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Sponsorship Stories

Taking in a "Brilliant" Day

The following is written by long-time Plan sponsor Maria Horvath.

My family and I have been involved with Plan International USA for nearly two decades.

We chose to give back because we had been very fortunate in our lives. Both my husband Christopher and I received an excellent education. We have been fortunate enough to travel and see enough of the world to realize that receiving a quality education is not always a given for everyone. As educators ourselves, we were interested in an organization through which a significant portion of donations reached the target communities rather than being siphoned off in overhead, and we also wanted to work with an organization that focused on the long term to empower communities rather than just respond to crises.

Our connection with our current sponsored child, Corina, parallels the life of our own son, Mark, who was 8 years old at the time (he recently turned nine). They had exchanged pictures and photographs for the past couple of years, so when the chance arose to arrange a visit last August, we quickly jumped at the opportunity. Although we have all traveled widely, none of us had been to Central America before. The trip took some organization, but Plan’s offices in the U.S. and in Nicaragua were of great help in arranging the details.

After a couple of days orienting ourselves to Nicaragua, the time came for the trip to our sponsored child and family. After a three-hour drive from Managua with a Plan driver, we arrived at the regional capital where we met the coordinator and translator and then drove further to the village.

The family gave us a fantastic welcome and a festive lunch. We also got a cooking lesson! In addition to our sponsored child (who was understandably a little shy to start with but soon warmed up), the extended family had gathered to welcome us. As the day progressed, all sorts of other people in the village, including a Plan field worker, community volunteers, nurses, and even the Mayor came and spoke with us.

After a couple of hours at the family home, we were taken to the school, where we met the Principal and Vice Principal, and dropped off a box of supplies that we had brought with us. Then we went to the Community Hall to see the library that houses a children’s literacy program we help support.

We were also treated to some traditional dances by Corina and two friends.

A little later, we moved on to the village soccer field where there was an impromptu game organized by the girls’ teams and a few others (including Mark) using the new balls we had brought for them. This was one of the highlights, not that it was the most important but because it came at the end of a day that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

We hope this will be an experience that will help shape our son for the rest of his life. I hope that from this he takes away the fact that small, carefully chosen actions by a large number of people can change the world. He can, and should try to be, a part of that positive change.

Honestly, we had been a little concerned that this would be a terribly awkward day, but it really wasn't. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, putting up with our terrible Spanish (we did have a Plan translator with us but we also tried on our own), patiently answering our questions, and laughing all the time.

We were impressed with the range of Plan programs, which extend far beyond child sponsorship. We were particularly interested in how the activities were tailored to the needs of various different communities and how Plan relied upon members of those communities for the programs’ success.

Our family has followed the progress of the village in the reports we get from Plan, but to see it in person was brilliant. It is more than a little humbling to know that, in a very small way, we were part of it. I would thoroughly recommend such a trip to any sponsors who have the opportunity to take one. We realized that our small contribution makes a difference and that contributing through Plan has made a worthwhile change in others' lives.

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