By Lara Gonzales.
16-year-old Alyza is the epitome of a model student and daughter: she diligently helps her mother run their family’s sari-sari store, encourages her siblings when they find their lessons too difficult to understand, and studies hard to get top marks in class. Her academic excellence has gained her multiple medals and recognitions – enough to fill the pages of her plastic binder and the walls of her room.
Despite her achievements, Alyza is aware of her two glaring weaknesses: socialising with other people, and worse, public speaking.
“Mama always pushed me to be more participative in World Vision activities,” Alyza says. “I was reluctant. At first, I joined only because Mama told me to. I didn’t want to interact with other people. But eventually I was able to manage.”
Alyza’s transformation from a withdrawn honour student to an enthusiastic child leader in her community in Camarines Norte, Philippines did not happen overnight. Aside from attending World Vision workshops and seminars, having child leaders who are close to her age mentor her about facilitating activities to younger children also boosted Alyza’s confidence.
“I volunteer in community activities because I love helping other children,” Mikay, one of Alyza’s friends, quips. Like Alyza, Mikay is also a sponsored child and a child leader who facilitates activities to children supported by World Vision. “I get inspiration from young girls like me. World Vision pushed me to be more active so I also want to push others to do the same.”
Alyza and Mikay have become good friends through the workshops and events they attended together.
“I went to leadership trainings and attended seminars that taught me about children’s rights, the UNCRC (United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child), HIV and AIDS, online sexual exploitation of children, and online safety,” Alyza shares. “In 2017, I went to a spiritual nurture camp with World Vision child leaders who came from different parts of the Philippines. I met a lot of children and became friends with them. I still use the lessons we learned from the camp whenever I lead community activities.”
A faraway friend
Alyza also found a cheerleader and a friend in her child sponsor from the United States, whom she regularly corresponds with through long handwritten letters.
“My sponsor has such a positive impact on my life. We tell each other about our day-to-day experiences – it’s like having a friend from faraway.”
Alyza’s sponsor writes to her at least four times a year. “My sponsor is very supportive and always congratulates me whenever I achieve something in school and encourages me to pursue my dreams. The support also contributed to my growth.”
As a World Vision sponsored child, Alyza receives school kits at the beginning of each school year, Christmas baskets to celebrate Noche Buena with her family, and hygiene kits whenever her community is hit by unexpected disasters.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Typhoon Goni destroyed trees and electrical lines in Alyza’s town, her family relied on their small sari-sari store to augment their daily income. As members of CoMSCA, a financial literacy program introduced by World Vision to help children and their families save their money and grow their finances, Alyza and her mother were able to use their savings to support their needs.
“World Vision has helped me in so many ways. Back then, I used to be a mere participant in their trainings and activities. Those same trainings are the reason why I’ve overcome my weaknesses and became a child leader today,” Alyza says with a smile. “I hope more people would sponsor young girls like me. We have lots of talents and skills that are just waiting to be discovered and honed.”
Here's how to Sponsor a Child today.