I sponsor a child in Asia
Here, you can read the experiences of people who sponsor children with us in Asia and find out why sponsorship means so much to them. Many of them have visited the SOS Children's Village where their sponsored child lives.
I sponsor a child in Faisalabad, Pakistan
Amara Sharif, employee of Deutsche Bank, a long term supporter of SOS Children, visited SOS Children's Village Faisalabad. She describes her experiences of the visit in February 2011.
“This year, despite the security alerts persuading passengers not to, I booked my ticket and travelled to Pakistan in February 2011. I decided to relive the experience of spending time with the orphans of SOS Children's Villages Pakistan.
In preparation for my trip, I sent an email to my colleagues asking for donations of any unwanted books and toys. The response was overwhelming. I packed these gifts and set off for my trip. Imagine having to carry 15kg all the way to Pakistan. People were extremely generous, some donating toys and others cash.
I travelled to SOS Children's Village Faisalabad (Pakistan) and was greeted by a senior sponsor of the Village. They gave me a beautiful bouquet of flowers, mentioning that it was very rare for tourists to visit the Village. Tourists typically visited Lahore, but no one really travelled to Faisalabad. I was honoured. After a tour of the Village, I noticed that the pavements were all incredibly uneven.
As a consequence, many kids often trip and fall, especially when the electricity goes out. You should understand that load shedding of electricity in Pakistan is very common. In some parts of the country, people are without electricity the majority of the day. I believed that the money donated by friends and colleagues in Deutsche Bank should go directly to SOS Children's Villages helping them to reconstruct their footpaths.
I then spent a few days with the kids, singing songs, playing cricket and simply talking with them. They were intrigued about London life. A story that stuck out in my head was that of two sisters called Fatima and Iqra. They were living with their father, a rickshaw driver, in a tiny one room house.
He would often leave them both without any food and water for days on end, in complete darkness. Someone informed the charity and SOS decided to intervene, taking the girls away from their father. During this intervention, they noticed that the old sister Iqra suffered from severe physiological trauma. SOS are now rehabilitating her. When I met her, she was stringing sentences together very well and her stutter was not as noticeable as before. Both girls looked incredibly healthy, another good sign of their recovery.
I decided to sponsor a little girl called Sawaira. Her dad is a drug addict and her mother remarried, inexplicably abandoning her daughter. I write to her regularly and receive status reports on how she is doing.
In the end, my trip was eventful and emotional but it has made me even more determined to go back and spend time with the kids. A wise man once said, donating to charity is not giving away what you do not want, but it is giving away what you need.”
Begin something special and sponsor a child in Pakistan like Amara:
“My love affair with Cambodia started the moment I stepped off the plane. During the one hour flight from Bangkok – as the plane flew over mountains, forests, flooded rice paddies, and tiny thatched huts – I became increasingly excited about visiting this 'far off land' that I had read so much about.
Located on the Sangker River just south west of the Tonle Sap Lake, Battambang is known as Cambodia's 'rice bowl'. Even though it is the country's second biggest town, it still has a very local, untouristy, provincial atmosphere. Much of the architecture is French colonial and traditional Cambodian. Unlike some of the more touristy towns, the local economy is truly local – rice, wood, sapphires, and food crops – and is reflected in the character of the town.
As you leave Battambang by road, the scene becomes one of small villages, rice paddies, and farmland, offering an excellent opportunity for the visitor to see a bit of 'unspoiled' rural Cambodia. The nearby countryside houses old pagodas, Angkorian-era ruins, caves, waterfalls, and even Khmer Rouge period killing fields.
Battambang means ‘disappearing stick’ and is named after a powerful stick used by a legendary Khmer king to achieve and maintain power in the Battambang area.
I very much enjoyed my visit to the SOS Children's Village in Battambang and the opportunity to meet Sein Mom, my sponsored child. I was very impressed with the Village - it really is beautifully laid out, the houses and gardens are maintained very well, and the whole place must be a lovely home for the children who live there.
Judging by the wonderful sounds coming from the nursery school, the children are obviously very happy there. It was also a pleasure to meet the director of the Village and Sein's SOS mother, who clearly cares very much for Sein. I had previously sent Sein some photographs of my husband and I was so pleased to see them in a frame in her bedroom.
A number of days later, I was truly sad to be boarding my plane home and can honestly say that a part of my heart was left behind in this beautiful country – a country which will continue to draw me back so that I may learn more about her culture and history, and spend more time getting to know the amazing Khmer people.”
Join supporters like Rachel and change a child's life by sponsoring online today:
Cathy sponsors a child in Nepal, and passionately believes in the importance of the work they witnessed in the Children's Village they visited:
“I've sponsored a child in Nepal for 20 years now, and think that SOS do a fantastic job around the world. They build and run Children's Villages wherever there is a need. Support is given in a family setting, with an SOS mother looking after several children. The charity has its own schools, which are often open to other children in the local community.
In emergency situations SOS is often the first relief agency on the scene, as they are already present in so many of the world's deprived and troubled areas. They are welcomed by local governments.
The work of SOS encourages growth of local skills, with eventual independence for the young adults they help. The majority of their children eventually go on to make a real contribution to their communities.
I especially like the idea of a charity that enables children to live according to their own culture and religion. There will ALWAYS be an SOS for children!”
