If you’ve been on the fence about sponsoring a child and you’ve wondered, ‘does child sponsorship work?’, then here’s your answer: yes! Research shows that children who benefit from child sponsorship programs like ours end up staying in school longer than their non-sponsored peers, are more likely to have white collar jobs, and are more likely to be leaders in their community. They even score higher in happiness and hopefulness.
At Beyond the Orphanage, we know exactly how far each and every one of our children who’ve left our program have come. Here are three photos that bring our stories of hope and love to life, and represent exactly what child sponsorship is all about.
1. This is Lemma
After his mother passed away when he was very young, Lemma was sent to an orphanage in Ethiopia. Lemma was unable to walk, because of a serious physical disability, and the limited care that under-resourced orphanages are able to provide meant that he struggled to cope.
Beyond the Orphanage (BTO) Founder, Geoff, heard about Lemma, and personally went to the orphanage to meet him. After that day, BTO committed to helping make a change in Lemma’s life. It was thanks to donations from Australia, that a foster family in Ethiopia was able to take Lemma into their family and home. Not only that – Lemma was given a wheelchair, regular physiotherapy, a full-time carer, and private tutoring sessions as part of our drop-in centre program in Ethiopia.
Fast forward six years later, and Lemma is preparing for his university entrance exams.
As journalist and BTO supporter, Sharon Hendry, said after meeting Lemma a few years ago, ‘Some people say you can’t change the world but you have all helped to change Lemma’s world and that’s a good enough start.”
2. Meet Mariamawit
Mariamawit is 22 years old. “Before, I had a very hard life,” she told BTO social workers. “I was miserable where I was living. BTO supported me with my education so I could manage to finish grade 12. I’ve also finished a small business course that’s made me feel confident.”
It’s been seven years since Mariamawit lost her parents. It’s thanks to monthly child sponsorship donations from BTO supporters that her basic home, care, and education needs were met. Now, Mariamawait is happily married and expecting her first child. She is proud to be running her own business. Not only that – after maternity leave, she plans to expand her business more and grow her shop.
As a ‘graduate’ of Beyond the Orphanage, Mariamawit says, “I feel like I have a family that supports me. This program changed my life.”
3. Tigist’s Story
When Tigist’s parents passed away around eight years ago, Tigist’s aunt gave her immediate shelter and comfort. But her aunt lived in a one-room house and was struggling to support her three children. Her aunt’s job as a janitor brought in US$20 per month – barely enough to cover food and basic necessities.
Tigist began to suffer severe headaches and terrible nightmares, and her aunt realised she could not care for her properly. They reluctantly approached many orphanages but were consistently rejected because, at 10 years of age, Tigist was ‘too old’.
Beyond the Orphanage social workers found out about Tigist and her aunt, saw their struggles first-hand, and realised the need for help. It’s because of our donors, who saw the importance of helping keep families together and chose to sponsor a child with Beyond the Orphanage, that Tigist’s aunt received the financial support she needed to care for her niece. Tigist was also provided with counselling, tutoring and nutritional support, and medical care.
Today, Tigist is a BTO ‘graduate’, and has just finished her first year of Engineering at University, taking courses in construction technology and management engineering. We met with Tigist on our recent trip to Ethiopia, and it’s clear that she’s grown into a happy, healthy and successful young lady with a bright future ahead of her.