Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

“I can’t change the whole world, but I can change the world for one child . . . which can change a family, a community, or even a nation.”

ChildFund Australia sponsor Lee-Anne Bye is the lucky winner of our Trip of a Lifetime competition!

Lee-Anne has been sponsoring with ChildFund Australia for over two decades, supporting three children in India during that time period.

Since 2004, she has been the sponsor of 15 year-old Sarita, who lives in Jharakland State in India, and will now be able to meet her in person in 2013.

Upon hearing the news, Lee-Anne said: “I’m stunned and speechless. To see what life is like in India will be a privilege and a gift. It will be wonderful for me and Sarita!”

Judges picked Lee-Anne’s entry because they felt it conveyed not only the impact that sponsorship has on a child, but the ripple effect of benefits for the whole community.

CEO Nigel Spence, after discovering that the author of the winning entry was a long-time supporter, said: “I am delighted that Lee-Anne, having shown such commitment to children in India over her lifetime, will now get this wonderful opportunity to actually visit.

“Sarita and Lee-Anne have been correspondents for over eight years, so it will truly be a memorable meeting for both of them.”

For most children in Australia, being in school, getting an education and choosing career options is just the way it is – part of childhood, part of growing up. But for children in the poorest countries, these things are not automatic.

For children living with a disability, it can be even harder. Some have to fight for their rights to be allowed to study, tackling attitudes and physical barriers.

For many people, living with a disability means living in the cycle of poverty and disability. Because of poverty, people are more likely to acquire a disability, and living with a disability, people are more likely to be poor, for example, because they do not have access to education.

ChildFund has previously spoken out about this exclusion and poverty faced by children with disabilities here. They’ve also partnered with End the Cycle, a campaign to raise awareness about the cycle of poverty and disability, and how this can be broken when people with disabilities are empowered to enjoy their human rights.

End the Cycle has seen first-hand how this cycle of poverty and disability is created, and also how it can be ended. Recently, we went to Bangladesh and collected some amazing stories from people with disabilities, told in their own words.

That’s when we met Ruma. When Ruma was a child, she experienced exclusion and prejudice. Her neighbours and the teachers said that she should not be allowed to go to school because she couldn’t walk. You can see her story for yourself in the video below:

In Ruma’s case, when she got into school she excelled. She is now in college, she is teaching other children and she is advocating for the rights of people with disability through a local organisation.

ChildFund Australia is an endorsing partner of End the Cycle and together we are sharing the message that the cycle of poverty and disability can be ended by working towards development that includes everyone. To see more stories like Ruma’s, add your voice to the campaign and sign our pledge, visit www.endthecycle.org.au