10.13.2006

Save Money to Save Orphans

For over a decade, I have "sponsored" kids at an orphanage in Kenya.
Run by Silas and Winnie Owiti, who I had the pleasure of meeting two
years ago at a conference hosted by Christian Aid, which administers
the sponsorship program, the Ebenezer Orphanage Home literally saves
lives: kids orphaned by war or AIDS find a home there as well as
vocational and spiritual instruction, as opposed to sniffing glue or
being trafficked.

Because the orphanage is run by Kenyans and because Christian Aid
keeps its overhead low, the cost per head to me is $15 a month, less
than half what it'll run you at other US agencies that do child
sponsorship. Every six months, I get a report card on each of my
kids, so I can see how they're faring in their school subjects and
what their personal interests are. My first batch of kids, who I
started sponsoring in the mid-1990's, turned 18 last year and found
jobs, and so I'm getting to know a second batch.

I hope you'll consider sponsoring a child or ten through Christian
Aid. Let me help you get comfortable with the fact that you have the
money to do this. $15 a month is $180 a year, and if you itemize on
your tax return, that works out to a net of $135 -- assuming you're in
the 25% tax bracket; it's even less on your wallet if you're in a higher
bracket.

Where's that $135 going to come from? Consider making some reasonable
cuts in four areas of your life. Let's start with food. If you clip
and use $1 in coupons on your weekly shopping run, and eat out one
less time per month (assuming a $8 meal), that's $148 saved, more than
enough for one sponsorship. Make that $3 in coupons and two less
meals out per month (at $10 per meal) and you're at $396, almost
enough for three sponsorships.

What about drinks? One less latte at Starbucks ($3) and water instead
of soda ($1) during two of your lunches out per week means $260 more
in your pocket at the end of the year, enough for almost two more
sponsorships.

Let's talk clothing. Buy one less shirt ($15) and one less pair of
pants ($30) per season, and one less pair of shoes ($60) per year, and
you've got yourself $240 for almost two more sponsorships.

Finally, we can make some cutbacks on entertainment. Every three
months, we'll buy a CD used instead of new ($5 vs. $15), forego
another CD altogether, and download three less songs off iTunes ($1);
we'll also wait for one movie to come out on DVD instead of going to
the theater ($7). Now we have $140, just enough for another
sponsorship.

In other words, without making a whole lot of major lifestyle changes,
one can save up enough money to sponsor orphans. We haven't even
talked about bigger savers like canceling your cable subscription or
riding your bike to work or turning down the thermostat at night. So
now that you've seen the math, I hope you'll consider saving some
money to save some orphans.

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