Child Sponsorship

A Kenya childhood: Growing up without clean water

By Samuel Irungu

Today, Sam Irungu works as a software engineer for World Vision USA. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Growing up in rural Kenya, Sam Irungu knew the daily struggle of collecting dirty water from the early age of 5. Today, he works as a software engineer for World Vision!

He attributes this change to God: an answer to his mother’s prayer to redeem the life of God’s children for a better tomorrow. Hear about his journey!

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When you see children healthy: Love them, respect the greatness that lies within them, and wish them well. This is because you never know where they will land.

This is a true testament of my life’s journey that leaves even me wondering how on earth this came to be. But I call to mind that God has a plan for me — a plan for a better tomorrow that my mother used to pray for.

I grew up in Lower Subukia, a remote rural village in Kenya’s Rift Valley, brought up in an area that receives scarce rainfall because it is located on the leeward side of Mt. Kenya. Drought and famine frequently hit the locals of this land.

Traditionally, it is the responsibility of women and children to fetch water. Children from as early an age of 4 to 5 are trained using small containers on how to fetch and carry water. They would accompany adults in this noble mission. Fetching water is done early in the morning or late in the evening so that whoever is fetching the water is protected from the scorching sun. They can then have the remainder of the day to either till land or run other chores like cooking for the family, fetching firewood, or even looking after domestic animals such as goats, sheep, and cows.

Fetching water is a daily activity that would overly consume time depending on the water point. During dry spells, we would on some occasions go five miles one way. This would definitely take half of your day. By the time we were back home, our bodies were exhausted to engage in any other activity or house chores.

Growing up with my five siblings, we would — in turns during lunch time or evenings — go to the river with our animals so they could drink from these water points. My mum would ask me to carry water containers so we could bring some on our way back as a means to multi-task.

Returning to his previous home in Kenya in 2014, Sam draws water from a water well. (©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu)

There were two ways in which we would carry water. The most common was where we would tie a rope to hang the 20-liter (5.28-gallon) containers on our back where the rope would go over our head. Or we would use commercial or homemade wheel barrows where we could push two or three 20-liter containers. This seemed an efficient method preferred by boys and men since it required enough energy to push the wheelbarrow uphill. Girls and women shied from this method and opted for the former.

However, the carrying water from the back or head had its own short comings. Girls and women often complained of backaches and headaches. I recall my sisters and I having impression marks on our forehead due to this daily repeated activity. This also would trigger migraines if we would place heavy water-loaded containers over our head. The method is dirty because of mud at the fetching point or dust as we walked home carrying them.

I remember growing up and being cautioned not to drown while drawing water. Bathing at the river, which is a health hazard, was the order of the day, or even washing clothes by the riverside.

I remember very well how many families had Saturdays dedicated as a day to wash personal clothes, especially school uniforms. It was the standard, especially for kids, to have a full body bath only once a week. Twice was uncommon or done by few adults who maybe had to work in offices. Washing the feet, head, and hands before going to sleep was a daily routine in many families. This was for two obvious reasons: to not soil beddings when going to sleep and also to prepare for school in the morning.

©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu

My family was living this way when humanitarian organizations including World Vision started projects to find alternative ways of supplying water. They were funding boreholes and drilling wells or building water reservoirs from high mountain elevation points. This also involved laying out pipeline infrastructure to close water points for human and animal consumption.

Since some classrooms were not cemented and the elementary school had tree seedlings that needed to be watered, it was mandatory for all grade three classes to bring to school at least 3 liters of water to water school plants or to sprinkle in the dusty classrooms after sweeping. This was intended to mitigate jigger infection (a type of parasitic sand flea).

Taking water to school alongside your books was cumbersome. Any student who failed to oblige would be sent back home to bring double the amount. This was considered a violation of the rules.

I am forever thankful that through well-wishers and international organizations like World Vision, today boreholes and wells have been drilled near our neighborhood that reduced the amount of time we would spend in a day to get just 80 liters (21.13 gallons) of water for our households.

I grew up believing that this was the way of life. But after getting the opportunity to travel to the city when I was 10, I had a different experience and yearned for a better life than the one I had lived in the hot valley of Lower Subukia. My home was dusty and the scorching sun took a toll on our water resources.

Tragedy hit when I lost my mum and dad in my teenage years of 13 and 14, respectively, due to poor living conditions. This brought another variable into a hard livelihood equation that in some ways made me realize that for us to survive as a family, we needed a change of life. My older brothers sought employment in the cities. My sister dropped out of school to find a job in Nairobi. With the help of generous donors — the angels sent my way by God — I was able to go to boarding school.

