Child's photo on Facebook Has Caused Me to Have Questions

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Several months ago my child tried to friend me on Facebook. I immediately contacted Compassion, and, as I had guessed that was "against the rules." Instead, I wrote to the young lady and explained to her that we had to follow Compassion's guidelines.  Problem solved.

I'm going to be honest, though.  When I receive official photos of my child from Compassion, the girl is always in traditional dress.  It rather shocked me that she had a Facebook account and was wearing modern-looking clothing and even a necklace.  I know this sounds completely ridiculous. It's GOOD that these children have access to computers (at school perhaps) and are learning computer skills; that will really help them.  She could have borrowed the clothing, or that may be her only suit of "modern" clothes. I will admit, though, that on her Facebook page she didn't seem to be nearly as impoverished as she usually looks in her official photos.

This isn't making me want to cancel my sponsorship. We've sponsored this girl for years, and I'm pleased if somehow we've helped improve her and her family's condition. That's the goal. I don't's just a psychological hurdle, I guess.
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Shanna Duck

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Posted 2 weeks ago

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Sierra, Employee

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Hi Shanna! Thank you for reaching out to us. :) And thank you for following the guidelines.

I completely understand where you're coming from! The clothing that your child is wearing in her official Compassion photos is oftentimes provided by the staff, and the photos are always taken when the child is wearing their "Sunday best", as it were, and that often includes that country's traditional dress.

I'm so sorry you've seen this as a hurdle, but I do understand. It's always definitely strange to see your child outside of the regular Compassion context. Do you have any questions we can answer for you?
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Here are some rambling thoughts from another sponsor (me). Having grown up in a "have" culture where we're always told how lucky we are, I think it can be tricky to get our heads around what poverty looks like. In my first cross cultural experience, I was actually shocked by how much is the same. I always had had thoughts of poverty being a more "back in time" version of our lives, but more often (in my experience) it's a crazy mix of old ways and new technologies. So there may not be infrastructure so a home can have running water or consistent electricity --- but the cell service is great. Or we may expect their clothing to look a certain way, but of course, many people take much pride in their appearance and want to look good -- even if they don't have closets full. I spent some time in the Caribbean and one friend was always stylish and well coiffed. The first time we picked him up at his house, I was surprised to see the ramshackle little house he came out of. I had assumed he was well off. Other friends there were the same -- in the culture they were always very clean and tidy. And finally, our sponsorship does make a difference! I remember the guardians of one child once writing thanks for the years of sponsorship because it really had made a difference in their standard of living. In particular sometimes our not-terribly-significant extra gifts can be equal to a month's salary. One girl's family gift photos used to always have a bag or two of food in them -- but over the years that has changed and I rarely see food in the photos now. Now it is income-generating goods, or even savings for her future. I don't think I'll ever fully understand the impact!
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Sierra, Employee

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Thank you, Jennifer! That was beautifully put! :) I love hearing perspectives from people who have experience with this firsthand!