Ecuador: Sponsor visit brings letters to life

By Kim Meighan, Ecuador Child Sponsor

Jose, my sponsored child, had told me little details about his community in our numerous letters. But driving in there was still surprising to me, so much farmland and people walking alongside the road for kilometres carrying their goods.

World Vision’s been established in the Campozano community for quite some time and I could see the impact that the project had on the area. The main town is quite small, but still I saw three or four different businesses as we drove through that World Vision had assisted.

Jose came running over to me after flashing his big gorgeous smile when we saw each other excitedly for the first time in his school yard. I was overcome with emotion and felt rather silly in front of his classmates, but it was obvious he and his mum felt what I did.

Jose’s mum explained to his classmates that I was meeting my sponsored child for the very first time. I felt so connected to him immediately. You have a special attachment through letters and correspondence. But to meet in person someone you know so well on paper, is a really unique progression. He is very bright and has aspirations to be a doctor. As I am a nurse, this was lovely to discover.

Jose’s mum shared with me that it was so valued how active I was as a sponsor and that every letter I write is appreciated not just by Jose, but the whole family. It is discussed over dinner and read and re-read for weeks to come.

We visited a small shop that had been established by some mothers of sponsored children. They had been donated some sewing machines through World Vision and had started a sewing business making dolls and craft items to sell at the local markets. It was great to see these very proud women in their store displaying their products and given the opportunity to use or develop their skills for employment opportunities that previously they didn’t have. Jose’s mum informed me that she recently had been working off and on, but World Vision had been assisting her to try and gain more regular employment. It was interesting learning the different ways sponsorship money sent from Australia assists all the way over there in Ecuador!

Prior to visiting Jose I thought that more of my donation went directly to his family. I didn’t realise that you’re actually supporting the community where your sponsored child’s family lives. I am now aware that all the children are taken care of, with facilities, schooling and health programs, but also the community as a whole benefits from that support. It’s not just that one child or one family.

Because I have an interest in health I was educated about how funding was shared in that community for health promotion programs. At the time when I was visiting World Vision were doing a dental program teaching oral hygiene practices that had been running for a few weeks. They were teaching the kids at school and giving them toothbrushes and toothpaste with education about how to brush their teeth properly and gum care.

The most important thing I got out of my trip was the personal interactions I had with Jose and his family that you can’t gain from letters alone. It was a real privilege to experience that. His mum particularly was just so immensely grateful and appreciative of my support.

If I was able to make a recommendation to anyone considering sponsoring a child it would be to not think about it, just do it!! It has really given me endless joy, feelings and emotions that I hadn’t experienced until Jose was in my life. Seeing the assistance you can give to a community and personal connection you can have with your sponsored child provides a unique blend of happiness, pride and gratification.

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