Sierra Leone

Countdown to Sponsorship

by Cynthia Price, ChildFund Director of Communications

In Mick Foley’s latest book — his ninth! — he describes in great depth the six-week period leading up to one of the biggest wrestling matches in his career.

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.”

Mick with schoolchildren in Sierra Leone.

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.

Gifts for Everyone Still on Your List

by Virginia Sowers
ChildFund Community Manager

The day after Thanksgiving, my local newspaper inserts a busy elf on the lower corner of the front page with a kind reminder of 24 shopping days until Dec. 25.

Today, we’re at 17.

But I’m not panicking. I’m about to pull a rabbit (actually, a goat) out of my hat.

ChildFund International’s Gifts of Love & Hope still has an excellent selection of gifts with lasting impact for children. What better way to honor my friends and family than by giving a gift on their behalf to help someone truly in need?

Families in Sierra Leone lost all of their livestock during 11 years of brutal civil war. Now that the country is at peace and rebuilding, ChildFund is setting up school livestock programs.

Today, six schools maintain goats and sheep. The animals, contributed by ChildFund supporters through the Gifts of Love & Hope catalog, are housed in pens built by community members. The entire community is involved in the success of this project, and they are enjoying the benefits of better nutrition.

Now, that’s a truly wonderful gift.

So as the shopping days rapidly evaporate in this busy season, I’m resolving not to stress. Instead, I’m flipping through the Gifts of Love & Hope catalog and imagining the happy excitement of children around the world when they receive a gift from my family.

And I’ll also be able to share with my friends and family the true meaning of the honorary gift I’ve chosen for them this season.

If this sounds like a good idea for you, too, then take a look at ChildFund’s catalog. From farm animals to healthy environments, you’re sure to find a gift to multiply your love.

A Heart and a Hand for the Children of Sierra Leone

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.31 in 31

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.

Sierra Leone 155

Mick Foley at the Sierra Leone school that 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.”

Mick and sponsored child SL

Mick has a first-time meeting with the child he sponsors in Sierra Leone.

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.

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