Frequently Asked Questions
At The Vital Foundation, our priority is to ensure that the children in our program are protected. One of the ways we work to do this is by creating a nickname for the children in our programs to ensure that we comply with our Child Protection Policy.
We have outlined our Child Protection Policy. Read it below.
1. Summary and FAQ
1.1 Where does my money go?
The money you donate is used to fund the Michel Vital Fopundation program in Haiti. The program enables these young people to become successful, independent adults within their local Haitian communities by establishing a safe, stable home preferably with a member of their extended family, in keeping with traditional Haitian values.
Our work is child-centred and evidence-based. By working towards mutually agreed upon goals, we help the children develop their strengths and attain self-sufficiency.
Specific case planning involves four outcome areas: education, health, wellbeing, and selfsufficiency.Specific action steps include:
- Providing the material, psychosocial and medical supports required to stabilise living situations
- Placement in our Foundation's school
- Academic enrichment, including tutoring, to close the achievement gap
- Community-based development sessions
- Psychosocial counselling.
After completing their education, the child enroll in a transition phase to pursue vocational training, university, or obtain gainful employment.
1.2 Which communities will benefit?
The communities in which the children live benefit from sponsorship. Currently we only have an orphanage in Gressier, Haiti.
1.3 How are children selected for the program?
To find the children to include in our program, we work with the local community members as well as our churches to provide a list to our Orphanage Director of eligible children based on the following criteria that are in the program:
- All children must be between 3 years and 18 years and within primary education
- The child must be a double orphan
- The child must not be receiving any other support from other service.
We have no bias to physical, mental health, race or religion in selecting children. Currently we only have a girl's portion and have begun with only girls, but with plans to expand to boys in the near future.
1.4 How long will my sponsorship last?
Your sponsorship is only limited by the time you chose to provide funding and that child is in our program. Our hope would be that you continue to be part of the Michel Vital Foundation community for some time. We have a long-term commitment to the orphans of Haiti and we rely on generous donors to sustain our goals.
1.5 How is The Vital Foundation unique from other organizations?
Our sponsorship strategy is solely focused on caring for children. What makes us unique is that we provide a church, school and an orphanage for the children all in one community center, and all run by our ministry. We are also focused on long-term solutions –community sustainability is important and we understand that. We are not solely reliant upon just your donations. It will take time but we will get there. Right now your monthly pledge will help meet the critical needs of the child you sponsor.
Our mission workers develop specific plans in communities to meet the needs of these children. Programs are created to focus on health, nutrition, community outreach and education.
1.6 What do sponsors receive?
To establish and maintain a connection as a sponsor, we like to keep our sponsors as involved as they would like to be.
As a sponsor you receive:
- A welcome kit with a sponsored child introduction containing photos and an overview of your sponsored child's history.
- A six-monthly update on your sponsored child, their family and community, including a letter from them where possible, and an update on their health and education.
1.7 Can I visit my sponsored child?
We think visiting a sponsored child is a wonderful experience and we will help you arrange this. Given logistical issues, any planned trips should be notified to us as early as possible so that we can ensure you get the most out of your trip.
At Michel Vital Foundation we take child protection very seriously there is a process to go through before we can confirm a visit is allowed which includes police checks. All visits are supervised by our staff in Haiti.
1.8 Can I choose the child that I want to sponsor?
Yes you may choose a child to sponsor. Currently we have 15 available girls.
1.9 What are my payment options?
Depending on whether you are resident in the U.S. or overseas, your payment may be processed by direct debit of through your credit card. Payment options are located on the Michel Vital Foundation website.
1.10 Our commitment to child protection
The Vital Foundation recognises that by the nature of our work, we are at risk of being targeted by those wanting to exploit or harm children.
We consider child abuse unacceptable in all circumstances and are committed to ensuring that all possible and necessary steps are taken to acknowledge the rights and protection of the children in our program.
We have clear policies, procedures and guidelines to ensure children are respected, protected, empowered and active in their own protection; and that staff are confident, competent, trained and well supported in meeting their protection responsibilities.
2. Sponsor guidelines
Our sponsorship program facilitates positive relationship building between sponsors and children through letter writing, photographs and reports and news articles in our publications. In addition, we accommodate visits for sponsors to their sponsored child's community. Without child protection policies and procedures in place such a program leaves children vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
We reserve the right to terminate a sponsor's relationship with us for child protection or any other reason. To avoid any possible breach of policy or discontinuation, we encourage all sponsors to read all sponsorship materials provided on our website and to familiarize themselves with the following child protection measures in this policy.
2.1 Sponsor mail monitoring
To ensure that we do not allow harmful relationships to develop we ensure that correspondence between sponsors and sponsored children comes through the program. Communications from sponsors are screened to intercept inappropriate written or visual material that raises child protection concerns. As we are a non-denominational organization, we also need to check for political or religious comments that could cause offence or be illegal.
We protect the privacy of our sponsors by checking that letters do not contain their contact details. This could invite begging letters from people unconnected with the sponsored child. If we cannot forward the letter to the child, we return the correspondence to sponsors explaining our concerns and actions.
Below is a guide that outlines the type of content that we look for when screening sponsor mail
- Sexual or sexualized language
- Excessive use of familiar terminology such as 'love' (Note: it is acceptable for a sponsor to finish their letter 'Love Kathy')
- Adult content or issues such as: swearing, violence, exploitation or sex and relationship, family or financial problems
- Inappropriate photos and images containing nudity, images of a sexual or intimate nature, or exploitative images
- Racist language of any sort
- Political content
- Requests for gifts from the sponsored child/family other than the usual letter, drawing or handcraft
- Invitations to come to the sponsor's country
- Offers of direct financial and other assistance
- Complaints about the Foundation (we accept that sponsors may have complaints about the Foundation but they should be directed to our staff and not to sponsored children).
2.2 Use of child photos and personal details
Our program has international guidelines whereby the guardian of a sponsored child gives permission for a sponsored child's personal details and photographs to be shared by us only for the purpose of finding them a sponsor. The guardians do not expect that anyone other than the Foundation and the child's sponsor will have general access to their personal details.
To help to protect children from abuse and breaches of privacy we have developed the following guidelines in this policy. These guidelines are in line with our child protection policy and minimum standards.
In line with our child protection policy, each child is given a pseudonym. You will receive this pseudonym, and will only receive their real name in cases where it is absolutely necessary.
2.3 Guidelines for displaying sponsored child personal details
If you would like to publicly display or distribute any details about your sponsored child;
Only display the following:
- First name pseudonym of sponsored child or any other family member, and never the child's real name
- Country name
- General information about their activities, such as 'enjoys skipping', 'wants to be a teacher'
Do not display or distribute the following:
- The full sponsor child information sheet
- The full sponsor child update
- Any letters from your sponsored child
- Last name of sponsored child or any other family member
- Geographical location other than country name,
- Health status or other personal and private information provided in letters.
2.4 Guidelines for displaying sponsored child photos
At home or in the work place
You are welcome to display your sponsored child photos the same as you would display the photographs of family and friends at home or in the workplace.
In a public place
If you are a group, school or business/corporate sponsor and would like to display information about your sponsored child for group sharing or fundraising purposes please contact us first. Our contact details are available at www.michelvitalfoundation.org
Emailing and use on websites
We take potential abuse of child photographs on the web very seriously, therefore we ask all sponsors not to place or distribute sponsored children's personal details or photographs on any website or intranet or in an email.
3. Questions and answers in full
Can I visit my sponsored child?
Meeting your sponsored child can be a wonderful experience that benefits not just our sponsors but also our children. You are most welcome to visit your sponsored child and observe them in their community and home environment.
How much time is needed to arrange a visit to my sponsored child?
We ask you to give us at least six to eight weeks notice before any visit. Before departure, all sponsors will need to provide evidence of a police check. Six to eight weeks notice will also allow our staff to make the necessary arrangements to help you get the most out of your visit.
Please keep in mind that we cannot facilitate visits scheduled during local holidays and on weekends.
Can I take another family member or a friend with me to visit my sponsored child?
Yes - as long as they provide evidence of a relevant police check. You will need their consent to the police check if they are 18 years and over. You must include this person on your visit request form. Unauthorized visitors will not be permitted.
How do I arrange a visit to my sponsored child?
Please email email@example.com
Will the Foundation staff be there to assist me with the visit?
Yes. For your safety and comfort, a staff member will supervise all visits with the sponsored child. This is also essential for child protection.
Can I bring gifts for my sponsored child and family?
Simple, inexpensive gifts that are appropriate for the whole family are best. A t-shirt, school supplies, and small puzzles, hair accessories, caps, hats or a soccer ball make the best gifts. You may also want to ask a Michel Vital Foundation staff member if there is an appropriate item to purchase in your child's country to bring along.
Can I write directly to the family?
For child protection reasons and your own caution, all correspondence must go through our channels.
A final note:
We also recommend you seek your own medical advice about the precautions you should take before and during your travel, including vaccinations. We also recommend you make your own investigations regarding safety and travel to Haiti and we usually suggest checking your government's recommendations.
Please note that cancelling a visit can cause great disappointment to a sponsored child, so bear this in mind when planning your trip.