Helping my homeland: Why I sponsor a child in India

Aparna Sen, a World Vision sponsor, shares how her experience as a child growing up in Calcutta shaped her desire to help girls in India get an education and avoid discrimination and early marriage.

Recently, Aparna and her husband, Ritwick Dhar, had the opportunity to travel to India to meet 12-year-old Rebika, whom Aparna sponsored after becoming acquainted with World Vision and our work in her native country.

 *     *     *

I grew up in Calcutta, a crowded metropolis in eastern India that prides itself on its literary and cultural values. I was lucky to attend a school that taught the value of teaching, compassion, and contributing toward one's society.

One day each week, we would go to rural elementary schools in the outskirts of our city and teach young kids for a few hours. Our principal said we were "creating ripples in the pond" -- her way of telling us that change starts with the individual.

As part of child sponsorship, World Vision helps supply school fees, uniforms, and sometimes meals to help children, especially girls, stay in class.

As part of child sponsorship, World Vision helps supply school fees, uniforms, and sometimes meals to help children, especially girls, stay in class. (Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision)

Some of those schools lacked chairs, tables, electricity, and even rooms to teach in, yet each of those schools had many students. Most of them were boys -- and even at that age, that struck me as odd. I promised myself that when I grew up, I would try to play a role in educating girls.

Destiny brought me to the United States in pursuit of higher education in 1994. Like most of my peers, I was caught in the whirlwind of finishing my doctorate, getting a job, getting married, and starting a family.

But my childhood dream had always kept nagging at me. So finally, in 2008, I started researching different organizations and their work in educating children in India. That is how I found World Vision -- and was impressed with their work.

I wanted to sponsor a girl since I knew that girls in India, especially from poor communities, are victims of discrimination in almost every walk of life. They rarely get an opportunity for education, and many of them are married off at an early age.

As I was browsing through the World Vision website, I came across Rebika's profile. I was instantly drawn toward her shy smile and the fact that she had listed math and science as her favorite subjects in school. (I am a scientist myself!) I started sponsoring her in 2008 and have felt rewarded every time I received her progress report.

But I also wanted to meet her in person -- talk to her, see her village, and meet her family.

During her visit to meet Rebika, Aparna learned that her sponsorship support helps care for the entire community.

During her visit to meet Rebika, Aparna learned that her sponsorship support helps care for the entire community. (Photo: Jon Warren/World Vision)

On the car ride to Rebika's village, I was certainly looking forward to seeing her, but didn’t know what else to expect. Upon reaching there, I was overwhelmed to see a huge reception for me! The entire village had turned up to welcome me into their community with dances, songs, poetry, and food.

I wanted to tell them that I just sponsor a single child, not the whole village -- but they made me feel as if I did! Then, I learned about how World Vision works not just with children like Rebika, but also their families and the entire community to provide a support network. I was convinced then that I had made the perfect choice in supporting World Vision to carry on their exceptional work in India.

Meeting Rebika, going to her house, and meeting her family brought back my childhood memories of going to villages and teaching kids. It felt as though I was home. There were many people around us, but Rebika and I managed to sit side by side. After some initial shyness, she opened up to me. She said she wanted to become a nurse when she grows up. Her favorite subject in school is still science. (I was extremely happy to hear that!) She plans to go to Guwahati (the largest city nearby) for college after finishing school.

Before this visit, I had no idea that sponsoring a child can have such a positive impact on the progress of an entire community. After coming back to Wisconsin, my husband, who accompanied me on this trip, sponsored another child through World Vision -- and we hope to visit her on our next trip to India. We are happy and very grateful to be able to keep the ripples going!


Read "From Here to There," a World Vision magazine article about World Vision's support of villages in northeast India through child sponsorship for the past 15 years.

Sponsor a girl in India today. Your support for a child like Rebika will help provide basics like food, clean water, education, healthcare, and more. She'll be better equipped to avoid social and cultural barriers like gender discrimination and early marriage.

Comments

As a young woman growing up in middle-class America, it's easy for me to forget how little opportunity is given to girls in poorer countries. Aparna's story is a great reminder that the rights of women must be especially fought for.

Hi Jennifer-

So glad you recognize how powerful sponsorship is- changing a community really starts with a child. Thanks for your support!

Thanks,

Lindsey, WV Staff

Very Powerful!
My husband and I have been sponsoring a child (Bezu) in Ethiopia for over three years. The Lord has placed on my heart to sponsor another child from his community, a girl. I have been toying with it for many months and reading your article has been a confirmation for me to do this.

Jesus said " Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me."

God Bless you!
Loren
Orlando, Florida

Loren, that sounds like a great idea! I hope someday we can sponsor a second child, perhaps in Africa. I think your idea is a very good one.

Great story of how just one person can make a difference. The ripple effect is so true. The child I sponsor is in Kenya. One time I got a letter from him, and he was so happy to get a mosquito net, and was de-wormed. The thought goes through my mind of how good we have it in the Untied States and forget that so many children are starving and sick in the world. The money sent each month to world vision is better than going to the mall and buying items that will be thrown in a closet and forgotten. Giving to World vision is investing in the kingdom of heaven, who knows what a child will become with encouragement, school, medicine and clean water and food.

God bless all of you

Robert

Wow thanks.. very encouraging comment

I would like to know if this is your policy that you can sponsor a child from your own country. I know there are more and more children from America that need to be sponsored. Alot of our children are going hungry and are living on the streets now too. Please I would like an answer.
Sincerely, Nina

Hey Nina,

That is a great question. Currently, we don't have sponsorship in the US, but World Vision does support children and families in need in urban areas as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle/Tacoma, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Washington, D.C., Texas, and Detroit. We also have ministry in rural areas such as Albany, Georgia and Appalachia. You can read more about our work in the US at http://www.worldvisionusprograms.org/ and learn about doing service trips here: http://www.worldvisionusprograms.org/us_missions.php

Thanks for your interest in helping people in need!

Thanks,

Lindsey, WV Staff

I am a sponsor as well and feel glad to hear about anyone supporting children anywhere in the world. I hope we all can continue that ripple in the pond.

Good work. I am also sponsoring a girl child with World vision. It is my way of telling 'Thank you God' for everything he has given to me.

What a great story. I am so encouraged to hear about this. Someday perhaps we can meet our sponsored child, Rochelle. I hope that we can help her move forward with her life like Aparna and her husband have done for Rebika. That is what we hope for as Rochelle's sponsors, that and Rochelle's spiritual well-being. It is important to us that Christ is made known through our sponsorship of Rochelle.

I think what you are doing is amazing!! I would have loved to be able to sponsor a child through Wold Vision but being a single mother who are also trying to put three kids through school, I would not be able to - but keep up the good work all you sponsors! God will bless you abundantly

its good to hear what is happening in the communities and people we are sponsoring

That is wonderful - a great experience for all concerned. Great to hear you are now sponsoring another child - it makes such a difference in their lives and the whole community, as you have seen first hand!

I am planning a trip to india because God has put it on my heart and reading this story tells me there are other opens! I was going not really knowing what to do. There are so many kids in the world that need help. I want to help! A sevant of our Savior Larry and Kim

I am learning to be able to help someone in this way too.

Great job indeed. Proud for both of you........

Leave a Comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.