I sponsor a child in Africa
Here, you can read stories from people who sponsor a child in an African country and have visited the SOS Children's Village where their sponsored child lives.
Marcia was moved to sponsor a child in Zimbabwe, after watching a documentary about the plight of the country's children. She wrote a small note to us after she visited her sponsored child in Harare.
“After watching Zimbabwe's Forgotten Children on the BBC, I contacted SOS Children's Villages and started sponsoring a child in Zimbabwe last year.
I then visited a village in Harare when I was there over Christmas and I must tell you it was a wonderful experience, the work they are doing there is amazing. They look after children until they are independent adults.
The tender love and care these mums are able to provide is very moving. I met a mum who had been working at this Children's Village for 27 years. Imagine how many children she has looked after.
They also have a nursery school, infant school and primary school in their premises (everything is super-organised!) and they help the local community. They also have good medical assistance for the children with HIV/AIDS.
I could speak forever, as I was so impressed by your programme.”
Like Marcia, you can change an Zimbabwean child's life today:
Louise and Rick from the UK sponsor David, a young boy in Uganda. In August 2013 they visited the SOS Children's Village where he lives.
“We have been sponsoring David for about a year and a half. He's seven years old and comes across in the descriptions sent by SOS Children's Villages as a bit of a cheeky chappy – good at sport but sometimes not good at concentrating in lessons!
I write letters to David and the sponsorship coordinator at the Village, Sarah, not only takes the trouble to read the letters to David but also writes to me to describe his reaction. This was a real unexpected bonus as SOS Children's Villages do warn you not to expect letters in reply. It was lovely to therefore not only meet David, but also to meet with Sarah.
On arrival at the Village Sarah took us to David's house. Only the four youngest children (Grace, David and twins Evelyn and Joseph) were home from school as the kindergarten finishes at lunch time. Straight away Evelyn slipped her hand into mine whilst her brother Joseph doted on Rick for the whole visit, as did David. Grace was a little quieter but also friendly and happy.
David's SOS mother told us a little more David and her other children. This included, not only those currently under her care, but also those who have move onto the youth house (a stepping stone towards independent living where young people move on to usually between the ages of 14 and 16 and where they are supported to continue in their education or gain skills ready for work). These young people were still very much seen as part of the family.
David, Grace, and the twins then proudly showed off their school work, before giving us a tour of the house. There is a girls' room and a boys', each containing five beds – two bunk beds and a single, and the children have their own little wardrobe each which they have to keep tidy. Even little Evelyn folds her own clothes and stands on a chair to put them away neatly. Her twin brother is not as good at this! It was then time for a treat. We had a special snack of biscuits before which the children said grace. Although we all had our own mini packet the children constantly shared their biscuits with us and each other so that we were both quickly very full. I tried to give away my packet but continued to be offered more biscuits!
After the snack we toured round the Village, seeing the SOS school and SOS medical centre. The school was bright and welcoming, decorated throughout with the children's work. I was impressed to be told about how lively the lessons are with different teaching methods. This contrasted with a school we were to visit later on our trip which still seemed very traditional. On the way back to the house the children found a great deal of amusement in the simple pleasures of chasing a goat and by tugging on Rick's beard! Finally, just before we left we gave the children presents and they sang us a special thank you.
Sponsoring a child with SOS Children's Villages costs £20 a month, almost all of which goes directly to the SOS family your child belongs to. A mother can have up to ten children living with her at once – the children are all orphans or have families that are not able to care for them. I love sponsoring David and visiting him was the highlight of an amazing trip. It felt like visiting relatives and that is really what makes sponsoring a child feel somehow more special than other charitable donations – it's so much more than just giving money, it's like getting a new family member.”
Get a new family like Louise and Rick by sponsoring a child in Uganda today:
“I have just got back from Zambia after another holiday travelling in this wonderful country which I first visited eighteen months ago. My first trip made me very aware of the huge problems there caused by poverty and HIV/AIDS and I very much wanted to do something to help. After quite a bit of research on charities I decided to sponsor a child through SOS Children, nominating their new Village in Kitwe, and asking for a child aged under five. Visiting this Village and meeting my sponsored child, George, was wonderful.
Two SOS staff, Reuben and Mary, showed us round the Village and answered all our questions. Everything we saw and heard confirmed what a good choice I had made. The children were obviously loved, cared for and prepared for adult life. The Village also benefits the local community by sharing its medical facilities and a school.
At three years old George is the youngest child not only in his family, but also in the Village. I recognised him at once from his Christmas photo. He was delightfully shy and wide-eyed as his lovely SOS mother, with children and grandchildren of her own, held him close and told me all about life in the village. 'He won't stop talking when you've gone,' she said. The older children in the house had more to say, and we were impressed with their polite confidence. They proudly showed us artwork and school awards. The house really felt like a home with a warm family atmosphere, and now I can picture George there.
It's very pleasing to see a charity operate so effectively, without hordes of foreign aid workers, directly reaching its beneficiaries and really making a difference.”
Like Pat, you can really make a difference by sponsoring a child in Zambia:
“It was such an amazing experience and hard to describe our emotions when we finally met her, after having 'known' her for 7 years. She lives with her family of an SOS Mother, five brothers and four sisters one of who is her real sister. On the front door was a 'Welcome to Hayat’s house' poster.
