Australian sponsors pass on notion of service to friends and family
Danny and Angela have been sponsoring children through ChildFund longer than they have had their own children.
The Queensland couple, who are parents to Cadoc, Matilda and Kilian, aged 11, 16 and 19, first became sponsors 25 years ago in 1995.
“We’ve been with ChildFund longer than with the kids,” Danny says.
“We heard about ChildFund through my younger brother Luke who was sponsoring through ChildFund at the time.
“Angela and I both believe in some form of giving back. We were already with a whole bunch of organisations, but we chose ChildFund. At the time when we started sponsoring, we thought that ChildFund was a group that didn’t waste too much money on flashy publications and the amount of money or the ratio spent on children was higher than the other organisations.
“ChildFund seemed quite humble.”
Over the years Danny and Angela have involved their children (the family are pictured above with Danny’s brother Luke on the far left) in the correspondence with their sponsored children. “We’ve really tried to bring the kids with us,” Danny says. “When we get the letters from our sponsored children, we get the kids to write a sentence here and there. “They’ve always known who they are.”
Growing up, giving back
Danny says the notion of service and giving back comes from his parents and his upbringing. His father, an accountant, and his mother, a librarian, were lay Catholic missionaries who spent a couple of years working in the 1970s in Papua New Guinea, where Danny was born.
“It was very wild and beautiful,” Danny says. “Dad and Mum came from Sydney; it would have been like going to the moon for them,” Danny says. “They were really committed people; working for two years without a wage to make things better in a Papuan community.
“Mum and Dad have always been the inspiration for my charitable giving. Ange’s parents are also really good people too.”
As a teenager, Danny spent time helping at soup kitchens and supporting people with disability. “Dad used to volunteer at a soup kitchen; he would take me along and that was a real eye-opener. Then I got into a swimming club for people with a disability and that was a lot of fun.”
As a couple, Danny and Angela volunteered with a group in the United States, helping people with a disability go on holidays. “It was without doubt one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done,” Danny says. “The people who we were with would basically only be able to go on a trip once every five years. It was our job to help them have a normal holiday; to go to breakfast, go to lunch, go on the Big Dipper and go to Disneyland. Just help them.”
Upon returning to Australia, Danny worked as a support worker in Queensland for people with an intellectual disability. The work paid poorly but it was fulfilling, he says.
Passing on the notion of service
Today, Danny and Angela work in the education sector, as a high school principal and senior primary school teacher respectively. Through ChildFund, they sponsor five-year-old Truc from Vietnam, and 12-year-old Emma from Kenya.
Through photos and correspondence Danny and Angela have developed a close connection with their sponsored children.
“I don’t know that everyone sees that we have a responsibility beyond our shores, but I think we do. And it makes sense to start with children.”
Danny and Angela hope they can inspire others to help. In addition to sharing their child sponsorship stories with friends and family, they also give Gifts for Good. “I basically don’t give Christmas presents,” Danny says. “If we give Gifts for Good every year, people get the message you believe in it.
“I think it’s the greatest gift to give.”
Like their parents, Danny and Angela are starting at home, and hope to pass on the notion of service first to their children. “There is a fine line between grandiosity and just trying to show them that there is more to life than just yourself,” Danny says. “We won’t know how the children have taken this on board; I hope they’re decent people; I think they are, I really do.
“We hope that they might also become sponsors when they’re earning money themselves, and think beyond their own needs.”
The benefits of helping others is never one-sided, says Danny. “You are doing something good for humanity. You are doing something good for other people, but you are also doing something good for yourself too.”