When I took my final high school national exam, I earned an average grade of B+. So I qualified to join Maseno University, one of the major public universities in Kenya.

All my life, I dreamt that one day I would become a software engineer. I ended up majoring in education science, focusing on mathematics and computers, but never gave up on my dreams.

Using government funding through loans, I was able to meet my education expenses until I graduated with a bachelor’s in education science. After I graduated, I did two years as a high school computer teacher in Kenya, then headed out for further studies abroad at Eastern Oregon University.

Of course the rest is history after I landed here. My heart to give back and help others in the community I grew up in has been a very personal goal I am passionate about. This has contributed to why I am here at World Vision. The projects being undertaken to reach out to some of these communities are very personal to me.

Sam pumps water from the new kind of well that World Vision installs in communities after drilling for water. (©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu)

On my recent trip back to Kenya, I witnessed a sustainable project by World Vision still being undertaken in my home area. Piped water and a reservoir have been mounted in major water points for clean water consumption by humans and animals. This has reshaped and redefined the way of life for communities.

I am always thrilled to see how lives can be turned. Without a decent way of living, no clean water, no education, or sustainable employment, my life was on a downhill path alongside my siblings’ and the fellow neighbors I grew up with.

I can only attribute this change to God above, having answered my mother’s prayer to redeem the life of his children for a better tomorrow. This is exactly what happened. Working here at World Vision is a true testament of the fervent prayers of an upright woman who had a strong faith of seeing and making a better tomorrow.

To God I give all the glory and honor he is due. He has proved faithful.

Support people like Sam, where World Vision focuses in long term sustainability of the community which elevates them from poverty. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Clean Water Fund today!

Perseverance Is Her Story

By Michael Czobit | Photography by Michelle Siu

Yui near her home in Jatujak.

A soon-to-be formerly sponsored child in Thailand earns a degree despite family illnesses

Yui’s university classes started at 8 in the morning and ended at 4 in the afternoon. Work started at 6. Sometimes, her shift would be just a few hours. Other times, Yui would be at the 7-Eleven until 2 a.m. Then in the morning, back to class. Depending on the day, she’d also make the time to take her grandmother to the hospital for hemodialysis, which was needed three times a week. “I was very tired,” Yui says. “I felt discouraged, depressed, stressed. But I didn’t lose hope.”

It’s February 2015, and I’m sitting at her home in the Jatujak community in Bangkok. Yui, 21, is actually a nickname. Her first name is Pairin. She tells me how she had found ways to cope. She’d read manga (Japanese comics), talk to friends and listen to rock music. “I am happy that you are here today,” she says. “I am glad that I can tell you my story, because telling you my story also encourages me. Telling you about my hardships, my pain, is relieving.”

She no longer works at the convenience store, and a few months earlier she finished her degree in finance and banking studies. Her reaction to earning her degree is understated. “Life as usual,” she says. But don’t be mistaken: Yui was happy. I could understand her anticlimactic reaction—she had worked so hard and still, there was more to do—but I disagreed with her assessment.

Yui had recently passed on a job at a bank and was now waiting to hear back about another in the finance department at a Thai brewery. She was hopeful about her prospects. Why she wanted one job over the other came down to two factors: location and hours, both favourable at the brewery, which would allow her to continue to care for her 70-year-old grandmother, Ampai.

Yui’s parents separated when she was born and she has lived with her grandmother ever since. Yui’s uncle, his partner and his daughter also live at the home. But caring for Ampai, who has struggled with several illnesses, including diabetes and failing kidneys, has mostly been Yui’s responsibility. Thankfully, her uncle has a job that covers the majority of Ampai’s medical expenses.

My own grandma had hemodialysis when I was young. My family took care of her; although it was a group effort, my mom did the majority of the care. The countless appointments and worries can be overwhelming. I always admired my mom at how she carried on during those years, and I knew that what Yui had managed, caring for her grandmother while attending university and keeping a job, required extraordinary effort. But I had no doubt about her strong feelings for Ampai. “I love my grandmother very much,” she says. “I don’t want to leave her by herself.”

While Yui grew up, Ampai was the family’s breadwinner. Yui’s grandfather died soon after she was born, and to support her, Ampai worked as a street sweeper. So yes, hard work runs in the family.

Yui and her grandmother at their home.

Also while growing up, Yui became sponsored by a Canadian through World Vision’s sponsorship project in Jatujak. Before her granddaughter’s sponsorship began in March 2006, when Yui was in Grade 7, Ampai wasn’t earning enough to buy Yui’s school supplies, uniforms and books. That changed, and in more ways than just materially speaking: Yui learned. She participated in educational field trips and day camps. She took part in leadership and health workshops, including one about HIV and AIDS that, too, changed her life.

