My wife Nell and I have been sponsoring Phuong in Vietnam since 2004. It’s been such a wonderful journey watching him grow into a bright and healthy young man. We’ve loved receiving his letters and drawings over the past 9 years, so we were pretty excited when we got the chance to travel to Vietnam to meet him in person.
When we arrived we were introduced to the WV staff and they explained to us the project that we support through child sponsorship funds. I’ve been fortunate enough to work at World Vision for some years, so I was looking forward to meeting my colleagues at World Vision in Vietnam. Their dedication and commitment to their work impressed us a lot.
Then the big moment came – it was time to meet Phuong. We felt a combination of excitement and nervousness as we approached the school where he was waiting for us. As we got closer to the school gate we saw him, waiting with a few of his little mates. We immediately went up to him and introduced ourselves, almost falling over ourselves to greet him.
We were then taken to the principal’s office. That sounds ominous I know; the last time that happened to me I was in about Grade 4 and in quite a bit of trouble! None of that this time though. The greetings we received from the principal and other staff were incredibly welcoming. We found out that the funds we and many others are donating each month have helped to refurbish Phuong’s school to the point that it’s now able to welcome children from all over the district. The school has also won awards for its level of education.
Observing the quality of the relationships between the World Vision staff, the children and the teachers at Phuong’s school was a highlight for us. It really is a mutual and valued relationship that World Vision has fostered with their local community.
We were also excited to be invited to a quarterly birthday celebration the school puts on for all the children. Singing Happy Birthday and playing games with the children was a delight, although struggling to blow up a balloon was a tad embarrassing for me!
Many sponsors give a soccer ball to their sponsored child’s community, to highlight the universal language of the world game. Being from Melbourne though, we thought we would do something different and bring over a little AFL footy for the children to play with. Boy, was that a hit! It was such a joy seeing the children learning to kick and chase this strange shaped ball that bounced all over the place!
Meeting Phuong, his mother and his community was an unforgettable day for us. It showed us again the value of not just giving financially, but of creating and maintaining relationships with people from different walks of life.
It helped us see again that love and relationship are the things that really matter. We’re so grateful that we had the opportunity to meet Phuong. We highly recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity!
Nils Von Kalm works in Church and Advocacy at World Vision. He lives in Melbourne with his wife Nell.
Have you ever met your sponsored child, or someone you’d been waiting a long time to meet? Share your stories with us below! You can also find out more about visiting your sponsor child here.