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Visiting Ethiopia and Connecting With the World

Susan has been a Plan sponsor and supporter for over 35 years!
Susan has been a Plan sponsor and supporter for over 35 years!
May 19, 2014
Plan Philanthropist Susan Bishop recounts her visit to Ethiopia earlier this year.

I always knew that my contributions to children and communities through Plan were making a difference, but the incredible impact made by each and every dollar was never entirely clear until I visited Ethiopia this year.

I’ve been a donor for some time. I decided to become a sponsor shortly after I gave birth to my own daughter. Since then, I have sponsored both boys and girls from multiple countries. My current child is in Brazil. No matter where they are from, it is still heartwarming to get their letters and see photos of their smiling faces, and it is nice to know they are benefiting from a wide range of wonderful programs.

While sponsoring children has always been a fulfilling way to make a difference, I knew I wanted to do more. Last year, I attended a few events in New York City to find out how I could become more involved. When I attended the Because I am a Girl Gala and heard the Girl Ambassadors tell their stories, I knew I wanted to wholeheartedly support that program. I have always been particularly passionate about education for young girls. Educating girls can really change communities and, I truly believe, the world. The Girl Ambassadors at the Gala showed me in person the difference that can be made in a child’s life, and I wanted to make that kind of impact.

With the decision to increase my support for these girls, I also took the natural next step. My support throughout the years resulted in a lot of letters and photos, but I knew I would learn so much more seeing the programs for myself. So, I packed my bags and traveled with Plan to Ethiopia.

Once there, it was crystal clear how much even a small contribution every month can make a difference for each village and family. Plan is incredibly well-known and respected in the villages we were in, and as we arrived we felt like celebrities!

The gratitude of the local Plan staff and the children was so heartfelt. I had the opportunity to visit schools and see the children at work and at play. They were incredible: They spoke to us fearlessly (in English!); performed for us; and told us their dreams to go to college, become doctors, and become advocates for others.

The whole experience was incredibly moving. The children have no running water, no electricity, and no modern machinery at all, but they are beautiful, happy, and hopeful.

Since my trip, I have posted pictures on Facebook* and shared my story with others. I’ve gotten amazing responses, and I’ve been able to tell my friends about Plan and emphasize how meaningful the work is. I’ve encouraged them to visit the website to sponsor a child or donate.

The greatest concern I get is “Does the monthly donation really make a difference?” I know now that, yes – it does. I saw it. Helping one child is helping one family is helping one village is helping one community.

This trip only underlined that one person helping one other person CAN make a difference. Our support makes an extraordinary impact on the children and the villages – and it also helps us. I am now so much more connected with the world.

Written by Susan Bishop

To set up your own trip of a lifetime to visit your sponsored child, check out some planning tips or call us directly at 800-556-7918!

*When using social media, please be sure to follow Plan’s Child Protection Policy so no children can be personally identified.


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