I sponsor a child in Central and South America
Here, you can read some reflections from supporters who sponsor in Central and South America. Sarah chose to help through SOS Children's Villages after witnessing extreme deprivation and squalor in Colombia. Ann has sponsored various children with SOS Children's Villages since 1965, and stays in touch with Anni, her first sponsored child, who today is successful mother of four.
Sarah Woods is a freelance travel writer, editor and guidebook author whose career traversing the globe has shown her great beauty but also immense deprivation and squalor. She explains how SOS sponsorship in Bogotá, Colombia, has enriched her world.
“I've been fascinated with travel ever since I was a young girl. From my bedroom a globe, world atlas and shortwave radio provided a bridge to far flung foreign lands and I dreamt of witnessing first hand the incredible sights, smells, colours and cultures of the world at large.
As a travel writer, I have criss-crossed the globe many times in the last 20 years, clocking up at least a quarter of a million kilometres and journeying through more than 50 countries. I never tire of travel and relish every trip I make, even thought it can mean I'm away from home for up to 200 days each year.
People often assume it's a 'dream job' but life on the road can often be anything by glamorous. Aside of the airport delays and jet lag I am also shocked by some of the things that I see, from the poverty-stricken villages and poor levels of sanitation to cities where social decay has taken hold and family life has broken down. It's especially difficult when this affects children, given that young people so often represent hope and the future.
I decided to become an SOS sponsor after meeting some street kids in the slums of Panama. I'd written the first travel guide book to Panama by a British author and had been lucky enough to win a highly prestigious award for my efforts. Yet as I held the hand of a sick little girl as she lay shrouded in a pile of rubble and fast-food packing, the glitz and glamor of that Savoy award presentation was the furthest thing from my mind.
I'd been so privileged to be so warmly welcomed by every Panamanian I'd met as I travelled throughout the isthmus, from the Kuna Indians who surprised me with songs and lobster on my birthday, to the potter who shared his life story whilst at the wheel in Herrera. It was time for me to give something back to Panama and I did this with the help of SOS. My sponsorship has helped dozens of children like that feverish little girl I found alone in the rat-invested backstreets, providing the love, support, education and nuture that abandoned children so need.
My next trip? It's to Colombia on another guide book assignment and I've felt so enriched by my experiences at Panama's David Children's Village that I've already started sponsoring a village in Bogotá. Why? Because I now feel that this forms an important component to any long-term visit – and I feel honoured to be a part such incredible projects. Helping the future of a nation through its children has given my travel experiences a fresh perspective, I can honestly say that it's really changed my world.”
Change your world like Sarah by sponsoring a child in Colombia today:
Ann from Cambridge has sponsored many children throughout the years, watching each grow up into adulthood, and maintaining a strong friendship with her first child, Anni.
“In 1965, whilst working in Canada, I first sponsored a child called Anni, aged 5. I first visited the SOS Children's Village where she lived in 1969 and since then, except for one year, I have seen Anni every year since (mainly in her country but a couple of times in mine). I have had wonderful holidays in the SOS Children's Village where I met her, her SOS mother and her eight brothers and sisters in her new family. At Christmas I started sending presents to all of them.
Anni is no longer a sponsored child, she is married (I went to the wedding) to a lawyer and they live with their four children. I am still very much involved with Anni and her family and have just posted a birthday parcel to her youngest child, Jakob, who is now 11 years old. I feel I am part of their family and they are certainly part of mine. I have been to first Holy Communions, school visits and trips to the zoo. I have visited her SOS mother's own family and taken my sponsored child to the theatre and concerts. Anni's SOS mother is retired now and still lives in the SOS Village: I see her every time I visit.
After I stopped sponsoring Anni, my next sponsored child was Souad. There was a civil war in his country when I started sponsoring him, so our direct contact was much more limited. We could not send parcels to his country but on holiday I met some nuns near him who took a parcel for me. Souad is now 32, married with a son and living in Paris!
Now I sponsor Martin in Peru. His Christmas card for me arrived last week! Because I have stayed in an SOS Children's Village I know how it works. I know my sponsorship helps do the very best for all the children cared for.”
Ann has sponsored with SOS Children's Villages since 1965. Will you join supporters like Ann and sponsor a child in Peru?
Recently, Helen and Guy Dodd from Falmouth decided to sponsor a little girl in Nicaragua.
“We have been supporting SOS Children's Villages for about 35 years now. The organisation has always seemed to us a reliable, utterly practical, frontline charity.
In the early days we raised funds with the help of school children doing sponsored walks and bazaar stalls, but later we started to sponsor individual children in the poor countries of the Caribbean. We chose this area because Helen was a Spanish teacher and felt a special affinity when she was able to communicate with each child.
A high point for us was when we were able to visit our sponsored little girl in Nicaragua. We received such a warm welcome from the whole community. The little girl showed us proudly around her house, introduced us to her 'Mama' and her siblings and was clearly happy and secure. We knew she had come to the Village a vulnerable, undernourished orphan. Inside the Village there was safety.
Outside on the streets were children begging, their stomachs extended and hair discoloured with malnutrition. The work is never done. Every time there is a major disaster we know that SOS Children's Villages will be there for the most needy children and we prefer to send our donations to them in the certain knowledge that not one penny will go astray. We have also left a donation in our will.”
Like Helen and Guy, you can change a child's life by sponsoring in Nicaragua today:
If you'd like to read more first, find out more about child sponsorship in the Americas.