In October 2014, I made the decision to sign up to Plan UK’s child sponsorship programme. I wanted to help children and their communities in a long-term and impactful way. I had always derided the thought of child sponsorship, I didn’t think it was an effective way of helping communities. When I heard about Plan UK’s child sponsorship model I realised that it was an outdated version that I knew about. Plan have been pioneering child sponsorship for 75 years and you can tell.
Through Plan’s child sponsorship, the funds are used to drive change at a grassroots level, and using, most importantly, local people to drive this change. They make real long-lasting changes that help not just the sponsored child but the whole community. On their website, they state that the child sponsorship money helps, improve educational opportunities, create medical infrastructure, improve sanitation facilities and prepare for disasters.
It was after reading more and reading testimonials from children and sponsors that I decided that I would take the step to become a child sponsor.
When you choose to become a child sponsor you can choose from three things, the continent, their age and their gender. I decided that I would like to help the communities that were in the most needed as identified by Plan and therefore would leave it quite free. I did, however, decide that I wanted to support a girl. Especially as I know that around the world girls are usually the most disadvantaged.
Zoila-Magdalena is four-years-old who lives in Guatemala and she is the little girl who I sponsor. When I first received an introduction to Zoila-Magdalena from Plan Guatemala I saw that her date of birth was the same date as my sister, which made me smile.
I learnt a lot about Zoila-Magdalena’s family and community; the housing, education and health situation in the area, as well as their access to water, toilets and health facilities.
I also received a message from the Program Unit Manager, Juan Gómez Polochic. He told me about the challenges facing the local community and their plans on how to make it better.
Since my first letter from Zoila-Magdalena which I received in November 2014 and can be seen below (she obviously didn’t write it, she was four!), I have communicated with her and her family and it’s been a pleasure to receive photographs and hear more about how she is growing and how her life is changing.
It’s also been great engaging with a country that I knew little about, through the sponsorship I have learnt more about the community, their culture, the challenges they face and what a normal day is like for children there.
I don’t regret my decision to become a child sponsor and I’m looking forward to hearing about Zoila-Magdalena’s life for the next ten years and maybe once our relationship has grown and I can afford it I will be able to visit her in Guatemala and see first-hand the different Plan International are making.