Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

John and Carol travelled to Sri Lanka to meet their sponsored children. This is their story …

My wife and I recently visited our two sponsor children, Kavidu (age ten) and Ama (age nine) in Sri Lanka. ChildFund arranged the visits and, after arriving at Colombo airport, we were met by our driver/guide who was with us for the entire visit.

While driving south from Colombo, we were able to see the after-effects of the tsunami. Reconstruction work is taking place, however, there are still many damaged houses. We were based in the town of Hikkaduwa as both children live in the south of Sri Lanka.

Kavidu is with the Waturawila children’s project and Ama is with the Kirida Community project. ChildFund provided an interpreter to accompany us when we visited both the children.

Our first visit was with Kavidu, who lives with his family in a modest three-room home with little furniture. Meals are prepared on an open fire in the kitchen. His father and grandfather are cinnamon peelers and only have seasonal employment. Kavidu is in Year 7 and is a very happy boy who loves to draw. Unfortunately, he has health problems which require regular visits to Colombo.

We were made most welcome and a wonderful lunch was prepared, which was attended by the family’s relatives and friends. Ama also lives with her family in a modest three-room home. Her father is unemployed and makes mud bricks for an extension to his house. Ama is in Year 6 and is very bright. She recently gained a scholarship to attend boarding school. Again a wonderful lunch was prepared for our enjoyment.

Meeting both the children was a very moving experience for my wife and I, and it was most satisfying to see first hand the results of child sponsorship with ChildFund Australia.

After corresponding for many years, Australian sponsor Alice finally met Piraton in person … in Kenya.

I have been sponsoring 13 year-old Piraton in Kenya for the past five years through ChildFund Australia. Last year, my mum Sue and I decided to travel to Kenya so that we could meet Piraton in person.

My mum and I had an incredible six weeks in Africa but undoubtedly the most rewarding and overwhelming day was visiting Naningoi Girls School in Kenya. It was a long five and half hour drive to get there, sometimes on non-existent roads, but the reception we received made it all worthwhile. The people were so welcoming and genuinely excited to see us that it was very touching. Piraton’s father had walked for a few days just to come and meet up.

While at the school, older pupils performed for a traditional dance for us, and we presented Piraton and the school with some gifts – including the Australian childhood classic Possum Magic.

I hadn’t event been sure that they would know we were coming and that was the biggest, most ridiculous silly thought I’ve ever had! Their generosity, particularly given they have so little, was incredible. After lunch, we visited a nearby village where Piraton stays if she can’t get home during the holidays (because of floods). Again, the reception was overwhelming – dancing, presents and meals prepared for us.

During their visit, we were accompanied by ChildFund staff, who were able to update us on development initiatives in the areas of healthcare, education, food security, water and HIV/AIDS. The whole day was spectacular and we were so impressed by the integrity of ChildFund. We were also invited to visit the head office in Nairobi and that gave us a great insight into how things are run.