Indonesia: Meeting our sponsored child after 14 years

By George Antony and Karen Pedley, Indonesia Child Sponsors

Fourteen years ago we wanted our daughters, then three and four, to learn the importance of charity and how people in other countries live. So began our sponsorship of four-year-old Septiani on the Island of East Sumba, Indonesia. Over the years, the three girls grew up familiar with each other.

Septiani recalled receiving our first letter. “I was so excited and the letter was passed around the whole village”, she told us through an interpreter.

Septiani is now 18 years old, has completed high school, and is a trainee kindy teacher. No surprise in her career choice - the very first letter from her father told us, “We live in a house with a palm leaf roof, wooden walls and a wooden floor. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. We would be grateful if you would accept her happily”.

Over the next 14 years we would learn about her favourite subjects, her chores, and about World Vision’s work establishing Nutrition Gardens, teaching the locals to nourish and protect the trees, and to make money from small cultivation projects.

Finally, we managed to visit the World Vision East Sumba project in April 2015, experiencing that island not yet affected by mass tourism and meeting Septiani for the first time. Although our older daughter was too busy at university, Sophie, the younger one could take time off school. World Vision staff had helpfully suggested educational toys as presents for the kindergarten where Septiani is working.



Meeting Septiani, her family and community was the highlight of our time in Sumba. We were touched by the large number of people in that Christian village who gave up their Easter Monday to greet us at the kindergarten: the Minister, village elders, parents who brought their children to convene a special kindergarten class for us, and the helpful World Vision project staff.

We brought with us a book of fourteen years’ of World Vision reports and letters from Septiani, recommended by World Vision staff. It was a huge hit that blew away any social awkwardness. Her mother and colleagues were chuckling about the old photos, as the rest of the village looked over their shoulders.

The photo album about our family, home and environs created much interest, especially the tall buildings of Brisbane city. There was a delighted discovery that we have sulphur-crested cockatoos in both Sumba and Australia. Sophie and Septiani became very close and looked like sisters in no time.

During a quick call into the modest offices of World Vision in the East Sumba sponsorship project, we had an admiring glance at the mountain of correspondence with sponsors. We had a lively conversation with project staff, Septiani and her mother well into the night.

Thanks to project manager Ventia, we learned a lot about the Sumbanese people, their customs, the World Vision projects and how staff need to navigate their way through local traditions to facilitate development. Seeing Septiani realise her dream and prepare to educate the next generation, we think the efforts of World Vision and all the sponsors of this project was well worth it.