Somewhere, out on the vast continents of Africa, Asia and South America, children are praying for the help that you can give them. It might be a little girl barely surviving on the streets in India, or a boy in a drought-stricken village in Africa. It might be a tiny child orphaned by disease or natural disaster.

These children are all victims of child poverty. They, like millions of others, are in desperate need of your help to overcome poverty.

Sometimes, the sheer numbers of children living and dying in poverty is too overwhelming to think about. According to UNICEF, 21,000 children die every day because they are unable to overcome poverty and survive. Then there are the hundreds of millions of children existing without proper food, safe shelter, clean water, or medical care.

Immense though the child poverty problem is, every single one of us can make a difference and help children overcome poverty who are suffering every single day.

By helping just one child we help the child’s family and the wider community as well. By giving just a small sum of money every month, we can change the life of one child in poverty completely. The single most effective way to do this is through child sponsorship. Working with the local church and community, respected children’s charities identify children who are in the most desperate need and need our help to overcome poverty. They can break out of the misery of child poverty.

These children, all living in the world’s poorest countries, are what Jesus Christ once described as "the least of My brethren." They have nothing. They are stalked by death, disease and despair. But as Jesus also said: "I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. … Inasmuch as you did it to the least of My brethren, you did it to me" (see Matthew 25:35, 45).

Sponsoring a child means giving much more help than a few dollars each month. It means bringing hope to children in poverty who will never forget how kindly strangers across the world reached out to help them overcome and changed their life. A sponsor’s gift of less than $40 a month means that the child:

• has access to clean, safe water

• has regular health checkups and immunizations

• receives a good education plus training

• receives proper nourishment

If the charity involved is Christian, the children will also learn about Jesus Christ and the Bible. Children will become aware of how precious they are in the eyes of God, probably for the first time.

Sponsorship is also very precious to the giver because it is so personal. It is a wonderful way of extending God’s love and help across continents and feeling truly connected with a child who needs your help. Over the months and years, the children and sponsors exchange letters and photographs, and there are regular progress reports. A warm and very rewarding relationship tends to develop, as the sponsor learns more about the "overseas child," and the child grows and thrives thanks to the help of the "overseas parent."

There is often the opportunity to send small gifts to the child, and even to pay a visit if that is the sponsor’s wish.

The wonder of sponsorship is that children in poverty who were once perhaps sick, malnourished and uncared for can now look forward to a worthwhile future — and a God-given way to overcome and escape from the wretched spiral of poverty and misery. Child sponsorship can and does help children break free of this poverty spiral every day.

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