance to those who have felt long forgotten. It opens their eyes and their hearts to the love of God, and gives them hope for the future.
I feel honored and humbled to be able to play even a tiny part in the incredible work Food for the Hungry is doing around the world. Partnering with them inspires me to purposefully seek out ways I can join them in bringing hope to the hard places.
Alece Ronzino is a New Yorker changed by Africa, Alece is the founder of One Word 365 and a communications coach for non-profits. She blogs candidly about searching for God in the question marks of life and faith.