Plan International's approach is to strengthen communities by strengthening the situation of the children and youth. The Plan donor connects to one specific child or youth, but the monthly funds go towards educational, health related and other programs in the area where the sponsored child lives. Yet Plan gently pushes (by sending reminders, by supplying stationary) the direct communication between donor and child. To receive a personal letter 2 or 3 times a year from your sponsored child makes the monthly contributions more real - although you know they go to the community and thus only indirectly to the child. But still, these letters are very special.I value this approach as many people benefit from it, and thus elevate entire villages or even regions. My husband and I just recently (March 2017) had the opportunity and privilege to visit our foster child Keysi in the Dominican Republic. The Plan office in the general area where she lives has about 25 to 30 staff members. Over the course of the day many of the social workers take off on their mopeds to check on or teach or hold meetings in their specific village. Each village has a small simple Plan community center. Here are a few examples of the projects and programs that Plan offers or gets involved in in this area: Early childhood stimulation - kind of a kindergarden/preschool to support the physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development of young children. Special support for 3rd and 4th grade children with learning difficulties. Nutritional classes for children and parents. Money management for youth and parents, learn how to save and how to budget, and get micro-loans. Childrens Rights project teaching children about their rights and parents how to discipline without abuse. Empowerment of girls projects with an emphasis on equal right as well as sexuality and prevention of teen pregnancies. There are many more projects, but those were the ones that the Plan people talked about. Plan organized our visit very well. We had a driver, a translater and a field worker who gave us their whole day to show us around. We first met our foster child Keysi who is 14 years old at school. We pretty much crashed her English class, and it was a very emotional first meeting. Apart from the personal connection I was happy to see that the school was pretty new, in very good shape, and all girls and boys were wearing nice school uniforms, including Keysi. However, I am not sure to what extent Plan contributes to the school, the learning equipment and the uniform, and if the school provides meals or not. At a different school, a small primary school, we met Keysi's mother who is a teacher. This too was a very emotional encounter. The Plan people took all of us including Keysi and her mother to several villages in the area where we met neighbors and friends, and visited Plan community centers. We all went out to lunch to further talk and connect. Later we all drove to Keysi's home and met her father and her brothers. I was pleasantly impressed to see that they lived in a nice small home that they had built themselves over the course of several years. It appeared to have running water and electrical, and Keysi as the only girl had her own bedroom! Overall I had the impression that Plan is doing an excellent job in this area. I am very happy with this organization. I have been with them for over 20 years. The only thing I wished they would change is that they would allow for the children, once they "graduate" from the program at age 18, to stay in touch with their donors if they so wish. It was always hard for me to just cut off the relation and never hear a word again from the child that's been somewhat part of your life for many years......
One Sunday evening way back in the 1970s I watched a newsmagazine program, I no longer remember the program or the network, which featured a story juxtaposing the lives of two children. One was an 11-year-old girl in Dallas, the other an 11-yer old boy in Cairo, Egypt. The girl's parents had entered the child in a "Little Miss Dallas" competition, or some such children's beauty pageant and had spent considerable money on clothes, makeup etc. The little boy's day was spent at the massive Cairo city dump gathering "groceries" for his impoverished family. I was in my early 20s, just out of college but that program affected me to become involved in children's poverty issues. I discovered what was then called "Foster Parents Plan" during that process. What attracted me to Plan was that I could make direct contact with a specific "sponsored child," exchanging letters and drawings, learning about the child and his or her family and their community directly.
I have been involved since, sponsoring children from Sierra Leone to Senegal, to Haiti and most recently in Guatemala.
But I had never had the opportunity to visit one of my sponsored children until this past July when after some 40 years as a sponsor, I traveled to Guatemala to personally meet my sponsored child, Mayra, and her family in Chamtaca, high in the Alta Verapaz. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. From Mayra's greeting me personally when I stepped out of the Plan SUV, to all the planned activities, including visiting the schools Plan has been involved with, to getting to share in her coming 18th birthday celebration, it was a day I will never forget. The Plan staff seemed to share in my joy at seeing Mayra. They were amazing every step of the way, facilitating my trip, even when my first attempt had to be postponed and re-scheduled due to the Fuego Volcano in early June. I had literally been left standing at JFK Airport when my original flight was cancelled. But Plan staff quickly came up with alternate dates and coordinated my re-scheduled visit. I will never forget Mayra, who explained because of Plan assistance she could pursue her dream of becoming a teacher, saying my visit "was the best day" of her young life. It was pretty great for me too! That is why I plan to stay involved with Plan, the wonderful opportunity to meet someone special like Mayra and her family. It is as good as it gets!
