Saturday, August 22, 2009

Giving: it really does feel good

About this time last year, to help assauge the guilt of getting a generous payrise I felt was grossly undeserved, I decided to channel a little of my fatter pay packet into sponsoring a child through the Smith Family's Learning for Life program.

My $35 a month helps a low-income family pay for things like school uniforms, excursions, books, music and sports activities, the sort of stuff that can help kids to feel like they fit in and to enjoy being at school. It also helps to fund literacy programs and mentoring support.

I am on to my second sponsor child (the first left the program due to improved circumstances). His name is Jamie and he's in year 9. This morning I opened a letter from The Smith Family which enclosed his updated student profile. It lists things like his favourite subjects, books and movies and what he likes to do in his spare time.

Under "I would like to tell my sponsor that...", Jamie has written "I'm very happy with my life". It makes me tear up a little when I read that.

If anyone reading this wants to put some money towards a good cause, please consider becoming a Learning for Life sponsor (or making a donation). It really costs very little - less than the price of a meal at a nice restaurant each month - but the difference it can make is enormous. It's an Australia-wide program and it provides support for children from pre-school age right through to university.

The thing I like about Learning for Life is that it's preventative and built on the premise that education is the best way of breaking the cycle of poverty. It helps to prevent kids from underprivileged backgrounds ending up under-educated, unemployed, alienated and worse. It gives them a real chance of reaching their potential and leading happier, healthier and more financially secure lives.

If you need more convincing:

* Every year of schooling completed increases adult wage by about 10%;

* Poverty rates among those aged over 15 decline sharply as education qualifications increase;

* Young people aged 16-18 who are not participating in education are more likely to experience depression and poor physical health by 21;

* The rate of Learning for Life students progressing from Year 10 to Year 12 continues to rise - from 44% in 2005 to 53% in 2007; and

* In 2008, more than 50% of Learning for Life students who completed Year 12 progressed to tertiary studies, up from 21% in 2005.

Imagine thinking you would never be even finish high school and then getting to go to uni! Being a part of that really is an amazing feeling.

You can read some real-life case studies here.


Emm said...

Oh what an excellent post! I take part in a similar programme in South Africa. I am going to add this to my Get Involved post if you don't mind.

Katrina said...

Knowing you're helping someone else does feel good!

Jayne said...

Great idea :)

Lise said...

Jayne, lovely post and thank you for highlighting an Aussie based support system for kids vs the World Vision model which I've done in the past but have issues with (does the money get to the people you want it to get to?). Its almost like being a foster parent without the actual physical responsibility, neat idea and look at the benefits. I've never been much into donating to people (vs animal welfare) but I really like this idea, thanks heaps! Lise :^)

Frisky Librarian said...

Hey Emm. Of course I don't mind if you add my post. Please do. I'm just going to check out your Get Involved post now (belatedly).

Frisky Librarian said...

Hi Katrina. Yes, it really does. You can write to your LfL sponsor child also so you can find out firsthand how you're kid is doing.

Hi Jayne. It's a fantastic idea. I'd wanted to do something closer to home for a while (I have a World Vision sponsor child overseas) and the importance of education is something I feel really strongly about.

Hi Lise. As I mentioned above, I also have a sponsor child through World Vision (have done for over 10years). While charities obviously should pass on as much of sponsors' money as they can, I think it's reasonable that some goes towards administration (particularly if they don't get any government support or have their own profit-making enterprises to help cover costs, which is what the Smith Fmaily does). If 95 per cent of the money gets to the cause, then that's better than nothing. I can't remember what World Vision's figures are in that regard though...probably should check it out again.

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