Sponsor a Wealthy Child (SaWC) is a fiction that immerses the public in a previously unseen humanitarian campaign. Families from the “Third World” come to the rescue of Western children ravaged by “relational poverty”. The story is told through the website Sponsor-Now.org and a series of infomercials that replicate the aesthetic used by NGOs. Who really is wealthy? Who is poor? A serious campaign or a parody? A transmedia project that blurs the lines...

This story projects a new world order with its own moral codes, own stereotypes and its own geography. Relational wealth is the new measure by which countries are placed into the world hierarchy.

At the heart of this story are the following characters: Marie-Solange Nyampundu, spokesperson for the campaign, surrounded by the sponsors and wealthy children. You, the public, who takes part in the game and transforms it into a real campaign. And finally, our “guinea pigs”, who took part in the development stages.

• A series of infomercials tell the story of a Western child saved by sponsorship. The aesthetic used here reproduces that of advertising for awareness campaigns: frequently sensationalist and dichotomous e.g. north vs. south, rich vs. poor, etc.

• Characters appearing in these 5-minute videos are the only 100% fictional characters in the project.


• The voluptuous spokesperson for the SaWC campaign, Marie-Solange, 38, was born in Kigali, in Rwanda. She travels around the West, collecting testimonials that show the concrete results sponsorship has had on the lives of the children.


• This 12-year-old girl lives in the Far West with her mother. She suffered from chronic narcissism until the day a Bolivian family sponsored her. Watch Megan's story.


• This lovable 13-year-old boy lives in the Near West with his father. He suffered from chronic anxiety before being sponsored by a family from the Ivory Coast. Watch Kevin's story.


• This teenager is 14 years old and lives with his family in the Middle West. He had sunk into a state of severe Internet addiction until a Vietnamese family sponsored him. Watch Zachary's story.


• This rebellious 15-year-old lives in Israel. She rebels against consumerist society by buying revolutionary symbols. Watch a teaser of the Butterfly's story coming soon.

• It is you, the public, who provides most of the characters. You have the opportunity to add your profile to the catalog of children or sponsors and take part in the sponsorship – provided you meet the eligibility requirements…

Real vs. fictional

• While the SaWC campaign may have begun as a simple game, nothing prevents this from becoming a real intercultural experience and even improving the world in which we live.

• To allow the experience to be as real as possible, we ask that you, the public, respect the following eligibility criteria:
1) To create a sponsor profile you must have been born in Africa, Asia or South America.
2) To create a wealthy child profile you must have been born in the West and be 21 years old or younger.

Activate a sponsorship

• To create a sponsor profile, simply click on the section Sponsor a child. To create a child profile, you must first pass a screening test. The test is open to everyone.

• Once registered, the sponsor will receive an email with the procedures to follow. Sponsors are invited to consult the catalog of children and make their choice from those awaiting sponsorship.

The mission

• Once the child and sponsor are paired, they can begin corresponding. Through 280-character messages (yes, twice as many as Twitter!), the sponsor shares their know-how with the child.

• Their mission is to reconnect the child with those around them: the elderly, neighbours, strangers, and friends. A system of rewards allows the sponsor to encourage their child. This is the Levels Tool located on each profile, right beside the hug-o-meter.

• To ensure the quality of this experience, a rigorous research and development process has been in place since 2011.

The Rich Lab

• More than 50 volunteers took part in the Rich Lab: a sponsorship simulation that took place in Rimouski, Quebec (Canada) in 2011.

• Around 50 high school students and 50 immigrants from the Global South created fictitious characters who communicated with one another via a web platform.


• The Rich Lab allowed us to identify the real-life problems of Western youth, particularly those living in this part of Canada.

• The experience confirmed the strong social ties that exist in the immigrants’ countries of origin.

• Based on crowdsourcing, this simulation has provided content for the infomercials/videos that were shot over the years that followed.


• Far from limiting itself to research, the Rich Lab was a phase of prolific creation, of which we can still see traces in :

• The 17-minute making-of video recounting the Rich Lab adventure (French only): vimeo.com/25695632

• The web platform (French only) on which the simulation was displayed.

• The pilot video (select English subtitles) of the upcoming transmedia game.

Why not create a real humanitarian campaign, with real people?