We had the most fantastic reception and were shown round the house and garden. The children speak English very well and they were able to show us round. Hayat – being the youngest in the family – sleeps with her mother but soon they will have a new baby arriving so Hayat will have to move into the big girls’ bedroom, which she is very proud of. Every child has their personal photo album and Hayat proudly showed us hers. Half-way through the album were photos of my husband and I, which we sent her years ago. It was so touching. All the cards we have sent over the years were on display around the house and she was even wearing the hairclips we got for her birthday. She was very shy at first, but eventually she took our hands and showed us round. She really is the most beautiful little girl you can imagine.
Hayat’s family had prepared a delicious Ethiopian lunch (injera) for us and we were treated to a full coffee ceremony where the floor is covered with flowers and straw, the coffee beans roasted in the frying pan before being crushed. Absolutely delicious. The children showed us how they tended the garden themselves, grew mango and papaya fruits from seeds and it looked very beautiful.
The Village manager – Ababa – sat down with us and explained in detail the whole concept about the SOS Children’s Village. She is a very caring and loving person and it was clear that the children respect and love her. We were a group of seven (all Danish friends) and we had asked everybody to please bring some stationery for the Village school. We had a whole suitcase in the end and they were very pleased. Two of our friends will be contacting the SOS office in Denmark regarding sponsorship so it was also a very good PR exercise.
My husband and I now know that our sponsorship money does make a difference to children’s lives. A big thank you to everybody for all your hard work.”
You can transform an Ethiopian child's life by sponsoring a child today:
Child sponsor Fiona Stevens from London explains why she chose to sponsor a child with SOS Children, and visited Brian, her sponsored child, in 2008.
“I started sponsoring Brian two years ago after I had enjoyed three amazing holidays in East Africa and wanted to do something to help a child in Kenya, one of my favourite countries. I chose to sponsor a child at the Nairobi Children's Village in the hopes that I would be able to visit him or her easily on my next holiday to the area. Brian was chosen for me by SOS and I have been touch with him via letters and parcels ever since.
I was due to travel to Kenya with my parents in January of this year but sadly had to postpone our trip because of the troubles there after the election. We were delighted to finally be able to go this summer instead and arranged a visit to the Village with the help of SOS staff.
I was very impressed with the Children’s Village – there is a nice play area in the middle of the family houses, a large vegetable garden and playing field. The Village also has its own pigs, chickens and rabbits.
We had a wonderful time meeting Brian, his eight siblings and his mother. All of the children seemed well cared for and were friendly and polite despite being very over-excited with our gifts! They particularly loved playing with our digital cameras, squealing in delight at the results. We also had a good attempt at a football card game of Top Trumps!
Brian’s mother insisted that we stay for a delicious but simple lunch of rice, beans and chapatti which she had cooked over a fire outside as she had no gas at the time and we were very moved by her generosity and hospitality.
When it was time to leave, the children accompanied us to the car, holding our hands and waved us off. I am already planning my Christmas gifts now that I have met all the children and very much hope to be able to visit again before too long.”
Begin something special like Fiona by sponsoring a child in Africa today:
“Kanny Sowe walked slowly across the playground of her nursery school to meet me for the first time – very shy, but absolutely charming.
Kanny is four years old and lives in the SOS Children’s village at Bakoteh in The Gambia. She is the orphan I sponsor.
My wife and I first visited Bakoteh a couple of years ago. I had become a bit involved with SOS’s work in the UK, and having decided to try The Gambia as a new holiday experience, it seemed a good idea to visit the Bakoteh village. It was a truly amazing experience. We were so impressed by what we saw that I immediately wanted to contribute to the care of one of the children.
Our offer of sponsorship was handled efficiently by SOS’s Cambridge office, and I soon learnt that Kanny had been selected to be my ‘sponsored’ orphan.
So it was this year, when we visited Bakoteh again, that we were able to meet Kanny for the first time. We were soon whisked off to visit her home – one of several purpose-built houses in the Village where over a hundred orphaned and abandoned children are being cared for and brought up in a loving environment, which is just about as close as you can get to that of a natural family. Each of the eleven houses in the village is a family home, presided over by a ‘mother’ and an ‘aunt’. These ladies are specially trained for their roles by SOS, and have eight to ten children, of assorted ages, in their care.
The atmosphere in Kanny’s home was just delightful – noisy and exuberant, just as you would expect with any young family around you. The book we had brought as a present for Kanny, which made animal noises when pressed, was a great success with everyone, and the packets of sweets for Kanny’s siblings were surreptitiously handed over to ‘mum’ for later distribution.
If you have any interest in the welfare of disadvantaged children, do take the opportunity, perhaps when you’re next on a holiday abroad, to visit one of SOS’s villages – there are over 450 of them in 125 different countries, so you’re spoilt for choice! You can look at the charity’s website and sign up for its newsletter, but it’s impossible to fully appreciate the work SOS is doing until you’ve actually seen it with your own eyes.”
Sponsor a child in the Gambia and see the difference you are making for yourself:
Not ready to sponsor? Find out more about child sponsorship in Africa.