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Jennie Lewis: Becoming a Plan Sponsor

Jennie's sponsored child Judith, age 7, of Zimbabwe.
Jennie's sponsored child Judith, age 7, of Zimbabwe.

“I remembered how excited the children would be when they found out they had a sponsor, and I just did it.” That is how one of Plan’s newest child sponsors, Jennie Lewis, described the moment she became a sponsor.

After two years working with the Peace Corps in the rural village of La Laguna, Nicaragua, Jennie, a Virginia native, got to see first hand how Plan performed in the field and to personally know children that were Plan-sponsored. It inspired her to continue helping, while at the same time, expanding her reach even farther around the globe.

According to Jennie, even though La Laguna is somewhat isolated with only a single dirt road running through town, Plan was there every day, helping girls and boys understand their rights and live up to their full potential. “Plan would come in and work with the children every day, bringing paper and pencils,” she recalled. “I met some very reliable people and we became friends.”

One of these friends, Maribel Flores Jarquin, a Plan Nicaragua Community Development Advisor, talked of her time working with Jennie. She said Jennie’s involvement in many of Plan Nicaragua’s key projects including the “Learning Without Fear” campaign, made their time working together an unforgettable experience. Maribel said it was clear that “this young lady fell in love with the different kind of projects that Plan Nicaragua developed.”

Jennie returned to Virginia in November 2008, never forgetting “all the good” she saw Plan doing in Nicaragua. She started researching several organizations to see what more she could do to help children around the world. When reading about Plan, Jennie could already picture the work getting done. She remembered the relationships she had built with Plan in Nicaragua. And she knew first hand that Plan did exactly what they set out to do: work hard every single day for the children they serve.

“When I was searching the Plan USA site I found the feature that lets me choose the age and gender of a child to sponsor, then I noticed I could sponsor the child who had been waiting longest,” Jennie recalled. “I felt bad because I couldn’t sponsor all the children.”

But in that instant, choosing to end the long wait for one child, Jennie became the proud sponsor of Judith, age 7, of Zimbabwe.

Jennie has already begun corresponding with Judith, sending a letter along with a photo within the first couple weeks. From her time in La Laguna, she knows it’s not always very easy for the children in small rural villages to write a letter in response, and for Jennie, getting a letter in return is not very important. “I just want her to know I am thinking about her. When I was in La Laguna, the kids would be buzzing with excitement for every letter that came, it was all the gossip.” She is planning to send a second letter soon.

Jennie’s actions not only bring her experience full circle from working in the field to sponsoring a child, but she also helped make it possible for others to experience the same. When asked what advice she might have for anyone considering sponsoring a child, Jennie said “Just do it. It’s only a small amount each month and I don’t see how anyone can say ‘I wish I hadn’t spent that money on sponsorship.’”

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