Plan International is a great non-profit organization globally doing a great job in elevating women and girl children in the manner that brings about clear difference from other organizations around the world. They are so passionate about what they do.
I am an alumnae of Plan International's Global Women in Management and Women In Leadership Institute. This is a mighty institute where women are put on the right track on realizing their potentials. Women are groomed in such a way that they will take leadership to greater hight. Actually when women move forward, the world moves with them.
As a person, Plan International built my capacity on public speaking, negotiation and Advocacy amongst other skills which apparently have helped me in my work as a woman leader, coach and mentor in my constituency.
A lot of women have gained so many capacity in the course of trainings by Plan International directly and indirectly via Training of Trainers.
Plan International is indeed a hub for capacity building and development.
I must recommend Plan International for Global recognition and award for the work they do globally.
I have been sponsoring children in various countries through Plan International since 1989. The last 15 years my sponsored kids have been on a remote island in Samar West, Philippines. It is a small Island with no interior roads and can only be reached by small boat
Two years ago I realized I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to go and visit my kids. Plan International arranged all aspects of my trip . Local Plan staff picked me up at the airport arranged for lodging, and provided all transportation to this remote place.The trip went as smooth as silk. Not one glitch.
After the first trip, I was so enthused that I talked to many of my friends which resulted in 9 other friends thus far (more to come) that have decided to sponsor a child in the same village as my child. Per our request, Plan International made sure all of the kids were in the same village as my sponsored children.
This year I went back again and visited my kids and my friends kids sort of as an ambassador for my group.. This entailed meeting the kids and their families in their homes and then meeting the entire group together in the Community Center (Plan built) and distributing a personal gift to each child along with rice and food for their families. All of this was arranged by the local staff.
Imagine doing all of the shopping for the gifts and food and putting the meetings together and scheduling the visits to the children's homes. We are talking about 11 families. It's a logistics nightmare. Again everything went smooth and trouble free. The local staff even arranged for me to stay overnight at the mayors house.
To sum it up, I highly recommend Plan International as a charity to contribute to. I have been to the place and have seen first hand what Plan International has done... The clean water, the community center, the school. This a very worthwhile, efficient charity .
You will never be sorry. Their spirit of friendliness and caring, in my opinion, is unmatched. Possibly you could be the next person to fulfill a sponsored child's dream of meeting their sponsor in person. It was one of the best and most memorable experience of my life. Join us. Remember a small amount can make a BIG difference !!!!!
I came to Plan International USA in July 2016 for the Global Women in Management: Advancing Women's Economic Opportunities (GWIM 65), training funded by Exxon Mobil Foundation. It was an interesting and empowering program. The training came at a critical stage in my non-profit career when I was greatly challenged by the dire economic situation and pollution in my environment (the Niger Delta region).
I had the most amazing and inspirational four weeks of my life with the Plan team. The program brought together 26 women from 18 countries for an intensive 4-week management training in Leadership, Project Management, Public Speaking, Business management and Business Canvas Model. The use of the adult learning method incorporating a wide range of training design and style such as instructional, out-door group assignment, role plays, interactive sessions, field trips ingrained the lessons, in addition to the networking session at the Wilson Centre in DC and a year-long coaching session.
The field trips to 2 farms, Community Forklift (a social enterprise) and the event centre - ‘Herrington on the bay’, gave us the platform to interact with business founders, ask questions and understand the uniqueness of their different business models.
1. Enhanced/Boosted self-confidence and leadership skills
2. Improved Business and management skills
3. A broad network of women from all over the world for life (Professional & Personal Sisterhood)
4. A year-long coaching session.
5. Opportunity for the GWIM Small grant
After the training on ‘Grant Proposal Writing’, my organisation’s grant application was among those selected for the small grant from March to August 2017. We empowered 20 Women from the Cooperative in Abuloma Community by building their capacity on fish/snail farming, business development, we provided mentorship/ business support services, helped them set up a farm, provided access to financing and linked them to ready market for the sales of their produce (fishes) in February 2018. Also, 4 of the cooperative women have gained great confidence and are now running their thriving individual fish farms aside from the cooperative farm.
