Sponsor visit: “I am now proud to promote the work World Vision does”

Rick travelled to Uganda with his partner, Amanda, and met his sponsored child, Stephen, who is now 17-years-old.

By Rick Burton, Uganda child sponsor

I must have been about 18 or 19 years old when I started sponsoring Stephen.

 

            "I still remember back before I even got my first job, I put money aside in my budget so I could sponsor a child.              It was just always in me to want to help where I could."

 

From the beginning it was in the back of my mind that I would visit my sponsored child. My partner, Amanda, and I were going to volunteer in Uganda for three weeks and saw the perfect opportunity to visit Stephen while we were there.

Meeting Stephen for the first time

When we arrived at the community we were greeted by Stephen’s family and community members. Stephen was at school. We were waiting when he arrived. He’d just done a test that morning so I’m sure it was a big day for him as well.

We were welcomed by a dance and the boys played the drums.  Stephen had practiced a dance with his friends especially for us.

They were so kind in preparing a traditional meal for us – many of the community got together to greet us. The family gave me a present; a statue of a crane, the national bird of Uganda. I gave Stephen the Ugandan football jersey and Amanda gave some stationery that we brought with us from Australia – they had Australian animals and the like printed on them.

The whole experience was extremely special and something that Amanda and I will never forget.

What I learned through my experience

Stephen’s family wasn’t able to afford to send some of the younger brothers and sisters to school. It’s hard being there and knowing that in our terms it doesn’t cost much to put a child through school – to them it is extremely expensive. It was great to see first-hand that the money I donate not only helps Stephen by putting him through school but also helps the wider community.

We visited schools in the area and met some of the teachers and staff. The schools there are very basic but they struggle for just the simple things like pens, paper and textbooks.  Due to the lack of textbooks, teachers spend so much time writing everything on the board – by the time they are done the lesson is nearly over!

We saw some of the medical centres that World Vision supports.  It was great to see that the whole community is benefiting from the work that World Vision does – not just those that have direct sponsorship.

Understanding the difference I am making

Knowing that Stephen was the only one of six or seven other siblings that were sponsored was quite hard.

The fact is Stephen wouldn’t go to school, or have the books and basic things he needs if it wasn’t for World Vision.

We were exposed to areas where World Visions isn’t working. Schools in these areas were in far worse conditions.  It really proved to me that World Vision is making a difference.

 

           "You do hear people say “only this percentage or that percentage goes to where it’s needed”, but to be there on              the ground and to visit schools that have been built by World Vision and to see the work that’s being done in                the communities first-hand – it really was incredible."

 

I’m now proud to put my hand on my heart to promote the work that World Vision does – it really does make a difference.

Stephen is 17-years-old now. I’d love to be able to visit again but I don’t think that will be on the cards for the next few years.

And that’s why I sponsored a child in Cambodia on behalf of my niece and nephew so that they can have a similar experience. The visit definitely helped me take action on behalf of my niece and nephew and get them involved in a World Vision community. Maybe in the future when they’re adults they will be able to visit her too!

Want to read other stories like this? Read about Matt’s visit to Uganda to visit his sponsored child, or see how your child sponsorship is helping families build their income in Uganda.

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