The joy of being a sponsor

At the age of twenty, with a new mind-set focused on giving what he can to help others, Buddha became the sponsor of a little girl named Liza, and began a friendship which led him to the foothills of Albania.

One morning I woke up and asked myself, 'Can I live without my daily can of coke if it means I can sponsor a girl who was previously deprived of an education and proper care?'

With a loud and clear yes in both my mind and heart, I have never looked back at proudly becoming Liza's sponsor. I am originally from Nepal, and although many people question why I don’t help a child there, I truly see it is as a privilege to support a vulnerable child, irrelevant of their origin, religion or gender. Liza is just a young girl in need of a little help to give her the childhood she deserves.

I remind myself often that we only have one life, so I will give what I can spare to help the less fortunate in the world

I had always wanted to visit Liza and her family since the day I started sponsoring her. It was always right up there in my bucket list but never quite in my calendar! However, after two years of sponsoring I finally booked my visit just before Christmas, so you can imagine it was an exciting time.

Liza is an 11 year old girl born to wonderful parents in Albania. I love opening Liza’s letters and finding out how she enjoys maths and music at her school, and helping out to clean at home. If she could, she’d spend all her time playing ball games and wearing anything yellow as that is her favourite colour. We share a profound love for pizzas and for studying hard. I won’t forget her appreciation that she receives support, care and prayers from someone who lives miles away from her.

On the day of my visit, I awoke in the early hours of the morning, when the sun had risen but it was still below freezing. The friendly and very informative World Vision staff collected me and we departed for the city of Lezhe, where Liza lives with her parents and three siblings. She lives in the rolling, lush green foothills of a mountain in Northern Albania where her father provides for his family by gathering and selling firewood.  I was really happy to meet Liza and her family, and for the warm handshakes, smiles, and a small hug from Liza. It was amazing to see that despite how different our daily lives are, we felt a connection.

After chatting with the family and introducing ourselves, we headed off to visit an old school in Liza's community which was due to close in June 2015 because a new one is being built from the funds given by World Vision sponsors and the Albanian government. It was a real encouragement to see how the money I give is helping to shape the lives of so many children who will benefit greatly from a new school with clean, spacious classrooms! 

I was impressed to see Liza as a leader in front of her classmates as she shared her aspirations of becoming a ballet-dancer

The head teacher and her students gave a talk and after a very interesting hour or so, we went to a traditional restaurant where we filled up our rumbling stomachs with delicious Albanian traditional food and mine and Liza’s!

In Albania, as so many families work in agriculture to support themselves, it is really rare that children receive presents. After lunch, I shared a few small gifts with the family whose faces lit up and as these special kids opened up their Christmas presents, we all felt so overjoyed. After a very amusing puppet show which was put on for us by a youth group who are supported by World Vision, we said our goodbyes to Liza and her family.

We then spent some time with the bold and energetic youth group from Liza's village. We had a meeting about their initiatives and it was quite interesting to know about their own fundraising efforts. It was with great amazement that I saw how World Vision has given this youth group a voice and a platform on which to express their initiatives and ideas in the forms of puppet shows, dance, songs and poetry. It is so important that the youth can be heard in their community, so I left feeling very inspired that the group are making great progress. As the sun began to slowly set, the staff took me back to my hotel when I had some time to think about the wonderful day I had spent in Liza’s community.

It has been such a great pleasure visiting Liza, and it is a day I will always treasure