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Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Danny and Angela have been sponsoring children through ChildFund longer than they have had  their own children.

The Queensland couple, who are parents to Cadoc, Matilda and Kilian, aged 11, 16 and 19, first became sponsors 25 years ago in 1995.

“We’ve been with ChildFund longer than with the kids,” Danny says.

“We heard about ChildFund through my younger brother Luke who was sponsoring through ChildFund at the time.

“Angela and I both believe in some form of giving back. We were already with a whole bunch of organisations, but we chose ChildFund. At the time when we started sponsoring, we thought that ChildFund was a group that didn’t waste too much money on flashy publications and the amount of money or the ratio spent on children was higher than the other organisations.

“ChildFund seemed quite humble.”

Over the years Danny and Angela have involved their children (the family are pictured above with Danny’s brother Luke on the far left) in the correspondence with their sponsored children. “We’ve really tried to bring the kids with us,” Danny says. “When we get the letters from our sponsored children, we get the kids to write a sentence here and there. “They’ve always known who they are.”

Growing up, giving back

Danny says the notion of service and giving back comes from his parents and his upbringing. His father, an accountant, and his mother, a librarian, were lay Catholic missionaries who spent a couple of years working in the 1970s in Papua New Guinea, where Danny was born.

“It was very wild and beautiful,” Danny says. “Dad and Mum came from Sydney; it would have been like going to the moon for them,” Danny says. “They were really committed people; working for two years without a wage to make things better in a Papuan community.

“Mum and Dad have always been the inspiration for my charitable giving. Ange’s parents are also really good people too.”

“I don’t know that everyone sees that we have a responsibility beyond our shores, but I think we do. And it makes sense to start with children.”

Danny, Australian sponsor

As a teenager, Danny spent time helping at soup kitchens and supporting people with disability. “Dad used to volunteer at a soup kitchen; he would take me along and that was a real eye-opener. Then I got into a swimming club for people with a disability and that was a lot of fun.”

As a couple, Danny and Angela volunteered with a group in the United States, helping people with a disability go on holidays. “It was without doubt one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done,” Danny says. “The people who we were with would basically only be able to go on a trip once every five years. It was our job to help them have a normal holiday; to go to breakfast, go to lunch, go on the Big Dipper and go to Disneyland. Just help them.”

“You are doing something good for humanity. You are doing something good for other people, but you are also doing something good for yourself too.”

DANNY, AUSTRALIAN SPONSOR

Upon returning to Australia, Danny worked as a support worker in Queensland for people with an intellectual disability. The work paid poorly but it was fulfilling, he says.

Passing on the notion of service

Today, Danny and Angela work in the education sector, as a high school principal and senior primary school teacher respectively. Through ChildFund, they sponsor five-year-old Truc from Vietnam, and 12-year-old Emma from Kenya.

Through photos and correspondence Danny and Angela have developed a close connection with their sponsored children.

“I don’t know that everyone sees that we have a responsibility beyond our shores, but I think we do. And it makes sense to start with children.”

Danny and Angela hope they can inspire others to help. In addition to sharing their child sponsorship stories with friends and family, they also give Gifts for Good. “I basically don’t give Christmas presents,” Danny says. “If we give Gifts for Good every year, people get the message you believe in it.

“I think it’s the greatest gift to give.”

Like their parents, Danny and Angela are starting at home, and hope to pass on the notion of service first to their children. “There is a fine line between grandiosity and just trying to show them that there is more to life than just yourself,” Danny says. “We won’t know how the children have taken this on board; I hope they’re decent people; I think they are, I really do.

“We hope that they might also become sponsors when they’re earning money themselves, and think beyond their own needs.”

The benefits of helping others is never one-sided, says Danny. “You are doing something good for humanity. You are doing something good for other people, but you are also doing something good for yourself too.”

Charity and compassion have been the guiding principles of at least three generations of Judy Browne’s family.

“My father said if you have food for your table to feed your family, you’ve won in this life, and if you have any left over give it to your neighbours,” long-time ChildFund Australia supporter Judy (pictured above) says. “You do not hold on to anything.”

When Judy started her own family, she passed these values on to her own children. She began sponsoring a young boy, Ahmed, who lived in Ethiopia, through ChildFund in 1993. Her oldest son, Buster, was 12 years old at the time; the same age as Ahmed.

For the next nine years, Buster made it his goal to raise money to pay for the sponsorship.

“Buster sold eggs to get the money each month and did odd jobs around the farm for extra money,” Judy says.

“I was over the moon to see Buster supporting Ahmed.”

Through sponsorship photos and letters sent to the family to update them on Ahmed’s progress, Buster learnt that Ahmed had a very different life to his own. Judy remembers Buster being particularly moved by one photo of Ahmed with a ball made from rags.

“Buster said, ‘that’s no good’, and went down to the student representative council at his high school and asked them to fundraise to get Ahmed a soccer ball and a schoolbag,” Judy says.

Weeks later ChildFund Ethiopia sent a photo of Ahmed with his new soccer ball and bag. “It was the most beautiful photo of Ahmed beaming,” Judy says. “The photo was placed pride of place on the school noticeboard for all to see.”