By Marcus Frost, Partnership leader – Global Marketing and Communications
I remember visiting a family in a ramshackle shelter in a refugee settlement where World Vision was helping Rohingya refugees. We had walked quite a distance in the heat to meet a family. As they shared their heart-breaking story of loss and sorrow, I began to hear children’s giggles outside the shelter, and then I heard singing.
When I went outside, I saw my colleague surrounded by children singing the song, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” The laughter of the children carried me through the day, but by evening, my emotions had begun to change. Who was I to be here? I hadn’t known vulnerability like these children did. I felt insignificant and useless. I prayed that I would come to see how I fit into all of this.
After visiting some communities where World Vision had helped people to get clean water and access to sanitation facilities, we stumbled upon some boys playing badminton. I watched for a bit, and then they noticed me and invited me over. I was a little bashful, but this was my comfort zone. I picked up a spare racquet and joined in. We had so much fun together! My desperate prayer had been answered.
Lately, my prayers have turned desperate again with the conflict unfolding in Ukraine. I have been wondering how I can help children who have been affected by the crisis. In just over one month since the conflict in Ukraine began, more than four million refugees fled for safety. Five years after the Rohingyas were forced to flee, there are more than 900,000 still living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
As I was contemplating this, I received a message that stopped me in my tracks. I learned that a young child in Uganda had chosen me to be his sponsor! I felt elated, like that time in Bangladesh when those young boys had invited me to play badminton with them. When I saw that this young Ugandan boy was holding a photograph of my wife and I in his hands, it was visual proof that our connection was real.
World Vision’s new approach to sponsorship, Chosen, gives children the chance to choose their sponsors. This feels truly empowering to me! It is one way I can make a small but meaningful difference in the life of another person. It is also the way in which I can reach many other children, since sponsorship supports other children in the community.
Child sponsorship provides an opportunity to cultivate a relationship with a child over years—even a lifetime. This is because World Vision has a long-term presence in communities, often for 15 years at least. My wife and I have written many letters to our other sponsored children over the years, and I treasure them all.
Recently I had the chance to participate in an innovative virtual field experience, which is one of the ways that World Vision is helping to connect sponsors and children. I saw just how inspiring it is when many sponsors come together to support a single village. The tremendous energy and excitement among the supporters was truly magical!
I believe we are all designed with different skills to be deployed at different times. All the way over in Bangladesh, children had invited us into their world, and we had created a connection with children through sport and singing. And now through Chosen, I have the opportunity to form a connection with a child in Uganda in a new way.
It takes all of us doing something good to make the world more right for children, for they deserve a future better than the world we live in now. As the late Desmond Tutu said: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
Marcus Frost is the Partnership leader for Global Marketing and Communications. He is passionate about engaging supporters in World Vision’s ministry, especially through sponsorship.