Director Julien Boisvert answered: “During the development phase of the project our team surveyed dozens of young Canadians and the response was unanimous: no one was willing to ask for help as a victim of relational poverty in a 100% real humanitarian campaign. This is why we created a playful yet satirical digital experience that encourages participation. What started out as a simple game, the Sponsor a Wealthy Child (SaWC) project is now, thanks to ever-increasing numbers of online registrations, becoming a real movement. There are now dozens of active sponsorships on the Sponsor-Now.org and Parrainez.org (French version) platforms. Each registered individual takes part in an active exchange and, we hope, an enriching intercultural experience. Do participants use their real identity? This we cannot answer. However, to encourage an authentic experience, each participant provides his or her country of origin along with a personal photo when registering.”

“Additionally, all the statistics on the site are real and all of our sources are referenced. The research and development phase of the project, carried out in 2011 under the name “Rich Lab”, also injects authenticity into the SaWC project. Almost 50 students from Canadian high schools as well as immigrants to Canada from “developing” countries participated in the sponsorship simulation. This allowed us to define numerous types of socio-psychological problems experienced by young people in the West. The Rich Lab also allowed us to confirm the strong social ties that exist in the immigrants’ countries of origin. Inspired by crowdsourcing, this simulation provided content for the scripts of our current infomercials.”

What is “relational poverty”?

“We define relational poverty as the growing difficulty for young people to establish and maintain relationships within social groups such as neighbourhoods, intergenerational families, friendship groups etc. Is it possible that the growth of consumerism in western societies since the 1950s has caused relational poverty? Does the accumulation of material wealth undermine personal relationships and isolate people? Can “wealthy” western societies learn something from the “poor” societies of the South? We turn to you, the public, to answer these questions. Our contribution is to provide an interactive platform for intercultural exchange, which we hope will lead us to answers.”

How can you make light of self-harm, youth radicalization, and other tragic events?

“There is certainly nothing funny about these difficult circumstances and issues. The SaWC campaign diverges from the path of conventional parody, i.e. that is intended to be humorous, as we explore the potential of a tragicomedy parody that aims to promote reflection rather than laughter. We are asking the public to reflect on the causes of socio-psychological suffering in “developed” societies as well as on the possible remedies that “developing” or “poor” societies may hold.”

“You may think that a game is not an appropriate medium for discussing such delicate and complex issues, or that the project makes light of serious problems. However, SaWC is not a traditional parody and nor is it a traditional game. This is a serious game that is working towards making changes to society on a global scale. Meanwhile, it seems that traditional media is becoming the source for “light” news as newsrooms follow social media trends and journalists are inhibited by the popular short format of 3 minutes for a television report or 1600 words for an article. How can journalists be expected to explore complex issues with the depth that they deserve within such constraints? Newsrooms seem to prefer publishing personal anecdotes rather than producing accounts that require substantial research into the historic, sociological or economic factors which may explain the phenomenon.”

Is your campaign in danger of trivializing economic poverty in the “South”?

“We may be walking a fine line by parodying humanitarian campaigns but far from parodying poverty in the developing world, we parody the way it is portrayed by western interest groups in their marketing campaigns. We parody the aesthetics of these campaigns in our campaign against relational poverty.”

“So far, the message appears to be reaching its intended audience. Take, for example, Regis who is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo and who discovered our project in January 2015. He explains that our campaign translates into images the on-going paternalistic relationship of the colonist and the colonized, but with the roles inverted. Thus the “western” countries appear at the bottom of our world map and their populations are represented as ethnic groups and tribes in need of help from the civilized world of Africa, South America and Asia. The parody aspect is pushed further as we discover the “catalog of children”, in which citizens from the South can browse for their child among those pending sponsorship. It is time to move away from the traditional north-south hierarchy as we consider the image of an inverted world.”

Don’t you think that your project presents the issue as “black or white” and that it lacks nuance?

“The SaWC project is absolutely “black or white”. To create a believable humanitarian campaign parody we studied the messages and aesthetics of campaigns by various humanitarian agencies including UNICEF, World Vision and Avaaz. These organizations require public donations to continue their humanitarian work and so they frequently use simplified “black or white” messages accompanied by sensationalist, alarmist and at times theatrically overplayed imagery to kindle compassion and trigger generosity in the viewing public. We have recreated this aesthetic, albeit in an exaggerated manner, as is the nature of parody, and adapted it to our theme for the infomercials and web platform. Needless to say that reality is far more nuanced: “poor people” from the South are not constantly visiting their grandparents or helping their neighbours, and “westerners” are not all anxious, solitary and cyber-dependant. The planet is much more complex than a simple North-South division could ever reflect.”


Catalog of sponsors


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