Alice and John Omondi know first-hand how far sponsoring a child in a developing country can go.
Alice is a former World Vision sponsored child from Nyakach, Kenya, who is now living with her husband John and their three children in Fort Richmond.
John’s sister was also sponsored by World Vision as a child.
The Omondis arrived in Canada in 2004, and lived in Ottawa until they moved to Winnipeg in 2006.
Now that they are settled in their new home, the couple wants to give back to their old home.
They are in the process of building a home in John’s village in Kenya to offer shelter and care for orphans on property the couple owns there. They began work on the project in 2010 and have been laying the ground work since that time.
"We want to give back to the community because I know what it means to be in that position. Somebody else is also in that position and someone needs to stand for that kind of child. World Vision helped me, my children are in a better position, and I want to give back," Alice said.
The Omondis are hoping their story will inspire more Winnipeggers to give, and to consider sponsoring a child through World Vision, particularly now as the organization is in the midst of its Just 1 Child campaign. The campaign aims to find sponsors for 1,000 children in developing countries by Dec. 31.
Alice said as a child, World Vision’s sponsorship changed not only her life, but the life of her family.
"Whatever we could get through (the sponsorship) we were sharing. Food, healthcare services, clothing and even education," Alice said.
As part of her sponsorship, Alice received a sheep, which she said helped provide her family with a source of income.
John said his family was also helped by the sponsorship of his sister.
"(The sponsor) sent clothing, gifts for our (whole) family," John said.
John’s sister received a cow as part of her sponsorship, which he said was named Grace.
"The cow provided milk which we could sell, or drink for nutrition, and we could also sell the offspring of the cow to pay for school fees for (my sister), myself and my younger brother," John said.
Chris Schroeder, advisor for World Vision Canada’s Manitoba, Nunavut and Northwest Ontario region, said while sponsoring a child allows sponsors to develop relationships with the child they are supporting, it’s also part of the development of the entire community.
"There’s an assurance that the child is going to have the necessities of life, but it’s not just the child who benefits, it’s the families, as (John and Alice) have said," Schroeder said.
Schroeder, who lives in Fort Richmond, said child sponsorship is part of World Vision’s larger community development program, which includes a 12 to 15 year plan which is developed with the community, in order to help eventually create a self-sustaining community.
Schroeder said having Alice and John share their World Vision story helps people to better understand what the organization is trying to do.
"The more people can see and hear true stories about what is happening through sponsorship, the more inspiration we see," he said.
Alice said knowing so many people here in Winnipeg are sponsoring children is amazing.
"(By donating it) you can change the life of a child, the life of a family and a community," she said.
For more information on World Vision, or to sponsor a child through the Just 1 Child campaign, go to worldvision.ca/mb.