Thailand: visiting my sponsored child after many years

By Claire McErlane, Thailand Child Sponsor

After 20 years of sponsoring children, I have had the incredible honour and pleasure of actually visiting one of our sponsored children, and what an amazing day it was! A truly life-changing experience … I’m still on cloud nine two months on!

I had decided to take the opportunity to visit our sponsored child Wanwarang in Krabi, southern Thailand, after visiting my family in England. I knew it would be a very special day, but gosh! I had no idea the impact it would have on me.

The big day arrived … Yajai from World Vision Thailand met me at my hotel and we drove approximately one hour to the World Vision office at Lam Thap. We chatted incessantly in the car, and I learnt more about Sai (Wanwarang’s nickname) and her family.

At the office I met the girls who work there and they showed me Sai’s file, which included all the photos and reports since we had started sponsoring her back in 2009. This was quite overwhelming to see and I felt silly because I was starting to get quite nervous about meeting her!

Yajai then explained more about the inspiring projects which World Vision has developed over the past twelve years in the Lam Thap region. Land had been gifted to the community by a local businessman, and World Vision had developed this into an extensive study centre, where members of the local community can come and learn how to improve their economic situation through raising livestock, making soap, shampoos, colourful bags (which are gorgeous!), and production of animal food mixes, all of which are sold in their own area and further afield.

Then Sai appeared, riding a moped with her grandmother on the back! They walked into the office and there were instantly laughter and tears! With grandmother only a couple of years older than myself, there was a bond there immediately.

My love exploded for this woman and her husband who took in Sai and her younger brother when they were young, to ensure they had a home. I learnt that Sai is now studying computers and lives away from home Monday to Friday, and it is only through the World Vision sponsorship that she can do this. God bless World Vision!

I bid my bitter sweet farewell to beautiful Sai and her grandmother, and they were gone ... off down the road on their moped.

Yajai and the local World Vision girls then took me to the inspiring study centre, where I got to see firsthand the fantastic facility which has won awards by local government. I also met the locals who run the centre, and who make the colourful bags, soaps and shampoos. What an inspiring day and everywhere I went, there were smiles and laughter surrounding me.

My new, dear friend Yajai took me back to my hotel. It had been an incredible day, full of emotion and my heart was bursting with love for my sponsored child. I was so thankful to World Vision for supporting her.

It doesn’t bear thinking about where she could have ended up if it wasn’t for the love of her grandmother and grandfather, and for World Vision. It is such an incredible privilege to sponsor a child and play a small part in making a difference in their life.

After sponsoring many children since the early 90s, to actually meet Sai has made my sponsorship come alive and made it real for me. It has been a life-changing experience, and I truly implore anyone who sponsors a child to try to visit them if they have the opportunity. I guarantee you will be blessed more than you can imagine!

My huge thanks to the dedicated team of World Vision Australia and Thailand, for making my wonderful visit happen!