World Vision child sponsors Mark and Sharon from New South Wales travelled to South Africa last year where they were able to meet their sponsored child, Mbali. Here, Mark shares his reflections on a truly memorable day.
The timing of the visit was one day after Mbali's birthday, so in itself was very special.
We were met at our hotel by World Vision staff [who] drove us to the community project. The World Vision staff are just wonderful - no other way to describe them really. They have a very close and special relationship with the local community and this was one of friendship and respect.
At the school, well children around the world are all very similar when they go to school. The facilities might be different, but together they all act the same. The year seven class was a wonderful group of happy children.
The principal and her assistant were an absolute riot and the smiles and laughter are infectious. We gave some toys to the school such as a skipping rope, tennis balls, bells, a Frisbee, a book on Australia etc., and when the principal grabbed the skipping rope she and Mbali turned the rope as the assistant jumped – all in the classroom.
After, the school assembled outside, and then we were treated like royalty to the singing of two choirs. To hear these young children's voices floating over the paddock was sensational and is something we will never forget.
We were able to visit Mbali's home and her mother, grandmother, aunties, brother and sister. Again, a wonderful opportunity. We gave Mbali a book and a soccer ball which her brothers were very fond of – it was her birthday after all.
From the outset I can only say it was the most memorable of days and something we wish we had done earlier, but none the less it will remain with us always. – Mark and Sharon Grave, World Vision child sponsors