by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications
I know — you’re wondering what this has to do with ChildFund. But hold on. It’s actually what Mick asks his readers to do several times during the book, including the chapter “A Sponsor for Alimany,” that brings the message home.
Yep, Mick is a ChildFund sponsor and a major donor. And it’s an important part of his life. As he tells me during a phone conversation, “Writing about the match gives me an excuse to write other chapters that often don’t have anything to do with wrestling.”
Even more notable is that Mick agreed to divide the proceeds from the advance of the book equally between ChildFund and RAINN (another group he supports).
“I know how valuable the sponsorships are in ChildFund’s projects around the world. I just feel that if I talk about them in public, others will realize how easy it is to make a difference,” he says. “I can reach people who can completely understand that others around the world have it much worse than they do.”
His engaging style in Countdown to Lockdown draws you in and makes you want to read more. But what if you aren’t a wrestling fan? Mick’s got you covered. He developed a handy “wrestle-meter” to gauge the wrestling content of chapters that are not “Lockdown”-specific. In the chapter about his sponsored child, Mick’s wrestle-meter is set low and reads, “Skip it if you like, but we’ll no longer be friends.”
It’s in that chapter that Mick shares how he came to sponsor Alimany, a young boy in Sierra Leone. His visit to Alimany’s village marked the first sponsor visit in 16 years, since before the civil war started in 1992. Mick also has funded five schools in Sierra Leone to help with the rebuilding.
“It seemed very natural to write a chapter about my trip to Sierra Leone,” he says.
It was also in his travels to this African nation that he attended a “sealing the past, facing the future” meeting of women who were the victims of rape in Sierra Leone’s civil war. “It really opened my eyes to the oppression that women face in so many parts of the world. And it opened my eyes to how prevalent rape and sexual assault are right here in the U.S.,” he writes.
That led to his connection with RAINN (Rape Abuse and Incest National Network), which Tori Amos helped found.
Through his work with ChildFund, Mick says, he realized “it really might be better to give than to receive.”
Reflecting on the lives of his sponsored children, he writes, “I’ve come to think of those three or four Bombali villages all lying along that stretch of horrible road as my little corner of the world to nurture and care for. A small dot on life’s map where I can make a visible difference. Where a little compassion and a little more money can go such a long way.”
In his book Mick asks readers to contact ChildFund and specifically ask to sponsor a child from the Bombali area in Sierra Leone. “I know I wrote of this little dot on the map as my corner of the world to nurture and care for — but maybe some of you could nurture it with me.”
Now that’s a challenge worth tackling.
by Frances Correa, Communications and Public Affairs Intern
The Communications team is in denial as our three terrific interns from Virginia Commonwealth University prepare to depart. They are blogging this week about their ChildFund experience.
When I started my internship at ChildFund International I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. As a journalism major, I wanted to gain experience in video storytelling in a professional environment. I also had a passion for the ChildFund mission.
In my own personal experiences I have seen what can happen when children, while they have a lot of love in their lives, lack the means necessary to reach their potential because of their environment. I was excited to be a part of this mission of helping excluded and vulnerable children around the world, while also gaining experience.
This is now the last day of my internship. In my time here, I have created videos that tell the stories of children around the world including malaria victims in Africa, young people in Haiti struggling to survive after this year’s earthquake and school programs in the Philippines.
More recently, I created a video about the contributions of one of ChildFund’s more generous donors, Mick Foley. Foley has been a donor and child sponsor since 1992. Some of his most notable contributions include sponsoring seven children as well as funding the construction of an early childhood development center in the Philippines, seven schools in Sierra Leone and a community center in Santa Fe De Laguna, Mexico.
Needless to say, he’s pretty incredible. Working with the video, I felt like I got to know him, and it only fed my passion for ChildFund’s mission.
I have gained more from my internship at ChildFund International than I ever imagined. I have truly honed my skills as a video storyteller while working with an equally passionate group of people who have been nothing but supportive, encouraging and excited.
I love the job so much I’m even going to stick around a little longer. This summer, I will be working as an employee at ChildFund on a temporary basis while I search for full-time employment. (For those of you who are wondering, I am looking for a job in online multimedia journalism in the D.C. metropolitan area.)
Although I cannot stay in a permanent position at ChildFund, I still plan to support the mission. Once I do find stable employment, I will be calling ChildFund to become a child sponsor. After seeing the faces and hearing the stories of these children every week, I can’t help but get involved.
I thank everyone whom I have worked with at ChildFund. I admire the work that you do and I look forward to getting more involved in the future.
by Mick Foley, Major Donor and ChildFund Sponsor
As many ChildFund sponsors have probably found, inspiration so often comes from unlikely sources. Small children from impoverished lands, who despite limitations in so many of the basic essentials, seem to have the power to reach across oceans and continents to touch our lives, to help make us better people.
As longtime ChildFund sponsors, my wife and I were thrilled to have the opportunity to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ceremony was held last week at the United Nations in New York.
Several luminaries spoke at this momentous occasion including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman; former child-soldier-turned-best-selling memoirist and human rights activist Ishmael Beah; and longtime child activist Tim Shriver. I expected some of their words to touch me — and they did.
