This is what I was asked by a young man on Bloor Street while I was trying to get home after work. He was no older than 21, mohawked, pimpled and wearing superman shorts, he jogged up to me carrying a file folder.
“Just so you know, we’re going to talk,” he smiles. Oh no, I really just want to get home, however because I worked as a telemarketer in my university days, I agree to at least listen.
“Do you sponsor a child?” he asks nonchalantly. I think to myself, does my own count?
“No I don’t.”
“Have you ever considered it?”
“Do you know someone who does?” I nod as I do. I think at this point he is beginning to sense that this is a dead on, but he is optimistic.
“Did you know for only $1 a day, you can provide a child in Peru with housing, food and an education? That is less than daily ATM fees.” I argue with him that my hesitation to sponsor a child is from first hand accounts I’ve heard from people I know that work for these kind of companies that a large portion of the money goes to the business and not these kids in need. His face grows stern and his pessimism grows.
“Do you not like to support your community? I bet you don’t even donate to charity. It’s really not that expensive, you could afford it.”
I explain to him that yes, I do like to support my community, however, contrary to his belief, Peru is not my community. Toronto and Canada are my communities. I also contribute to charities. I am a firm supporter of child literacy programs, local food banks and shelters. This past weekend, I donated over 10 garbage sized bags of clothes and shoes to a local clothing drive in Toronto. I had 42 diaper boxes of girl’s clothes that I had saved from when the Princess was born and of those 42, I kept a tote of clothes for any future children I may have and have 17 boxes left to give to friends and family that already have or are having girls. The rest, on top of clothes that Hubby and I no longer wore, went to clothing my fellow Canadians and Torontonians.
“C’mon,” he argued. “It’s not that expensive.”
I explain that I cannot consent to this right here and now as this concerns money, and I must consult with my Hubby. I don’t need to ask his permission, but as this is a financial decision, it has to be a mutual one. He had enough and walked away from me sighing, but then smiles quickly as he sees the next person walking down the street.
I don’t want to put out the impression that I do not care for the starving children in the world, because I do. As a parent, it’s almost impossible for me not to. However, I have a child that requires me to feed her, and clothe her, and house her, and provide for her. My own government won’t assist my financially, let alone people from other countries. She is my responsibility, those children are not. It makes my heart ache to see them on the TV, with their bellies swollen from kwashiorkor, flies swarming around their mouths and the squalor they live in. If I had the resources to feed all the children and provide for them, I really would. But I cannot justify giving money to care for another child when I have my own to care for. Some of you may be thinking, “It’s only a $1 a day.” You are absolutely right, it’s only $352 a year. But that is roughly 2 weeks of childcare, less than a month’s worth of groceries, 4 month’s worth of Hydro, and/or transportation costs for our family for a month.
I would also like to point out that there are children in Canada and the United States that do not get enough to eat, or have daily access to housing or running water. Abuse and neglect are still rampant, drug abuse and violence are an everyday occurrence, and in some northern parts of Canada, the suicide rate is 11% higher than the national Canadian average. To me, those are issues that are closer to my heart than those in other countries. I cannot help everyone in the world, no matter how much I would love to, but I can help some people. I just choose to help my community. A motto I follow is “In order to help others, you must first help yourself.” I once explained this to someone who didn’t quite understand my point of view. I argued that in most life-threatening situations, they always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping the person next to you. You can’t help someone if you are endangered yourself. The same can be said in this situation. So to the young man who approached me, let me say this; Your selling techniques need work, and just because I didn’t sponsor a child, I’m not a bad person.