BAIT AND SWITCH?

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Since sponsoring Sterson Bonhomme (HA075000415) for nearly two years and giving several gifts $75 and up, we have received just two photos of him--both of them on your web site--and one of his mother only with goats bought.  We made repeated inquiries after the September 2017 hurricane, asking about him since Compassion told us his home and income were destroyed.  Finally, just a few days ago, we got a letter telling us about him and his gifts.  We received a photo with the letter.  The boy in the photo is not the same boy we signed up to sponsor.  It's very dark, but we can readily see the boy isn't "our" Sterson.  What's going on?  Compare the boy in the photo we got this month to the photo of our sponsored child.  Not only is this "new" child much darker, his nose is much larger, and his forehead and brows are more prominent.  He looks nothing like the Sterson we signed up to sponsor. 

Did your Colorado office have the wrong photo to begin with, or has there been some kind of "bait and switch" at the Haiti office?  The woman doesn't look quite like his mother did in our previous photo either, but it isn't as obvious.  The child is obviously not "ours."  We were so happy to get news of Sterson after all these months of begging for it, and now we don't even know if "our" Sterson exists.

We have confidence that our sponsored girl in Haiti (different church and project) is who she is supposed to be and we have a relationship with her due to the many photos and letters received.  We have confidence in our sponsored girl in Uganda and delight in the growth of our relationship with her and her family due to the many photos and letters received.  As for our sponsored boy in Burkina Faso, there was a little deceitfulness with one photo, but it was cleared up with apology; and even though it was disconcerting to find out he enjoys Ramadan meals with friends, receives Ramadan gifts from his grandparents (his guardians), and has even gone with his friend to a mosque, we believe he and his situation are real and that we can help him realize the saving love of Christ.

It's because of our other sponsorships that we aren't assuming Compassion's main office is complicit in the substitution of the boy in the recent photo for the one we think we're sponsoring.  But we do ask and expect an explanation. 

If we don't get evidence by the end of July 2018 that the boy we chose July 31, 2016 is indeed the one we're sponsoring, we will cancel that sponsorship immediately and require a thorough explanation of why and how our monthly support has been given to someone else without our permission (which, of so, would be stealing).

We're very concerned about the boy we believe(d) we're sponsoring.  Where is he?  Why can't we "see" him in a recent photo?  Is he alive?  Why the switch, the deceit, the lie?

Dismayed,
--Mitchel and Kathleen
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Posted 5 months ago

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Madison

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Mitchel and Kathleen, 

I first off want to apologize for the frustration you have been facing with receiving updates and photos of Sterson. The photo on file that we have of Sterson is the one that we received from the field office staff of Haiti, so there was no kind of switch that happened in our Colorado office. Everything what we do have on file, is coming directly from the field office. I did escalate this inquiry that we did send about the gift, as the photo, I agree, does not look like Sterson. I did ask the field office if they took the correct picture of the child or if the photo was so dark, if they could enhance this. Once they do reach back out to us, we will let you know as soon as we can. Since this inquiry has already been resent, they should get back to us fairly quickly. 
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Madison,
Thank you.  We at long last received photos of our sponsored child, Sterson, and information about what he and his mother were able to get with the several gifts these past two years.  We appreciate your intervention.  It's a relief to know he is alive and okay.  We care very much for him and our other sponsored children and are grateful to be a part of their lives.
--Kathleen Young
(Edited)
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Thank you for the prompt reply.  We'll look forward to hearing from you again about this.  The field office needs to clear up this matter of who is the real Sterson Bonhomme and if he is the child we are sponsoring.  Immediately.  We appreciate all your help. --Kathleen
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Kristin B Collins

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I have a question, and perhaps a concern, for Michael and Kathleen. Is there a reason why you would question the honesty and integrity of Compassion? From my perspective, the organization does a fantastic job of managing thousands of cases of sponsorships all over the globe. The vast majority of sponsors are Americans who are used to almost instant communication, quick turnaround time, adequate resources (or better) for whatever we want, and efficient infrastructure to get almost anything done with few errors.

Our sponsored kids live in areas where none of this is their experience or reality. For example, if we don’t get regular letters, it’s likely the kids have no practice in written communication and have no idea what to expect or offer. Imagine how baffling it would be to put personal information on paper and have that sent to someone you have never met who lives somewhere you can’t imagine. And if photos aren’t taken and sent on time, perhaps the project your child attends only has a camera on the premises once or twice a year, and when it arrives, the project staff need to remember all the different kinds of photos needing to be taken, from portraits of new kids, to photo updates, to gift acknowledgments, to newsletter pictures. With so many kids in so many places I’m surprised so few mix-ups occur.

I love your concern and care for your Haitian boy, and your desire to know that he and his family are okay. But if you don’t get a timely answer, could it be that the whole community may have been in turmoil, including those who might otherwise be readily available to check in on your sponsored family and their animals?

Maybe you have had an experience with Compassion that makes you question their integrity. And I can abundantly see your love and concern for your sponsored kids. But if you haven’t had reason to suspect that Compassion is lying to you, deceiving you, or stealing from you, I wonder if your concerns might be best handled in a phone call? Any sponsor can see these posts, and the language of your initial post might lead others to be critical or suspicious of an organization that is simply doing the very best, honest, and caring job it can in far-flung parts of the world.
(Edited)
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Kristin,

Please read carefully.  I never said we thought Compassion was dishonest, only that the field office/church/location appeared to be dishonest in sending a photo not resembling our sponsored child as the only photo we ever got from them since we began sponsoring him.  Not exactly a model of forthrightness.  We have been sponsoring four children since July 31, 2016.  After nearly two years of waiting and inquiring by phone, e-mail, and forum with repeated failure of the project staff on site to respond to Compassion staff's inquiries, we got a questionable photo.  We voiced our complaint here because the forum is where we have always gotten the quickest response from the Compassion staff.  To whom we addressed our concerns.    

We made it clear we had no trouble continuing our sponsorship for the other three, only questioned the credibility of the one location.  I should think that indicates sufficient respect for Compassion International on the whole.  I think it's important for all sponsors to know that when questionable things occur, they have recourse here in this forum, and the staff will do its best to resolve things satisfactorily.  In this case, it wasn't until we finally said "enough" that the field office/on site staff, at long last, responded.

I hope you never have a problem with your sponsorship.  If you do, I won't presume to judge you in your handling of it.
--Kathleen (and husband, Mitchel, not Michael)
(Edited)
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Kristin B Collins

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Dear Kathleen,

I’m sorry to have offended you. That was not my intent. I think that written communication can sometimes be taken the wrong way, and clearly that’s what I did with yours. My concerns were honest, as I truly believe Compassion does their best in every situation. I apologize for misunderstanding the language in your post. Please forgive me.

Best,
Kristin
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Mitchel and Kathleen

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Thank you, Kristin.  Apology accepted.  I agree with you that Compassion does their best, and they're very good at resolving matters.  It does take time, but they care and work hard for the children and sponsors.  I'm glad you appreciate and support Compassion as do we.  I appreciate your willingness to reconcile with others, too.  --Blessings to you and yours
Kathleen

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