My family and I sponsored our first child through World Vision in 1976. Her name was Claudia and she was from Colombia. My two older children were six and four at the time, and my youngest daughter was born that year.
I wanted my children to be exposed to the needs of a vulnerable child in a developing country. I wanted them to learn to be kind and generous and to learn to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Claudia and the other children we sponsored made a big impression on us. We would write back and forth and share about our lives. My children learned that they could make a difference in another person’s life. By sponsoring, we helped other children get a good education, clean water, health care—all the things that we take for granted.
I like to think that it had a lasting impact on my children because they all are now sponsoring in their own families. And it wasn’t through me encouraging them—they did it on their own. It impresses on me that children learn what they live.
Over the years, I’ve sponsored 13 children, and currently, I’m sponsoring four children. I have eight grandchildren of my own and four extended grandchildren through sponsorship. I feel very blessed.
Being involved with World Vision has changed my life. It’s broadened my outlook and given me purpose. I feel like I’m making a difference.
Making a lasting impact
World Vision is always keeping us up to date and giving us opportunities to get more involved. We receive yearly progress reports on their initiatives, plus I can also go online anytime and check on my children and watch videos from their communities. I even travelled with World Vision to Nicaragua in 2013 and Tanzania in 2016.
When I went to Nicaragua, I got to meet one of my sponsored children, Israel, and his family. He was only three years old then. I got a real glimpse of the poverty that they live in, but Israel was going to nursery school and off to a great start. It was very heartwarming. About a month or so after I returned home, I was told that his father had died in an accident. I bawled my eyes out for a whole evening. I realized then how much that dear family needed my sponsorship.
In Tanzania, I visited schools where World Vision had built latrines and supported teachers and children by donating desks, uniforms and school supplies. The children came out to greet us singing exuberantly, “Welcome to our sponsors.” I felt very hopeful for the future of girls and realized how important it is for us to have a part in changing their lives.
Seeing World Vision’s work in the field was amazing. I could see how my money was being used and what a good investment it was. I could see how children’s lives were being changed. I met wonderful people who have very little, and yet, are so kind and generous and joyful. It made me realize that material things aren’t the things that make us happy. Everyone deserves to have their basic needs met, but these people are happy with what they have and so grateful for World Vision.
Girls need more help
Today, there’s a need to get more girls sponsored. Throughout the developing world, there are millions of school-aged girls that are not in school due to poverty. In families with boys and girls, if parents can’t afford to send them all to school, it’s the girls that are held back. Girls are also more vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, child marriage and even trafficking.
Sponsoring a girl through World Vision helps her get an education, keeps her safe and improves her future. It ensures she’s in school and learning about her rights. When you sponsor a girl, you change her world. You empower her to do great things in her life.
And when you sponsor a child, you’re not only contributing to that specific child. You’re also contributing to their family and to the whole community. You’re making a difference in so many lives. That’s encouraging because you know you’re getting good value for your money.
A fulfilling part about sponsoring a child is having a direct connection with them. It isn’t just about giving money—connection is very important. Children need connection, and they need to know that people care about them.
‘When you give, you receive a lot’
Sponsoring is satisfying and rewarding. Knowing that you’re making a difference in a child’s life is a reward in itself. Seeing improvement in their health and their academics is rewarding. Building a connection with a child in a developing country and learning about their culture is rewarding. When you give, you receive a lot.
I’ve realized that we all have the same needs. We all need to feel loved and respected. We need to know that we’re valued. We need security. We need to be part of a family. And we all have a responsibility to care for each other and to share what we have with those in need.
I recently read a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that struck me: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” We as individuals can do our part, even from the comfort of our homes, to help make a difference in the broader world. Sponsorship is a way that we can care for our global community.
Every girl has the potential to fulfill her dreams and make something of her life. I think it’s our responsibility to make a difference in a child’s life and allow her to blossom. As a mother and grandmother, I want my family and others to know that it is the lives you touch and help that really matter.
Be a part of change. Become a sponsor and help World Vision meet its goal of supporting 1,000 more girls by the International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11.