Founded in 2003, the Orphan Sponsorship Program (OSP) at U of T was launched in the hopes of giving better lives to orphans around the world.

Since its inception, the OSP has fundraised $260,000. This year, the organization has raised over $65,000 to sponsor children via registered Canadian charities, with donations coming in from across North America. So far, 131 orphans have been sponsored in 20 countries.

Donations are collected year-round as an ongoing initiative, covering basic needs such as health, food, and shelter. All donations made to the OSP go directly to the orphans. Administrative costs are covered through student initiatives such as bake sales.

The OSP provides not only financial, but emotional support to the orphans. At the Annual Orphan Greeting Card/Letter Writing Social, students, donors and community members design and write cards to send along with gifts to the sponsored children.

Senior executive Asna Ahmad believes that events such as this are important because "they allow us to communicate with orphans on a continual basis, to make sure they are doing well, and that their needs are being met with the money that we send."

"It's touching to see cards and letters from these children, it shows you how real they are” said Farrah Hussein, head coordinator of the OSP."

This year, several OSP members had the opportunity to visit orphans on trips back to their home countries. OSP C0-head Sarah Khan visited a rural village in Karachi, Pakistan called Rehri-Goht. The experience had a profound effect on her.

"Seeing profiles of children is much different from the actual environment they come from," she said. "While driving to the rural village, I noticed the pavement suddenly turn into rock, it was like a different world less than two miles away from one of the biggest, most highly populated cities in Pakistan."

Daanish Afzal, OSP Co-head, echoed her sentiments. He told the newspaper that nothing compares to seeing the fruits of the donations for oneself.

"Seeing that the sponsored orphans were getting the education and resources through firsthand experience changes your perspective," he said. "It makes everything that we've done here feel that much more rewarding and worthwhile."

The organization is always looking for new members who want to help raise awareness about the cause. For more info on the organization and how to get involved, visit www.ospuoft.wordpress.com

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