Meeting Mandalena: 'Taller than in her last photo'

Maynard is a World Vision UK Ambassador. Meeting his sponsored child Mandalena as part of an Ambassadors trip to Zambia was a moment he won't forget.

Becoming an Ambassador for World Vision UK gave me an opportunity to meet my sponsored child. I was so excited when I received a call from World Vision with an offer for me to become an Ambassador and to travel to Zambia to visit Mandalena and her community as well as to see firsthand the work at the ADP (Area Development Programme).
I accepted the invitation there and then without hesitation and talked to all of my friends and colleagues about my good fortune. It is a trip I had wanted to make since 2010 however I was unsure of where to start and whom to approach.

Mandalena is a seven year old girl who lives in a household consisting of: grandmother and her grandfather who is unwell; mother; an older brother and a baby sister.The family farms in a small area surrounding the dwellings which consists of three buildings for sleeping, cooking and bathing. There is also a storage area for the recently harvested maize.

Mandalena and her family were in the yard along with neighbours as we arrived. She and her brother Nelson did not attend school today as they expected our visit. She was not too difficult to recognise although she appeared taller than her last photo. I was very nervous, but tried to express confidence as I was the first member of the visiting group to meet and greet our sponsored child. I bet that Mandalena and her family were just as nervous.

When I was first introduced to Mandalena, I was in a confused state, not knowing whether to hug her or shake her hand.

We shook hands and were formally introduced to the family. It was all smiles and laughter after that.

Immediately, I felt a bond to the whole family. Sponsoring Mandalena has given me an opportunity to be part of her family and her community. I felt particularly proud and honoured that Mandalena held my hand as she showed me around.

The settings and lifestyles in Mandalena’s community brought back childhood memories for me of rural Antigua in the West Indies, as a small boy in the early 1960s: gathering fire wood, tending animals morning and evening, helping to reap sugar cane. I feel in my heart that I will be thinking of Mandalena and family more often. I have made a vow and promised myself that I will work tirelessly for the community to the end of the development.

I will take away from this visit incredible memories of my child in her home setting and, after hearing from Mandalena, I know of her dream of becoming a school teacher

I am excited knowing her plans for her future and the possibilities that lie ahead. I feel that I cannot do enough for Mandalena, her wonderful family and her community. I plan to visit Zambia again in the future before the project comes to an end in 2018. 

It is inspiring to hear about children like Mandalena's ambitions and dreams to have a brighter future. Do you know what your sponsored child wants to do in the future? Why not write to them and ask, or leave a comment in the box below and share with us.