I always suspected that I was making a difference in the lives of my sponsored children, but my first visit convinced me. There was no doubt in my mind that sponsoring these children had changed their lives for the better. In fact, I was so moved by the whole experience that I knew I had to do more. And that is what led to the formation of Project Santiago. One of the truly unique aspects of Children International is that they actually encourage sponsors to visit their sponsored children. There is something about your sponsored child grabbing your hand and leading you around their house with that excited tone in their voice saying, "You bought this bed for me. My first bed." Or, "This is the bathroom my father made. It is the first time we have had running water." Or, "thanks to you we have cement floor instead of dirt." From the first time I visited my sponsored children, I was convinced that my money was truly being used efficiently and effectively. I have never been disappointed in the way my families have chosen to spend any special gift donations that I have sent to them. One thing that really jumps out at you during child visits is the depth of gratitude and love that is expressed by your sponsored child and their family. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, you get a glimpse of the hearts of the staff of Children International--they really do care about all the children. So, at the end of the day, when you add everything up--let's just say 'the visit' is a very powerful, emotional experience that solidifies the position that it really is a privilege to be able to sponsor these children. How often are trips planned to visit sponsored children? Since 2003, there have been at least two separate times each year that sponsors have visited their children. These trips can be part of an all-inclusive vacation in Puerta Plata at a resort, where sponsors can take a one or two day side trip to Santiago to visit their sponsored children. Sandy Brazeal is an excellent travel agent (with 2 children sponsored through Project Santiago) and can look for all-inclusive bargains for you, while we help set up the details of your child visit. She can be contacted by phone at (269) 969-0000. If you prefer, we are planning at least one 'group visit' per year beginning in 2007. Please let us know if you are interested in arranging a visit by emailing anyone on the Contact Us page. All trips are voluntary and you will never be pressured to go. What is the typical cost of an all-inclusive vacation? Typically, you can expect to pay $900-$1,250 per person for a 7 night all-inclusive vacation at a four star resort. This includes air fare, hotel accomodations, all food and drinks, and several organized activities. Christmas and Easter (springbreak) vacations can run several hundred dollars more. Cab fare round-trip to Santiago is about $120 round trip and allows you to have access to the cab all-day. Are other types of trips planned? Yes, working vacations or mission trips are planned at least annually.