Early in 2018, Karen sponsored Brian, a year seven student from the Lower Yatta district in Kenya. The same year she planned a field visit to Kenya to meet her sponsored child.
On a June morning, Karen entered Mbetwani Primary School where she was greeted by the wide smiles of students. While introducing herself, she immediately noticed one of those smiles to be Brian’s. As an experienced teacher, she happily accepted being given the opportunity to tell students about Australia and its wildlife. She then gave them pencils and books as gifts and their faces immediately lit up. Karen noticed how genuinely happy they were. “They were the happiest kids I’ve ever seen!” she expressed.
Karen speaking to the year seven students of Mbetwani Primary School
During a mathematics class, Karen noticed strips of bark being used as makeshift rulers for a lesson on measurements. In fact, most students didn't have basic stationery. Despite this, what she found amazing and heartening was that the children were still motivated to take their education seriously. From an educators point of view, that is the hardest lesson for students to learn or teachers to teach.
When the day passed into lunch time, Karen walked with Brian to his mud hut home where she was warmly welcomed into his family by his mother, aunt and grandmother. She presented them with gifts of household supplies. Not forgetting her sponsor child, who received several school supplies to help support his education, as well as a new soccer kit, which he was particularly fond of.
Karen immediately felt their genuine gratitude, not only for gifts, but also for the change brought into their lives through her sponsorship. In return, she now had a greater understanding of day-to-day life for Brian and his family and felt the need to help them more.
Karen and Brian's family exchanging gifts over lunch
After lunch, Brian’s grandmother demonstrated how they used water purifier sachets provided through World Vision. Karen keenly observed the science behind the process that eliminates disease-causing microorganisms, dirt and pollutants, and made safe drinking water available to for families in Lower Yatta.
During her visit, she also learned about World Vision’s water, sanitation and health initiatives in Kenya. Being a science teacher, she recognised that this would be the perfect lesson to take back to a classroom of young minds.
At the end of what was a fulfilling day, Karen said bye to Brian realising a greater purpose to sponsoring a child. Inspired, she was brimming with ideas on how to bring global issues, like access to clean water, to her students. “For example, through live streaming and practical demonstrations, I could not only teach my students the practical application of science but also help them realise the responsibility associated with that knowledge” she explained.
“Whatever happens, there’s no way I would ever stop being a child sponsor.”
- Karen Couch
Over the course of her teaching career, Karen intends to educate as many students as she can on the harsh realities faced by children in less fortunate countries and empower them to contribute towards causes like these. For Karen, this journey has turned into a lifelong dedication to helping Brian and children like him get what they deserve; a life in all its fullness.