As an African, I dislike the idea of African children’s pictures/images on display like goods for sale for people in the West to make their selection. Come to think of it, how are their choices made? I wonder… Is it how cute the child looks? Or is it how sad the child looks? I guess the sadder the child the more pity is evoked in the potential sponsor, hence the despicable advertisement strategy used depicting African children deprived and degraded, as poor victims whose parents are unable to provide for them. They show children crying, with flies perching on their faces like they are some dead meat left on the ground for vultures to prey on them. The whole charade ends up perpetuating the negative stereotype of Africa as a continent that is not intelligent enough to look after her own and dependent on the West for its survival. This depiction fosters racism as it enforces the idea of superiority between races, leaving most African children living in the West, vulnerable and ashamed of their culture and heritage.
If the idea is to really help these poor African children, why don’t we stick to empowering families as opposed to singling out under-aged children to assist? Why place these children in a vulnerable position both at home and abroad?
The problem with most of these sponsorships are that children that successfully get sponsored are been shown the ‘wonders’ of western cultures via the various correspondences they receive from their sponsors reminding them of how sad their lives currently are in comparison to children in the west. While African children abroad are been taunted by their classmates about how lucky they are to be in the west and not in Africa, where children are sad, starving and living in huts/trees depending on the tales being told.
With this kind of perception being fostered around African children, how, then, can they learn to love themselves and be content with who they are and where they come from? How can they learn to love their culture?
We really need to review the whole child sponsorship agenda happening across continents and focus more on family empowerment, if to help, is the real intent. Also, Africa as a whole really needs to step-up and find ways to help each other from within. It may be easier and less stressful to have someone else take care of your children, when compared to the hard work that is required to look after your own with very limited resources but the price tag on that assistance is huge and should be reviewed. Nothing good comes easy but when it does, after the hard work is put in, it is worthwhile and sustainable. A continent’s dignity needs to be kept intact so that their children and their culture flourishes and their people can stand proud.