Her first time finding a friend... in a sponsor
How a sponsor's kind words and support changed a girl's life in Vietnam forever.
Growing up without her parents in northern Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Thu was relentlessly bullied and became shy and withdrawn. But one act of kindness transformed her life. For the first time, she saw herself as she truly was… and now she’s helping to transform her community, too.
Growing up, I did not know what a mother’s love was. My parents separated when I was only one year old.
My mother left me to settle down in the South and never contacted me again. Sometime later, when I was three, my father also moved on in his life.
I was fully aware that I did not have a mother growing up. So I withdrew myself from everything and everyone.
People made fun of me at school and even at home. They teased me that I was an ugly girl without a mother. I heard it so often that I truly believed it was my identity.
One day, my life changed.
When I was in grade 4, I became a sponsored child. Sending a letter to my sponsor was my first time writing to someone. I was so excited and delighted to know I had a friend. She was the first person I ever shared my dream with.
Unlike other girls my age, whose dream mainly is to marry a lovely husband who doesn’t drink, mine is to become a doctor.
I want to work at health centres or, even better, hospitals to treat children, especially those who come from poor households like me.
My sponsor wrote me a reply not long after that. In the letter, she wrote that she understood my dream and would be rooting for me to achieve it.
It was the first time I felt I had been listened to and understood. I folded the letter carefully and put it in my safe spot. After that, I re-read it almost every night before going to bed.
Firstly, I was encouraged to join various activities where I was introduced to new friends and learned valuable skills.
Secondly, having good friends who understood me and loved me made me no longer afraid of going to school. When the pressure was removed, I realised that I like studying a lot.
I asked more questions in class and became more active and devoted in my study. Classmates did not see me as a shy and ugly girl anymore, but as a passionate and competent friend who could play and study with them.
Thirdly, my family and I received outstanding care and attention from uncles and aunties at World Vision Vietnam, which lightened our burden and allowed me to continue going to school.
World Vision aunties even came to my house and talked about school bullying and how I could cope with that.
With that support, my grandmother became more understanding and affectionate towards me. She asked about my day when I came home from school and encouraged me to study to have a future; sometimes, she even walked me to school.
My home is now a place of comfort in which I know I am loved fully.
Now I can have an impact on others.
As a student in the District Boarding School for Ethnic Minorities, I currently live far from home and so I’m teaching myself to be independent in so many ways.
Of course, some days I miss home more than others, but instead of feeling depressed, I have learned to channel my energy and focus on building up my capacity and empowering others.
Being selected for the sponsorship programme has opened doors for me and given me wings to grow into a better human.
I now have a future and a life purpose of contributing to my community to create an excellent life for all members.
When you sponsor a child like Thu, you help to transform not just one child’s life but an entire community. This is the best Christmas gift you can give!