by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
It’s now up to you to decide who will travel off the beaten path to meet their sponsored child and tour a ChildFund program in Africa, Asia or the Americas.
Today, phase two of ChildFund’s Experience of a Lifetime promotion gets under way on Facebook. Five finalists — randomly selected from the group of qualified entrants who collected at least 10 friend nominations during phase one — are vying for the chance to realize their dream of visiting their sponsored child.
The finalist who receives the most votes by July 31, 2011, 11:59 p.m., ET, will be named the winner, pending a final background check per ChildFund’s child-protection policy.
You may vote one time per day by visiting our Facebook app.
But, first, take a moment to read their wonderful stories (appearing in alphabetical order).
Janet Brown, Monrovia, Md.
Sponsored child: Jose, Mexico
Jose has been my sponsored child for many years, and as he’s grown, has become more and more like a second son to me — and I have become his “Madrina” (Spanish for godmother).
Jose tells me everything going on in his life including “little things” you would share with your mom or a beloved aunt, including when he didn’t get such a good grade in school!
I’m so proud of Jose and I also have deep respect for his mother who, in spite of so many obstacles, has done a fine job raising such a wonderful young man who dreams of working with computers some day.
I have been fighting ovarian cancer for over four years and Jose has been so concerned for me, expresses so much love. I want to go down to Mexico to hug him, to tell him personally how so very proud I am of him. And I know he would want to do the same for his Madrina.
Matt Foley, Merrimac, Mass.
Sponsored child: Adalberto, Mexico
Over the past year, my son Connor and I have supported a 13-year-old Mexican child named Adalberto through ChildFund. Connor, also 13, and I occasionally exchange letters and photos with Adalberto.
It has been a great learning experience for both of us. Connor would like to meet Adalberto; therefore, I want to win this promotion so Connor and I can meet Adalberto and his family.
Seeing underprivileged youth thrive is so rewarding! I see this firsthand, both as a ChildFund sponsor and foster parent. Please vote for Connor and me!
Cheryl Honey, Branson West, Mo.
Sponsored child: Lam, Vietnam
When my grandson, Chase, was 6, I explained to him that children in some parts of the world didn’t have all of their needs fulfilled. We went online and Chase picked out a little boy that we could sponsor through ChildFund. He chose Lam from Vietnam because Lam was cute and looked sad.
Chase and Lam are both the only child in their families and decided to call each other “brother.” Lam sends us pictures he draws (He is an exceptional artist!) and his parents write to us often telling us how Lam yearns to meet his “brother” and that if Chase could come visit he would take him horseback riding.
Chase and I write and send pictures to Lam and his family often and feel like they are family we have never gotten to meet. It is amazing how we have grown to love a family through letters. We aren’t a wealthy family and truly felt the chance of meeting Lam and his family was nothing more than a dream. Now, it seems, there is a possibility that our dream can become a reality, but only with your vote. Thank you, Cheryl.
P.S. I want to see how Lam lives, play with him and have fun, and tell each other about our lives. I want to be able to come home and tell people here about Lam so they will also sponsor a child. Please help us. Thanks, Chase.
David Levis, Citrus Heights, Calif.
Sponsored children: Shafik, Sarah, Dixon, Margaret, Robinah, Uganda
Before I begin, I believe that all of the finalists are deserving of this opportunity. Allow me to tell you about myself and also what I plan to do if chosen. I am a father and a teacher; I have been married for 13 years. I have three wonderful children, seven, four and two. I teach at a low-income school in Sacramento, Calif. We have been with ChildFund for about 12 years and sponsor 13 children.
Our love for ChildFund began with a young boy in Guatemala named Deny, after seeing a commercial about ChildFund. Then we began looking into sponsoring other children by browsing ChildFund’s website. What we found was child after child in terrible need of OUR help. Our ChildFund family grew from one to two, then five, then nine, then thirteen. We only wish we could support more.
ChildFund has become part of our family, even to the extent that our children have become involved in writing letters and saving change to go toward buying cows for some of our families. This has changed their perspectives on the world.
As a teacher, my hope is to do the same with my students. Seeing the five children we sponsor in Uganda would help me better understand the complexities faced by their families. I would use this firsthand information to help teach my students about the importance of global citizenship, and how they too can look for ways to help people around the world. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!
Clarissa Maxwell, Alexandria, Va.
Sponsored child: Alpha, Republic of Guinea
Everyone dreams of winning. Who doesn’t want to? For me, this promotion is about more than just winning, it is about seeing my sponsored child in person in the Republic of Guinea — shaking hands with him, giving him a hug and seeing him smile from ear to ear, handing him some gifts that are coming all the way from the USA.
I look forward to reading books, singing songs, sharing conversation and laughter. I can see him as being very shy, yet deep inside, he is eager and happy. I want to see him change even in a very small way. I want to meet his family and learn their culture and see how they live, to better understand them.
I also have a personal charity project that aims to better the lives of the children in a small island in the Philippines by distributing slippers, educational and personal items.
Being underprivileged is no joke at all. I experienced it myself; that is why I understand their needs. Inspired by the different books I’ve read, I have the desire to share what I have with children in need. I believe that winning is happiness. This is an experience of a lifetime.
Visit ChildFund’s Experience of a Lifetime page on Facebook to cast your vote.