For World Radio Day today, Arik Korman – Executive Director of The Bob Rivers Show on 95.7 KJR-FM in Seattle – writes about how his son AJ has grown up with sponsored children in his family, which has inspired AJ to want to help! The Bob Rivers Show is a long-time partner of World Vision, and has helped to connect more than 4,700 children around the world with sponsors.
Leaving your child behind when you travel to the other side of the world is tough on a parent. You want to lend your hand to help families in need, but at the same time you know you’re taking a calculated risk.
I have been blessed to have journeyed with World Vision to developing countries eight times, the last three as a father to my 4-year-old son, AJ.
My first trip as a parent in November 2011 took me to the Brazilian Amazon, where I and other members of 95.7 KJR FM’s The Bob Rivers Show joined a team of medical and dental volunteers to serve isolated villages along the river. The villagers welcomed us with open arms, the need was great, and the scenery was breathtaking. But I saw AJ in every child I met and wished he could have joined me. AJ gave me a small stuffed animal to bring in his place, which I named “Adventure Kitty,” and I took photos of him along the way to show my son when I returned home.
The following year took me to the slums of India and World Vision’s South Delhi program, where I visited the home of a 2-year-old boy named Aryan Vijay, who was asleep on the family bed (far right in the photo below) with his 10-month-old younger brother. Aryan's 17-year-old sister and mother shared how they lived on about two dollars a day when times were good. Aryan's father is a fruit vendor and winters are tough because there is no fruit to sell.
In wintertime, the family scraped by on less than a dollar a day and survived on only fragments of chapati bread with salt. Aryan's mother and older sister had to fetch water for their one-room home and take baths on their living room floor. For me, it was a no-brainer. My dollar-a-day sponsorship now helps Aryan's family and his community. That’s how my son AJ became connected with "AV," his sponsored younger brother.
This year, The Bob Rivers Show’s World Vision partnership brought us to Zambia. AJ was old enough to understand where I was going and why.
When I returned, I told AJ about the children I’d met, like sisters Beatrice and Elizabeth. 14-year-old Beatrice and 10-year-old Elizabeth live with their great-grandmother Jesica and grandmother Sofia in a one-room home with dirt floors that is the size of a typical American walk-in closet. Beatrice and Elizabeth’s parents had died of HIV/AIDS, and their grandmothers are too sick to help provide for the family.
To make ends meet, the girls raise chickens, which live inside their small house, and Beatrice cooks them so she can walk to the nearby town market to sell fried chicken, netting her about one U.S. dollar per trip. This is the family’s only source of income. Meanwhile, Beatrice attends the local school as a fourth-grader and hopes to eventually become a nurse. Every day, she and Elizabeth collect firewood and fetch water, which is a 30-minute walk to an unprotected well.
After hearing their story, AJ wanted to know if he could help a child like Beatrice and Elizabeth. We called World Vision and asked if we could be matched with a child who had AJ’s same birthday, which is how we met Bridget in World Vision’s Mbeza program in Zambia.
I explained to AJ how Bridget lives on a small farm with her parents and two brothers. Bridget helps at home by washing dishes and likes to play ball games if she can find a ball. She eats corn porridge called nshima for every meal. Now AJ wants to try mush.
AJ's mind was blown when I told him that Bridget doesn’t have running water. And now he appreciates being able to see a doctor! AJ says he hopes to someday travel to Zambia to build a better house for Bridget and her family. When AJ is a few years older, I hope to take him to Zambia to meet his new sponsored sister.
You can help a child just like Bridget, Beatrice, or Elizabeth. Child sponsorship helps provide access to life-saving basics like clean water, education, food security, medical care, and much more! Choose a child to sponsor today!