Kenya: Sponsor’s “unforgettable” visit to meet Naomi and see the work firsthand

By Gay Verhoogt, Kenya Child Sponsor

I was surprised at the level of emotion I felt when I visited my sponsored child. It was an unforgettable experience - both a pleasure and a privilege.

Although our family has sponsored children in Africa for 30 years, I never felt a close connection to their lives. Being able to spend time with our sponsored child and to see firsthand the many ways in which my sponsorship improves their daily life was incredible.

After a long time in the nursing profession I was able to fulfil a dream of doing volunteer nursing in Kenya. It gave me a break from regular nursing and the opportunity to travel. While in Kenya, with the help of World Vision, I was able to organise a visit to our sponsored child, Naomi.

The day started when Fred and Nelson, World Vision Kenya staff, picked me up to take me to see her community in the Wema project. It was slow travelling over the pot-holed sealed road with speed humps and spiked road blocks put there to ensure we stopped for police checks. Travel became even slower when we hit the very rough dirt road. On the way we picked up Lydiah, our interpreter, and Beatrice, another World Vision staff member.

Naomi has been learning English at school and with Lydiah as an interpreter we were able to be interactive and relax over a cup of their very best hot sweet milky Kenyan tea.

Finally being able to greet Naomi after sponsoring her for eight years was emotional, exciting and joyful. Naomi lives with her grandmother in a basic mud hut without running water or electricity.

I loved being welcomed into their community. It was revealing to see the basic conditions they live in and the meagre crops they are trying to grow to make a living. They have so little yet they are so happy.

The community were very welcoming and appreciative of my gifts. World Vision had made suggestions and I enjoyed seeing their delight when I was able to give them a football and pump, and some school stationery.



Seeing where the sponsorship funds go

Naomi, her family and friends proudly showed me Naomi’s school. There is a water tank to provide fresh clean water and also sanitary toilets installed by World Vision. I learnt that potable water and improved sanitation has led to a decrease in gastroenteritis and improved health and attendance of students.

The teacher explained that there is a shortage of skilled teachers resulting in large class numbers with multiple children sharing the same text book and few resources. Still it is encouraging that children are attending school more regularly and gaining a better education that will improve their future prospects of employment. World Vision is encouraging and assisting local students to study and further their education to become teachers and hopefully return to their area to teach in the future. It was heart-warming to learn that in addition to the individual children who are sponsored, the whole community benefits from the funds that are raised for individual child sponsorship.

Even though I had only been with Naomi and her community for a few hours, and though we only had time for brief conversations, I felt a strong bond with them. It was sad to say an emotional farewell as the colourful group with big smiles waved for a long time.

On the long trip back to Nairobi I reflected on the privilege and a pleasure it had been to be welcomed into the community and to meet my sponsored child. Visiting Naomi in remote Kenya was a highpoint in my life. Now I know that sponsoring a child with World Vision is so worthwhile.

Though I miss her, it is incredible that I am able to write her letters and receive answers from her! My visit has bought an intimacy that we are able to exchange in our correspondence. Thank you World Vision.