I’VE always suspected I’d make a pretty ordinary mother, as while I am huge on passion, I possess very little patience. I can be loads of fun, but also fiery, not, I imagine, mother-of-the-year qualities. But even I was surprised when I discovered recently that I’d been dumped…by my World Vision child.
Yes, the child to whom I’ve been paying a paltry $43 a month to assist in survival has somehow found wealth, health and happiness, according to World Vision, and no longer needs me. To say I’m a little devastated is a bit of an understatement.
Let me take you back to the beginning. I’d first elected to support a World Vision child around five years ago, after a niggling feeling for many years that I needed to do something to give back to the planet that had been so generous to me, particular as a travel writer.
I decided I would choose to support a young girl, as, despite so many boys also being disadvantaged in this world, I hold, maybe mistakenly, a belief that females have an even harder time, particularly in developing nations. Certainly, there’s plenty of research to support this.
And so I chose to support Mely, who was three years old at the time. It was an uncomfortable process, effectively “shopping” for a child online which raised all sorts of moral issues. Was I choosing this child because she was cuter, younger, prettier than other children? Why this child? How could I only choose one child when so many were needing assistance? Should I support an Australian child? Why support one from the other side of the world? The list of quandries was endless.
Eventually, I set all those issues aside and simply chose to support Mely, from Peru, because I felt she needed my help. She wore a flopping pink beanie and liked playing with dolls. That’s pretty much all I knew. And there was something in her eyes. That’s it. Flimsy rationale, at best, I know, but why do we do anything important? Gut feeling or something more rational?
Over the next three years I wrote letters to her, sending her simple gifts suggested by World Vision such as stickers and postcards. Receiving updates on her progress and that of her village. Photos which I proudly displayed on my fridge and when anyone came to my house asking about the girl in the photos, I’d puff out my chest and say “that’s my daughter”..
And so my delusions of grandeur grew. Not only was I going to commit to supporting this child until she was 18, but I was going to trek up the mountains of Peru in the not-too-distant future to meet her and her village. Who, in my truly crazy moments, I had single-handedly saved with my $43 a month. My delusion of grandeur also involved visions of me on the back of a Yak, dressed in a crisp, white linen blouse and some beige jodhpurs carrying aid parcels.
And that’s where it becomes interesting. Not for the poor people on the planet – of which they are many – but for the fortunate, such as myself. Much has been written about the concept of altruism and whether it actually exists. Do we assist people because it is a good thing to do, or because it makes us feel good? Or both? I’d like to think it’s a bit of both.
When Misery Guts and I divorced, I was the one who kept Mely. He took a bottle of four-year-old Bacardi Rum which he claimed he “loved”, but never mentioned the three-year-old World Vision Child. Which was fine by me. I’d seen plenty of “single mothers” do a fine job of raising children, and I was happy to do this on my own.
Until she dumped me. It was a simple letter from World Vision which advised me Mely had moved on and in her place, they’d selected another child, a boy, from a country whose name I still don’t know.
Now, this raised a whole heap of other questions within me, some of which I didn’t like about myself. Such as “but I wanted a girl!” and “I wanted to trek up some mountain in Peru and be worshipped for being such a great ‘mother.”
And with that, I had my answer. I still don’t know my new World Vision child’s name or where he is from. But I know he needs my help. There will be no white, linen blouses, Yaks or trekking and no extreme acts of valour on my behalf. Just a simple $43 a month which, hopefully, makes a difference to someone’s life. Someone I’ve never met.
So, if you can, give. Live. Love. Learn. And expect nothing in return. I wish Mely all the best for a bright future. When you think of it, isn’t that the aim, after all?
To donate to World Vision or investigate sponsoring a child in need, simply go to www.worldvision.com.au
9 thoughts on “In search of a world vision”
I loved this story Christine, as I do all your stories.
My condolences in losing your good friend and confidant recently as well.
Keep up the great posts. You are a wonderful writer! I look forward to the book one day.
Take care, live well and be forever happy
Thank you, Kayleen! Your generous feedback is so much appreciated. Love and light always!
..Hello Miss Chris. When my daughters were very young we sponsored Gracelyn from the Philipines. We had vaguely similar thoughts to you.
Much later on,when our girls were arounf 15/16 I had the idea of visiiting the young lady and maybe doing a positive story et al. This request seemed to unnerve WW who finally aquieced to a twenty minute visit at McDonalds in Manila. When Miss G hit eighteen it was bye bye Gracelyn and we were flooded with new kids we could sponsor. What got up my nose was that we had a couple of letters- allegedly written byGracelyn- urging us to re sponsor. Her written english was amazingly improved. Dare I say that; having a reasonable knowledge of how English is wrote, you can pick it when someone is copying a script obviously originally cafted by someone conversant with correct dictionary english. I could go on but we have deceided to sponsor a small school in Laos. Even better,you can visit anytime you like and there is no McDonalds in Luang Prabang.
It’s an interesting dilemma and not one that is easily solved, hence me raising the issue. I think it’s great you are sponsoring a small school in Laos. Next time I’m there, I’ll have to visit.
…forgot to mention in my last that I planned to take my two girls to visit their sponsored sister. Even had a monthly womens mag wanting the story. We didn’t go in the end. A long and expensive journey for a quick hello and a Big Mac. Some time back I was listening to a Foreign Correspodant on the wirless. The journo (who’s name I can’t rememeber) was in Africa reporting on some atrocity or another. He realised he was very close to the village where his sponsor child lived so he decided to pay an unnanounced visit and actually found the child and her/his family. Hitherto he had recieved glowing reports on how well the child was doing with her/his education/literary skills etc so imagine his surprise when he found a scruffy, semi naked urchin,still essentially illiterate and whose sole possesions were a tatty note book and a stub of a pencil. He was not best pleased.
Dear Goddess, I feel your pain. I have had exactly the same experience with World Vision, and my reaction was the same. My sponsored child, a girl, got married at the age of about 14 or 15, and this made her ineligible for my continued support. Instead, without any choice in the matter, my sponsorship was transferred to a boy in a country I’d never heard of. As you say, it shouldn’t matter – but we are creatures who need connection, and I feel none at all for my new sponsored child, even after a couple of years. Every now and then I toy with the idea of writing to World Vision to express this…but I know the money does good and until I find time to think through a reasonable alternative, I keep it up. I suspect this might be a fairly common experience among World Vision sponsors. Thanks for your thoughtful post.
Thank you. And thank you for articulating the emotion behind it “we are creatures of connection”.
Dear Goddess, I was heartbroken initially as I read about your experience with World Vision. I have sponsored a young boy Djbril from Dakar in Senegal for many years now and as you know as I am a single Mum as well i have had times where I’ve really struggled financially but none the less Djbril I feel is part of our family and I have never considered losing him. I’ve also had grandeur ideas of travelling to Senegal and visiting this young boy who wishes to become a Doctor one day. I’ve even wondered whether I can assist him with his university costs some how. Now I am pondering as I come to the realisation that i too will soon receive a letter advising me he has moved on and here is another child to support. And while I accept that our money does help, our contact with these kids help not only them but us and our children as well. I really think you should contact Tim Costello and let him know how you feel as hard as it may be for them to accept they need to be more understanding and caring for us poor buggers that chose and can help. thanks for sharing xo
Thank you! I think I may contact Tim, as I’m not sure they fully realise how much we care about these children on a personal basis.