The power of long-term child sponsorship in Indonesia

Ever wondered why do we do 15 year-long projects in your sponsored child’s community?

The answer is similar to why it’s difficult to start a new fitness routine or any routine for that matter – these things don’t just happen overnight. Change, whether it’s in a community or an individual like you, takes persistence and dedication.


By Stephen Court, World Vision’s Senior Portfolio Advisor for East Asia

What stands out when I visit Indonesia is the community’s willingness to engage in different World Vision activities and find solutions to community issues.

We see families whose children don’t go to school because maybe they have to work to enable the family to survive or maybe they don’t have enough energy because they’re sick all the time. So we teach them about how to grow gardens, and that the reason you grow gardens is for nutrition, and the reason you focus on nutrition is for health, and the reason for focusing on health is so that their child can go to school … you connect all the dots. Meanwhile, growing additional vegetables in the garden and selling these at the markets can help improve the family’s income so the child doesn’t have to work.


The communities I meet with are interested in creating alternative sources of income to meet their needs and the needs of their children. They want to become involved in things like home or community gardens, or allowing their children to partake in child rights and protection training.


As communities, they seem to be quite willing to be involved in the change process.

But as we all know, change takes time.  That’s why we do 15-year-long programs.

It’s what makes World Vision unique compared to some other NGOs (non-government organisations). We’re one of the few organisations that can offer a 15-year-long intervention. Most organisations’ funding doesn’t allow for that. Child Sponsorship allows a phenomenal flexibility of development, which results in a huge improvement in the investment that supporters so kindly provide.

A lot of our short-term projects, ranging from two to three years, are very specific, with very specific targets that you can see the shift in.



But the child sponsorship projects are built around not just giving families food or giving them shelter or giving them healthcare. These projects are designed to bring about long-term change in the way in which communities think and the way in which individuals do and operate, so that those things will continue changing long after World Vision leaves their community.


Some cultures have taken hundreds of years to become what they are. Yet sometimes, the expectation from sponsors is that we can bring change in two or three years.

We know how hard it is to change us – if somebody wanted us to come in to work half an hour earlier, and also work six days instead of five, what a big hassle that is. Yet trying to shift some of your deep-rooted cultural practices that you and your grandparents and their grandparents have done forever, trying to change those for different reasons … that takes time.

Australians like to see the physical changes, like a school or a hospital, which are great but they have to be part and parcel. To me, a community has to be able to absorb that and understand the change and accept it as their own and work with it.

Just plonking a healthcare clinic into a community and saying “now you have healthcare” … community members think, “Well, why would I go to a healthcare clinic when I know that if I eat these berries when I’m sick, they’ll keep me healthy?”



You need to get people to understand why it’s important to use healthcare for them and their families. If you don’t get the community to this place; the healthcare clinic will be nothing but a building that’s going to rot.


When remote communities don’t have access to information, when they don’t have computers to broaden their understanding, all they have is history, which teaches them “this is what was passed down to me; this is what was passed down from generation to generation. I don’t know why I do this, but this is deeply ingrained in me, this is what I am”.

To those on the outside, some of these changes made by communities may seem simple and insignificant, yet to those undergoing this change process it can be life changing. This is why World Vision walks alongside the communities over a 15 year period – because we understand the challenges required to bring about change, and we want to make sure that your support as a sponsor is making a long-term difference in your sponsored child’s life.