“We get emotional about it,” Karen says. “To make such a difference in people’s lives across the world, it’s really something.”
Retired university professors, the Todds run an education consulting business from their home in Lambertville, N.J. What attracts them to the field of education is what attracts them to Compassion sponsorship — reaching individuals who will in turn reach many more.
They are not surprised that research by a University of San Francisco professor of economics shows that sponsored children have increased self-expectations and improved lives.
“There’s somebody who cares. It makes a difference,” says Karen. She and Ron currently sponsor a young man in Tanzania. And they had been sponsoring a girl in India until Compassion had to end its program there in March. They keep those individuals’ pictures on their refrigerator, as low as possible so their four young grandchildren can see them.
“Our 6-year-old granddaughter, Cassidy, said the other day, ‘You have other grandchildren, too — like the one in India,’’’ Karen says. “So she has a sense that she’s connected to a family larger than hers.”
As one of more than 40 children who have been sponsored by the Todds, Vedhanayagam Masilamani can hardly contain his gratitude. “As sponsors, they are transforming not just individuals but the whole society,” Masilamani says. When the Todds learned that Masilamani had dedicated his doctoral thesis to them, they say they were at first “dumbfounded” and then moved to tears to be honored in such a way.
“We hadn’t been in touch with him since he was a teenager,” Karen says. “We couldn’t believe it.”
Ron and Karen each grew up in struggling rural families, Ron in Ohio and Karen in Texas. So the needs of children in developing countries resonate with them. But they were most compelled to sponsor children because Compassion helps support the education of each child.
“It’s so important,” Karen says. “Education opened up the whole world to me.”
Updated and reposted from an earlier version of Compassion Magazine.