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Vietnamese students

International Day of Education 2023

How sponsorship transformed a frightened teenager into a confident student

Keeping children in education

The International Day of Education is on Tuesday 24 January 2023. According to the United Nations, 244 million children and youth are out of school, and 771 million adults are illiterate.

Helping children and especially girls continue their education is key to World Vision’s work. When young people are able to continue their schooling, they have more – and better - opportunities to live life to the full. Ensuring that families and communities have options – in training, in saving, in economic empowerment, in child protection and much more - so that their children can continue in school - is one of our main aims in Child Sponsorship.

But it’s not just World Vision’s direct work with the child and the communities which makes a difference. Those who sponsor - and write to their child - are transforming lives directly, as Thu’s story shows...

My sponsor is my fairy godmother!

Growing up without her parents in northern Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Thu was relentlessly bullied. She became shy and withdrawn. But her sponsor’s letter of encouragement transformed her life. And now she’s planning on transforming her community too. This is Thu’s story…

Growing up, I did not know what a mother’s love was. My parents separated when I was only one year old. My mother left me and never contacted me again. Sometime later, when I was three, my father also moved on in his life.

I was fully aware that I did not have a mother growing up. So I withdrew myself from everything and everyone. People made fun of me at school and even at home. They teased me that I was an ugly girl without a mother. I heard it so often that I truly believed it was my identity.

Vietnamese student Thu
Thu's life - and attitude to education - was transformed

One day, my life changed

But when I was in grade 4, I became a sponsored child. Sending a letter to my sponsor was my first time writing to someone. I was so excited and delighted to know I had a friend. She was the first person I ever shared my dream with.

My sponsor wrote me a reply not long after that. In the letter, she wrote that she understood my dream and would be rooting for me to achieve it.

It was the first time I felt I had been listened to and understood. I folded the letter carefully and put it in my safe spot. After that, I re-read it almost every night before going to bed.

Unlike other girls my age, whose dream mainly is to marry a lovely husband who doesn’t drink, mine is to become a doctor. I want to work at health centres or, even better, hospitals to treat children, especially those who come from poor households like me.

I had a new friend and supporter, but the sponsorship programme also opened up other doors for me to step out of my shell.

Firstly, I was encouraged to join various activities where I was introduced to new friends and learned valuable skills.

Secondly, having good friends who understood me and loved me made me no longer afraid of going to school. When the pressure was removed, I realised that I like studying a lot. I asked more questions in class and became more active and devoted in my study. Classmates did not see me as a shy and ugly girl anymore, but as a passionate and competent friend who could play and study with them.

READ MORE: Writing to your sponsored child

Vietnamese student Thu with World Vision staff member
Thu with World Vision staff member

World Vision lightened our burden

Thirdly, my family and I received outstanding care and attention from uncles and aunties at World Vision Vietnam, which lightened our burden and allowed me to continue going to school. World Vision aunties even came to my house and talked about school bullying and how I could cope with that.

With that support, my grandmother became more understanding and affectionate towards me. She asked about my day when I came home from school and encouraged me to study to have a future; sometimes, she even walked me to school.

My home is now a place of comfort in which I know I am loved fully.

"I now have a future and a life purpose" - Thu

Now I can have an impact on others

As a student, I currently live far from home and so I’m teaching myself to be independent in so many ways. Of course, some days I miss home more than others, but instead of feeling depressed, I have learned to channel my energy and focus on building up my capacity and empowering others.

What greatly motivates me going forward is that the efforts that I am making now will have a positive impact on others, whether big or small. I believe that when more people are equipped with knowledge and skills, the community will soon become a more progressive place.

A dream

My journey to arrive where I am today has been a dream in which my sponsor is my fairy godmother. Being selected for the sponsorship programme has opened doors for me and given me wings to grow into a better human.

I now have a future and a life purpose of contributing to my community to create an excellent life for all members.

When you sponsor a child like Thu, you’re helping transform a child’s life – and even whole communities.

Learn more