lifestyle

How could two little girls with the same age and the same name have such different lives?

Grace

When I was seven, there was a little girl my age on the other side of the world who intrigued me.

She had my name, you see. Seven-year-old Grace from Kenya had been born in the same year as me, to a mother who – just like mine – saw something poetic in the name I bore.

Kenyan Grace also loved drawing, as I did. I knew this because I sent her pencils once and she sent back a card illustrated from border to border with images of things she loved: a blooming sun, a puppy, a string of family stick figures linking hands across the page.

The translated note accompanying the card told me that Grace was very proud of her picture.

But apart from our name, our age, and our favourite subject at school, Grace and I had very different lives.

Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by World VisionBut all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in their own words.

Mine most likely resembled your own upbringing, or perhaps your children’s lives now. School was a busy blur of drama (the best), maths (the worst) and role-play games at recess. Afternoons were structured, and planned by the hour: swim squad or piano class, followed by homework, capped off by the occasional ABC Kids show.

My favourite things at that young age were trips to the zoo, The Little Mermaid, and writing stories. And the life events I most dreaded? Getting needles at the doctor and unpacking the dishwasher.

Although at least I stashed away a shiny $2 coin ever week for doing the latter.

Grace and I had very different lives

Grace went to school, too. But she’d only been there for six months, and my little brain couldn’t quite grasp why she was only in first year while I was about to start Year Three.

Grace’s chores included collecting water and firewood; she also helped look after her six siblings, because their mother was not well.

While a can of Coke was my Friday night luxury, In Grace’s country, kids were catching cholera because only six out of every ten people could even drink clean water.

While I was grumbling in anticipation of those dreaded school vaccination days, children without access to vaccines died from hepatitis, typhoid, and yellow fever in Grace’s country.

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And while those pencils I’d sent were no big deal to me, they meant a great deal to Grace – because in her rural Kenyan village, toys and school supplies were a valuable rarity.

Grace was a sponsor child, you see.

Just like these children who are sponsored by Australian celebrities …

My dad had chosen to involve me in the sponsorship process to open my eyes to a life beyond that of drama lessons, soft drink and Disney films.

And while I didn’t understand then exactly why my life and Grace’s were so different – I’d only start to gather those answers years later, when I pursued study and work in the field of human rights — I instinctively knew, even at seven, that it wasn’t fair.

That I wished Grace had, if not a life exactly like mine, a life where she had the basic food, education, health, and water needs required to pursue whatever she wanted her life to look like.

Children play a key role in enabling positive changes in their families and communities.

Yep, my pen-pal relationship with Grace was perhaps my first exposure to poverty and inequity.

And the memory of our interaction, of that bright drawing of her world – so similar to mine, and yet so very different – stuck with me over the years.

It impressed on me the urge to do more.

If that’s something you’d like to do, too – and if you’d like your kids to learn that sentiment, like my dad did –here’s one thing I’d encourage you to do.

Type in the birthday of yourself or one of your children into the search box here on the World Vision website, watch the greeting video of one of the little boys or girls who pops up, and spend just a few seconds considering how his or her life might be different from the familiar Australian childhood you or your kids were blessed with.

And if you’re moved to do so? Call over your kids, choose a child their age to sponsor together, and tell them to sit down and write their first letter.

If you sponsor a child, what inspired you to do so?

 

World Vision Australia  is a global Christian relief, development and advocacy organisation dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision Australia works in more than 60 countries with over 20 million people thanks to the support of more than 400,000 Australians. To find out more visit www.worldvision.com.au

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