From pen-to-paper to Penn State University

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Inspire your sponsored child by writing today
Guest blogger

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It’s true what they say about the power of a handwritten letter. Ali, once a sponsored child from Cameroon, is now a PhD student at Pennsylvania State University.

What’s the secret to Ali’s success? According to him, it’s not only the local programs and projects he had the chance to benefit from, it’s also the letters he received from his Plan International sponsors.

“In addition to your parents, there is somebody out there, oceans and thousands of miles away that cares about you, that encourages you.”

Last year, we were thrilled to meet Ali in person when he visited the Plan International office in Toronto. During his stay, he kindly answered child sponsors’ questions and shared his journey with journalist and child sponsor, Lisa LaFlamme.

This is what he had to say:

Ali is from a small village in Cameroon, where – despite being every child’s right – only a privileged few have access to education. Before Ali enrolled in the sponsorship program, he had never seen a children’s book. But thanks to child sponsors, Ali had the opportunity to go to school, live in a safer village, have access to better health services and clean water, and even receive letters from his sponsors – who cared about him and his dreams.

Boosted by sponsorship and these encouraging letters, Ali became motivated to create a greater change in his life and communities around the world. And though he has now graduated from the sponsorship program, that lasting support continues to drive him through his doctorate – and there’s no stopping him now!  

The impact lives on…

As a child, Ali saw the direct impact that a lack of education had on his mother and is now determined to help some of the estimated 130 million girls who have never been to school or were forced to drop out.

He knows that for the world’s girls, education has an especially meaningful, life-changing effect: giving them the chance to access their rights and Defy Normal by escaping poverty and common risks like child marriage. So today, he’s helping create a world where his mother’s story will never be repeated.

Ali is proof that compassionate individuals and even small acts of kindness can make a great impact on the world – and that together, we CAN Defy Normal. Your letters travel miles to your sponsored child, but their influence goes even further. For Ali, these interactions still inspire him today.

“You are opening a door for that child to pass through. That is what I did: I passed through that door,” shares Ali. “It helped build who I am and continues to help build communities around the world… If you doubt it, look at me,” he adds with a smile. “I’m here.”