Nov 04

Perspective (Part 2)

Part 1 can be seen HERE.

Well, it’s been four years or so since I became a sponsor for Fatou Cham, who lives in The Gambia. The Gambia is located in Western Africa, but from what I’ve been able to figure out the region is mercifully free from Ebola, and Fatou is still doing well. ┬áHere is the latest photo of her that I received:


I’m really glad everything is working out for her – in her most recent letter she stated that she was very happy, and that makes me happy. I sent along some extra a while back so that she could get a bicycle (which are a much bigger thing in other parts of the world than they are here), but it looked as though the money was used to buy grain and cloth. She has a birthday coming up, and so I sent along another extra contribution. I’m hoping she gets her bicycle, but at the end of the day I understand (and I’m sure she does too) that they know better what their immediate needs are over there.

I’m glad that I can be of some help, but I’ll fully admit I’m not a particularly ‘engaged’ sponsor. I very rarely write, and even now have a finished letter on my laptop which I haven’t sent though I suppose if I’m being honest I’m not very good at ‘engaging’ all the time even with people who live right next to me so I guess this shouldn’t surprise me. I hope that as long as she is happy and healthy then she won’t feel too short-changed in that regard.

I wrote last time about the good work that ChildFund does, and having been part of their program for four years now I can say that there’s no ‘honeymoon’ period that ends once you start donating. They really stay on top of the whole thing, and I get regular updates to this day. It provides a welcome dose of perspective that I think we should all try and manage.

I look at it this way: Here it seems that I can’t go a day on the internet (something right there that not everyone has access to) without reading or hearing about what plays to me like an almost complete lack of perspective. There seems to be a surge in the media regarding men who are angry that women have complaints about the way they are treated on the street, or in the workplace, or even just how they’re depicted in pop culture. A lot of men seem honestly angry about this (sometimes to the point of making threats, or even acting on those threats) simply because a different perspective is intruding on their own, and that’s the perspective of someone of their same race a lot of the time, who live in the same country and just happen to be a different gender. The phrase ‘white privilege’ makes a lot of people froth at the mouth here, as if it’s some kind of attack, and they seem unable to acknowledge that not everyone is born into the same situation and that while working hard is the best way to improve your station, not everyone starts at the same baseline. I feel like a lot of us can’t even put ourselves in the shoes of our own neighbors, or to imagine what it might be like to live our lives as something or someone other than what we are. I guess the Ebola scare pushed it out in front of me more so than anything else – it was a little shocking (though, I suppose, not that surprising) how many people immediately took the stance ‘close the borders’. Those people live in another part of the world and aren’t worth the risk, however small. It’s disheartening.

Maybe that’s why I like ChildFund so much. I don’t think I could do what they do. I fully admit I’m not devoted enough to travel overseas and help treat Ebola victims, or distribute food or water but ChildFund is. They’re doing the kind of work most of us don’t want to do. It’s not so much that they do it so we don’t have to, I think if they didn’t do it no one else would.

And at the end of the day, if my small contribution can help improve the happiness of a girl on the other side of the planet whom I’ll never meet, then I’ll take it.


  1. Nicole L. Bates

    I love that you do this and agree with your points about having some perspective. I sponsored a child when I was about 10 and it made a big impression. I hope to have my son, and eventually my daughter, do this so I’m glad to hear you’ve had a positive long term experience with ChildFund. I hope Fatou gets her bike!

    1. James

      Thanks Nicole – I’ve got my fingers crossed on the bike front!

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