Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Ever wanted to know what it’s like to work in international aid? In this special series, we introduce you to our many dedicated staff members working behind the scenes and on the ground, in Australia and overseas.

We hope you enjoy meeting #TeamChildFund!

 

I’m the Program Officer at ChildFund Myanmar.

My role involves managing the organisation’s relationship with our local partners. My overall responsibility includes program co-ordination, program reporting and administration, networking and organising capacity-building for our partners.

I’ve been at ChildFund since March 2017.

My most inspiring moment at ChildFund was presenting the achievements of the projects to the donors and supporters during their visit to one of our project areas. I felt delighted to see how happy they were when they saw the projects they supported!

The things I love most about my job are managing the overall project implementation and visiting the project area to provide technical support in person. By doing so, I am able to find out the real needs of the community and I have learnt to consider those findings when planning project designs.

When I was a child I wanted to be a teacher because I saw that there were very few teachers to teach in schools and sometimes the students were left in the classroom with no teacher.

 

Where Ronnie Alonzo comes from, there are friendly and smiling people everywhere.

The coastal city of Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao, in southern Philippines, is known for its happy and generous people.

“The city is dubbed the ‘City of Golden Friendship’,” Ronnie says.

“It is ingrained in the psyche of anyone who was born from that place, to share the gift of friendship wherever you may go.”

Today, Ronnie carries this ethos with him at ChildFund Australia, where he works in Sydney with the international program team to help vulnerable communities around the world.

In some ways it was inevitable he would choose a career in international aid; his own family had been part of a struggling community and had been supported by ChildFund sponsors.

The striking difference between his childhood and those of his mother’s, aunts’ and uncles’ in the Philippines has been a key source of inspiration in his work, he says.

Ronnie’s lola and lolo (grandparents) raised his mother and six other children in the sleepy, agricultural town of Aloran, west of Cagayan de Oro. The community of rice farmers, including Ronnie’s grandparents, spent their days cultivating flat, volcanic fields to survive.

His mother, aunts and uncles never had enough food to eat, and having a decent education and finishing school was a luxury, not a norm.

It wasn’t until ChildFund’s sponsorship program began in Aloran that things began to change in the community, and for Ronnie’s lola and lolo.

When three of Ronnie’s aunts and uncles were sponsored – his aunties Mercy and Joven, and uncle Elmer – the financial pressures of keeping all seven children fed and schooled finally eased.

Life was “really challenging” before being sponsored, remembers Joven.

“There were seven of us, and mama and papa, no matter how hard they worked, struggled to put food on the table,” she says. “How could they send us all to high school?

“Sponsorship was a great help.”

Mercy remembers her parents running meetings as volunteers to initiate community development activities with fellow farmers.

The support from ChildFund sponsors benefited the entire community and meant families had more food to eat and sell, and were able to grow their farming businesses and keep their children in school.

Within a generation the community’s fortune had changed.