It is never easy to speak with someone about health issues, and when I share personal information about someone or her family, I always ask for permission, which Yui gave me. In 2009, Yui’s father, Ampai’s son, learned he was HIV-positive. This news scared Yui. Her knowledge about the disease was limited and her father’s status strained their relationship. Two years later, in her first year of university, Yui attended an HIV and AIDS workshop held by World Vision. It was a revelation. “When I received the training, I learned how to live normally with my father, how to spend time together,” she says. Her fear went away and their relationship improved. She says she is now close with her father and that their bond has been renewed. (World Vision has also supported Yui’s father with medical assistance.)

In all her time as a sponsored child, Yui stayed committed to her education. She desires a job so she can support her grandmother, and she dreams of paying off a school loan and buying a home that sits on non-government-owned land. Through her sponsorship, which lasted into her first year of university, Yui, participated in a bachelor’s degree project that paid for her books, uniforms and some home expenses. “I want to thank the sponsor for giving me an education,” she tells me. But I know that as much as she has received, Yui has already matched, and in many ways surpassed, it in her own efforts.

In her last years of schooling before university, Yui had taken a vocational course in accounting where she learned about the stock market, which sparked her desire to earn a banking degree. Just as she has never invested in the stock market looking for a quick buck, she earned her success with perseverance. Not easy to accomplish, and impossible not to admire.

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of Childview Chinese-English edition.

Support children like Yui, who deserves the opportunity to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Education Fund today!

Jhumri Biswal is a beauty with a vision for the disabled

By Impuri Ngayawon Shimray and the Media team, World Vision India

She is a finalist of the Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired, 2017

Out of 46 contestants from all over India, Jhumri Biswal, age 20 from Bhubaneswar, is one the 12 shortlisted finalists for the first ever Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired to be held at Mumbai in January 2017 by the National Association for the Blind (NAB).

At the tender age of eight Jhumri was hit by a truck and sustained a head injury. The blow to the head lead to a breakage of an optical nerve and after a few days, Jhumri lost all sight. Once home, Jhumri was taken out of school, because she was “blind.” Jhumri was happy in the beginning because she could miss the drudgery of school, but soon realised that her class mates were moving on and were learning and experiencing new things. Blindness restricted her mobility and that affected her playtime, going out, hanging out with friends, and having fun. Sadness and depression started setting in and the feeling of being left out and always being dependent on others ate into her. Jhumri’s parents understood this and felt helpless.

She believes this contest will give her a platform to share her story and show others that disabilities need not be limiting.

A local health worker suggested Jhumri join the local school that taught blind children through Braille. This was a life-changing experience for Jhumri, because it gave her a channel to learn new things and grow. She continued to learn through the tactile writing system for two years, after which she returned to regular school to continue her education. Braille books were available for students till grade seven. But after that, she had to depend on an audio recorder and a Braille typewriter that she received from World Vision’s outreach program. Her sister would read the chapters from the book and Jhumri would make notes on the Braille typewriter. Her speed at typing also grew in these years.

With her interest in knowledge and the zest to learn more, Jhumri was motivated to participate in community activities, especially on the issues of rights of special children. She participated in World Vision India’s “Our Voice Assembly,” a platform for children with disabilities to come together to talk about the issues they face, learn their rights and entitlements, identify challenges; and advocate for themselves. Jhumri was part of many consultations of children with disability at the state as well as national level, where they came up with recommendation, which were then sent to various political leaders. Jhumri is one of 2300 children with disabilities that are part of “Our Voice Assemblies” across 18 states in India.

Jhumri was later chosen to represent the voices of children with disability at the World Vision Triennial Council in Tanzania. In Tanzania, she highlighted the apathy of the current educational system towards disability—about 99% of children with disability don’t go to school because of lack of study material, disabled-friendly spaces and trained teachers.

But these barriers did not stop Jhumri from continuing her education. She is pursuing her graduation (3rd year) at Ravenshaw University in Cuttack. In early 2016, she heard of the first ever Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired organised by the National Association for the Blind (NAB) and wanted to participate. She believes this contest will give her a platform to share her story and show others that disabilities need not be limiting.

Jhumri is looking forward to the finals in January 2017 and while she may win or not win, she is already a winner with a vision!

This article by World Vision India originally appeared in the Huffington Post under the following:

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/world-vision-india/jhumri-biswal-is-a-beauty-with-a-vision-for-the-disabled/?utm_hp_ref=in-

Support children like Jhumri, who deserves the opportunity to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Education Fund today!

