Stories

Sponsorship kept me in school

17 October is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which this year recognises people living in poverty as critical partners for fighting the development challenges we face.

Annet was just 6 years old when she was sponsored through ChildFund. The youngest of seven children, her family scraped by on a meagre income, Annet`s father was a farmer, who grew peanuts and maize, and her mother sold fish at the local market.

Growing up in Uganda while Joseph Kony and the LRA were terrorising the country`s north, she faced a difficult and unstable childhood. “I grew up in a lot of different places. My family had to move from our village when I was 8 years old. I stayed behind to live with a neighbour because my parents wanted me to remain in the ChildFund program. Eventually I had to leave when I was 12 because war broke out. I went to live in Soroti town [in eastern Uganda] with various family members.”

Sponsorship gave Annet the opportunity to stay in school. “When I was eight, ChildFund built a new classroom at our school and provided us all with desks. I remember before we used to sit on the floor or study under the trees. When it rained, there were no classes.”

Through sponsorship, her family also received a cow and a few goats, the income from which helped to pay for Annet`s secondary school fees, books and after-school tutoring. “Unfortunately, the goats were stolen from our family during the war,” Annet recalls, “but to this day we still have the offspring from that cow. We still get milk and breed the cows to sell.”

Having completed her school education, Annet is now studying to become a nurse in Uganda`s capital, Kampala, a career that will enable her to stand on her own two feet. “I want to work in healthcare because if you have your health, you can do anything. People here lack basic information about the prevention of diseases. I want to be part of the group that helps to educate people.”

Annet`s story is just one example of how sponsorship can help break the cycle of poverty. In fact, globally, the world has made significant strides in overcoming extreme poverty, reducing by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, ahead of the target date set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

“When world leaders agreed the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, many of us thought that they were too ambitious,” says Mark McPeak, ChildFund Australia`s international program director. “Thirteen years later the picture is clear, and we note in particular the achievement of MDG 1 (reducing the global proportion of people living in extreme income poverty by half) in 2010, five years ahead of the MDG target date of 2015.

“This is a significant event in human history, with around 700 million fewer people living in extreme income poverty today than in 1990, according to the United Nations. And even though these numbers are biased significantly by the long period of economic growth experienced in two countries with large populations (China and India), it is to be celebrated.”

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