Faith

Children empowered in new World Vision model

A new sponsorship put the power of choice in a child’s hands, thereby creating avenues for
empowerment.
In September, World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, announced a new sponsorship
program called Chosen. For the first time in their 70-year history of conducting relief, development and
advocacy activities in its work with children, families and their communities, World Vision decided to give
kids the opportunity to change their lives by their own choice.
World Vision’s traditional child sponsorship program invites interested sponsors to its website. The
website provides the story, profile and video of children who are waiting for sponsorship.
However, Chosen states that “the power to choose a sponsor is in the child’s hands.” Edgar Sandoval
Sr., World Vision U.S. president said, “Chosen recognizes the dignity of children living in extreme poverty
and emphasizes their God-given potential to change their lives and their communities.” According to
Sandoval, children are created by the Lord to be change-makers. “Choosing a sponsor is only the first of
many important choices they can make to open the door to a better future,” Sandoval said.
Scout Barratt, junior biology major, believes that this new program is full of benefits for both children
and sponsoring families. “I was so unaware of how many children looking for sponsorship go without
being assigned a sponsor, and to hear how that affects their opinions of themselves, that they don’t think
that they’re good enough for whatever reason, was heartbreaking,” she said. “Where it was the needy
child waiting for a sponsor, now all of the children looking for sponsorship have a family supporting them
and the sponsors wait to be chosen.”
“This system brings a new depth to the relationship that was lacking before. Now the children know the
faces of the families who are supporting them, and they chose the family themselves,” Barratt said. “And
from the families’ perspective, this child chose them out of all of the other options. I can imagine that
would instill a deeper sense of commitment and caring since that child knows who you are and is
counting on you specifically.”
Melani Barratt, mother of Scout Barratt, has sponsored children through several different programs.
Her first sponsorship of a young girl was through World Vision, and it lasted over ten years. Now, she is
supporting a girl through another organization, but her reason to support kids has remained the same. “In
all cases, it was because an opportunity was put before me and I felt it was the right thing to do,” Melani
Barratt said.
When Melani Barratt first heard about Chosen, she said she was concerned about the lack of
sponsors for kids to choose from, since “the assumption has always been that there are many more
children than there are sponsors.” However, to imagine children having a chance to choose a sponsor
themselves made her happy, as she has not been pleased with the idea of a child not being chosen. “I
think the plan is wonderful,” she said. “I hope it is successful for them.”
To be a sponsor through Chosen, you can submit a digital picture of yourself, and World Vision sends
it to a community hosting a choosing event. Kids who are waiting for sponsors will come to the event. If
one of them sees your photo and name and chooses you, you get to be their sponsor. According to World
Vision, when the choosing event happens, you also find out who has chosen you. You will get to hear
why they chose you, and the two of you will be able to start a friendship, getting to know each other by
exchanging letters and photos.
More than 431 children in Mwala, a small town in Kenya, have already chosen their sponsors among
the people at Soul City Church in Chicago. World Vision introduced Chosen for the first time at Soul City
Church on a Sunday morning in late February. According to World Vision’s website, Soul City has been
its partner for eight years, but on that day, co-lead pastor Jeanne Stevens invited her congregation to say
yes to a transformative relationship.
At the following Sunday’s service, people at Soul City found out which child had chosen them.
“Whether you live here in Chicago or you live in Mwala, Kenya, every single person wants to be chosen,”
Jeanne said to an enthralled congregation. “I want to be chosen. You want to be chosen. You want to be
seen. You want to be loved. You want to be reminded that you are worthy of love.”
World Vision isn’t changing its regular program. Previous sponsors can keep the sponsorship of
a child they chose, and new sponsors can still choose a child to support. The website states that

“with something we believe in so much, works so well, and changes so many lives, we only
want to extend the invitation in a new way so that more people can experience it.”