The power of a letter and prayer

By Phil Manzano, with contributions by Annila Harris

Maya beams with new light since overcoming her illness and returning to school.

Deep in the slums of New Delhi, in a gray and dusty landscape of crowded, weathered apartments, hope seemed far off for 9-year-old Maya.

Even in this impoverished setting, Maya was considered a nobody. She suffered epileptic seizures; as her mom looked on, helpless and scared, Maya’s legs and arms stiffened and her mouth foamed.  After a few epileptic episodes at school, Maya was told to stay home.

Maya feared the seizures, which would strike anytime. Her father, a labourer, and her mother scraped together what they could to buy medicine. Desperate, they took out loans and even visited a witch doctor.

But nothing seemed to slow Maya’s downward spiral. The longer she stayed away from school, the further she fell behind in her studies. The more withdrawn she became, the more she stopped caring for herself. Teased and bullied by older girls, Maya languished.

“I used to sit around and there was nothing to do,” Maya says. “I used to feel like my head was heavy all the time. I used to be with my mother most of the time. I didn’t go out much.”

Until one day, hope arrived — in the form of a letter sent 7,000 miles, from a grandmother in Spokane, Washington, who took Maya under her wing.

Kay Yoke was attending a Women of Faith conference when she came across Maya’s picture and information at a World Vision sponsorship table. Kay’s mother had recently passed away and Maya was born on the same day as her mom. Kay thought sponsoring Maya seemed like a great way to honour her memory.

About once a month, Kay sits at her dining room table to pen a letter to Maya. Kay’s granddaughter is about the same age as Maya, so she writes to her as she would her own granddaughter.

In her letters, Kay asks about Maya and her family, she asks about her health, she asks about the weather — but Kay also asks about Maya’s aspirations and dreams. She fills her letters with affirmations, encouragement, and prayers. Sometimes, she includes a small gift, like hair ribbons or a photo.

“She wrote about praying for me and my family, that she prays for my family,” Maya says. “I remember that, I felt very good and when I read that letter, I cried. Tears just came.”

Maya holds onto those letters like a lifeline. She cherishes and keeps them in a tidy bundle tied together with ribbon. Maya always writes back immediately, thanking the woman she calls “my Kay” for the prayers and gifts. One time, Maya included a gift of her own, a bracelet for Kay.

From the stoop of her apartment, above the din, Maya reads one of Kay’s letters:

Dear Maya,

I just received your beautiful letter. Thank you very much for the [bracelets]. They are beautiful and I will treasure them forever.
I show them to everyone and I tell them that my girl in India sent these to me and I love her.
I’m so happy to read that your studies are going good…I pray for you, your brothers and your mother and father every day.
Keep smiling every day, Maya. You have a wonderful smile that makes me very happy.

Love to you,
Kay

As she sits with the letter, Maya begins to weep, remembering how those simple words have changed her life.

In her heart she receives a greater gift, something stronger and more enduring: the knowledge that someone believes in her and cares for her, who tells her she is somebody.

“The prayers of my sponsor have healed me,” Maya says. “Yes, it’s because of Kay. Kay said, ‘Don’t fear. Count on God and everything will be okay.’ I listened to Kay.”

It’s been about three years since Kay found Maya. And the girl who had retreated into a shell has emerged.

She has returned to school and attends the local World Vision tuition center regularly. The once listless, fearful girl now writes and studies Hindi, English, and science. She even attended Life School Training Development classes where she learned about child rights, hygiene, and the ill effects of alcohol and tobacco.  She’s taking care of herself and has found her voice, speaking at World Vision youth events.

“It’s so good to hear that,” Kay says from her home in Spokane. She was not fully aware of how deep an impact her letters have had on Maya. “It really inspires me to do even more.”

As much as Maya anticipates her letters, Kay says she also looks forwards to letters from Maya. Maya’s photo is on Kay’s fridge and when the grandchildren come over she shares the latest letters from Maya with them.

“She’s part of our family,” Kay says. “My whole family knows who Maya is.”

“To me it is just amazing, she’s on the other side of the world and we have a connection.”

And it all started with a letter and a prayer.

This story was featured in an issue of World Vision Magazine.

Archery allows sponsored child to take aim in right direction

By Somluck Khamsaen
World Vision Thailand

archer
Following the death of both her parents, Preaw found comfort in an unlikely source — a bow and arrow.

Preaw’s father died when she was 8; her mother passed away soon after. By then, Preaw was a World Vision sponsored child in her community in Thailand.

