I was a sponsored child through Plan
By Fatu Bangura, former Plan sponsored child
This is my story.
I was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa in 1969. My parents were very poor and had 11 children. The first five children were born in a tiny village in a town called Makeni and were not sent to school. My five younger siblings and I were born in Freetown. I was the first child to be sent to school.
At the age of 12, I finished primary school and passed the high school entrance exams — but my parents could not afford to pay for my school expenses. A neighbor who worked for Plan helped enroll me into the sponsorship program. As a sponsored child, I was able to receive a scholarship that allowed me to go to high school at last.
The second year into my scholarship, I received a letter and small photos of my sponsor family glued to a piece of paper. I knew them only as Dad and Mom; they had two sons and a daughter. The scholarship paid my school fees and I was given some money for books and uniforms. I had the scholarship from 1981 to 1987. My parents used the money for my books and uniform to pay school fees for my siblings so that everyone could go to school. I finished high school, got a job and began helping support my family.
After several jobs, I secured a visa to work and attend college in the United Kingdom, where I studied to become a medical secretary. While in London, I heard about the USA Green Card Lottery and applied for my younger sister and her family. She won, moved to the United States with her family, and then filed for my mother and another sister and her family. During much of this time I was still living in London. Not long after, I met my husband Frank, who lived in New York. We got married and I then moved to the U.S. as well.
Plan helped open the door to my life as well as that of my entire family. But for many years, my relationship with my former sponsors remained in my memories. Five years ago, one of my sisters went to visit our father in Freetown. He gave her the photo of my sponsor family that he had kept all this time and asked her to bring it to me. I thought it would be nice to find these people and say thank you, and that is when I began the search for their names.
Read the second part of Fatu's story — her search for her sponsor family.
Child sponsorship is the best way to help children, families and communities build a future free from poverty. Sponsor a child today!