Tuesday, January 17, 2006

World Vision overcomes South West Trains

(Image reproduced from the World Vision website with their kind permission)

I first stumbled across World Vision in the mid 1990s. I think it may have been a TV advert or an article in the Evening Standard, spotted one wintry evening while shivering on platform 10 waiting for the delayed 18:15 to Godalming

The possibility of sponsoring a child struck a chord. And probably partly for selfish reasons.

I was struggling to come to terms with life back in The Real World after spending most of the 1980s having the time of my life in Bermuda. Somehow 3 hours a day commuting to London in suit, tie and a heavy winter coat wasn't quite as appealing as 15 minutes on a Yamaha 80 in my pillar box red or canary yellow shorts, sunglasses reflecting the glare of the dazzling rays as they bounced off the water between the boats in Hamilton harbour...

And then there was The Relationship Thing. Failed. A good thing in the long run but a bit painful at the time.

And the job. Working for a Japanese company had been varied and insightful for a couple of years, but coming to an inevitably painful end. And a few dark and stormies in Caseys at lunchtime or slipping out at 3 pm for 18 holes at Port Royal were sadly no longer possible

So temporarily life wasn't great..but when I read the World Vision article I still recognized that of course my life was a whole lot better than that being suffered by millions of children scattered around the poor and undeveloped parts of the world

Thanks to World Vision I was soon the proud sponsor of Evadine Atuheire, a 5 year old girl from the Rukiga district in South West Uganda

I've been contributing £14-£18 a month for just over 10 years. According to what I now know from The Motley Fool (shameless plug), that amount a month invested over a 10 year period in something tracking the stock market for, say, a further 10 years could grow to a decent chunk of change for my retirement fund. Click The Motley Fool link and find your way to the investing pages to quantify the potential!

But no financial sum can compare with the joy I have received from sponsoring Evadine. Skip this next bit if you dislike unduly sentimental outpourings, but I can't adequately describe the pleasure of getting home after a tough day at work, or after suffering more failed signals at Clapham Junction, to find a letter postmarked from Uganda sitting on the doormat

Addressed to my dear sponsor, her simple description of what she's been doing at school, or what she can now grow in the garden, just melts away all your own inconsequential problems

And when I see thank you for loving me written in her own tentative handwriting, even this world-weary nearly 49 year old bean counter is moved to shed a tear or two

World Vision are excellent. They govern correspondence between you and your sponsored child, in order to avoid any possible direct communication issues. Evadine, her family and community have hopefully received the benefit of slightly improved education, health and general facilities over the years. And, prompted by World Vision, I send Evadine personal greetings cards for her birthday and at Christmas, together with occasional small gifts like postcards, photos, pens and pencils

In return I receive her letters, regular updates of progress in her Rukiga community and perhaps most interestingly an annual report on her school progress and outside interests. And there's always a photograph of her so I've been able to see her blossom year by year until she is now a beautiful healthy 15 year old

Here's a bit of a fuzzy photo of Evadine a few years ago holding the World Vision Christmas card from me

World Vision perform many other vital activities around the world, but I can't recommend their Child Sponsorship programme highly enough. They are also key players in the anti poverty campaign - click their link on this site for more details

I'm setting a very ambitious target of raising £25,000 for World Vision by the attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in February 2007, just before my 50th birthday. And I'm delighted to say that World Vision have 2 specific projects in Tanzania that any sponsorship raised would help fund, in response to my wish that Kilimanjaro's homeland benefits from us inflicting ourselves on them

I'll write later with more details of the World Vision projects in Tanzania and also the website that you will be able to make contributions through. Having read this far hopefully you can understand why I think World Vision projects would be a very worthy beneficiary from this masochistic challenge to celebrate my 50th

Thanks in advance for any amount of sponsorship you feel able to give...and stay tuned for lots more information on all sorts of stuff


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