Moreover, with increased confidence gained from the training on fund raising and grant proposal writing, I have been able to apply and win two more grants that will empower 40 women from 2 other communities from June 2018.
I want to say a big thank you to Plan International USA team for creating this platform (GWIM) for women like me to improve our management/business skills, network with other professionals and have greater impact on more women through our work. I have gained sisters, friends and colleague in the non-profit sector that keeps spurring me to greater heights.
- Chidinma (Chichi)
Plan International USA and GWIM have done a lot but specifically for 2018, they have subtly uncoverd knowledge on indispensable gender considerations, responsibilities and design deliberations for me to effectively facilitate trainings. Above all, Co-facilitating skills where expose that improve my ability, adequately motivating for me to confidentiality deliver step-down trainings (want to be experienced by June 2018 in Cameroon)
I am Elisabeth MEKOUGOU OBAMA
A Cameroonian of 44 years old, a mother of three young girls. I am a social worker and strong women leader in my family, my work and my community. I discovered CEDPA in 2009 through GWIM 51 in Cameroon and Plan US in october 2018 in Washington.
With those two participations, I increased my leadership in different aspects of my life individual, professional and in the community. I've noticed that my statute has changed; I move on to an upper statute and I inspire where ever I am. my opinion is more taken in consideration by my husband, by the media, the public administrations, the civil society, the communities, my office. Plan have developed my capacities, skills and attitudes that bring positive change needed by the women and other citizen. I strongly think that, I am capable to do more and I will be in the future, a great personality in my country. Just to give you a bit picture of what I meant:
I owe a lot to Plan US for the training of the trainers in designing curriculum, development of skills for training workshop. For example, since my return back to Cameroon in october 2 018, I have been able to organize a restitution workshop. Then, I facilitated several training workshops, among its, I will just mention two workshops:
In February 2018, Caritas Douala organized a training workshop for the community’s leaders, victims of forced evictions in Douala, titled “the appropriation of legal instruments for the protection of human rights and recourse mechanisms”.
And, from April 22 to 30, 2018, UNFPA selected me as a co-facilitator of a training of trainers’ workshop titled "Developing technical, personal and ethical skills in the psychosocial and medical care of women and children, survivors of gender-based violence.
It was with a great joy that I used participatory methods with brain storming, role play, simulations, work group. In addition, I also used the continuum, the spiral of learning. I was also bee charge to design:
• the profile for the selection of participants who came from the Ministry of women's empowerment and the family, Ministry of Social Affairs, women's community relay associations,
• pre-test and post-test of participants
• the final evaluation of the training by the participants
• Organizers and participants enjoyed the speedometer and the spider meter tools for daily evaluation, that I discovered for my first time in Washington with Jennifer
I feel more and more professional and my expertise makes me go through doors. But, for me, to be totally happy, I would like to see similar training of trainers for African women in French speaking areas. Therefore, I recommend that you ask your financial partners to help you organize this by next year either in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire or other countries. I could be a volunteer to support the preparation without asking any reward.
Another wonderful information: I have succeeded to design and facilitate the training in English knowing that, I am a french speaking leaving in a francophone environment.
Thanks again to Plan US through its Capacity Building Unit and thanks to its donors.
I have been a sponsor through Plan International since 1984. I started sponsorship when I was 18 years old because I felt that I had many blessings living in the U.S. and God calls us to all do our part to love and care for others, particularly children, in this world. I lost track of how many children I have sponsored over the years as they grow into adulthood but I have their pictures and family stories saved. When exchanging letters with the children and their families it is wonderful to see how much a small amount from our perspective can improve their lives. Plan does not just provide food but they help communities with projects that have lasting impact on the communities and the families. Digging wells, providing education support, training regarding healthcare, providing medical care, etc. They have a long term plan which is so vital. I will continue to sponsor until the day the good Lord decides to take me home !
Plan international USA changed the lives of twenty rural women in ikot obio idim community in Nigeria through its grant program.
