I grew up in a family with six siblings, with me being the fourth child. It was hard enough for our parents to support us with daily necessities, but school was one of the major financial burdens, with stationery, uniforms and PTA fees. Our mother was the only one working to support us financially.
It was God’s grace for our family to be blessed through The Salvation Army’s Cherish a Child Programme. I was privileged to be a part of this programme, starting with kindergarten at age four until I graduated from high school in Form 7 at age 18.
It was a lifesaver for my parents not having to pay for PTA and my examination fees. We also received help with some books, school bags, pens, etc.
One thing I enjoyed about being a sponsored child was writing to my sponsor parents. Each year I would try to improve my English so they could better understand my letters, updating them on my activities in soccer, brass band and school, about the weather and the wellbeing of my family.
I have now graduated with a BSc degree, with a double major in geography and information services, and am enjoying the challenges of working as a GIS (Geographic Information System) analyst.
It is now my time to give back—I am supporting my family’s needs, helping with school fees and stationery requirements for my nephews, and also tutoring relatives and neighbouring students.
I will forever be grateful to my sponsor parents for their sacrifices and dedication towards the Cherish a Child Programme, and for their support and love for their ‘Tongan daughter’.
To others who are also privileged to be a sponsored child, I say, ‘Make the most of it. Determination and a willingness to keep trying is the key to success. And do something you’re passionate about. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.” So shoot for your goal—and if you miss, you will still have achieved something.
I would also advise people to trust in the Lord to show them the right path, because he promises in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you … plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ’ God has given me a good future because of the generosity of my sponsor parents.
Everyone has a story of how they have struggled through life and the hardships they encountered to reach their goals. My story is about how God adjusted my struggles to become stepping stones for me, for my family and for his purposes. With God, anything can happen!
New Zealanders sponsor children in 21 countries. This includes 105 children in Tonga. Go to www.salvationarmy.org.nz/childsponsorship for more details on Salvation Army child sponsorship.
by Lynette Sifa (c) 'War Cry' magazine, 9 January 2016, pp 9.
You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.