The Impact of Child Sponsorship
Connecting two women. Changing two lives.
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A girl who was told she’d never go far gets a better life through child sponsorship and education.
It was all made possible when Nancy was a young girl and a young woman, Georgie Paschalis, living at home with her parents in Australia, decided to sponsor Nancy through World Vision, in a sudden and spontaneous act of generosity.
It’s not often we get to see how a story like Nancy and Georgie ends. To be able to trace back to the small stream of Georgie’s donation and how it became blessing as wide and deep as a river. One World Vision sponsorship changed one little girl’s life in Kenya, but also changed other children around her and her community.
This is Nancy
Advocate, believer, achiever, role model, developer, world changer. Loved, seen, cared for, perfect, beautiful.
Nancy Yiampoi was born Kajiado County of Kenya – a dry lowland area traditionally settled by the Masaai, living in a traditional hut with no running water.
‘When I would ask for water, the first time they brought me a brown drink, like African tea that they made. I told them, I don’t want tea, I want water. They say, that is water…’
Slowly, Nancy soon learned the Maasai language, culture, and traditions. She learned to tend the cattle and take the cows, goats, and sheep to graze. Her family had about 200 sheep and 500 cattle; they were doing well.
‘What I was seeing from around the community is women fetching water on their backs for like five kilometers and in their dresses. They could go as far as 10 (kilometers) using donkeys.’ And though she saw the women waking early to tend to the cows, sheep, and goats, they had no say in the use and sale of the animals.
‘A girl was considered ...
inferior to a boy.’
She dreamed of a different life through education.
Nancy says her stepfather was not supportive of her going to school, and wouldn’t buy her a uniform. She also felt that girls like her were not encouraged to go to school, despite her burning desire to learn. Nancy says Sponsorship evened the odds against her and enabled her to stay in school, beginning with a simple, light blue dress – the kind of school uniform thousands of Kenyan school girls wear every day.
That’s when Georgie came along...
Georgie Paschalis was 20 and living at home with her parents in Melbourne, Australia and watching a World Vision documentary on Africa. She was moved to sponsor a child. She didn’t ask for permission, and she didn’t tell anyone what she had done. But when Nancy’s photo and letter came in the mail, her parents and friends were glad that she was able to do something.
‘It was just about giving, and it was about me hoping that I could make a difference,’
After Nancy had sent some letters and drawings of life in her village, Georgie wrote her back and included pictures. She simply shared her life her work, her family with Nancy along with messages of encouragement and affirmation.
She kept a picture of Nancy on her bedside table. ‘Yeah, I felt a real connection to her.’
As a young girl, Nancy treasured those letters.
Something in Nancy clicked: ‘Yeah, finally, there’s nothing wrong with me. That’s what I felt. I felt like there’s someone out there who cares. Who does not judge me. And who is interested in me.’
‘somebody cared to buy me a uniform.’
Nancy got a second chance at life.
‘Watching the girls from our neighborhood, I remember. I was feeling so alone and so different because the girls who were around us were not in school . . . Their story was different from mine, and what I wanted was different from what they knew depending on the exposure they had. Most of them were married before they were 15.’
Nancy never felt like she fit in. She fled to the comfort of books and school. She read everything she could find. Book in hand, she would go off to graze the animals, or shop, or even the latrine to steal some time to read.
‘But around the homestead I always felt confused. I felt unwanted. I felt like there was something wrong with me, so the school was it. The school was like an escape which I really loved . . . Every time I woke and went to school I would be excited because I’m running away from the problems at home.’
‘If World Vision didn’t come to give me a second chance in life, maybe my life would been out there.’
Nancy was able to go to high school because of Georgie’s sponsorship, which subsidized her school fees. As Nancy graduated and went to university to study veterinary medicine and enter the working world, she came to deeply appreciate what Georgie’s generosity had done.
‘Nancy is a great inspiration in this community because there are many girls . . . looking at Nancy and hoping someday they will become like her, like she always used to wish that she’ll become like me,’
Until Florence came along, there was little to encourage her, Nancy says. She watched as one-by-one girls got married in their teenage years.
Florence, who no longer works for World Vision, said they helped support education in the area not only with uniforms, books, bags, clothing for children, and school fee subsidies, but also by building classrooms and providing water tanks at the school. World Vision also supported children by doing health exams, supporting health clinics, and raising awareness about good health practices.
Throughout the project area, World Vision instituted water projects and in 1997, most dramatically, saw the community through a crippling national drought by providing emergency food such as maize, beans, and porridge.
How World Vision worked in the Lodiarak area, to stave off drought and do community-wide projects, shows the ripple effect of sponsorship, says Florence. Sponsorship is not just focused on one child, but its benefits cascade to many other children in a community, sponsored or not.
‘Sponsorship gives a great opportunity to connect not just to sponsoring a child, but helping other children,’ Florence says. ‘Whatever happens to the child is something that helps the rest of the children to see a change that can also be good for them. Sponsorship is good and sponsoring a child is a very, very unique opportunity for anyone. It is going to open more opportunities than just for that one sponsored child.’
Education is the future.
‘I am very proud of my high school certificate more than even my master’s degree, because to me this was the bridge.’
‘This is what took me there. This is what separated me from difficulties, and this is what confirmed that I can do anything I focus on.’
She has a master’s degree in project planning and management and a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from the University of Nairobi.
Today, as a humanitarian aid worker, Nancy has been to Ethiopia and South Sudan to manage emergency relief, worked in northern Kenya in agriculture and livestock programs, worked as a finance advisor, and is currently leading an emergency response in East Africa for an international aid organisation.
I am grateful
‘Just like a kid when you have achieved something, and your parents are here, I think I’ll be like, ‘Georgie, you see where your money went?’’
‘This is what I did, this is what I’ve done. This is what I’ve done. I’d be very grateful to her. I always felt I needed to make her feel like whatever she did for me did not go to waste.’
As a way of re-investing Georgie’s gift, Nancy is taking care of her mother and sending her brother through school. But she also helps other children on her own by paying school fees, including a group of orphaned children Nancy knew of through a friend.
She’s been able to save enough to design and build her home in Kiserian, near Nairobi, and she’s slowly been working on furnishing it. Her 10-year-old daughter, Lavonne, has a bedroom which features Bluetooth music and light display.
She wants the best for her, to be proud of who she is, independent in a world full of possibilities. In addition to academics, ‘my daughter is top in school,’ Nancy wants to make sure she is exposed to sports, music, and other extracurricular activities to find her talent early.
‘One of the things I’ve learned to do is praise my daughter for the good things she’s done,’ Nancy says. She tells her daughter: ‘You must be proud of yourself, not just I am proud of you. You must be proud of yourself.’
Together we’ve impacted the lives of over 200 million vulnerable children by tackling the root causes of poverty.
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