The regular reader of my blog will know that I usually discuss two pertinent topics and somehow intertwine them at the end. This recipe has proved successful over the course of this year with numerous blogging awards rumoured to be coming my way. Despite this success I have only one topic tonight.
I had been planning all day to discuss the issue of New Zealand cricketer Jesse ‘I’m a changed man’ Ryder and talk about the importance of role models in our society. However, I received a letter in the mail today which deserves more of my attention.

The letter was from Tear Fund and is one of those update letters that they send out regularly to inform you of your child’s progress. What concerns me is that it is obvious from the photo that our child, Adrianna Huampu, seems over weight. When we started sponsoring her she was could have stood undetected in a broom cupboard she was so skinny. Now she is 16 years of age, studying in Bolvia and I wouldn’t be surprise if we see her representing her country at the upcoming Olympics in the open weight category of the women’s weight lifting.

Rachel started sponsoring her about ten years ago and when we were married I came on board to add finance assistance. When Rachel initially started sponsoring her the price was only $30 a month. This neatly coincided with the catchy phrase ‘a dollar a day’. Unfortunately due to Adrianna’s increasing food requirements we are now up to $40 a month and by the looks of her latest photo I am expecting Tear Fund to write any minute and increase it to $75 plus expense for an ’educational’ trip to China in August!!!!

While most people would look at the photo and say “our job is done here” and move on to the next malnutritioned African baby to support, child sponsorship is much more than adding a few pounds to a starving child. It is about supporting the community, giving a hope and providing an education. Sadly this is where I am most disappointed in Adrianna. I don’t mind if she eats her household out of house and home, but part of our $40 a month goes on her education and it seems she is wasting this excellent opportunity. Her detailed school report card basically has her as ‘average’, in most of her subjects. While average is okay for someone studying at Oxford we all know that the Tear Fund level of academic achievement is a little less taxing. Average basically means “she is struggling but because you are paying money we will write something nice”. This similar principle runs through most private school reporting systems.

This is not the first time the topic of education achievement has been a concern in my family. When I was younger I distinctly remember my Mum and Dad closing the lounge doors following one evening of meet the teacher meetings. In the firing line that night was Amos, the youngest but most verbally gifted of the Banbury family. Amos was summoned into the barricaded lounge while the rest of us sat ears to the doors, giggling, trying to hear every last word. As the charges were listed in graphic detail Amos listen silently and was then given his right of reply. His only form of defence was that his report was not as bad as our sponsored child and that if they were going to have a talk to him about education they should also talk to her. The fact that she was 7 ½ didn’t seem to phase Amos as he continued his defence and talked about ‘disgraceful double standards’. In true Amos style this obvious shallow diversion tactic managed to deflect most of my parents anger and once again he managed to worm his way out of the situation.

So I write tonight with a sprinkle of sadness. Tonight, following this post, I will need to write a detailed letter to Adrianna outlining my concerns and the necessary steps that she will need to take in order to improve her schooling. I will be blunt and to the point but also wish her well on her approaching trip to China as a member of the Bolivian Women’s Weightlifting Team.