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Nearly 50 Years Later, Sponsors Connect with Former Sponsored Child

Bruce and Claudyne Brown with Paul Chan, a Hong Kong legislator whom they sponsored as a child. PHOTO: Brian Trompeter
Bruce and Claudyne Brown with Paul Chan, a Hong Kong legislator whom they sponsored as a child.

PHOTO: Brian Trompeter

Forty-eight years ago, Bruce and Claudyne Brown sponsored Paul Chan, a young boy living in poverty in Hong Kong. On August 7, 2010 the couple from Virginia met their former sponsored child for the first time.

In 1962, Bruce Brown learned about Plan – then called Foster Parents Plan – through a newspaper ad. Despite having limited income and children of their own to care for, the U.S. Air Force captain and his wife decided to get involved.

Claudyne had heard about starving children in China throughout her youth, and wanted to sponsor a child in that country. The couple decided to sponsor Chan Mo Po, now Paul Chan, a young boy living with his family in a squatter camp in the city, their small wooden cottage regularly damaged by fire and typhoons.

For two years the Browns supported Chan and his family, until they were able to move into public housing. Their raised economic status then made them ineligible for the sponsorship program.

Chan credits the Brown’s generosity with improving his family's financial situation and allowing him to get an education. He made the most of his opportunities and grew up to become an accountant, business owner and, since 2008, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. 

Chan now sponsors five children of his own. “I got help from foster parents,” he said. “Along the way, there are people helping you. It’s really a blessing to be able to give back.”

As for the Browns: “We decided that $7 per month for two years was the best money we’ve ever spent,” Claudyne said.

In July 2010, Plan sent out a letter encouraging children who had been sponsored in Hong Kong to get together with the families that had supported them. Chan decided to make the trip to meet the Browns, and brought his wife, Frieda, and daughter, Joyce, with him to the U.S.

The group met at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington where Chan, whom the Browns expected to be reserved, surprised them with enthusiastic hugs.

“It’s been an unbridled joy,” Bruce said. “It’s like we’ve known each other forever.”

The Browns have sponsored many other children since Chan, but he’s the only one they’ve met in person. Besides sponsoring children, Bruce said he is amazed at how cheap it is to buy livestock that can help families in need. “I insist for my birthdays, ‘Buy me a cow. Buy me a goat,’” he said.

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