I decided I wanted to sponsor an impoverished child in the Dominican Republic. I had recently been there and I saw first hand some of the extreme conditions the poor live in. I did some research on the Internet and decided to sponsor a child in the DR through Children’s International as they appeared to be legitimate. After reviewing the inventory of children available for sponsorship on the charities website, I selected a 9 yr. old female who was reportedly resided in a two parent household with 1 sibling (5 year brother). They reportedly live in a 2 bedroom/2 bed household with electricity and a toilet. The family was reportedly sustaining itself on $100 per month earned from the fathers employment as a daily worker. Prior to sponsorship, I contacted Children’s International at their 800 phone number for sponorship services to verify the information listed on the computer in regards to the families reported demographic information. I also specifically asked about the 2 bed situation and I was told it was not uncommon for siblings to sleep together. In regards to the 5 yr old brother, I was told he did not have a sponsor. Furthermore, I was told the family had no other sources of assistance available to them in the DR for them, social or otherwise. Based upon the information provided, I decided to sponsor the two siblings at $28 per month per child. I even paid for my sponsorship for the entire year as I was prepared to assist this family for the long run. Seeing as I was the sponsor for the only two reported children in the household, that would have made me the only sponsor and outside assistance for this family. Based upon this information, I believed the family could use some immediate relief as “Special NEEDS Gifts” to provide for basic necessities such as food/housing and household expenses (electricity)/clothing/beds and bedding etc. I sent a total of $430 in 4 payments ($100, $100, $115, $115). Childrens International was to act as stewards for the purchases made with the monies I furnished for the needs of this reportedly impoverished family. Children’s International was to insure that the items purchased were appropriate. It is now a month and a half after I began my sponsorship and I am receiving further information/pictures of some of what my monies purchased for the family. I would like to note that on 2 of my contributions I did reflect a “treat” could be purchased for the children. I expected an appropriate treat to be an ice cream, a piece of candy or perhaps a favorite dessert for the family. That is what I would give my children for a treat. I specifically did not reflect toys in the notes for my gifts for needs as toys seemed to me to be a bit too lavish for an impoverished family struggling to satisfy their basic needs. I did not want mandate the use of needed resources for such extravegencies given the known circumstances. Anyhow, I recieved a letter from the girll and she wrote that she had 3 brothers and 3 sisters and not just the one brother as I was led to believe. She also wrote her father is a barber who she said works for food for their family. i received another letter the same day from the mother,written on behalf of her 5 year old son,thanking me for the bike and toys for the children stating they were very happy to receive such gifts. I was very confused at this point so I telephoned Children’s International and asked them what the heck was going on and why were my monies being used on toys/bikes when the family reportedly had unsatisfied basic needs. I also asked them to reverify the demographics on this family. At that time, I was told there were 3 additional children in this household each with a sponsor (3 more sponsors in addition to myself). They still maintained there were only 2 bed in this household and given the addition of 3 more siblings, that would make 7 people sleeping in 2 beds. I asked them if that was the case and this family was struggling to provide basic needs, why were bikes and other toys being purchased. The response was the bikes were needed to ride to school. I later learned from a school progress report the school was only a 10 minute walk away from their residence. I did not get a response on the other toys and at the time of the call, I did not know exactly what toys were purchased. Seriously, if you go to most school areas in the United States you will see children walking to school due to them living within a mile or in some cases two miles of the school as a result of the cutting of school funding and the elimination of busing. The bikes were not a need but rather a want. Besides, school is out and there is presently no reason they would ride there other than recreation if they have a play area. The bikes are primarily toys despite Children’s International assertion that they are needed transportation to school. Later that very same day, I received additional information and pictures of what my monies were used for. What I saw and read left me speechless. With 1 of my donations I purchased 2 remote controlled cars, a play dish set, a couple of dollies, a few groceries, a a jug of bleach, a pack of diapers and a couple of hygiene items. The food stuff was of very limited quantities and for a family of 7, such items would last less than a week and would not provide adequate nutrition. What I did not see on the table was any meat, vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese, peanut butter, Mac and cheese, Beefaroni etc (I think you get the picture). Yes, the kids looked very happy with their toys. But, who wouldn’t if someone made it Christmas in May! In the pictures of another one of my donations, again I observed very few food items of limited quantities. Also, I purchased a dressy dress/shoes (impractical and more of a want than a need). At this point, I can hardly wait to see what the pictures of what my other 2 donations purchased. I already know I purchased 2 bikes with 1 or both of my gift for needs But I am awaiting the photos. For these gifts, I did not indicate even a “treat” was to be purchased as I wanted the monies to be used solely for basic needs/household expenses as would be appropriate for an impoverished family reportedly sustaining themselves on an income well below poverty level. I would like to note the fathers reported income was well below the minimum wage for a daily worker. As a barber, it appears to me that daily employment would be accessible to him and I can see no reason he wouldn’t make at least the minimum wage plus tips. Furthermore, since my sponsorship, I have learned from the internet that the DR does have utility/food/stipend for sending kids to school. While the amounts are not much, they are something and not nothing as reported to me by Children’s International. Children’s International has tried to justify the deception on children/sponsors telling me but thereonly 1 sponsor per child. I suppose they think that would make the deception pallatable or alright. The fact that they made me blind to families accessibility to resources for basic needs makes me extremely uncomfortable and I absolutely do not trust them. I wonder if these other sponsors are as blind to me and to each other as I was to them. If I had known the truth at the time of sponsorship, I probably would have selected another family to sponsor. I most certainly would not have sponsored both children nor would I have sent $430 in one month for “Special NEEDS Gifts”. To date, I have provided Children’s Internatonal with a total of $1130 in the month and a half I have been a sponsor ($700 for annual sponsorship fees/$430 needs gifts). I have contacted Children’s International to sever my dealings with the and to get a refund for the unused month of sponsorship. A supervisor was supposed to call me back by the end of the business day Yesterday but that did not happen. I will call again today to follow up with my refund. I would like to note that I am very sad about the situation. It is very unfortunate for the children I think I am sponsoring but then again, who knows if anything Children’s International is really true. They are just a 1-800 number, a PO Box, and an Internet site to me. I have no way to verify a physical office location. They have a BBB favorable rating but realistically a favorable rating can be bought if you pay for membership as they have done. I have filed a complaint with the BBB as well but have not heard anything from that as of yet. .
This complaint and/or review was posted on HolySmoke.org on 15:12 pm, October 12, 2019 (CST) and is a permanent record located at: https://www.holysmoke.org/scam/children-international-review/.
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