Behind a sponsor visit: The real life-changing moments

From delayed flights and long unpaved bumpy roads, to the experience of witnessing the everyday struggles of community members up close – Linda told us about all the moments that had an impact on her.

There are many life-changing moments involved in visiting your sponsored child.

Sponsors in the past have encountered welcoming ceremonies, gift exchanges, traditional dances and even weddings in their honour!

But sponsor visits are not always a combination of fluffy experiences – meeting the child you have grown to know over the years through letters and updates can be life-changing in powerful, humbling, but also challenging ways.

Linda, a World Vision sponsor returned from Kenya and spoke honestly with us about her experiences that brought her closer to understanding what life is like for her sponsored child.

The unexpected moments

Linda took the opportunity to meet 14-year-old Esther while travelling through Africa with her friend Christine. Their journey to the remote areas of Kenya where Esther’s community lived gave them first-hand experience of the difficulties of getting things done in a developing country.

“Travelling to Kenya was a little problematic as the plane was delayed for four hours from Johannesburg, which meant that when we arrived in Nairobi it was too late for us to continue our journey to the meeting place with the World Vision representative. This had to be postponed until the next day.”

The following day, Linda experienced a “very bumpy ride” from the main town to the rural area where Esther lived.

Seeing poverty up close

Visiting the area where your sponsored child lives can be a challenging experience as you witness standards of living that are very different from Australia.

“Meeting my sponsored child was an interesting experience, but I felt uncomfortable in the surroundings, seeing the poverty and disparity between the way we live and the way the rural Kenyans live.”

“Esther walks to the local school about three kilometres from her home as there are no buses or cars in the local community. She lives with her parents and three siblings in a small timber dwelling in a community of several families living in similar dwellings. There is no running water and no sewerage but there is power.”

Finally meeting your sponsored child

“It was awkward meeting Esther as she was very shy and we did not have a lot in common. We did have a conversation of sorts during lunch, which her mother cooked for us.”

Generosity you find hard to accept

“The family had gone out of their way to make us welcome and the mother had prepared a meal including meat which would have been costly to buy. Although we could not communicate with the parents, we understood that they appreciated the effort we had made in arranging the World Vision visit.”

Linda had the opportunity to meet the headmaster of the school that Esther attends. World Vision works closely with schools as a successful way of identifying the needs of the community but also to promote awareness of the importance of child protection and other issues within the project area.

Learning about the country and community first-hand can be eye-opening for everyone.

Despite the ups and downs of Linda’s visit, visiting the family, meeting Esther and learning about what life is like in her community was an experience she won’t forget.