In Episode 17 of the Canopy Life podcast, Christi and Evan discuss child sponsorship, Handpicked, and why allowing our students to choose their sponsors restores choice, agency, and dignity in their lives.

We have a goal this month to add 30 people, or 30 families, to our sponsorship program. 30 people sponsoring children at Canopy Life can make an exponential impact in the lives of the children and their communities at Canopy Life!

Why is it better to have 30 sponsors rather than 1 person to write a check that equals the same amount 30 people would be giving through sponsorship?

Yes, monthly donations from our sponsors are critical to our ability to serve our students. Those donations make everything possible. However, the Canopy Life sponsorship program is more than just funding. It’s about relationship and connection. Our sponsors pray for, cheerlead, encourage, and visit our students. We believe our program also helps families in the U.S. educate, encourage, and expand the worldviews of their own children. None of those things would be accomplished with just a one-time gift from a handful of donors. The relational piece is so vital to our program.

What are the resources and skillsets of these 30 people we are looking for to help?

Our sponsors are so different from one another, and each plays a vital role in the program. We encourage sponsors to engage our students with their full personalities and skillset! We want them to bring their authentic self to the relationship with that student. That is what makes the sponsorship family a true community. 

Each child at Canopy Life will eventually have 5 sponsors that make up their sponsor team/family. We want different kinds of personalities in each sponsor family. 

Here are the 5 most common types of sponsors:

The Giver

This is the person who loves to give gifts to encourage others. Sometimes those gifts from our Canopy Life sponsors are practical and other times they are extravagant or whimsical. That whimsy and love remind our students that they are truly cared for.

Every year, we invite our sponsors to fill a box with specific things to send our way. Sponsor Boxes include things like Valentine’s Day cards, birthday cards, and scriptures. Sometimes we ask our sponsors to send things like funny socks or toothbrushes. Givers LOVE the Sponsor Box option.

The Educator

This is the person who believes in developing the worldview of kids and empowering them with empathy and gratitude. They are focused on expanding the worldview of their own kids, while also engaging their sponsored student. “Educators” really care about knowing about cultural differences. They want to teach kids about the world’s varieties, but also its inequities. This type of sponsor loves Sponsor Boxes and mentoring and including their own kids in sponsorship activities.

The Mentor, a.k.a. The Miyagi

These folks are all about sharing loads of wisdom with our students. They’re drawn to sending thoughtful letters and emails. They make sure the books that they donate in the Sponsor Box are ones that can encourage and direct the kids. Most of these mentors are signed up as Global Mentors within our sponsorship program. Each child’s sponsor family has a Global Mentor. Each month, Global Mentors exchange video messages with their sponsored student each month and enjoy guiding them over the years they sponsor them.

Canopy Life sponsorship

The Hugger (Quality-time)

This is the sponsor who loves quality time and will travel around the world to visit their student. Many people don’t have the capacity to travel to visit their sponsored students. “Huggers” travel as representatives of all the other sponsors on the sponsorship family team. 

The Impact/Driver

These types of sponsors love making an impact in a lot of different ministries and nonprofit organizations. They tend to love the entrepreneurial and innovation side of what Canopy Life is doing in Kenya. While they are making an impact in many different areas of life and care deeply about the world, they may not have time to write or fill Sponsor Boxes or engage in that time-consuming relational side of sponsorship. Even so, they have a very special place in our story. We love that they will spend their hard-earned income to support our students’ futures. 

Even if “Impacts” cannot engage relationally with their sponsored student, the impact-driven sponsor can have confidence that their student is still cared for and that their generosity is making a difference in the life of that student. They still get updates and letters from their sponsored student and can read over them as their schedule allows.

child sponsorship at Canopy Life

How are sponsorships different from Canopy Life sponsorships in the past?

We have 2 ways you can become a sponsor. One is the traditional way where you go online, find a student’s picture or information that resonates with you, and you choose that student to sponsor. It allows you to prayerfully choose the child you want to champion and allows friends to sponsor together. It makes it really fun to sponsor a child together with people in your own community!

The second way is something we like to call “Handpicked” and is new to our sponsorship program. In February of this year, following the lead of World Vision’s Chosen project, we allowed our students to select their own sponsors.

These students come from a lifestyle of poverty and rarely have been given the chance to choose anything. It’s typically a survival-based mentality. As a young girl, you deal with the clothes handed down to you or available at the market. Choice and variety have not been a part of their lifestyle. For them to be able to choose something as important as the person who they want to partner with for their future, it restores choice, agency, and dignity to them.

To be Handpicked, sponsors sign up for an unknown child, begin donating monthly, and then send us a picture of themselves. We send those pictures to Kenya where they are displayed by our students. Our students will come in one-by-one and pick the person who they want to choose as their sponsor. It’s such a powerful thing.

We are looking for 30 people to sign up to be Handpicked this September.

We are a small school, so we need to make sure that every child at Canopy Life gets to pick at least one sponsor. This means that we need 16 new sponsors to be able to do this. Ideally, we’d love for each child to have 2 spots filled in their sponsor families.  We’ve already had 2 people sign up, so we need 30 new sponsors in September (that’s 1 new sponsor everyday this month) to make it happen. 

Right now, it’s so hard to see a tangible impact in the world. Sponsorship is a really tangible, easy way that anyone can take advantage of to make a real, tangible impact on a child’s life.

Handpicked child sponsorship
Joshua, all smiles after choosing the first members of his sponsor family

Now, more than ever, our kids need great sponsors who will walk with them on their journey.

We are so grateful for our donors and sponsors who have made it possible for our students to continue virtual learning in rural Kenya, but so much can happen over the course of a year. Our students live in very survival-based environments at home in their communities. When they come back to the Canopy Life campus in January 2021, we want to dive in and not worry about the economics of what we do, while knowing that we have teams of sponsors who are lined up ready to encourage and love our students. 

That’s why we are doing all of this now – so we can head into January as a cohesive team, ready to fill any gaps and help our students deal with any trauma or emotional damage that has happened this year. 

We are looking for those 30 incredible people – of all different skill sets and personalities – to walk with a student at Canopy Life on their journey for as long as they can. You can walk with them from 4th grade all the way to their senior year of high school if you choose to continue sponsoring! These 30 sponsors will change our little world at Canopy Life, and eventually, they will impact an entire African country because our students will grow into leaders who will influence and lead the East African community.

You can be one of the 30 people who impact the future of Kenyan leadership by investing in our students.

To sponsor a child, visit our sponsorship page by clicking the link below.

Canopy Life handpicked podcast
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