In Haiti, children who have lost their family and families who have lost their breadwinner in Haiti need long term help.
Since the mid January we have been explaining to people that as well as contributing something to the short term emergency work (for example of DEC members), they should consider taking out a longer term commitment such as an Emergency Relief Sponsorship. As the recent problems with the "kidnapping" of children with families has highlighted, in the chaos after such a disaster it takes time to identify the family situation and best long term solution for each child and whether they need a long term home with SOS Children. An emergency relief sponsorship allows someone to support the costs of our safe havens where hundreds of lone children are being cared for (and the cost of our 33 community programs already providing a daily meal to more than 4000 children still generally living under a sheet on the streets) until, in around a year, the long term situation of each affected child is identified and we are able to offer them for sponsorship.
However, when the Earthquake struck in Haiti we already had two children's villages, 16 community centres, a secondary school and a vocational training centre in Haiti. We also had many children already in our care still unsponsored. Therefore, we initially offered people a choice: if they wanted to sponsor a specific child immediately they could sponsor a child in one of our existing villages or if they wanted to help with the earthquake they could take out an emergency relief sponsorship so that children were fed and looked after whilst we worked out the situation of each child.
Many hundreds of people across Britain opted for each of these options. Several thousand across Europe (especially Scandinavia) did. We have now reached the point where we have no child sponsorships available for children already in our care before the earthquake. However we still have a big need for Emergency Relief Sponsors. There are some children already in our long term care without sponsors, in fact, but our national office in Haiti is still under rubble and we cannot put together details for those. And children left alone by the earthquake could not be sponsored realistically before 2011. We expect to extend existing villages and build at least one new one for children orphaned by the earthquake, and will need child sponsors for them. We also would welcome village sponsorships for our existing villages to help pay for children with no sponsors (whom we are not in a position to add to the sponsorship program).
We guarantee that all sponsorship funds will be sent to Haiti for our programs there without any deduction for UK admin or fundraising costs. Our UK costs are low because most sponsors come over the internet which is at least twenty times cheaper than direct mail. We can easily absorb our sponsorship costs from our general income (which includes giftaid recoveries) and indeed every year we use a big piece of this general "unrestricted" income to fund our work abroad as well.