UK child sponsors, Mark and Christine from Newcastle
09 February 2021

UK child sponsors zoom from Newcastle to India

After 10 years, Mark and Christine met their sponsored child during lockdown.

Imagine knowing someone for 10 years, without meeting them?

Mark and Christine (pictured above) live in Newcastle, UK. They have been sponsoring 15-year-old Sama in India, through World Vision for almost 10 years.

Over those 10 years, the couple have seen Sama grow into a bright girl. She likes going to school, particularly enjoying maths. Her parents both work in a tyre shop, and she has two brothers, who love her very much. She believes she’s very lucky to have a family who loves her and cares for her.

She’s also very lucky to have sponsors like Christine and Mark. Through Child Sponsorship, Sama’s opportunities for the future have expanded. She has the potential to be more than she ever dreamed.

With help from World Vision, they had all planned to finally meet together in Sama’s community in October of last year. But how can you meet someone who lives more than 4,600 miles away in the midst of a global pandemic?

Zooming together

With heavy hearts, the couple inevitably had to cancel their trip to India. However, World Vision staff arranged for a different – and very special – kind of visit, via Zoom instead.

Mark and Christine feel that they have a special bond with Sama. So being offered this alternative opportunity to see and speak with her at last was very exciting.

Sama, in India, holds her badminton racket
Sama, now 15, has grown up a lot since her sponsorship began

A special bond

“We remember Sama when she was very small. When she was just 5. She’s very grown up now.”

Mark remembers how their child sponsorship started a decade ago and what it means to them to be Sama’s sponsors:

“It’s a real honour for us to be able to do this. It’s very humbling. We think it’s such a great thing to do.”

Over in India, Sama was very excited too to learn that she was going to meet her sponsors for the first time. She feels very close to Mark and Christine. Over the years, they’ve exchanged letters and photos, and meeting them would be like a dream come true.

How’s the weather in Vaishali?

On the day of the call, Sama had a clear message for her sponsors:

“I am so happy to have you as my sponsors. From myself, from my parents and my family, I really want to thank both of you.”

During the call, the Jacksons and Sama chatted about health, family, food and (of course) the weather.

Sama has never seen snow. It never snows in Vaishali where winter starts around November and the colder weather lasts until February – basically the same as in the UK – but it stays much warmer than Newcastle! So, Christine and Mark have promised to send her a picture of snow – yet another ‘first’ for Sama.

Sama on the video call, alongside World Vision staff
Sama, and World Vision staff, together on the video call with Mark and Christine

Have you ever tried Chapatti?

During the call, conversation turned to food and they discovered that they all love the delicious Indian flatbread, chapatti. Sama was surprised and really impressed that her sponsors have had chapatti. She told Christine that when they’re finally able to meet in person, she’ll prepare some fresh chapatti for them: “You come & I will prepare chapatti for you.”

She even promised to teach them how to cook it themselves.

Sama now hopes that her sponsors will soon be able to travel to India and meet her in person. In the meantime, Sama will wait for them and practice her cooking skills, hoping that soon they will be able to celebrate and eat together.

Even though they are a world apart and had never seen each other, this ‘virtual visit’ proved to be meaningful and encouraging to Sama, Mark and Christine.

A dream come true

After the call, World Vision’s Programme Manager for the area, Asosii Loli told us:

“It was truly a special moment for Sama. She was so thrilled and said that she never dreamt that she would one day have a conversation with her sponsor who is so far away in the UK. We are truly grateful for their continuous support and benevolent contribution which is making a difference in the life of Sama, her family and other children in the community.”

Sponsoring Sama – transforming so many lives

We started partnering with Sama’s community in 2005. Today, boys and girls are brought up in loving homes, safe from abuse, and they're treated equally. Mark and Christine’s support is transforming Sama’s life – and the lives of her most vulnerable friends and neighbours, including those who aren't sponsored. In this area, some of those most in need are children from families who rely on farming. Now, farmers have learned new techniques that improve their harvests and earn extra income by raising goats and hens.

Because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more children benefit, too.

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