Ballina couple Todd and Melissa McGeary, who sponsored a child through World Vision. Photo Eve Jeffery
Ballina couple Todd and Melissa McGeary recently returned from a trip to Vietnam where they met their World Vision sponsor child, Thi Dinh, who they have been supporting since first visiting the country in 2009.
The McGearys are just two of about 310,000 supporters in Australia. World Vision says that over 300 families per year visit their sponsored child, though Todd and Melissa’s trip to Vitenam turned into something special when friends Bobbie and Marty Youngberry, who also sponsor a child, decided to go on the trip, and another 34 good friends tagged along for the ride.
Todd and Melissa said that when they and the Youngberrys made the decision to go over to Vietnam, word got out and soon a list grew of friends who wanted to travel with them. ‘They all knew we sponsored a child’, says Todd. ‘They wanted to tag along.’
The McGearys say it was a visit to the country that gave them the idea to help out. ‘Child sponsorship is something you think about’, says Melissa. ‘After we went to Vietnam in 2009, we enjoyed it so much and the people are so lovely, we thought about what we could do to give back and that was when we started our sponsorship.’
Todd and Melissa were really touched by the trip and had the opportunity to meet both Thi Dinh and her mother at Thi Dinh’s school.
Thi Dinh showed Todd and Melissa her English writing and shared a few lines from her text book.
The McGearys said that they wanted to take gifts to Thi Dinh and her family but weren’t sure what was appropriate.
‘We went with Bobbie and Marty to a supermarket’, says Todd. ‘We would not have thought to go to a supermarket to buy gifts, but they (WV) said that’s what they need.
‘So we bought them kettles and fans and rice cookers. They were absolutely dumfounded by what we took them. They were very overwhelmed by the gifts.
World Vision is generally in a community for about 15 years, working with the community to ensure it is self-sustainable once World Vision leaves the area.
Thi Dinh is Todd and Melissa’s first sponsor child and they have enjoyed the experience and have seen the results of what sponsorship can do and say they will definitely sponsor another child when this project is finished.
The question often arises about expenses associated with charity sponsorship. Melody Hyndman, a World Vision Australia spokesperson, says that the cash income for 2012 was $295.7 million through various programs including child sponsorship with $252.5 million ‘benefitting our programs around the world.
‘The basic breakdown is: 78.8 per cent goes to our work (field programs and advocacy work), these funds go to support and carry out program that benefit children and their communities’, says Ms Hyndman.
‘This includes our work here in Australia with Indigenous communities. A further 11.5 per cent goes to fundraising. Fundraising is important in generating donations of cash, food and goods.
‘Public fundraising includes the cost of gaining long-term supporters so that our work can continue, and 9.7 per cent goes to administration and accountability: this is essential for the day to day running of our work and includes operating our supporter service centre, our finance, administration, HR and management teams.’
‘Without World Vision there would be nothing there’, says Todd. ‘The school wouldn’t be there, the community hall wouldn’t be there. There was a lot of facilities there, that we here take for granted, World Vision has provided those things for the village. Their life is so much better’.