But for me, the day’s greatest moment of inspiration came from one of the youngest speakers.
Millicent Atieno Orondo, 17, but appearing several years younger, was a tiny physical presence, especially inside the massive auditorium that played host to the event.
Yet, from the moment she spoke, she commanded attention, using her powerful voice to not only inform the audience of the plight of the world’s poor, but also to alert us to the reality that she and her generation fully expect the world to accept and respect the rights that the Convention was designed to guarantee children when it was signed 20 years ago.
I immediately thought of another deceptively powerful speaker who had made a great impression on me a few years earlier. Eunice Kennedy Shriver appeared frail and weak when she took the stage at a gala in her honor at the World Special Olympics Games in Shanghai, China.
I really didn’t know what to expect from the legendary woman, who as the founder of the Special Olympics had done so much during her lifetime to advance the care and rights of the mentally challenged. In a way, it didn’t seem fair to put such an elderly, fragile woman in front of a microphone before such a large crowd.
But from the moment Mrs. Shriver began to speak, my fear for her fragility and all of my preconceptions disappeared. She spoke for several minutes, without notes, and left us with words I think of often, and will likely never forget. “When you stand up for something you love, bring your passion, bring your love, but bring something else with you as well … bring your anger.”
Those were the words that came to mind when hearing young Millicent speak at the United Nations. She brought her passion and love onto that U.N. stage, but she also brought a little bit of that anger Eunice Kennedy Shriver spoke of. Not an empty, destructive anger that can be easily turned to hate — but an anger that lets us know that this next generation of leaders will expect the world to keep the promises made to its most vulnerable children.
The commemoration ceremony ended with an engaging panel discussion on some of the challenges facing those vulnerable children. Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, was part of the discussion. After listening to him for a couple of minutes, my wife turned to me and said, “I really like his style.” I smiled and told her that I was pretty sure he got it from his mother.
Tim mentioned that he thought the most dramatic changes in the developing world were going to come from a future generation of leaders demanding change from within.
I think I got a little glimpse of the future on that stage at the United Nations…and I am encouraged by the direction the winds of change might take.
Editor’s note: We will bringing you a post from Guatemala later this week. Today, we explore Sierra Leone with Mick Foley.
By Ellie Whinnery
Public Relations Manager
Mick Foley, a well-known figure in the world of professional wrestling, would just as soon be known as a “Champion for Children.” Since 1992, Foley has been supporting deprived children through ChildFund International, both as a sponsor of eight children and as a major donor.
Over the last few years, he has contributed more than $290,000 for early-childhood-development centers, community centers, health clinics and for the building of seven schools in war-torn Sierra Leone.
Foley recently visited Sierra Leone to tour one of the schools and meet one of the children he sponsors. On arrival at the new school, he heard children chanting his name—not for his wrestling fame but because of his generous heart.
The new Child Friendly School built through Foley’s generosity now bears his name.
Foley shared with the community members and children gathered to greet him, “For me it’s about establishing relationships with children in need, and I understand that almost 59% of school-age children do not attend school in Sierra Leone.”
Foley hopes that building seven schools in closer proximity to the communities in need will help drop this statistic significantly.
While in Sierra Leone, Foley also met the child he sponsors. Describing the sponsorship experience, he says, “It’s about letting children with very little in their lives, through no fault of their own, know that someone out there cares.”
Foley explains that sponsorship provides the opportunity to have a personal relationship with a child through the sharing of letters and photographs and, in his case, the chance to meet in person.
Foley, who has four children of his own, has written three successful children’s books, earning a spot on the New York Times best-seller list. He has also donated book sales proceeds to ChildFund.
To honor this generosity, ChildFund International has named Foley and his wife as Stewardship Patrons in the Champions for Children Society.
For more information about ChildFund’s work in Sierra Leone, click here.
More on Sierra Leone
Population: 6.1 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 147,000 children and families
Did you know?: In Sierra Leone, 70.2% of the population lives below the poverty line, and 59% percent of school-age children do not attend school.
Today we celebrated our new name and our commitment to the children we serve. See the video above and the photos below of highlights from the event at our International Office in Richmond, Va.
“During my visit to Sierra Leone, one chief said to me that more than anything, children need sponsors. It makes them feel special and wanted and brings out the best in these kids.”
– Mick Foley, well-known wrestler and ChildFund donor since 1992
“Our belief is that the well-being of all children leads to the well-being of the world … if we can help children thrive throughout all stages of life they will become leaders of enduring change … our proud past is a prologue. The work we have done is just the beginning of the work we have yet to do.”
– Anne Lynam Goddard, President and CEO of ChildFund International
“Children are the future; the future of our country; the future of every country; the future of our planet.”
- Jim Lindsey, Richmond-area donor and retired assistant professor from Virginia Commonwealth University
Joining in the celebrating and providing entertainment were Richmond-based Ezibu Muntu African Dance and Cultural Foundation (above photos) and SPARC (School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) (photo below).
For more information about ChildFund International, visit our Web site at ChildFund.org.