Child sponsorship: helping Nelji, 25, achieve her career dreams

Have you ever wondered what difference you are making by sponsoring a child? World Vision Australia's Elena Paleo spoke to Nelji, a former sponsored child in the San Rafael Petzal project, Guatemala.

By Elena Paleo, Guatemala Portfolio Advisor

Nelji is a 25-year-old mother of a baby girl who is completing the final year of her university degree in social work this year. This is an amazing accomplishment for a young woman of indigenous background, coming from a small rural community in the west of the country.

Nelji was sponsored when she was six years-old and although she never had the opportunity to meet her sponsor, she recalls writing letters and having her photo taken. Nelji also remembers World Vision’s sessions on the importance of education. As a result, she remembers telling her parents that she wanted to study.

"Not everyone has the opportunity to study in Guatemala. While the country has made significant advances in providing schooling for children at primary level, less than half pursue higher education."


Only 48 percent of boys and 44 percent of girls enrol in secondary school and less than 20 percent enrol in tertiary education. Figures are worse for indigenous people. Only 60 percent of young indigenous males and 40 percent of young indigenous females are still in school by the age of 14.

Your sponsorship means an education can become reality for children in Guatemala.

For her parents, it was not easy to bring up a family of six children with a very modest income. Nelji’s mum used to sell merchandise in the local market and her father worked as a local teacher when work was available.

Despite economic struggles, Nelji’s family remained together and is very close to this day. You could tell how proud she felt in telling me this. In Guatemala, many children grow up with either a single parent or an extended family member, as many fathers and mothers are forced to leave their communities in search of income to survive.


"With her dream of an education realised, Nelji is now focused on supporting the continued improvement of her community."


Because of Child Sponsorship, she had the opportunity to do her university work experience at World Vision’s local development program, so she knows about the work that is occurring in her community today

Your support helps World Vision work with community members, organisations and local authorities to improve children’s nutrition and reduce preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and infectious respiratory related diseases.

World Vision’s staff are also working to increase access to pre-school so children are better prepared to succeed in the early years of primary school. The Sponsorship program includes strengthening community’s child protection systems and improving the community’s knowledge to be better prepared and able to respond to natural disasters when they occur.


"Nelji wants to help reduce malnutrition in her community, as more than 60 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Her wish is for more children to have the opportunities she has had for a better future."


By sponsoring a child in Guatemala you are not only changing the life of a boy or a girl, you are also helping to change his or her family and their whole community. We want to thank you for helping to make a difference in someone’s life.

Want to read other stories like this? See what Brittany experienced when she visited her sponsored child in Guatemala, or read about how World Vision improves health and nutrition in Guatemala.