Sponsor A Child

Posted on: 29 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Maureen Bryan shares her experience of meeting the child she has sponsored for the past ten years in Senegal.


Maureen Bryan, a 51 year from Nunhead, Peckham, recently met the child she has sponsored through World Vision for the past 10 years. 

Her experience of meeting her sponsored child, Seynabou, was life-changing for Maureen and needless to say, extremely emotional.  Here she shares her experience.  

"I have always felt it my calling to work with children. I was a foster parent for fifteen years and I currently run the Ajani Care Home, a residential care home for teenagers.

Seeing the World Vision child sponsorship just came at the right time for me and that’s why I felt it would be such a good opportunity.

Seynabou lives in Senegal and I decided to make another trip out there to visit Seynabou in March this year, which also coincided with her thirteenth birthday.

Although I have been on many visits to the East and North of Africa before, every time I go out there I am still humbled by the environment that meets me. It reminds me of how fortunate, but at the same time, how unfortunate I am.  Fortunate in that I have plenty of material possessions, but they have much more.

I was struck by the warmth the community received us with, their spirit, and the way they interacted with each other is something we sorely lack in our society. They have a richness that moved, touched and inspired me.

They had gone to great lengths to welcome me, a visitor from far away, and I don’t think that, in our country, we would necessarily greet someone with such a positive reaction if they turned up on our doorstep.

They have an understanding of the importance of relationships that I feel we have lost, and so in that sense their community is richer.

When I first met Seynabou – it was so surreal, it was almost like I was drifting in and out of consciousness! One thing I can say is that I cried, a lot.

When I first approached the village, I saw hundreds and hundreds of people. I was wondering why they were gathering together when my guide then pointed out that it was to meet me.  I felt completely overwhelmed. It was such a strange experience to finally meet after being in contact for all these years. I was absolutely exhausted but felt as high as a kite!

This was the first time I had met Seynabou and because of the language barriers our conversation, unfortunately, was limited. I asked her questions about how she was getting on at school and I spoke about my family. But despite this lack of verbal communication, the gestures, eye contact and smiles said far more.

I spent about two days and a night there and I was made to feel so welcome. The night I arrived there was dancing, drumming and they even sacrificed a goat in my honour.

I was able to see first hand the difference that my sponsorship of Seynabou is making: I was shown around the school that she, and the other sponsored children attend. It is extremely basic – the tables are made from tree trunks – but the children were so well behaved and happy to be there.

I was also shown to the borehole that my money helped build, and told of the mosquito nets that each sponsored child is given. One woman, who helps cultivate the vegetable patch the donations have also bought, thanked me through the interpreter.

She told me that now she had money in her pocket that she was able to use if her children needed medical attention, rather than having to wait and hope that they would be okay. I felt so pleased that my money was not only making a difference for one child, but her whole community.

I would say that the trip has completely changed my outlook on life. It has made me think about what is important to me.

When I was able to see the difference that my contributions had been making was when I realised that I was not just helping Seynabou, but a whole community. £18 seems like a relatively small sum over here – I could fritter it away in an afternoon shopping – but such a small amount of money can make such a huge difference to these people. It really takes your breath away."

If you would like to sponsor a child through World Vision, visit  http://www.worldvision.org/

Do you sponsor a child?  Have you ever been to visit them?  Leave a comment below or share your thoughts and experiences in the 50connect forums.

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