Preaw and her younger sister went to live with their uncle. When she was in sixth grade, a cousin introduced her to the sport of archery.

“Archery requires concentration and accuracy,” says Preaw, now 21. “I like archery because it helps me in my concentration.”

The thrill of hitting a target dead on became Preaw’s mission. As she continued her education, she practiced consistently in her extra time.

Preaw started to win local competitions and was selected to attend regional events. As she continued to excel, she traveled internationally, and her Canadian sponsor helped pay for contest entry fees.

In 2007, Preaw represented Thailand in the 24th Southeast Asian Games, where she won a bronze medal in recurve archery at a shooting distance of 70 meters. Next came the World Archery and Para Archery Championships in 2011 — and she’s not done yet.

“I’m not skillful yet. I still have much training to do,” says Preaw.

Her commitment to her sport is equaled to her commitment to her education. She loves to study and is not willing to miss school even for one day. Now a third-year student at Rattanabundit University in Bangkok, Praew is majoring in science and technology.

When there are no classes, she teaches archery to children interested in her sport, earning money for personal expenses and to contribute to her younger sister’s plans to attend nursing school.

“World Vision has given me love and support all along, advice in my studies and for my family,” Preaw says. “I really can’t imagine what my life would be like without [her sponsor] and World Vision.”

Click here to sponsor a child today!

Top five ways to connect with your sponsored child

By Lindsey Minerva,
World Vision US

Work Hard At School: ìMy sponsor always tells me in her letters, to work hard at school. I am trying because I want to be a nurse in future,î Najat, nine-year old sponsored girl said smiling. Najat (age 9) has never met her sponsor but she knows how she looks like. She is one of the children in the Ashanti Area Development Program sponsorship program who often receives greeting cards, photographs, colored pencils, writing pad and photographs, among others, from her sponsor.Najat holding letters and photographs from her sponsor. Summary: Context: The occupation of the people is mainly farming. They leave very early for their farms where they plant maize, yam, groundnut, garden eggs and tomatoes. When they return in the evening, girls assist their mothers to prepare the evening meal. You can tell food is cooking from the smoke rising from firewood they use. SHARE assignment: s100591-2, photos and captions only. Project name: Ashanti-Gap ADP Funding: United States Africa digital color horizontal

My sponsor always tells me in her letters, to work hard at school. I am trying because I want to be a nurse in future. Najat has never met her sponsor but she knows how she looks like. She is one of the children in the Ashanti Area Development Program sponsorship program who often receives greeting cards, photographs, colored pencils, writing pad and photographs, among others, from her sponsor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsorship is about more than just giving money to help people in need — it’s about letting children know they are loved.

Taking time to write letters or send small gifts and cards can create a meaningful relationship with your sponsored child. Many sponsors find that investing in this relationship is more than a blessing for their sponsored child — it also changes their own life.

Read on to learn how you can create a lasting relationship with your sponsored child.

1. Write a letter.

Letter-writing (do check out the guidelines on page 2) might feel intimidating at first, but your letter doesn’t have to be perfect to be encouraging to your sponsored child. He or she is curious to know about who you are and what your life is like!

Introduce yourself and your family members. Share your age, hobbies, sports you watch or play, and other activities you are involved in. Who do you consider to be a part of your family? Share about their ages and interests to help paint a picture of daily life for your sponsored child. It’s important to focus not on possessions — your sponsored child might not have many of those — but rather on relationships and activities.

Taking the time to write your sponsored child conveys the message that he or she is valuable and loved by you.

2. Send photos.

Photos of you and your family will be treasured by your sponsored child, and they’ll help him or her feel more connected to your life.

Like letter-writing, it’s important to focus on people, not possessions. Remember how connected you felt to your sponsored child when you saw his or her picture? Sending photos of your own will help your sponsored child feel similarly connected to you.

3. Send a small gift.

Many families don’t have money for anything extra, so small gifts (do check out the guidelines on page 2) can mean a lot. Your gift will need to fit in an A4 sized envelope. Stickers, hand towels, socks, coloring books, colored pencils (with a sharpener!) are a great place to start.

If you have children or grandchildren, you can also send their drawings or photos.

4. Write an email.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time to create a meaningful connection. You can now email your sponsored child. Your child will respond via regular mail, so it may take several months to receive a letter back.

Here are some step-by-step tips on emailing your child.

writeto

5. Send a card.

After you sponsor a child, World Vision will send you colorful card template to send to your sponsored child. It is one of the easiest ways to make a connection with the child — simply fill out the card and email (my_worldvision@wvi.org) it back us.

