Every sponsor has their own reasons why they decide to help a child in need. For Barbara, it’s ensuring the well-being and protection of a child that motivates her to make the world a better place. Not only does she support this work abroad, she’s also working to make a difference for children here in Canada!
Growing up as a competitive gymnast, Barbara always wanted to give back to her community. Pairing her love for the sport and her passion for helping others, Barbara opened a non-profit gym to support children who want to participate in gymnastics activities but whose families cannot afford to do so.
It’s this compassion for giving back and helping others that inspired Barbara to start sponsoring Enh, a 10-year-old girl in Cambodia.
It has been just under a year since Barbara started sponsoring Enh. But never having a daughter of her own, she knew she had to go meet Enh in person.
Before she knew it, Barbara had arranged to make the journey of a lifetime!
A moment to remember
We asked Barbara what the most memorable part of her visit was.
“Meeting Enh for the first time,” says Barb. “As she walked up to me, we both bowed and then she shook my hand.”
Along with meeting Enh, Barbara was also greeted by Enh’s mother, father, brother and extended family, all of whom were very welcoming.
After sharing introductions, Barbara, Enh and her family all sat down to share a meal together.
“The highlight of my trip was sitting around having a lovely meal with Enh’s family,” shares Barb. She goes on to describe the delicious traditional Cambodian dish they ate called ‘amok’. “The family really enjoyed it and so did I.”
While they sat around sharing stories, Barbara commented on the beauty of the mat they were sitting on. Enh’s aunt showed Barbara how it was made by hand and explained how making these rugs are one of the ways she earns an income.
Just as they were saying their goodbyes, the family surprised Barbara with a gracious and completely unexpected gesture. They rolled up the colourful mat and offered to it her.
“The mat could have brought them money at the market, but instead they were so giving, the family wanted me to have it,” says Barb “It brought tears to my eyes.”
It was an emotional and humbling ending to Barbara and Enh’s visit. While it was hard to say goodbye, Barbara said she “loved every minute of this visit!”
The tools for success
During her visit, Barbara had the opportunity not only to meet Enh’s family, but also many other children and families in the community. She shared Canada stickers and candy with the children, making them part of this very special day.
In addition, she was able to visit a few Plan International-supported schools. She met with students, teachers and principals, all of whom greeted her with smiles.
What resonated with Barbara was the overall atmosphere of the schools; it was one of positive and quality learning. With smaller classrooms and more educational materials, the children and staff were well equipped with the tools needed to learn, lead and thrive!
“I saw the first library in the school with books in English,” says Barb. “It gives them a wonderful head start if they can speak both Khmer and English.”
Giving hope and protection
Reflecting back on her trip, Barbara shares her impressions of Plan International’s work in the community.
“Plan International allows children to stay in school, gives them the tools to make a difference and also teaches basic sanitation to the families.”
“It gives them hope and protection.”
Spreading the word about Child Sponsorship
When asked why she’s passionate about sponsoring a child, Barbara answered:
“I feel like it’s my duty to spread the word to everyone I know to sponsor or donate to help these children.”