Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Francis Mwanu says his former sponsor’s compassion and dedicated support has inspired him to give back to the community in which he grew up.

A few times throughout the year, Francis, who lives and works in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, returns to his home region of Nakuru, about 160 kilometres northwest of Nairobi, bringing clothes and food to children in need.

“Visiting the children – even it’s just for a day – makes them feel good,” Francis says.

“Sometimes we help the communities there raise money to fix things like their water tank.”

When he was three years old Francis was sponsored by Australian Dave Meney through ChildFund’s sponsorship program in Nakuru.

Today, Francis, now 29, works remotely as a virtual assistant with Dave’s West Australian engineering services company, Yenem.

Francis’ job importing goods had come to a sudden halt in 2017 when Dave jumped in and offered him job.

“Seeing and knowing all that Dave and his family have done for me, it has inspired me to visit children’s homes in Nakuru,” Francis says.

The tangerine is a signature fruit in Bac Kan province in northeast Vietnam.

Its sweet and slightly tangy taste is loved by many in the region, and during Tet – or the Vietnamese new year – in February, the bright yellow and green fruit adorns altars in homes, along with bananas, grapefruits and oranges, as an offering to ancestors.

For 22-year-old farmer Viet (pictured above with his wife), however, tangerines are so much more. They’re his livelihood, and they represent the pinnacle of the long road he’s taken to get to where he is now.

Growing up in a family of farmers, his parents worked long hours growing rice and fruit trees to put food on the table. There was rarely any money for anything else and it was a struggle to keep Viet and his younger brother in school.

His parents had dropped out of school early to work on the farm, and it seemed likely Viet would do the same.

But in 2006 – two years after ChildFund Australia began working in Don Phong commune in Bac Kan province – Viet was sponsored by James, an Australian in Sydney.

It was a life-changing moment for Viet, and over time the financial pressures of farm life eased for his parents and Viet, aged 11 at the time, was able to continue his studies.

He went from having few resources and clothes, to owning new shirts, a warm winter coat, and new books, uniforms and writing materials for school.

His commune, home to more than 2,000 people, also underwent dramatic changes as a result of ChildFund’s sponsorship program: a health centre and a school were built; sanitation facilities were implemented in homes; child rights and protection activities were introduced; and families were taught financial and modern agricultural techniques to help improve their day-to-day livelihoods.