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Sponsored child, Andreea, is now giving back

as a volunteer for World Vision's Ukraine Crisis Response

Once a child enrolled in World Vision’s child sponsorship programme in Romania, 21-year-old Andreea is now giving back as a volunteer for World Vision's Ukraine Crisis Response, where she is helping to support refugee children as they flee Ukraine.

Andreea’s hometown is a small rural area. When she was young, many children in her village did not attend school. Most spent their day in the fields caring for animals, as their parents did not have money to buy basic school supplies. When she was in the sixth grade, World Vision began to work in her community. From there onwards, everything changed for Andreea and her classmates. 

Child sponsorship connects children living in vulnerable situations with sponsors whose pooled support helps create programmes and resources that benefit the entire community. Though not a sponsored child herself, Andreea participated in programmes and activities made possible by the Child Sponsorship programme in her community. These programmes helped students develop public speaking skills, encouraged children to pursue higher education and worked on self-esteem issues. 

“Before I was very shy. I was scared to get involved in different activities. I always sat in the back rows because I was afraid to speak and I hoped not to be seen so that the teachers would not make me talk,” explains Andreea. “But Nicoleta and Ioana, our coordinators at that time, did their jobs very well and it was impossible not to get involved in the activities.”

Two World Vision volunteers standing together in a park, smiling and looking at the camera.
Andreea (right) was empowered to take her education further by her Wold Vision co-ordinator Nicoleta (left)

“Education is the key,” says Nicoleta Popla, a former coordinator from Andreea’s programme. “I say to [children] all the time that they can overcome their current situation and have a better life... They really can go further than they believe, because in their communities, they don't see these opportunities.” 

For Andreea, the World Vision programmes and support from leaders were life-changing. She joined the student council in seventh and eighth grade where she learned to overcome her fears of being in front of a crowd. 

“All those activities helped me a lot,” she says. "I learned a lot in that period and I can feel the huge impact on myself and on my daily life... at school and even now at university... I’m not shy anymore. Now, I have the courage to speak in public.” 

It was through a child sponsorship programme that Andreea was able to tour university campuses, including the one she now attends in Iasi, where she studies social work.

Volunteer Andreea talks to a group of people at the Husi refugee camp in Romania.
Andreea confidently uses her public speaking skills to reassure refugee families at the Husi camp in Romania

Helping refugee children fleeing Ukraine

When refugees began to come across the border into Romania, Andreea knew she wanted to help. She reached out to Nicoleta over social media and discovered that she was working with refugees at the border in Siret. Soon after, Andreea had the opportunity to volunteer with the World Vision crisis team, and went to Husi to help care for the refugee families. 

“I met a girl… we drew together, she spoke a little English. She traveled with her brother and parents,” Andreea says. “We tried to help them with what we could... they were very scared.” 


Empowered to make a difference

Andreea’s experience as a child and as a World Vision volunteer motivated her to make a difference in her career and in other people’s lives. She dreams of passing down the kindness shown to her by World Vision by helping those in need and creating change for children just like her.

“I see this change in the kids... Especially if they have been helped, they can go on to help others”

"World Vision has been and will be always like a project for my soul, close to my heart. They really help people - not just refugees but even ordinary Romanians. I wish every kid [would] participate in all the World Vision projects like I did and benefit like I benefited from what they did for me."

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