The card will be sent to the World Vision office in your child’s country and translated into his or her language. Children receive these cards around birthdays and holidays. Greeting cards can brighten your child’s day, and your card will be treasured for months to come.

Know that the letters, photos, and packages you send will bring joy to your sponsored child and help foster a deeper connection.

If you have written a letter or email to your sponsored child, it might take some time to receive a reply. World Vision staff members are hard at work processing, translating, and delivering your messages. Please don’t let that discourage you from reaching out to your sponsored child. Doing so will be a blessing and encouragement — for your sponsored child, and for you!

Story by World Vision US.

Saved from early marriage by a goat

By Laura Reinhardt

Newly married, Saviour Dene had a big problem. Her new husband would not accept her daughter from a previous relationship as his child.

He told Saviour that he’d married her, but not her daughter.

Saviour did not know what to do so she talked to World Vision community development worker, Seth Siamugande.

“If I had power, I would swallow my daughter so she is no longer there,” Saviour told Seth. “It’s a big burden.”

Seth knew exactly what to do. He took the little girl, Modester, under his wing. That was 2007. Today Modester is 18 and still Seth’s favorite.

“She is one of the children that I have on my heart,” he says. “That child has gone through tough moments.”

I am their mother
Children living in rural areas in southern Zambia face a thorny path. Education isn’t a given. Nor is food. Being an orphan limits access to these even more.

Modester considers herself a single orphan — meaning she has one living parent —though Seth says she rarely sees her mother anymore. Now Modester lives with her 80-year-old grandmother, Noria.

In addition to being rejected by her family, Modester faced hunger. Sometimes she ate only one meal a day. She envied neighbors who had three meals. Sometimes when they had nothing, Modester would go into the bush to find wild okra, which fills up empty bellies, but doesn’t offer much nutritional value.

Grandmother Noria is raising Modester’s cousin, Evelyn, along with two mentally and physically disabled grandchildren—Sydney and Junior. It’s too much for such an elderly woman so Modester has assumed a lot of the parenting responsibilities for her younger cousins. A girl who grew up practically motherless now has three charges of her own.

“I am their mother,” she says, now that Noria has left to care for a sick relative leaving the younger children in Modester’s care.

ModEve
Modester and Evelyn holding a baby goat.

“She helps us with the preparation of our food. Also she draws water for us,” says 9-year-old Evelyn. Modester spends time helping Evelyn with her homework.

Modester says, “I encourage her to go to school and study. Sometimes I get a piece of paper and we do a bit of solving mathematics.”

Evelyn wants to be a teacher. She looks up to her cousin. She appreciates the hard work the teen does for herself and her cousins, but she also admires Modester’s education.

It’s an education made possible partially by the gift of a goat.

Goats: A gift that lasts
What a difference a single goat makes. It’s offered her a path forward toward higher education. “Without the goats, I might have been married,” she says.

In the Sinazongwe Area Development Program, World Vision offered a gift of a goat to orphans or especially vulnerable children. Modester qualified and when she was in the second grade, she received that gift.  It didn’t take long for that single goat to reproduce. Her herd expanded to 12 goats.

As the goats multiplied, so did Modester’s hopes.

“Goats gave me hope because I started to dream of who I wanted to be and I have seen that dream come to pass,” says Modester. Her dreams include being a nurse because she likes helping others.

Modester sold a few goats at a time, always being careful to keep a couple of the animals in reserve for emergencies. Some went to pay people to work in their fields so the family had enough food to eat. Some went toward clothing for the children in the family. Some paid for her education needs.

Goats are part of the equation and child sponsorship is another. Modester appreciates how supportive the staff has been, especially Seth. They’ve provided for both the family’s physical needs as well as her education. Seth is always there with advice about things like school and boys and sometimes even a little pocket money,

“World Vision staff kept encouraging me to work hard in school and to remain focused,” she says.

And focus she did. Modester just completed university-level exams. The results were astounding. Modester, a girl whose family threw her away, is one of the top students in all of Zambia. That’s very unusual for a youth from a small, rural community.

Faith strengthened by World Vision
The staff also nurtures the spiritual growth of all the children in the project. Seth started a Good News Club and Bible study for the sponsored children when he came to Sinazongwe ADP. Through Seth, Modester learned more about God’s love for her and her faith grew.

She now has a father who will never abandon her.

She always goes to God with her needs. She knows that He answers prayers because: “Whenever I prayed asking God for something, it happened and among those whom God used to respond to my needs is World Vision and the staff.”

