In all of my visits to our affiliated projects around the world over the last few years, I have yet to meet a volunteer coordinator who does not visit the homes of our sponsored children. Our coordinators feel that home visits are important for many different reasons. Visiting the homes of children in our program helps to forge a strong partnership between parents and coordinators, because parents often feel more relaxed and comfortable at home, as opposed to in a school or office environment.
Home visits help to establish strong, positive communication between our coordinators and our sponsored children’s parents and guardians.
Home visits help to establish strong, positive communication between our coordinators and our sponsored children’s parents and guardians. They can also motivate parents to get involved or become more involved at their kids’ schools and activities when a school administrator takes time out of their day to visit their homes, showing their concern for the children’s well-being.
One of the most important aspects of home visits is that they give our coordinators a glimpse into the lives of the children we support. They offer a perspective on each individual family’s struggles, what they are lacking, and what they find to be the most difficult challenges in their lives. When our coordinators see these harsh realities for themselves, they become better-equipped to provide each child in our program with the exact support they so desperately need. Additionally, when our coordinators visit the homes of our sponsored children, we, in turn, get a better idea of what a tremendous impact our programs are having in the lives of the kids we help to support.
Every child included
On a recent trip to Guatemala, I met with our Volunteer Coordinators Sister Ana María and Katy at Santa Isabel Ana Seton in Guatemala City. Named after a North American nun who was canonized in 1975, Santa Isabel Ana Seton serves children in pre-school through the ninth grade in one of the city’s poorest districts. The school is on a large compound, the center of which consists of a concrete playground that is surrounded by classrooms in which 575 boys and girls attend elementary and middle school.
As we toured the school, Katy explained that she and Sister Ana María make it a point to visit the homes of each and every one of the children enrolled in our program. Since the school day is very busy, Katy knows that it is less effective to try to talk to children at school, when they are busy with their hectic schedules, and laughing and having fun with their friends. She also realizes that it is essential to learn about students’ home lives, see what conditions they live in, and meet their parents and guardians. She finds that when she is able to ask specific questions to parents in a place where they are comfortable talking to her, they tend to tell her exactly what they are struggling with; then, Katy ensures that they get what they need.
Many parents have indicated to Katy that there is not enough food to eat at home on the weekends. In one instance, a parent lost their job, and was therefore no longer able to afford school fees. Other parents convey that they are worried about their children’s safety; in these cases, Katy recommends that the children enroll in skills training programs after school so that they aren’t out in the streets while their parents are working, and are better prepared for life after they graduate from school.
Individual attention for each child
At Children Incorporated, we often talk about how proud we are that we are able to give individual children the attention they deserve. In contrast to other child sponsorship organizations, our coordinators know the children enrolled in their respective schools, orphanages, homes, and community centers personally, and are therefore familiar with each individual child’s circumstances. Our policy is to consider the needs of each sponsored child; and thanks to special people all over the world – people like Sister María and Katy – who are willing to go above and beyond every day, we will be able to continue our work for many years to come.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN GUATEMALA?
You can sponsor a child in Guatemala in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Guatemala that is available for sponsorship.