Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

by Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia

My little bit is making a difference somewhere in the world; that’s what I’m conscious of everyday,” said child sponsor, Joyce Lai who is CEO of Educ8 Group Sdn Bhd as well as a merchandising company. Joyce currently sponsors two children through World Vision Malaysia.

Her first sponsored child was Shalini (age 14) from Kangayam, India, whom she sponsored from 2008 until early 2014 when World Vision successfully phased out of the area as the community is now self-sustainable.

“When I first decided to become a child sponsor in 2008, it was because I wanted to help children and was looking for ways to do so.”

A few months after becoming Shalini’s sponsor, Joyce went on a Sponsors’ Visit to Kangayam, where she saw firsthand how her contributions were being utilised to help Shalini and her community.

Joyce surrounded by children during her visit to Kangayam, India

Joyce surrounded by children during her visit to Kangayam, India

“The entire visit was overwhelming and emotional for me, mainly because I was really quite amazed at how my contribution was making such a big difference.

“If you look at the value of money today, RM65 is not much. What I like about World Vision’s model is that it’s all about sustainability: developing skills and investing in permanent solutions.

“It’s not about handouts or about giving for eternity; it’s about pulling them up to their feet and then giving them a little boost so they can carry on themselves,” she said.

During the visit, Joyce was also deeply affected by the work of World Vision’s field officers.

“I felt like my heart was expanding like a big balloon and would burst.

“They sacrifice and give up so much of their own lives, living with the communities to gain the trust so necessary to transformation; their faith must be very strong,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

When Joyce returned home, she began corresponding with Shalini, who wrote back with tales of everyday life in school and at home. Once, Shalini sent her an entire scrapbook describing her family, community and interests.

In return, Joyce sent storyboards filled with images and short descriptions, introducing Shalini to her family and friends, her work and her travels. She would also send practical gifts.

Looking back on the six years in which she was able to journey with Shalini, Joyce hopes her letters and personal stories have inspired the teenager to hold on to hope.

“I believe we as child sponsors can be the ‘satellite’ that opens up their world to the possibilities beyond their circumstances. We plant hope and dreams in them so they can be inspired to do well in life,” she said.

Joyce finds it rewarding and liberating that Kangayam and the people there are now able to stand on their own feet and believes that their lives will continue to improve from there.

What was the best thing about being a child sponsor?, Joyce replied, “It is learning how every little bit counts in the path to sustainable change.

“Many of us tend to say, ‘Ah, someone else can do it lah.’ But when you’re conscious of what’s going on, you’d take the five minutes or spare what you can to be more caring and giving

“It’s my little bit that is making a difference somewhere in this world; that’s what I’m conscious of everyday,” she said.

Joyce beams as she proudly holds up the scrapbook her sponsored child, Shalini made for her.

Joyce beams as she proudly holds up the scrapbook her sponsored child, Shalini made for her.

Indeed, every bit counts. When you sponsor a child, at least six more children in the community benefit. To find out more about child sponsorship, please call +603 7880 6414 or email [email protected]