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Australian couple reconnect with sponsored child after 22 years

When Australian couple Elaine and Perry reconnected with their first sponsored child after more than two decades, Elaine welled-up upon learning that her support and advice over the years had changed the course of a life.

“I sat there and read all the sponsor letters and had a tear in my eye and thought, he’s listened to everything I’ve said,” Elaine says.

“Samuel always says to me, you taught me how important it is to learn.

“I don’t think he’s changed. He was really determined when he was young.”

This is the story of an enduring relationship between a child and their sponsors, and how child sponsorship changes lives.

‘Our own kids don’t even have a picture of us on their wall!’

It had been more than 22 years since Queenslanders Perry and Elaine had heard from their first sponsored child Samuel, who lived in a disadvantaged community in Uganda. The last time was when Samuel was a teenager.

When Samuel contacted them online, he had become a man, had his own family and owned his own business. At first Perry and Elaine did not recognise his adult photos, , but it all fell into place as they shared old photos they had sent each other during the sponsorship program.

“Samuel sent me a photo of our wedding and all these photos of my kids that I sent him over the years,” Elaine says.  “He has a photo on his wall of Perry and I when we got married. I said to Perry, ‘our own kids don’t even have a picture of us on their wall!’”

How child sponsorship transformed Samuel’s life

Elaine and Perry have always known that their sponsorship through ChildFund can help change a child’s life, but it was only when Samuel reached out to them that they realised their extent of their impact.

Perry and Elaine with photos and letters they received during the time they sponsored Samuel.

Today, Samuel is 40 years old. He lives in the same community in Uganda that he grew up in, but his life has changed “tremendously” since childhood. Perry and Elaine helped him understand the importance of family. They also helped him become more resilient and inspired him to do the best in his life.

Samuel now runs his own consulting company specialising in safety, health and emergency systems. He is happily married and a father of two daughters and a son.

“You don’t always know what happens after sponsorship,” Elaine says. “That’s OK, but it’s nice to know if they do succeed.

“I’m so proud of him of what he’s accomplished. It makes me feel really good that he listened and he took what we gave and made himself a better person.

‘We are so lucky here’

Perry and Elaine have never questioned whether they would continue their support with ChildFund, says Elaine.

They have been sponsoring children with ChildFund for 27 years. After Samuel, they sponsored three more children and currently support a seven-year-old girl in Uganda.

It was Perry who started sponsoring first, says Elaine. “He gave because it was his way of giving back,” she says.

“When we got married I brought up ChildFund, and he said, yeah, we’re not giving that up. We never fought over it; we just agreed to do it.

“We are really appreciative; we are happy to help. Even when Perry isn’t working, we always make sure the money is in the bank for our sponsor child. We consider them as a family member.”

Growing up alongside child sponsorship is a lesson in gratitude

Elaine and Perry’s three sons have grown up alongside the children their parents sponsored, and Elaine says this has helped them learn gratitude.

“My kids have always known that our sponsored children do not have a lot,” Elaine says. “My kids know how lucky they are. They know they have good schooling.

“We are so lucky here.

“We’ve brought up our children to be accountable, and to give and not take all the time.

Samuel (pictured above with his family in Uganda) is still eager to learn new things and determined to improve himself and his life, says Elaine.

Child sponsorship is a ‘rewarding’ experience for all

Elaine says that now Samuel is back in their lives, sponsoring a child has been “even more rewarding”.

She and Perry treat Samuel the same way they treat their own children. To this day, Samuel is still eager to learn new things and how to improve himself and his life, and Elaine is still happy to give him advice.

“Child sponsorship has always been rewarding and even more so since Samuel came back into our lives,” Elaine says. “The reward has been knowing he has a good family and he’s looking after them. That’s all we ever wanted.”

Elaine encourages anyone thinking about sponsoring a child to sign up. “It really does help someone,” she says.

“I think if you give, you receive.

“You can’t make anyone do anything, but we do it because it makes us feel good and we know we’re helping and we know it’s working.”

Give back like Elaine and Perry and sponsor a child 

Changing a child’s life forever will be a rewarding experience that you will never forget. When you sponsor a child, you provide them with essentials such as nutritious food, school supplies and healthcare. 

Your sponsorship also supports ChildFund programs which help to improve children’s resilience, confidence and wellbeing so they grow up strong. 

Start your journey with child sponsorship today.  For information on how the sponsorship process works, read our does child sponsorship really work? blog post.

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