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Our visit reinforced how valuable sponsorship can be

Our visit to meet our sponsored children, Hoai, Binh and their families in Vietnam was part of a bigger trip, partly to escape the stifling summer heat of Western Australia, but also to show our two boys, Max, 7, and Leo, 4, that life in other parts of the world is very different, and that people in other countries face hardships that we don’t.

We spent a month in Vietnam in total, travelling from North to South, but meeting Hoai and Binh was definitely the highlight.

We’ve sponsored Hoai and Binh for about three years now (and we also sponsor Octaviana in Timor Leste). We actively chose to sponsor girls, and older girls too (Hoai and Binh are both 15) as we believe the older children have the opportunity to give back to their communes, and with support may be able to go on and do great things which will further help their communities.

One thing that struck me about north Vietnam seemed to be how resilient people were, how they just appeared to get on with it and work exceptionally hard to make a life. The fact that there are vegetable gardens everywhere is testimony to just how hard people work there. Life in the commune is heavily reliant on manual labour.

Our visit to meet Hoai and Binh involved a whole day of driving from Hanoi to get to the town nearest to their village. The following morning we left with our two ChildFund representatives and drove through beautiful windy mountains up to the girl’s village. The scenery was absolutely amazing.

We met the girls and their families in the local commune building, and spent about an hour chatting with them and hearing about their lives, and what things they wanted to do in the future when they leave school.

They are both doing well at school, and their parents were obviously very, very proud of their daughters. The girls seem confident and ambitious for the future, wanting to be a doctor and a teacher. I’m so pleased that they are making the most of the education offered.

Hoai and Binh were a bit shy to start with, but very polite young ladies. After us asking them lots of questions, they started asking us some in return. Once they found out I used to be a high school teacher they asked about how our classes worked, and if students are ever naughty, which got everyone laughing.

We got to visit the kindergarten (Leo liked that because he got to have a good run around in the playground) and the high school the girls attend, meeting the principal and English teacher.

The girls’ families gave us some wonderful gifts, including hand stitched traditional wedding shirts. We tried them on, much to everyone’s delight, as mine only just fit but Simon’s barely made it across his shoulders!


Robyn and her family meeting their sponsored children, Hoai and Binh, for the first time

Everybody thought it was hilarious how big he was, even though he`s short and not that stocky for a Kiwi. They made the shirt for a standard Vietnamese size man which is a very, very different size from a standard Kiwi man! We will absolutely treasure these gifts, which were so unexpected.

We also gave the school lots of books, pencils, pens, sharpeners and other stationery.

The ChildFund staff were fantastic – you could see that they were very dedicated and that they really believed in what they did. Our visit reinforced how valuable sponsorship can be, it`s so little for us, and yet so much for the children and families we support.

Sponsorship really does offer the opportunity to completely change a person`s life, along with their family`s lives. It was amazing to see how much the families seemed to value it and they also work incredibly hard as well (they were doing the harvest while we were visiting) so they make the most of every bit of support they are given.

We left knowing that the sponsorship we provide is fully utilised in the commune in the best possible way, and used with a goal to empower the community to develop in the future towards self-sufficiency.

If anything it`s made me more committed to continuing with sponsorship in the future.

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