Malawi: Sponsorship’s impact seen firsthand

By Karen Young, Malawi Child Sponsor

We had travelled eight hours by bus, forty minutes in the back of a utility and then sat on the luggage racks of bicycles for the final six km ride down the sandy track to our accommodation. This is exactly how we love to travel ... authentically. It was the day before our scheduled visit to see our sponsored child, Yona. We were in Africa for other reasons and thought the opportunity too great to not visit. The next day the World Vision staff collected us for the short trip to Yona’s community.

We were quite anxious for the 20 minute drive to Yona's community. The last thing we wanted was a big deal. We were hoping to slip in barely noticed and just encourage this boy and his community. But that wasn't to be, as they had a lad on drums and three ladies in full voice belting out a traditional welcome song as we pulled up.

It was clear the community members really valued our visit, with many elders present, lots of speeches and delicious locally grown food.

It was a very emotional time as it had been about eight years since we had started sponsoring this lovely boy and I felt I knew him to some extent that is hard to describe. When we met, he was particularly loving and affectionate, perhaps because I was the one who wrote all the letters. I took lots of the annual reports with me and Yona wanted to keep them all. I had to explain that I wanted to keep at least one or two with his photo.



Seeing the work of sponsorship firsthand

Paul, my husband, was particularly impressed with the irrigation project we were taken to, both because of the effectiveness of it and also how much had been achieved with so little money. This scheme meant that each family who had been allocated an allotment of land would have the ability to now produce vegetables all year round rather than just in the wet season. The many diseases which had occurred because of poor nutrition would now be avoided.

The children in the photos were at the community. It was day one of a new term and they were given permission to not be there to help clean (as is the norm). We also visited the school that benefited from our sponsorship. They had built classrooms and purchased other necessities because of World Vision’s involvement. The bicycle we gave to Yona would be used by him to encourage him to go to school (something he had been reluctant in the past to do) and also used by the whole community as transport in times of sickness.

The visit was over all too quickly. We were pretty exhausted and were left with a surreal feeling wondering if the day had actually happened.

We had cynics in Australia asking us to let them know when we returned if our sponsored child actually existed. I had great pleasure in informing them that not only did he exist but that wonderful practical work was being done by World Vision in the region to benefit the whole community.

It was such a humbling experience for us. To see how those with so little can make the most of life despite the struggles is a lesson for us all. I hope our visit offered some encouragement.