Louise, shares her experience of visiting her sponsor child

Louise, shares her experience of visiting her sponsor child


I discovered the true power of giving through Child Sponsorship.

I told a colleague, “I’m off to Cambodia to visit a World Vision community I’ve been supporting for a few years called Chi Kreng.” The colleague replied, “That’s cool, but NGOs seem to be getting some bad press lately. I’ve heard the funds are sometimes not spent correctly.”

Despite the bad press, I continue with my Child Sponsorship. The little girl who writes to me a few times a year is my reason.

I met the child I sponsor, along with her mum. They arrived at the World Vision local office on the back of a small motorbike shared with a pregnant woman and her partner. Her mum wore her best hat. We played games and coloured-in with the books and crayons I had brought with me. She drank her first milkshake.
My World Vision child is like so many others in her community. 
She wants to feel safe and secure, so she can have free space to grow.
She wants to have enough to eat, and not have to work to survive.
She wants to drink clean water, to know what good health is.
She wants to continue going to school, to discover what she loves.
She wants the opportunity to give. She tells me she wants to be a doctor.

The World Vision team showed me highlights of their local projects.
We visited a new clean water point at a school and a sewing school for young women.
We spent time at a children’s youth club where we sang songs. I remember toy cars made from plastic bottles, being chased in circles by happy, giggly children, and observing the serenity of the traditional Khmer dance taught to children at school - a true celebration of culture.

As we moved between project sites, I can only describe what I saw as the full spectrum between absolute poverty and extreme joy.

Travelling in a four-wheel drive, very necessary for the dusty-red, pot-holed roads, we talked about the prioritisation of funding to where it was needed most. The Chi Kreng team were actively involved in developing local strategies for change.

The focus was on clean drinking water, getting children to school and not into labour, overcoming the challenges of creating community engagement, and making available emergency responses for those desperately in need of food.

Chreung, who served as my warm host and translator for the day, shares a small accommodation with other World Vision team members, living apart from his wife and son during the week. Their lives are committed to the well-being of their people. Chreung said to me as were driving along, staring out at the land, “I just want to make a difference. On behalf of World Vision, I want to thank you for your donation.”

“You are welcome,” I replied and thought how little I did or gave. I found myself challenged inside.

There was me, having arrived that day, in my purposefully understated white linen shirt and hiking trousers. My jewellery was deposited in the safe of my five-star hotel, and I was not only curious to see what I would learn about the nature of giving, but also had doubt arising from those work kitchen conversations. 

I doubted my funds were being spent correctly? Oh, my goodness!

Instead, I was immersed into the full presence and warmth of everyone I met and blessed by every encounter. Each greeting was marked by the pressing of palms and exchange of friendship as we said, “chum reap suor”, hello.

In the taxi on the way back to the airport, I reflected on my experience. I was sad to leave. I felt expanded. I had grown in some way. How to explain it? It was as if I was being me. The whole me, the real me, just the me in the present moment. Humbled, in my place. Fully being.

I was receiving a multitude of blessings experienced in my heart. There was no two-way flow of giving or receiving. There was presence – the ultimate gift.

I reflected that my single contribution was so little, but valuable. 

What if we all stopped giving? Would it make a difference to the communities we support? To people like Chreung who live for making a difference? To those children who benefit from these projects? Yes, absolutely.

On my return home I thought about how many more children I could sponsor. I thought about the one child who, on seeing Chreung pass through her village, would ask whether he had found them a sponsor yet. It was a story he told me when I asked about the number of children still waiting.

As I sat with my credit card trying to choose which child, which country, I knew that was not the answer. We need a collective effort. It needs me. It needs you.

You and I can do great things by giving together–that’s where our power lies.

Giving helps us to become whole. In giving, we find ourselves and our place in the world. But the irony is that I thought I was the giver, but I was, in fact, the receiver. I was the one being blessed by this experience. In giving, we do receive.

For not much more than a dollar a day, you can give of yourself every single day.

Sponsor a child. My sponsorship, along with yours, can change the world for the better, and in doing so, change our own.