Choice is a powerful thing, one that most of us take for granted. And when we choose a recipient for our charitable dollars, we feel a rush of benevolence from the knowledge we’ve helped shape a life.
But what if the script were flipped?
What if a child living in extreme poverty were empowered to choose her or his own sponsor from the U.S.? Would it give the children a rare feeling of control in their own fates? And for the donor, would it change the experience from one of saintly generosity to one of feeling honored and humbled?
With “Chosen,” Christian charity World Vision set out to answer those questions, and the results were immediately apparent.
The project began this summer, when the nonprofit surprised a group of Guatemalan children—who had arrived dressed in their best clothes in hopes of impressing potential sponsors—by letting them instead choose from a selection of photos of U.S. donors.
“Tears filled their eyes, and their expressions changed from ‘pick me’ to genuine smiles,” said the Rev. Mat Grover, who organized that event. “These kids suddenly found themselves at a place where their voices mattered; they had a choice.”
So World Vision followed up with a similar event in Mwala, Kenya, where 431 children got to pick from pictures of potential sponsors, all affiliated with a downtown Chicago church. The resulting video is quite powerful:
At the highest levels, the program actually can trace its roots to one of advertising’s most famously empowering campaigns: #LikeAGirl from Procter & Gamble brand Always. World Vision President Edgar Sandoval was previously vp of feminine care products at P&G and was central to the campaign’s development.
“Chosen introduces children to the first of many empowering choices they will now have through child sponsorship, so they can become agents of lasting change,” Sandoval says. “We are already seeing God move in miraculous ways through Chosen.”
World Vision is already working to expand the Chosen program into a global initiative across countries where it operates, with sponsor photo shoots being brought to churches and concerts across America. On the nonprofit’s Chosen landing page, you can learn more about how to get involved and the stories behind some of the children and donors who’ve been connected.