Her faith and prayers are being put to the test as she prepares for university. These school costs are too great even with the assistance of the goats.  So she hopes for either a scholarship or someone to help pay for the university fees.

A university degree will bring her closer to her dream — one that goes beyond becoming a nurse.

“I think when I have enough money I [will] think of helping orphans,” says Modester. “That’s important because I’ve felt what being an orphan is. It’s very hard.”

But things that are difficult won’t stop this determined young lady — not with Seth, a herd of goats, and the love of a faithful Father leading her on.

They can do anything; they just need a believer.

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Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Return on investment

By Collins Kaumba
World Vision Zambia

Yule
Yule Mwewa with his wife, Mirriam, and their two children, Natasha and Emmanuel.

Yule Mwewa’s list of accomplishments could make any Ivy League graduate envious. Valedictorian. Successful entrepreneur and business owner. Certified accountant. Board member of a major nongovernmental organization.

But none of those would have been possible for the 33-yearold Zambian without another distinction: “All this is because I was once a sponsored child,” says Yule.

The spark of sponsorship
The sixth of eight children growing up in Kawimbe, a rural town in northern Zambia, Yule was one of the first children sponsored when World Vision started working in his village. The support was timely, as “survival was extremely hard,” says Yule. “[My parents] could not even afford to provide basic meals for us.”

His sponsor, Kay Mason from Arkansas, supported Yule through primary and secondary school with uniforms and school fees. Her sponsorship was the spark he needed to excel.

“World Vision’s sponsorship motivated me to work even harder,” says Yule — and his hard work produced results. Yule graduated from high school at the top of his class, ensuring automatic admittance to the University of Zambia.

But that didn’t mean he could afford tuition. Refusing to give up, he started a small business to earn money for college and instead enrolled in an accounting program at Chingola School of Accountancy in 2002.

Three years later, Yule’s parents desperately needed financial help to send his younger siblings to school. Armed with a new accounting degree, he headed to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city.

“By God’s grace, I got my first job with an audit firm,” he says. Soon he was able to help his family with school expenses. Two years later, Yule became the accountant for World Vision’s Mwinilunga area development project.

Sponsorship served as a catalyst for my career,” he says, “and with the experience I got as an auditor from my first job, I felt that I needed to serve at World Vision and contribute to its success.”

Family cornerstone
Today, Yule’s position as a finance and administration manager in the government’s science and technology ministry enables him to provide for his wife of nine years, Mirriam, and their two children, Emmanuel, 7, and Natasha, 3.

Yule’s other distinctions far outweigh his professional accomplishments. As a husband, father, brother, and son, he sees himself as the cornerstone for his family. He built new houses for his parents and family members, financed his siblings’ educations, and runs several small businesses that generate extra income to help others.

“God’s grace is so sufficient in my life. I believe that I am a channel of blessing to others. What I have received, freely I should give,” says Yule. “I have chosen to share what I have with others, just as my sponsor demonstrated to me through World Vision.”

Though he takes pride in what he has attained, Yule is quick to point to God’s goodness as the source of his accomplishments. And his sponsor, Kay, says she “is pleased that Yule gives most of the credit for his success to God and that he has been active for God throughout [his life].”

Heavily involved in his church’s ministries, Yule is a spiritual leader and serves on the church board. He’s even pursuing a theology degree, not to become a pastor but “to know God more.”

Helping future generations with World Vision
The final merit on a long list of accomplishments is Yule’s role as a board member for World Vision in Zambia.

Serving the organization that served him when he desperately needed help has given Yule a unique perspective on sponsorship.

“The impact is enormous,” he says. “World Vision’s sponsorship program touches children’s lives to the detail. The sponsor out there may not know to what extent, but when you look at the details, children’s lives are changing.”

Without World Vision or Kay, Yule acknowledges he wouldn’t have been able to reach his full potential.

“Sometimes when you give, you do not know to what extent your contribution is going to impact lives. Just imagine for my life if World Vision did not give me the springboard — what would have happened?”

Yule is thankful that he will never know.

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

“A chicken, so what!” — A skeptic converted

By Laura Reinhardt
World Vision US

Catherine Syasulwe heard that people attending World Vision’s livestock management training in Sinazongwe, Zambia, might receive animals through the Gift Catalogue, so she went to the meeting. But when the World Vision staff told all the trainees that they were getting chickens, she remembers thinking: “A chicken, so what! Can they do anything?”

Catherine continues to be surprised at how many ‘anythings’ just four Gift Catalogue chickens can produce.

