Interview with a young woman sponsor
Marie Lefebvre, age 31, lives in Reims. For the past two years, she has sponsored a children, Neath, 9 years old, in Kompong Speu in Cambodia. She tells her story and vision of sponsorship, and also recounts her relationship with her sponsored child.
How did you learn about Enfants d'Asie ?
I heard about Enfants d'Asie from my cousin who told me about the idea of sponsorship and convinced me of its value. I have been working now for some time, such that I am able to give a small amount of money each month, but, I did not have enough confidence in one particular organization so as to be comfortable to give my money to it. With Enfants d'Asie I have total confidence and haven't questioned it since! Today, I tell everyone I know about Enfants d'Asie. My friends find the concept of sponsorship interesting but don't yet act on it! I think that is explained a bit by the fact that it's an investment that continues for several years, in fact that made me a bit worried at first...
What made you decide to be a sponsor instead of just making a donation?
I was attracted by the idea that I could follow the progress of a child over the long-term, to hear of his or her growing up and getting an education. What is most interesting for me is the personal relationship with the child, to be able to write them... this reassures me that my money is being used for a good cause, I receive letters, photos, school grade cards, it's very concrete.
Having never travelled to Asia, I had no preconceived ideas about the country where my sponsored child lives, nor of his family situation. I trust Enfants d'Asie, they know my priorities.
Do you feel morally responsible for your sponsored child ?
Yes and no. I don't necessarily think about them every day, but it always pleases me when I receive news of them. I see my sponsorship as a three-way relationship: Neath (sponsored child), Enfants d'Asie and myself. I hope to support Neath as long as possible, yet I know that I am not his family, he has brothers and a grandmother, as well, in the orphanage, he is surrounded by caring teachers.
If I help one child, I am also aware that my sponsorship money benefits other children in his orphanage and his community. To do otherwise would be unjust, as all the children in the country need to be supported.
To get more involved is really easy, but I need to be prudent. For example, I am conscientious to not give gifts of high value, I hold myself back a bit... I know to keep their limits, if not, it could create jealousy between other children and/or create a sense of resentment, plus I know someday, that I will no longer be there to support him.
For me, to sponsor a child is not a gift-laden hand but, a supporting hand, an exchange, based on the mutual respect of our cultures.
What are your interactions with your sponsored child?
I receive 4 to 5 letters per year, where he recounts his days, his school end extracurricular activities. Hi likes to play football and he's started English classes! Il don't always have time to write him back right away, but I always try to answer all of his letters.
He is only 9 years old, so his letters are very basic, but sincere. Thanks to the Correspondences newsletter, I also get news on the daily lives of the children in his village.
Do you plan to go to Cambodia to meet Neath someday ?
In his letters, he asks if I will come to visit him. For the moment, it's not planned, I can't afford it. I have to admit also that I'm a bit uncomfortable as to how I would be in front of him, or what to say! None-the-less, I hope to have the opportunity to go to Cambodia some day, also to know the Enfants d'Asie group there.
Extract of 'Correspondances' n°59, november 2007
By Fanny Turpin
I want to sponsor a child.