Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

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Last time you were here, you were looking to help vulnerable children and families. Your support can save and change lives.

The best things about sponsoring children are the relationships that are formed and what it can teach you and your family, says long-time sponsor Karen Wood.

The mother-of-three (pictured below) has been sponsoring children through ChildFund Australia since the 1980s, and says sponsorship has been a mind-opening experience for her and her children.

“Sponsorship has changed me for the better,” Karen says. “It has taught me to be more considerate of cultural differences. There may be a difference in language and the colour of our skin, but we still have the same needs, physically, mentally, emotionally.

“And as parents have the same concerns about our children, and that goes beyond the colour of our skin and our language.”

Through writing letters to her sponsored children and their families – Diah in Indonesia and Man in Vietnam – Karen’s children have also grown up learning about different cultures and how other children around the world live and grow up.

“With my children, they got to see that what we take for granted – like going to school, a bed to sleep in, a meal on the table, a doctor, dentist, and medicines – and what some children around the world don’t have,” Karen says.

She says it has been “heart-warming” to see how the lives of Diah and Man have changed and how they now have access to education and better healthcare.

Karen first began sponsoring through ChildFund after finishing her nursing degree, and has sponsored children on and off ever since.

While life had been “extremely tough” after her partner passed away and she became a single parent, helping children was something that remained close to her heart. “My life had turned upside down but I got back on my feet, and recommencing sponsorship was back on the table,” Karen says.

“I wanted to instil into my children to be there for others, to be considerate, and really help.”

Being a sponsor with ChildFund has been “like being part of a family”. “I can email or call and I can find things out and I can work out the best way to support with my situation,” Karen says.

“If others are thinking of sponsoring I would say without hesitation, go for it. It is just so rewarding.

“You develop lasting friendships.”

Long-time Australian sponsor Alison Pippard knows a thing or two about the importance of education for vulnerable children in rural communities.

The Australian mother of two has been a teacher for 36 years – mostly in rural settings, including at a school for children from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. She is currently a teaching principal at a small school in Young, a rural town south west of Sydney where she grew up.

Education, says Alison, is “absolutely critical” for children, especially children from disadvantaged backgrounds, because it can give them the skills and tools to change their lives.

“By educating children they have a greater capacity to ask questions, to think about their choices, and to make informed decisions,” Alison says.

“If children are educated and they’re literate and numerate in their own language it creates more opportunities for them.

“We want children to be informed, we want them to be educated so not only can they get jobs where they can earn more money and make their lives more sustainable, but also to be able to make good choices that are going to help themselves, their families and their countries.”

Alison has been sponsoring children through ChildFund for 27 years, since 1993. She currently supports five children, whom she corresponds with through ChildFund’s sponsorship program. She says organisations like ChildFund are important to helping ensure children in developing communities have access to an education and can finish school.