“ChildFund was like a home for me,” recalls Margaret, soon to begin her final year at Nairobi University in Kenya, where she is studying to be a math and chemistry teacher.
For eight years of Margaret’s childhood, her ChildFund sponsor, “Miss Linda,” gave Margaret the support she needed to grow and develop. Today, the former sponsored child has grown into a 26-year-old woman driven “to reach out to the poor and make an appreciable difference in their lives.”
Growing up in semi-arid Ishiara in the Mbeere district of Kenya’s eastern province, Margaret had many responsibilities. “Like every kid in this country, you are expected to assist your parent at home in activities like cooking, fetching water and firewood and weeding among others,” Margaret recalls. Yet, her family also encouraged her to pursue reading.
ChildFund ensured that Margaret and her siblings had proper care and nutrition. Throughout her grade school years, Margaret also had the opportunity to play volleyball and take part in drama classes while enrolled in ChildFund programs.
The firstborn of four siblings, Margaret says having a connection with ChildFund made her feel important and cared for. “It was nice to realize that so many people can unite and share so much,” she says.
One of Margaret’s most memorable sponsorship experiences was during Christmas. ChildFund would organize a celebration for all the sponsored children, full of singing and dancing, she recalls. During the celebration, children would entertain their families with educational plays, readings and songs. “We would have fun,” says Margaret. “We were really proud to be members of ChildFund’s family.”
Living on her own in Nairobi—far from her childhood village—hasn’t been easy for Margaret as she works toward her degree. Because her family circumstances delayed her college start by four years, she has struggled to complete her education.
Fees are always looming, part-time work is sparse and she misses her mother and siblings who are many miles away. Yet, Margaret has independently persevered by actively seeking employment. “It is hard, but I have tried so hard not to be idle. I network with people who can offer me an opportunity however short-term.”
Margaret continues to stay in touch with ChildFund Kenya. She considers this connection a means to “to enlighten others who might still be in the dark like I have been.”
She credits her sponsorship experience for building her confidence and putting her on the path to being a good student. Just as her sponsor changed her life, Margaret wants to be a teacher so she can also make an impact on someone’s future.
Given the opportunity, she would love to give back to her own community by returning to teach the next generation in her village. “It’s not the big things you do that changes the lives of others,” says Margaret. “But the small sacrifices we make.”