If, like Cathy, you want to make sure there is always someone there, sponsor a child in Asia today:
Philippa sponsors a child in Chennai – formerly known as Madras – the capital of India's Tamil Nadu state. She tells us about her experience of SOS Children's Villages while working as a teacher in the region, and her decision to sponsor after returning to the UK.
“As a newly qualified teacher, I set off to India to work as a project worker. My first port of call, fresh from the aeroplane, was SOS Children’s Village Tambaram, Madras. The resident social worker was there to meet me with his scooter, and clinging tightly to his back, we rode through the colourful, packed streets, avoiding wandering cattle and barefoot pedestrians.
As we neared our destination, the surroundings became eye-poppingly different. There was a teeming squalor that I could never have imagined. We wound our way past the railway station, which stank of urine and swarmed with humanity, past mud huts with dirty looking children playing in the doorways, and through the gates of the Village. It was like a haven. Children were playing cricket, women were wandering past. Life was still going on, but in a manageable format.
I imagine it must have been like this for the children too. Many of them came from the area I had just driven through. Here they had space, toys, access to education, food, a family. Here there were opportunities for them to develop to their full potential, to go on to further education, to learn a trade.
Most importantly here they had a family: the director was known as 'uncle', the social worker as 'saama' or big brother; I was called 'saaka' or big sister. Each child had a 'mother' and around 10 other brothers and sisters of varying age who all lived together in separate houses on the compound. And each child has an 'uncle’ or an ‘aunt’ who sponsors them. A more perfectly structured system I could not imagine. This group of orphans would always have their SOS brothers and sisters to replace the families they had lost. The ‘mothers’ too, were often widows, for whom life usually ends after the death of a spouse. They loved and cared for their ‘children’, who in turn had given them a new lease of life.
When I eventually returned to England, and started a family of my own, I was very conscious of the privileges that my own children would take for granted, that compare so starkly with the conditions I remembered from my visit to India. I wanted my children to know about other children and the lives they led, and I wanted them to care about the plight of those less fortunate.
Funding a child though SOS Children’s Villages has allowed my family and I the privilege of watching our ‘child’ Arjun grow up as they grow up. He arrived at the village as a baby with physical disabilities that meant several years of callipers. Every year he writes to us, and we write back to him. He was playing chess when my daughters were learning the game; collecting stamps which we could send; he sent us pictures and we reciprocated. Now he is nearly grown up and living in a youth house as a step toward independence. I know that, despite the disabilities that are still with him, SOS Children's Villages will ensure that step is as easy and successful as possible.
It is my belief that if every family in the developed world sponsored a child in the developing world, then we could on a micro-level, achieve what the G8 summit is attempting on a global level. And it is of minimal financial impact in our affluent societies. It might be the difference between a second-hand buggy and a new one: nowadays my children have one day when they don’t take a 'treat' in their lunch box which funds Arjun’s sponsorship and reminds them that 'treats' are just that. In fact, now that they are growing up and we have more money to spare, I can’t think why Arjun is the only 'cousin' they have. It’s time I expanded our family… Are there any little girls in Tambaram, Madras in need of an auntie?”
If you want to be an uncle or auntie like Philippa, become a child sponsor today:
I sponsor a child in Calcutta, India
Having a child inspired Shirley to “put something back” by sponsoring a child in India. She has found it immensely fulfilling to watch her sponsored child Dorjee grow from a little girl into a beautiful, educated young lady.
“When we had our own child quite late in our lives (I was 37, which made me an 'old' mother in the maternity hospital’s eyes!), we were so grateful, we felt that we would like to 'put something back' by sponsoring a disadvantaged child abroad. I had two older children from a previous marriage, who were then in their teens and going through the usual self absorption period and who, I felt sure, would benefit from sponsoring a child who had very little, compared to everything they had. We chose India because I had conceived on our arrival back from a trip to Calcutta!
We were most excited when the details for our sponsored child dropped onto the doormat. Dorjee, then aged 8, but seeming small for her age, is Tibetan, whose parents are poor refugees, unable to provide their children with even the most basic necessities.
Over the last 10 years, we have watched Dorjee grow from a scrawny 8 year old into a beautiful, healthy and educated 19 year old. We have had regular letters and photos from her, and lovely letters and school reports from the secretary at the Village. Communicating with Dorjee has helped keep the feet of our 'big' children firmly on the ground and has given the younger ones an insight into how some other children in the world have to live and information on life in other countries in general.
Mindful of the time coming soon when we shall no longer be sponsoring Dorjee, in 2000 (and with another new addition to our family!) we decided to take on another SOS child. Once again, with excitement, we read all about our Andelina, in Croatia, who was born a month after our youngest. As they are exactly the same age, we are looking forward to seeing her grow up and think this will be especially nice for both Andelina and our own four year old.
We have never made a visit to India to see Dorjee, but who knows, maybe one day we will make the journey, either there, or more likely, to Croatia. It would be lovely to meet one of our sponsored children, especially when they have been such a large and fulfilling part of our lives. We would strongly recommend, if funds allow, sponsoring a child abroad. There is so much to be gained, by the child of course, but also by the sponsoring family.”
If you want to “put something back” like Shirley, why not begin a child sponsorship today:
Want to learn more? Discover what you can achieve by sponsoring a child in Asia.