By Lisseth Odalinda Romero Ortiz
I am a psychologist currently working as the Integral Program Coordinator at the Tonala program, a ChildFund partner organization in Mexico.
I am also a former sponsored child, and I grew up benefitting from the organization I now work for.
I became involved with ChildFund when I was 8 years old. When I was in sixth grade, I started writing letters to my sponsor. I’ll never forget the opportunities I had to write to him — I loved to share my achievements with him. I would share about school because I liked school a lot, about poetry and about contests I participated in.
One of the most wonderful experiences I remember telling him about is a visit to Oaxaca for a state sports event ChildFund was a part of. They took us on a walk through downtown, and it was all new to me. I was 10 years old. I also shared a lot with my sponsor about specific traditions and celebrations in my community and about the weather.
He always managed to get a letter out to me at least once a year.
Unfortunately, my sponsor had to cancel after being with me a few years, when I was in ninth grade. I was very sad when I heard this because, even though we had written to each other only every once in a while, I discovered, thanks to him, that there was a world out there. I learned about the sea, the most amazing fish species, huge homes. One time he sent me a package with his favorite photos.
Still, my relationship with ChildFund continued. I loved receiving school supplies at the beginning of every school year, and I enjoyed participating in all kinds of ChildFund activities.
I continued to study hard, and when I finished high school I left the community to go to college and study psychology at an Oaxaca state private school. I was able to do this thanks to a full scholarship I received because I had been an A student, with a record of good behavior and perfect attendance.
However, going to school was hard even with the scholarship. To earn some money, I worked in the college’s administrative offices. My father, a taxi driver, gave whatever he could, and my mother sold some of our chickens and pigs. I also made pozole, coffee and flan and sold them door-to-door.
I was working in my first job after college, for a nonprofit organization called Mexfam, when I met a staff member from ChildFund’s Tonala Program, from which I had so many fond memories of growing up. She invited me to give a presentation for a mothers’ workshop. Not long after, they invited me to apply for a job there.
I have always loved to work with children — I think I’m very patient, which makes me suited for the work. What I like most is when sponsored children receive their letters. I try to help them write back and show them how they can better express their ideas and feelings. I share with them that one of the highest dreams of a sponsor is to know that their sponsored child continues his or her studies and prepares for the future.
I still love to write poetry, and I share it every chance I get. In fact, in some of the events ChildFund organizes in the community, I use it according to the theme we’re working on.
I think ChildFund is an organization with a very strong and clear objective. They try to cover the most important needs of the communities they work with in Mexico. ChildFund has a special way of thinking of each community and its people, in which it’s more important to know the real needs of the people rather than to impose an administrative process wherever they work. ChildFund cares for people.