By ALEX BRUCE-SMITH
What comes to mind when you hear (or read) the words ‘sponsor a child’? Is it sad music? A shot of wide eyed children staring meekly at you through your television screen? Are you flooded with guilt that UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING, THESE KIDS WILL STARVE?
Yeah, me too. And that’s why it’s so refreshing to talk about sponsoring children in a way that is, well, positive. It seems like there’s enough terrible things happening around the world that when we see something joyful, we should celebrate it.
It’s this attitude that the sponsored children of Uganda have taken in their stride. Yes, the children you might sponsor or used to sponsor or have thought about sponsoring. They’re not asking, “Why is life so unfair to me?” They’re overwhelmed with joy. And gratitude. And all those things we forget to feel sometimes.
How do I know this? Julie Goodwin, Masterchef and mother extraordinaire, recently became an ambassador for ChildFund Australia. (She’s been sponsoring them for years, well before the mum of three decided to compete in that little known cooking show.) She recently travelled to Uganda to meet her sponsor child, Hamad, and check out some of the work ChildFund Australia is doing over there.
What she found was an overwhelming sense of positivity. That things might not be perfect, but they’re getting better. That rather than the doom and gloom we traditionally associate with child sponsorship, that things were… okay. She says:
“When we arrived to this community, there were school children here, and there were parents here of some of the children that were sponsored by Australians. One of the mother’s just broke out into this spontaneous song and dance; she was radiant. I certainly don’t feel it was deserved just by Mick (Julie’s husband) and I. I chose to take it on board on behalf of all the Australian sponsors doing these great things in these communities.”
This is the chord that really struck with me. My family used to sponsor a child in India (until she got married, and we were politely told she no longer qualified). I always had this vision of the sponsored children being the lucky ones, the fortunate ones, the ones who lived a carefree life while their unsponsored siblings and friends looked on in envy.