Their income level was increased by 30% thereby giving them a voice in their families because they can now contribute to their family income .
The Gwim 65 opened my career and organization to see the untapped potentials hidden in our rural sisters .
Over the years I have implemented parts of my vision to empower women through Focus On Women Institute in Cape Town, South Africa. I knew that for me to fully execute this vision there’s a skills gap I needed to close. Today, I am proud to say that Plan, through its GWIM programme which I attended in 2017, has closed that gap. My leadership, mentorship and facilitation skills have been greatly heightened. GWIM has given me all that I needed to fully function in equipping women to be effective leaders and transformation agents, as well as in economically empowering them to not only be survivalists (living from hand to mouth) but engage in sustainable economic activities that not only serve themselves and their households but add to the national accounts. When I reflect on how GWIM has impacted my life, I think of Page and Czuba (1999)’s definition of empowerment as a process of giving people "capacity to implement". This is exactly what Plan through GWIM did to me.
I gave four-stars just to get your attention! I consider Plan a five-star, over-all, but am frustrated with the gifts-to-sponsored-children requirements. I started sponsoring children (then Plan was called Foster Parents, I believe) in 1965. I recall having few limitations on gifts -- large stuffed animals were okay, etc. (I agree that is no longer feasible for economic reasons.) And for a while, more recently (within the past years, that is), I recall Plan's decision to eliminate anything except stickers, coloring pages. There was an issue of jealousy in small villages when some sponsored children did not receive anything. I agreed with that position, and Plan's attempt to deal with problems at customs (including bribing), and lost or stolen items. I also believe that Plan's Charity ratings have improved in the last few years -- now 5-stars because of better fiscal policies. BUT (you saw that coming!) I am frustrated with the "new/newer" gift limitations -- in part because they seem to be inconsistent. For example: Now we have 8 children, one in Ecuador, 7 in the Philippines. I sent each a "school kit" which included a mesh, zippered pouch (@ 5x7 in); a few pencils, erasers, small pencil sharpener, a few yellow highlighters, a few gel pens, rubber bands, a few large paper clips, and a small (as in mini-mini) notebook. I got a telephone call from a Plan representative (cannot recall her name) who said that she would have to divide up the items in the kit, and send them at different times. She said that I was permitted one small gift every two months, and that the gift could not be larger than 4 in x 6 in, by about 1/2 in. (I had asked if I could send a small dictionary that I measured to be 5 in x 7 in x 3/4 in -- no, not on her list). One of the kids thanked me for the three pencils and small notebook. I do not know if she received (or will receive) the rest -- but, hey, this was a school kit! I continue to look for a mini dictionary that is no larger than 4 in x 6 in x 1/2 in! Then, I noticed that Plan does not permit sharp objects -- understandably. But, a compass and protractor set, sealed in a hard plastic shell? Well, is that okay to send to kids between 12 and 17 years old? Or what about a small sewing kit -- with a micro-scissors? I contacted Plan and the person who responded by email was great, and really tried to be helpful. She told me there was no limit on gifts -- well, that is not what I was told. After she checked with a supervisor (about a mini-umbrella -- answer was no) she advised me to use a sandwich baggy to determine if the item was okay. Well, they are about 4 x 6 -- but will pencils fit in those? So, how about a quart-sized baggy; yes, the item should be relatively thin (perhaps no more than 2 inches), and weight must be a consideration, of course. And are hairbands considered clothing? What about barrettes -- would that be jewelry (I am talking about Walmart stuff -- not Ivanka's line). Surely Plan could do better in providing a great list of possibilities -- have staff visit a dollar store, for example, and come up with a good list! And how many times can we send small gifts? I do understand the issues -- including some kids getting more than others; and most certainly Customs, and just the extraordinary cost of sending items internationally. I do know that Plan has a short list of possibilities -- but insufficient information I think. I should add that I remember that Plan at one time had a system allowing sponsors to buy items, such as backpacks. Well, I thought the items were too expensive -- but perhaps that is petty. I would not mind such a possibility for such items as backpacks, but would hope that "small gifts" still could be individualized by the sponsor. MJP from Maryland
Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback. We appreciate your concern and desire to connect with your sponsored children. We apologize if our gift policy was not clearly explained to you. As you mentioned, in recent years, there have been modifications to our gift guidelines. These changes were implemented as a global policy, which we are required to follow. After receiving your feedback, we reviewed our gift guidelines and have updated our website to more clearly reflect our policy. Moving forward we will ensure that we provide consistent messaging, surrounding this policy. Please know, we truly value your long-term support and appreciate your understanding. If you would like to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-556-7918. Kind regards, Michelle, Manager Donor Engagement and Loyalty
My story ended in tears . I sponsored a child from Honduras. He was about 4 years old when our sponsorship began. I loved sending him gifts (at that time plan allowed gifts) letters ,which I tried to write in Spanish btw, and photos. This correspondence lasted until he was 16 years old. Then I noticed I hadn't heard from my sponsor for awhile so I called plan and they casually said that my sponsor no longer wants to be part of the sponsorship because they didn't like the work ethics of plan?? They never wrote me good bye or thank or anything!! I was broken hearted. Next plan was going to automatically send me another person to sponsor!! I I think they forget about the emotional and very human element in these relationships. I was so upset to have someone I was growing so close to, just stop corresponding. So becareful ... it's rare that a sponsor will withdraw before their 18 birthday but it happened to me . I felt that plan USA handled it very coldly with no consideration for me or my family's feelings .
