How the Angel and the Bookkeeper Learned to Get Along

05/13/13

I don’t think Perla let go of my hand the entire afternoon. We walked all over the bumpy dirt roads of her neighborhood in the Dominican Republic, with her clinging to my hand and introducing me to her friends, family, and favorite games. She was obviously excited and encouraged that I, her sponsor, had come to visit. 

 
Perla meets her sponsor
                                                             Perla meets her sponsor for the first time.
 
We muddled through some conversation using my rusty Spanish, and Perla even demonstrated her ability to count to ten in English (though she skipped a few numbers along the way). The afternoon was nothing short of heartwarming, especially after Perla had been so shy upon meeting me the previous day. But, to be honest, I hadn’t sponsored Perla so she could warm my heart, or even so I could warm hers. I had more of a bookkeeper mentality about it.
 
A colleague once told me that every person has two internal personalities vying for control of their charitable giving: the angel and the bookkeeper. The angel is the humanitarian inside each of us. He sees a crying, hungry child and wants to help because he is full of compassion. He whips out the credit card to make a donation to feed that child, but in doing so, he awakens the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper says, “Hold on a minute. Let’s think before we give. Let’s make sure this organization we’re giving to has a good track record and that our gift is going to do the most good it possibly could do.” 
 
In most people, one personality usually trumps the other. For me, the bookkeeper almost always wins. The bookkeeper decided to sponsor Perla. I wanted to sponsor a girl because of the great influence women have in raising children. And I chose Perla because she wants to be a teacher and I’m a firm believer in the power of education to lift people out of poverty. Basically, I wanted my sponsorship to have a big impact by helping a child who will influence future generations as a mother and a teacher. 
 
Perla in the Dominican Republic
A recent study showed that child sponsorship increases children's happiness in addition to improving educational and economic opportunities.
 
As someone with this bookkeeper mentality, I was very interested to read a recent study published by the University of Chicago about sponsored children from six developing countries and how their lives were improved compared to their unsponsored peers. The differences were huge. Sponsored children were about 30 percent more likely to complete high school than their peers, and about 35 percent more likely to obtain white collar jobs. This makes my bookkeeper smile. 
 
But the angel has reason to smile as well. In a follow-up study, researchers found that sponsored children are also happier than their peers. According to the BBC, the study’s author “found the spiritual aspect of sponsorship might be intrinsic to transforming children's lives.” He says, “‘Bringing hope to children’ is a trite phrase but it actually may be a profound and little researched aspect of development.”
 
This study has just confirmed what we at Children of the Nations have known all along: child sponsorship works and it’s about more than just giving a child material goods. I may have originally sponsored Perla to have an impact on her educational and physical needs, but after meeting her and writing to her, I can see what a huge role encouragement and Christian mentorship have on her life as well. 
 
Do you sponsor a child? If so, tell us why in the comments below. 
If not, call a meeting between your angel and your bookkeeper and find a child to sponsor today!