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ChildFund changed my life so I wanted to pay it forward

I was a sponsored child since grade three, and ever since, my life has been with ChildFund.

When I graduated from high school in 2001, the director of ChildFund`s local partner organisation in my community asked me if I was interested in teaching young children. At first I was confused, as I had no experience in teaching, but I was happy that I was asked and felt that it was a calling to contribute to my hometown, so I said yes!

I was trained for three weeks on the early childhood development (ECD) curriculum, daily activity planning, teaching and learning themes, and children`s personalities.

I practised talking in front of the mirror at home what I had learned in the trainings. Sometimes I gathered children in my neighbourhood to practise teaching them. Many of them laughed at me!

After the trainings, we went around Dula Luri, from house to house, assessing how many young children were in the area. In the beginning, we had about 60 children. Since we didn`t have a permanent building yet, we did the activities moving from one person`s house to another`s every couple of weeks. At that time, not many people understood the importance of early childhood development, so sometimes children just didn`t come. We would then go visiting their house to talk with their parents.

In just three years, ChildFund built us a permanent building and we didn`t have to move around anymore. I think that sometimes children do not get their parents` full attention at home. While in the ECD centre, they can be really close with us, learning and playing together. Children also bring home what they have learned.

Not only was I taught about early education, I also learnt about disaster risk reduction. When I thought about disasters, I only thought about earthquakes, wind storms and heavy rains.

Through the training, I learned about the vulnerabilities and risks around us, such as how our broken floor and roof could be really dangerous for our children in the ECD centre. If the broken roof was to fall apart, it would be a disaster €“ in heavy rains, the centre`s gutters would be flooded.

This training benefits us and the children. We learn how to teach children about hazards, such as playing with a knife or how fire could hurt them. Children learn how to save themselves too when disasters occur, and how to explain who they are if they are lost or separated from their families. They can say their names, the names of their parents and where they live. I never thought these were important things, but through the training, I understand how this can help the children get back to their families.

Some of the children come from far away to the centre, crossing the main road with their parents or older siblings. We are worried for them. I want the parents to also learn about the hazards of the main roads.

If we didn`t have the ECD centre, our children would fall behind other children who receive this care. When I was a kid, I didn`t receive early childhood education, as there wasn`t anything on offer. I grew up shy. If I saw a stranger, I would run away. Children in our ECD centre are more confident. They aren`t that shy when we have visitors to our centre.

ChildFund has changed my life. I only want to be a good person and pay forward to as many people as possible what I have gained from ChildFund.

Aussie sponsors the Schulz family had the opportunity to meet Ester recently when they went to the Dula Luri ECD centre while visiting their sponsored child. Read Suzanne Schulz`s insights from her trip here.

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