Plan International USA’s sponsorship program is—at its heart—rooted in kindness and selflessness.
Perhaps few sponsors embody that spirit more than Charles Demangone.
A sponsor of four children, Charles’s selflessness spans decades. He is the oldest of nine children and has always given his time and energy to the betterment of his family.
“I am still a caregiver to several brothers,” he said. “The youngest, Richard, was born with cerebral palsy. He will be 58 in March, and the family has been taking care of him 24/7. I'm involved seven days a week. He lives next door, so he is my neighbor. I cook for two other brothers who live with him.”
Even with so much responsibility on his shoulders, Charles’s commitment to helping others has extended beyond his immediate family. In 1972 he adopted a young girl with special needs.
“She was left at the end of the school year at the private school where I was a teacher,” he said. “No one came to pick her up. The office contacted her social worker, and I volunteered to take her for the month of August. One thing led to another, and I ended up as a single parent.”
In addition to his devotion to his family, he wanted to give back to children around the world.
“Plan’s newsletters, which document the changes in the youngsters’ lives, gave me the idea [of sponsoring],” he said. “To see the changes that are made to make their lives safer and healthier, it is amazing. We can do so much for so little. I wish I could do more.”
He began sponsoring a child from Nepal in 2015.
His relationship with Bhim began just before a devastating earthquake struck the country.
“Little did I know that my first letters corresponded with the severe earthquake that hit the Kathmandu area,” he said. “I feel fortunate to be there for the rebuilding.
“Her first picture showed a little girl, and the following three pictures show a change to a 14-year-old with a more mature face. This is a reward. She always draws something with the letter. A question she asked me was: ‘Do you weed the paddies?’ I explained that we don't have rice paddies, but we do weed the vegetable garden.”
In addition to Bhim, Charles wanted to sponsor a child from China. While teaching English in China, he was learning Mandarin and was interested in corresponding with a child without interpretation.
He began sponsoring Li. And, while Charles had an opportunity to communicate in Mandarin, Li also communicated in English.
“She included a picture and wrote in English: ‘These are my Math teachers. My classmates and my best friends.’ More rewards,” he said.
For his 75th birthday, he decided to sponsor two more children from China: Ziyue and Yutong.
Ziyue even had a similar birthday.
“I said ‘This is a special child,’” he said. “And she didn't disappoint. Her first letter included a drawing: a scene with a trees, flowers, birds, butterflies, a house, and a girl with a pony tail. What struck me was the house was a two-story [structure], with four windows and a door in the middle, just like I would draw in grade school. One more thing: she drew a sun at the upper right hand corner. Also, just like I did for years. Reward after reward.”
The photo Yutong sent when she first became a sponsored child offered a “welcoming smile,” Charles said.
“I think that the correspondence feature is what attracted me and what keeps me going,” he said. “To think that someone on the other end of the world is benefiting from monthly [support].”
“To people who are unsure about getting involved, I would tell them that they will not regret it,” he added. “After that first letter from their child, they will be hooked.”
Sponsoring a child through Plan International USA creates a ripple effect that lasts for years. Learn how you can create an impact in a child's life who desperately needs to know their life is valued. Meet a child to help today!
When you sponsor a child through Plan, you can exchange letters to learn about their life, forming an incredible friendship. But that’s just the beginning. With Plan, you also have the unique opportunity to send your sponsored child birthday cards, Little Treasures holiday presents, and our educational kids' magazine, Sunny Days.