Milan (AsiaNews) Today Italy's child sponsoring groups held their annual meeting at the Missionary Centre of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME) in Milan. The event was organised by Forum SAD (Sostegno A Distanza), an umbrella association that brings together several of these sponsoring groups.
This year's topic was 'Why make a commitment' and focused on how child sponsoring can be sustained over time as part of strategies designed to help people, especially children, in the developing world.
Among the participants at the Milan meeting are the Right Honourable Stefania Prestigiacomo, Italy's Minister for Equal Opportunities; Lorenzo Ornaghi, president of the National Agency for ONLUS; Maria Burani Procaccini, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for children; Sergio Marelli, president of the association of Italian NGOs; Edoardo Patriarca, Forum Terzo Settore. The President of the Lombardy region, Roberto Formigoni, and the Mayor of Milan, Gabriele Albertini, are also set to speak.
Child sponsoring is now commonplace throughout Italy. There are 131 groups involved, 64 of which as part of Forum SAD.
Italian donors number one million and sponsor about 2.5 million people in 110 countries giving a total of 240 million a year (2004 figures).
Most adoptions involve educational programmes for children, followed by aid to the farming sector, housing and hostels.
What makes sponsoring different from other fundraising activities is the fact that the donor has to sustain his or her commitment over time.
Its goal is to educate donors about how millions of people live and to guarantee long-term financing of development projects.
Consider the tsunami tragedy. Its needs are pressing and must be immediately met. This is far different from what long-term help is.
This is what Giuseppe Caffulli, an expert in the field and author of Un figlio all'altro capo del mondo. L'Adozione a distanza in Italia, (A child on the other side of the world. Child sponsoring in Italy), writes in the February issue of Mondo e Missione.
To become a child sponsor, according to Mr Caffulli, "requires from medium to long-term commitment, stability, and constant contact with locals".
The current crisis in south-east Asia needs instead immediate actions that stave off a potential health crisis and start reconstruction.
He points out that PIMEfirst to introduce child sponsoring to Italyopted for emergency steps to help a hospital in India and the reconstruction of schools, orphanages and churches on the Andaman Islands. By contrast, long-term projects will "take weeks and months," he said. And adoptions will sustain them over time. (LF)