Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

When sponsoring a child’s potential comes full circle

It’s not every day that someone dedicates something to you.

For Bronwyn Barter that day came when a senior government official of the southwest Indian state of Karnataka started a program to teach people to be leaders in their communities.

Parashuram, the assistant commissioner of Karnataka, dedicated his leadership program to his former sponsor Bronwyn, more than a decade after the pair parted ways.

Bronwyn and Parashuram had shared 12 years of friendship, writing letters to each other before Parashuram left the program in 2005, having just turned 21 and ready to embark on life on his own.

“Through the letters I was able to follow his journey,” Bronwyn says. “I was heartbroken to lose him after he left the program but I understood that’s how it was.”

Long-time sponsor Bronwyn Barter says the importance of educating children can’t be overstated.

Today, Bronwyn (pictured left) is delighted and moved to know someone she helped support through sponsorship is now helping others.

“I am totally overwhelmed with humility and yet so happy that he has become such a good-hearted man,” she says.

“You just don’t know the ripple effect that you can create from sponsorship.

“Because of the education that ChildFund was able to give him at the time, he has now become an assistant commissioner in Karnataka, and he’s educating others.”

Over the past 25 years, Bronwyn has sponsored a number of children.

Parashuram was her first sponsor child. He was nine years old at the time and a “little livewire,” she recalls.

“When I first saw his picture … he was an adorable child and had such energy in him.”

While sponsorship is a long-term commitment, says Bronwyn, it’s not only for the wealthy.

She was in her 40s and working as a therapist in Mildura, country Victoria, when she signed up to ChildFund’s sponsorship program.

The mother of two has also been a publican and a dairy goat farmer, among other things, over the years. She’s lived in remote places such as Katherine in the Northern Territory, and as far as Papua New Guinea.

“I’ve had an interesting life but I would not have called myself well-off,” she says. “I’m still not; I’m a pensioner now.”

A focus on education and working with communities so they can help themselves have been key motivators for sponsoring children through ChildFund, says Bronwyn.

“When I heard that ChildFund was going to be supporting children to be educated, it resonated with me strongly.

“Education is not everything, but it’s a big thing. If you can’t read and write, the capacity to keep growing and to become self-determined is very low.

“The importance of educating children can’t be overstated.”

From supporting Parashuram in his childhood to knowing he’s now an influential leader and educator in his community, things have come full circle for Bronwyn.

Sponsorship, says Bronwyn, is “really about sponsoring a child’s potential”.

“Child sponsorship has made me realise that one person can make a difference, that you can have an effect; you just don’t know sometimes what that effect is,” she says.

“As Parashuram was growing up and striving to be highly educated, I kept encouraging him, whatever you do, you do it to the best of your ability and you will be successful.”

Start a lifelong friendship like Bronwyn and help change a child’s life today

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