We are truly sorry to hear about your sponsorship experience. Your feedback is extremely important to us, and we take your concerns very seriously. Unfortunately, there are instances where sponsored children and their families decide to leave our sponsorship program before the age of 18. It is very important to us that any sponsored child cancellation is handled in a sensitive and informative manner, as we understand this news is upsetting to receive, especially when you have been sponsoring your child for many years and have built a meaningful relationship. I would very much like the opportunity to discuss your experience in further detail. Please contact me at 1-800-556-7918. Kind regards, Michelle, Manager, Donor Engagement and Loyalty
Very simply if you don't believe in the work, enroll in a child sponsorship, immerse yourself in the donor journey and try it yourself. I am a believer.
My company, Study Group, has been partnered with Plan for a number of years now and have sponsored over 10 projects around the world to bring quality education to places that need it most. I can personally attest to the incredible work Plan does, as I was able to be present for the opening of a brand new school in a remote village in northern Sri Lanka. This was my companies 10th project sponsored through Plan and it truly is incredible how Plan empowers the local community in every aspect of their projects to ensure long-term sustainability. I can't say enough how amazing this organization is and the difference they truly make in the world.
I have had a child since 1986. I had pen pals in school and this is even better since I can help a child and the family writes to me and I them, sharing life with them. I have had children write to me from all over the world and it makes me feel good knowing the children are thinking of me and they know I am thinking and caring about them. I convinced my daughter to give it a try and she was happy she started. The proof that they receive my help is in these letters they send. I will continue to share our lives with letters and help them and their families. The people I deal with who pass along the help and letters have always been friendly and helpful when I call the 800 number. Great Organization!
Many lessons that I have learned from the Global Women in Management Workshop, facilitated by Plan International USA. Not only the content, but also the creative process, interesting and effective in its delivery, as well as strong leadership and compassion of its Staff. They are all professional experts in their field. Thanks to the GWIM Workshop and Staff, I become more confident, calm but strong personality and passionate to empower people, especially women.
Plan International USA Staff are very concerned about the development of alumni. There are 2 obsessions of mine that arise after attending the GWIM Workshop which are to build the network and gather the strength of GWIM alumni in Indonesia and share the leadership knowledge that we have from GWIM Workshop to more women in Indonesia. And again the Plan International USA Staff are always ready to be "behind and beside" us. This March three of us from Indonesia together with 5 other countries were invited to the Skill Building Workshop for GWIM Alumni in Designing & Facilitating GWIM Step-Down Trainings. This training was very useful for our preparation to organize Leadership Training in PEREMPUAN (WOMEN), stands for Pemberdayaan Ekonomi Perempuan Unggulan (Empowering Economic of Women Leader) to 20 women leaders from one field area of ExxonMobil in Java Indonesia last April 2017.
Picture note: Five of eight GWIM Alumni that active in PEREMPUAN, from left to right: Ayu (GWIM 60), Nur Aenah (GWIM 54), Irawati (GWIM 57), Andriyani (GWIM 57), and Thilma (GWIM 60). We are all from different organizations, united by GWIM Alumni Network in Indonesia.