A not-too-distant past of poverty
The year was 2006 and Catherine was just divorced from her husband. Pregnant with her son, Padrick and living with her parents Robert Syasulwe and Mary Phiri, the family struggled mightily.

They didn’t have enough food. They owned no animals, which meant they had no savings. Catherine didn’t know how she would provide for the baby on the way.

Then World Vision came with the offer for livestock management training. Just a year before, Catherine had watched both her parents receiving training in conservation farming from World Vision.

So Catherine was familiar with World Vision and recognized them as a trustworthy organization, but still, after the training she hoped for something more than four chickens.

“Something told me work hard, take care of [the chickens] using the skills you’ve been given,” she says. “I didn’t realize the potential in those chickens.” In a short time, the four chickens became 15, then 30.

Using the chickens, she purchased ducks, followed by goats, then pigs. The animals elevated her stature in the community. Before, when the family struggled, Catherine often heard people whispering about her when she walked by: “Look she’s already coming because she’s coming to beg.” The cruel words wounded her.

Thanks to the many animals she owns today, neighbors now desire her company. “Today if I am passing by, they will call me and say, ‘Can you come here?’”

Gift Catalogue chickens help a family to dream
In addition to her expanding menagerie, 33-year-old Catherine’s family hasn’t finished growing either. Four years ago she remarried and recently gave birth to 1-month-old Robert Syamwela.

Catherine can now dream extravagantly for her children. “I want my child to have a bright future through education,” she says. “[And] with the wealth that God has blessed us with right now, I won’t allow my son to miss the opportunity to finish his education.”

CatS
That opportunity passed her by when she quit school in ninth grade because her parents couldn’t afford the costs. Thankfully Padrick looks to be on a strong school path. The shy boy likes his mathematics classes best and hopes to be a teacher when he grows up.

“Whatever he needs we’re able to provide,” Catherine says. “He goes to school filled up, not hungry.”

In fact no one in the family goes hungry. They eat plenty. Catherine laughs as she shows off her arm muscles.  People in the community refer to the family as giants because they eat so well.

Padrick also faces a more hopeful future thanks to a World Vision child sponsor in the US, who’s been sponsoring him for more than 7 years. “I am very happy because this child has a friend who thinks of him,” says Catherine about Padrick’s sponsor.

Safety nets through savings groups in Zambia
In 2009, World Vision introduced savings groups in Sinazongwe. Catherine and her mother, Mary both eagerly joined. They learned money management skills.

They and other group members borrowed money, paying it back within the 2-month time frame. This resulted in increased savings due to the interest payments on the loans. Those savings provided a safety net to Catherine’s formerly impoverished family.

The family used this money to invest in better seeds, farm equipment, solar panels, and a new business selling dried fish from nearby Lake Kariba. Now they have fresh sources of income that aren’t all dependent on the rains. That’s a good thing because El Nino is causing drought to plague southern Africa.

Catherine and Mary remain undaunted. They’re using the water-conserving farming techniques Mary learned back in 2005 for their fields and their home gardens. Since the home garden sits closer to the stream, it flourishes more than the fields, but both continue to produce healthy food for the family to eat and also to sell. In fact, they lean heavily on produce sales to provide for their family.

Catherine laughs when asked if her now bountiful life has affected her faith. “Right now I want to dance,” she says. “My faith has grown so much that I don’t even know the kind of dance that I can use for the Lord, just to show my joy for what he has done for me through this support.

She says it’s like God sent the Gift Catalogue chickens straight to her as a present just to change her path. She looks around at her healthy children, at her own health, at the garden and fields, at the animals roaming around the home and says, “All this would have not been possible without the chickens,” says Catherine.

And with that Catherine answers her question about whether or not a chicken can do anything.  In a word, Yes.

Story courtesy of World Vision US

5 tips to becoming a life-changing letter writer

By Kay Yoke

In our age, letter writing seems old-fashioned. But, for Maya, Kay’s old-school traditional letter-writing transformed her life.

Here are Kay’s simple tips on being a letter-writer.

1. Schedule a time to write. Put a reminder on your calendar. Sponsored children often write back when they receive a letter from their sponsor.

2. Find a place to write: your kitchen table, or attic office where you will not be distracted.

3. Keep it simple and short. Write as if you’re writing to your niece, nephew, or grandchild.

4. Make it special. Including a simple and inexpensive gift is a great way to show you are thinking of your child. *Note* Send gifts that fit into an A4 sized envelope, taking into consideration weight, tax and delivery costs.

5. Make your letter heartfelt: encourage, praise, love, and pray.

Click here for our letter writing guide to help you to communicate with your sponsored child.

Story from worldvisionmagazine.org