Why I’m grateful – my experience visiting my sponsored child

Joanna started sponsoring in 1998 – hoping to make just a little bit of difference in a child’s life. After travelling through the remote areas of Mongolia 17 years later; she learned that her little bit of generosity had achieved more than she had anticipated.


By Joanna, Mongolia child sponsor

Why did I start sponsoring a child? I’m just so grateful for the opportunity and the environment that we have – I know how lucky I am to live in Australia and not every child in the world has the same opportunities, so I just wanted to help a little bit.

I’ve been sponsoring Davaanyam for about five years now and she has been my third sponsored child since 1998.

Meeting Davaanyam was very humbling and very exciting. It was really great to see her and her family in person – it just made my sponsorship more real.


               "The visit to the Zavkhan project just further convinced me that whatever small contribution I had given so                    far had made a difference to Davaanyam and to the community she lives in."


Davaanyam’s hometown is in the south of Mongolia and is very remote. From where I landed at the Uliastia airport, the drive to the community took four hours. It was a beautiful place, don’t get me wrong – the mountains and scenery were breathtaking, and peaceful – but that long journey makes you realise how remote it is. If you think logistically about the resources the communities and the project have to bring in. They’ve come a long way with World Vision’s help, but definitely, more needs to be done.


               "I learned that the project is in the early stages of a 15 year long project. In only a few years they had built a                    dam for water collection and the project manager also explained that they have a washing and drinking                          station, and have been teaching children about the importance of washing their hands before eating and                        after going to the toilet.  They are also developing an education centre."

I was shown the work that I’m supporting

I was shown various project activities and I was told about plans for the future and how they would keep improving those areas. I thought “wow that’s really great” – it gave me a very good overview of what had been achieved.


           "I felt that my money had been used effectively and it gave me the security to know that I definitely want to                   continue with my sponsorship."


I visited the vegetation project and they showed me how the community was able to now plant and grow their own vegetables, which are helping to improve nutrition and livelihoods for families and their children. Right next to this they have their own water irrigation system so they can collect the rainwater. I then saw this big pipe to pump the water into where they’re planting the vegetables.

What I learned about Mongolian culture

I met Davaanyam at the education centre that afternoon and they kindly provided us with a traditional Mongolian lunch. The Mongolian food is quite different. The meat has a strong and acquired taste but was very delicious. Even the milk tea is different to what we have here – it was a little salty. I think the milk was from a yak or horse. I also had the chance to try the national drink called “Airay”.


             "I was treated as a guest and I wanted to respect their traditions. Like when you enter a room, you have to                       enter from the left-hand side. Also, when you sit down in the Ger (the traditional Mongolian hut), normally                     there’s an altar of the family ancestors so you have to make sure your feet don’t point that direction because               it would insult them."


Davaanyam gave me a blue silk scarf and I gave her a hairband with flowers on it – she was so delighted that she took off her old hairband and put it on – it was really touching. I was so happy to see her and glad that she really liked my gift.

Her mum showed me that she really appreciated our visit to see Davaanyam and the rest of the family, even though we couldn’t verbally say it, we could tell through our body language. I myself appreciated her taking the family and coming to meet me as well. I thought that I’d only meet Davaanyam so it was a surprise.

At the end of the day, Davaanyam walked me through the education centre; it was encouraging to see how proud she was to show me around. I’m very grateful to have had such an opportunity to visit – It was a very positive and memorable experience, which I will always cherish.

Interested in visiting your sponsored child? Find out more