Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Sponsorship is a great journey

It was almost 25 years ago when Gordon Brookes started his journey with ChildFund Australia.  At the time he was working as a chef at Wesley Mission in Sydney when he was approached about sponsoring a child. Since then he has sponsored 11 different children from countries across Asia and South America.

“Sponsorship is a wonderful thing. I think the fact that I have been sponsoring for 25 years and don`t plan to stop shows that. I would encourage anyone to begin,” says Gordon. “It`s beneficial for you as well as the child; it`s just a great journey.”

And what a journey life has been for Gordon. In 2000 his life was turned upside down when he suffered a stroke at the age of 40, which left him with brain damage. He was told by doctors that he would never work again and spent the next 11 years very ill. During this time he also went through a marriage breakup.

At the time of his stroke, he had been sponsoring 10-year-old Duong from Vietnam for two years.  Despite his injuries, Gordon says he never considered stopping his sponsorships. True to his word, he continued to sponsor Duong until he graduated from the sponsorship program in 2008 when he turned 18.

“Because of the disability I was really sick. I have to admit it was a struggle to write [to my sponsored children]. I wrote most of the letters that I authored and I loved receiving them,” he says. “It was quite a discipline to write back but I knew it was important so I tried really hard.”

Today, life is coming full circle for Gordon. Miraculously in 2011 Gordon was completely healed and has since remarried. After living in many places along the east coast of Australia, Gordon is also back in NSW working as a casual chef and disability support worker.

This year, he had the chance to reconnect with a grown-up Duong through an update from ChildFund. Duong, who grew up in a poor, rural village in northern Vietnam, is now working for the Vietnamese Government`s Youth Union after having the opportunity to complete his education thanks to his sponsorship.

“I believe the most valuable gift given to me [as part of my sponsorship] was that my study was maintained and continued thanks to the regular encouragement from my sponsor,” says Duong. “I want to send my sincere thanks to Gordon who sponsored me for such a long period. Thanks to you I`ve got what I have today.”

“Often children move out of the area [that they grow up in] but for Duong he is making a difference for the next generation of his community. What an excellent result!” says Gordon. “He may even be one of the next leaders of his community.”

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