Searching for my sponsor family
Fatu Bangura was born in Sierra Leone in 1969 to a very poor family. While she was the first child her family was able to send to primary school, they could not afford to send her to high school. Plan helped Fatu get a scholarship and connect her to a family in the Netherlands whose Plan sponsorship encouraged her to attend and graduate from high school. Over 25 years later, Fatu (who is now married and living in the U.S.) decided to search for the family that had made such a difference in her life.
This is her story . . .
My initial search attempts resulted in a name I recognized and believed to be the family's oldest son. The search results connected the name to an address in the Netherlands. I tried sending a message to the email address provided but got no reply. I forgot about it and decided that if I could not find my former sponsors to say thank you, I could return the favor by sponsoring a child through Plan USA. My sponsored child’s name is Marie.
I work with a few people who sponsor children and we always talk about how important it is to help these poor children. I always tell them how much I benefited from sponsorship.
Last November, I mentioned to one of the doctors at my workplace that I had tried to find my former sponsors, who I believed lived in the Netherlands, but was unable to communicate because I did not know Dutch. She was able to connect me with someone who could translate for me and, not long after, I was able to send an email to this person I thought was the son of my sponsor parents.
I wanted to know if he knew of the family I was looking for and what this family had done for me. I wanted to contact them to say thank you.
A week or so later, I received an email back from this gentleman. His family's name was Pauzenga. It turned out he and his wife were, in fact, my former sponsors! I was happy beyond belief!
The Pauzenga family and I have been communicating frequently ever since. When we decided it was time to meet, they sent me a letter to secure a visa for Amsterdam and I visited them in April 2009.
My visit was an experience I will never forget. I met the children and grandchildren, Ulbe and Djoke’s friends and family and, on Easter Monday, enjoyed a wonderful boat ride around the canal with the whole family.
So, in short, my story is that I found the people who changed my life. Whatever I am today, wherever I find myself, it is all because of the Pauzenga family.
I needed to tell them how grateful I am to them, and they turned out to be the nicest people ever, showing me a lot of love and respect.
Child sponsorship is the best way to help children, families and communities build a future free from poverty. Sponsor a child today!