My name is Catharina. I am alumnae of GWIM58 and chairman of Terasmitra Foundation. I learned alot from this workshop. I knew my capacity as a leader and implemented the knowledge to my organisation and my life. One of the best knowledge that I learned and implemented is one minutes message. This is powerfull technique to give an introduction about your passion or your mission, vision, organisation to somebody (government, donor, stakeholder) in only one minutes.
The trainers is not only as a teacher, they also like friends, sisters, and mentors. Not only give me direction but also walk with me to achive my goal.
2003 was the year when I first got an opportunity to associate with the capacity building team of Plan International USA and never looked back since then . The institution built my capacity in the area of women leadership , Women in Management and then provided several rounds of training to develop me as a coach. When I first participated in their training, I was a young , raw professional who had just started career in the field of development as a mid manager . Having come from a small town and conservative family / society in India and a bitter personal life experience , I had lost all my confidence, self esteem and was totally shattered .
Over the years of continuous training and support from Plan International USA my life was transformed completely. From an ordinary mid level Program manager I became a Country Director now of a well reputed International Development Organization. Over 15 years of my association with this amazing organization , I have been able to support thousands of disadvantaged and deprived women from the grassroots level of remotest areas in India and as a coach nearly 15 women managers from around the developing countries in their career progression.
Plan International USA very meticulously selects women from developing countries who have potential to become effective leaders , trains them , builds their capacities in every way possible and develops them as confident and competent leaders so they can further train and uplift other women who lag behind back in their countries. This organization does not take training as a one time activity but once it holds your hand they stand by you throughout. I am extremely proud to say that I am a Plan International USA Alumni and a coach . I attribute my success to my mentors in this wonderful institution ..whatever I am today is because of their hard work and efforts on me. As a return on their investment on me , I have taken a vow to uplift as many downtrodden women as I can.
As a graduate of Plan International USA’s Global Women in Management in 2015, I believe in the power and promise of every woman. Plan International USA has taken it upon themselves as a formidable team to practically build the capacities of women leaders like me who before my training could not have developed and used my potentials for the benefit of my community.
I have benefited from their training on professional and personal levels which now has ripple effect because of the step-down training I have done after GWIM training. I have trained over 100 women in leadership roles and we now have a functional cooperative of over sixty women who come together to share knowledge and skills on agricultural activities. One of them has been able to set up an oil mill with support from her husband, courtesy of the skill I gained from Plan International USA on men inclusion in advocacy. Plan International USA has been supportive to projects that build the capacity of women and open the doors to opportunity that had previously been shut.
Back in my country after the GWIM workshop, I initiated the registration of all the GWIM alumni in my country to have a common front bringing together different expertise in one house.
GWIM has guided me on improving my leadership and business skills and appreciating and investing in those skills in my employees and constituents. It has taught me how to promote gender equality and equity in a way that includes men and boy champions in our homes, businesses, and communities. In my words, I will say that Plan International’s Global Women In Management Program is a propeller, as well as a one stop shop, for women’s capacity building.
I am a leader of a Community Based Organisation in a developing country who had the amazing opportunity to be in the Global Women in Management (GWIM) training. This training gave me the tools to design programs that are suited to empower my beneficiaries. I thought I knew how to lead but after GWIM, I started started grooming leaders who replicated my leadership style and we are now changing our communities as leaders in our own rights. GWIM Training has played a tremendous part in giving me direction and structure to my leadership!
April 11, 2017
As one of the alumnae of Plan International USA's Global Women in Management in 2014, I have seen and experienced the great work that this organization had done through their work and investment in women. Plan International USA had taken the leap of faith in nurturing women leaders - from the professional to the personal level; a great deal of commitment and engagement that has profound effect to woman leaders like me. All staffs in Plan USA had shown their focus and passion in moving the world forward by initiating and maintaining the network of woman leaders from more than 20 countries -- which provide a strong support system for me. Post GWIM I was nominated as the host and one of the committee of 2015 Indonesia Women of Change, trained up to 100 more women in several line of works, and were able to take up at least 3 leadership position in international projects -- a proven track of putting the leadership skills and knowledge I had been invested to into practice