As I was preparing for my trip to Guatemala, I thought a lot about some of the key things I wanted to see while I was down there. One of these things was the registration process for sponsorship. I got an incredible look at the process that the fields go through when registering new children into our Child Sponsorship Program. This has always been something that I was interested in seeing and understanding. I have always wondered how do they explain sponsorship to the parents and the children? Who does the actual taking of information from the children and who takes the photos? Who helps the children sit down and write their Introduction Letter for their sponsor?
As I stood there and watched this whole process, I was blessed by everything I saw. It truly helped me understand my job better and how from beginning to end this information is received.
So I thought it would fun to share all of this process with all of you, our sponsors! Here goes:
This process all starts a few days ahead of when the staff are actually going to do the registering. They normally send letters home with the children and make an announcement in the community that they will be registering new children and give the date and time and which documents the mothers need to bring. The mothers then come to the school the day of registration and bring all the documents that the staff need. They start by gathering the mothers together and one of the staff explaining the process of sponsorship, the commitment, the requirements of both the children and the mothers and then how the rest of the registration process will go.
The mothers who agree to everything they have heard begin to line up. They one by one bring their child up to the table where an FH staff is sitting. This staff person asks the children and mother a series of questions like, name, age, birthday, favorite color etc. They take the copy of the child’s birth certificate that the mother has brought and have the mother sign or if they can’t write, thumb print on the agreement. These documents are then stapled together and the child is sent to get their photo taken.
The staff person taking the photos has found a spot to take them that is in good lighting with a good background. They sit on a chair and put the child in front of them. This staff person then makes sure that the child’s face is clean and hair is neat. They usually tell the child a series of jokes to try and get the child to smile. After taking 3 or 4 photos of that child, they record on the child’s documents the numbers on the camera of that child’s photos.
The child then goes into a classroom where another staff is waiting to help them write their first letter to their sponsor. This introduction letter is usually just a drawing or something similar as at this point the child does not know who their sponsor is. Sometimes, if the children are really young or really shy, the mothers, teachers or staff will help the children draw or write.
After all of this information is gathered, the staff take these documents back to the office where they enter the information one by one for each child into our system called World Link. This is the system that I use to review the child’s information and photo before I make this child available for sponsorship. I got the incredible opportunity to sit down and enter some of the children’s information into WL in our office in Guatemala. It was amazing to be able to sit on the other side of what I do. I have never fully understood how the information about each child gets to me, it just simply has. My co-worker Katie, also got the chance to translate a few of the children’s letters from Spanish into English.
I was so glad that I got to see this process. Sometimes it is easy for me to get frustrated that a photo is not good or that a child that is clearly a boy has girl marked on their file. But I got a glimpse of the vast amount of information that our staff process daily and the sometimes chaotic atmosphere of registration. There are children running around everywhere. Any mistake in information is not because the FH staff are being lazy or not paying attention, it is simply an honest mistake because of the amount of children they see in a day.
I left Guatemala with so much respect for our staff in the field. They work so hard. Even as I sit at my desk today, work on photos and information I remember that today is Friday, so many of the staff in Guatemala are in the office. Fridays are their one day in the office after spending 4 days in the communities.
I am a better person because of what I learned and saw. I am better at my job and have a greater appreciation for everyone around the world that is on the other side of everything that I do.