Stepping in to Help a Child in Need

By Donna Atola, Kenya Field Communications Specialist

Wilfred Dakane, Kenya Supporter Care and Engagement Officer, knows firsthand the importance of investing in kids living in poverty. Read how Wilfred, a former sponsored child, helps transform children’s lives from hard places of hopelessness to fruitful, fulfilled lives in Christ.

A Child Champion helps a child write a letter to his sponsor.

The following is a question-and-answer session with Wilfred Dakane, OneChild’s Kenya Supporter Care and Engagement Officer.

How long have you worked for OneChild?

More than five years.

What is the experience like dealing with letter writing?

There is a period of excitement and joy for the children as they get to learn a lot about other parts of the world from the letters they get from their loving sponsors.

Is it important to have the kids connected with their sponsors? Why?

Yes! It’s an opportunity for the sponsors to build hope in the hearts of the kids through positive messages that are found in their letters It leads to sponsor satisfaction and loyalty, which results in increased sponsor retention.

“There is power in words, and positive words from a sponsor can make a mark that will last a lifetime in the life of a child,” says Wilfred Dakane,

What does a letter mean to a child?

To a child, a letter means that she/he is special to someone. A life can be changed forever with as little as a single phrase or an uplifting word. There is power in words, and positive words from a sponsor can make a mark that will last a lifetime in the life of a child. Some of the children are orphans or have parents who never speak anything positive into their lives. This is where the Child Champion in the sponsor plays that important role.

What kind of messages do sponsors send to the kids?

Messages of hope for a bright future. They affirm that with God their dreams are valid and achievable. Letters provide the following:

  • Assurance of Christ’s love for us all.
  • Sponsors always assure the children that they love them, and they are praying for them.
  • The importance of living godly lives, obedience to parents/caregivers, and work hard at school and life in general.
  • New information about what transpires in their personal lives, e.g., family, schooling, careers, etc.
  • Answers to the child’s questions in previous correspondences.
  • General and specific questions about the child’s life, country, family, etc.
  • Prayer needs.

A Child Champion conducts a home visit to a sponsored boy in Kenya. Such visits provide Child Champions with insights into the life of a child living in poverty.

What kind of messages do the kids share with their sponsors?

New information about what is going on in their lives, e.g., family, school, church, community, country, etc. Answers to the sponsor’s questions in previous correspondences. General and specific questions about the sponsor’s life, country, family, etc., and prayer requests.

What special message have you come across in the years you have been helping with letter-writing?

It’s always special when children write to their sponsors requesting for their prayer needs so they can pray for them. Many cases, but to pick one, a case of Otui N. Risa, a young man who was on the verge of death after both his kidneys failed. His parents were not even able to pay for his fare to attend a weekly dialysis procedure that was needed, let alone pay for the hospital bill. He dropped out of school and his health deteriorated immensely. His sponsor knew about this through the letters he wrote and encouraged him through the letters while praying for him. This gave Otui hope beyond the sickness, until eventually from support from OneChild, he underwent a kidney transplant and got his life back and now is back in school and pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor.

Kids living in poverty need words of encouragement and hope from their sponsors so they know they have a chance of having a better future.

Why do you do what you do? What motivates your input into this ministry?

Having been a formerly sponsored child myself, I resonate very much with the sponsored children in OneChild and I’m happy to see their lives transform from hopelessness into a fruitful and fulfilled life in Christ.

How many letters do you send and receive monthly?

An average of 400 letters in low season and approximately 5,000 letters each May and October when annual letters and Christmas cards are processed.

What challenges do you encounter while ministering hope in hard places, and how do you deal with them?

The blinding and disempowering force of poverty on people’s lives. It makes people think that they are meant to remain poor, and they have to always to keep on receiving from donors since they cannot do or achieve anything on their own. This requires capacity-building through training and sharing the transforming truths and principles of the Word of God.

How has this ministry impacted your life?

The ministry has built my experience in ministering to children and their families, especially those in need, with empathy rather than sympathy. The ministry has taught the importance of giving and standing to be counted in supporting a child’s life. It has also broadened my understanding of the root causes of poverty amongst the communities and how it affects the future of a child. That way, it pushes me to take a step to help a child and a family in need, not necessarily only economically.

The ministry has caused me to understand the place and significance of children in the church and how important it is to invest in them while still young.

The ministry has also taught me that life is not just about me, but rather there is a higher purpose unto which I was created, and I am persuaded that it is about changing the world, by changing the future of a child, one at a time.

What does a gift from a sponsor mean to a child?

To a child, a gift from a sponsor means that there is someone who is not only thinking about him/her, but also cares about his/her needs. It is a higher demonstration of the love the sponsor has for his/her sponsored child. This helps to stamp the message already received by the child through the letters.

Sponsor a child to change your life and theirs!

Hear Zine’s story as she writes to her sponsor from Zimbabwe!

Help this story grow:

We are accountable to the children we serve AND to our donors.

Our accountability to our donors is one of our highest priorities. Our goal is to use the funds entrusted to us as wise stewards. To do this requires continued monitoring of our fund distribution. OneChild is also a member in good standing with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA)