Childspring International: Transforming Children’s LivesCalatrava's Gare de Oriente in Lisbon, Portugal
By: Alison Fussell, Executive Director, Childspring International
There is nothing sweeter than helping a child in need, especially when you’re lucky enough to do so with such an inspiring team. With all the myriad problems going on in the world, it can sometimes feel overwhelming – making you wonder whether you can truly make a difference. Nevertheless, I find solace in the fact that, if we can change one child’s life, there’s hope for all of us. And that is a fact. I’ve witnessed the change first-hand.
Oftentimes, I feel like I’m riding on the “Little Engine That Could”. The mountain of children that need our help can be daunting: the terrain is difficult at times; there are language barriers, visa challenges, international travel issues, exotic conditions you’ve hardly heard of; and of course, as every non-profit knows, there’s never enough fuel to go as far as you know you can. Still, we climb uphill and, somehow, everything falls miraculously into place. As the engine drives on, I remember our mission: “Childspring International provides life-changing surgeries for children from developing countries and as a result transforms communities.” I see the light at the end of tunnel.
Childspring International, has been helping children since at least 2001. It’s fair to say that we’re a small organization. Regardless of our small size, we’re proud to be a part of Georgia’s tremendous philanthropic community and the Georgia Global Health Alliance (GGHA): where major players are making the world better on a daily basis, such as The Task Force for Global Health, CARE, MedShare, MAP International, the CDC Foundation and, a place always close to my heart, The Carter Center. In fact, it was The Carter Center that first fueled this passion of mine to help on a global scale.
We are a staff of only two full-time employees. What defines our organization are the handful of talented part-time staff, volunteers, and interns from the Rollins School of Public Health, Andrew Young School of Public Policy, Agnes Scott, Emory and GA Tech who share our common vision to drive this engine up hill (where the view of the world is glorious).
By staying on our current course, we’ve managed to make many stops over the years, providing 3,531 children with life-changing surgery along the way. Last year alone, 446 children received surgery, all thanks to our strong team and a global network of doctors, medical professionals, hospitals, host families and dedicated supporters. Throughout, it seems we each keep saying, “I think I can, I think I can”. I knew we could see our way to helping more and more children.
One of our most important stops is Haiti. One of our programs, Project 365, focuses on securing hernia surgeries for children in Haiti. The need is 365 days a year (and there’s always a waiting list!). In Colombia, thanks to carefully crafted partnerships, we are able to help children there receive heart surgeries at the low cost of $320. A child in El Salvador will be able to see – either again, or for the first time – for only $165. A doctor in Africa travels from one side of the continent to the other to help children who are burn victims. A favorite doctor from Atlanta travels to Honduras every year to use his skills as an orthopedic surgeon. I’m awestruck by the people I see every day and their commitment to children in need worldwide.
This little engine may not be filled with toys, but we do carry hope for a better future. If a child can make that first step on their walk to school, or their family can be eased of the burden and heartache of caring for their sick child – that matters to us. Their life matters. Who knows what greatness they may bring to the world? It keeps us chugging along, working to overcome obstacle after obstacle. How fortunate we are to do this global work one precious child at a time.
If you’d like to find out more you can go to www.childspringintl.org or call us at 404 228-7744. Please consider joining us for Childspring International’s 10th Annual Gala on Saturday, March 24th.
Childspring International is a member of the Georgia Global Health Alliance.