Strong Friendships Begin With Sponsorship

Home > Learn More > Stories & News > Strong Friendships Begin With Sponsorship
By Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
Posted on 12/2/2014
A 2004 visit to Brazil (from left): Lidiane, Henry Ferstl, Neidiane and Judi Ferstl.

A 2004 visit to Brazil (from left): Lidiane, Henry Ferstl, Neidiane and Judi Ferstl.

Henry and Judi Ferstl began sponsoring two 5-year-old Brazilian children, Jovino and Suely, through ChildFund (then Christian Children’s Fund) in 1981. Henry was a dairy farmer living 45 miles west of Madison, Wisc., where he still lives. He hadn’t been to Brazil before, but he was curious about other cultures, and helping children appealed to him and his wife.

“They’re so grateful to have somebody care about them,” he says. As the years passed and their sponsored children aged out of the program, the Ferstls kept sponsoring; they have helped 10 children in all, and in the past decade, they took on two more sponsorships. Today, they assist four children and write letters every two months on average. The Ferstls’ son is continuing the tradition by sponsoring a child in Timor-Leste.

“I’m a big gardener,” Henry says. Just sharing ordinary details about weather or the vegetables he grows in the garden is interesting to the children. “The kids are amazed,” he notes, especially when he sends a picture of snow or, say, a moving truck in the neighborhood. Henry says that he likes sponsoring through ChildFund because he knows where his donations go, and his assistance contributes toward children’s dreams.

As the years continued, the Ferstls remained in contact with Neidiane (left) and Lidiane (second from left), as well as taking on new sponsorships, including Marielly (center). In 2009, they visited Brazil a second time.

As the years passed, the Ferstls remained in contact with Neidiane (left) and Lidiane (second from left), as well as taking on new sponsorships, including Marielly (center). In 2009, they visited Brazil a second time.

“One girl wrote one time, ‘When I grow up, I’m going to sponsor a child, just like you sponsored me,’” Henry says.

Lidiane has a special place in the Ferstls’ hearts; they started sponsoring her in 1995, and she aged out in 2006, but they maintain contact today, often through email. Lidiane attended college and started a clothing business in Brazil. She and her husband now have a daughter, and the Ferstls had the honor of choosing her name, Emily.

“She’s just a wonderful young woman,” Henry says of Lidiane. “It’s one of the great satisfactions. I learn as much as or more than the children do. And that’s probably how it should be.”






When you sponsor a child, you’re helping ChildFund change children's and their families' lives. Sponsor a child now.