Celebrating Children like Pathan

When I first heard about Pathan, a Child Partner in Bangladesh, I was inspired. I knew about Child and Youth Clubs, and how our Christian Partners’ commitment to supporting children also meant helping their communities. I’ve written stories and letters for Baptist World Aid on Child Sponsorship and community programs.

But Pathan’s story brought our child sponsorship approach into vivid focus.

At fifteen-years-old, Pathan and his peers, have been ‘raising their village’ in powerful and practical ways. Because a Child Sponsor in Australia believed in his potential, Pathan has been taking part in our Partner’s Child Club – learning about his rights and joining in various creative projects as well as health initiatives. He’s also been able to get an education that will help him reach his goal of becoming a lawyer.

His story, and the stories of thousands of children like him are the reason we, the Staff and Board at Baptist World Aid Australia, are putting our pay cheques where our passions are this World Children’s Day. When you become a Child Sponsor on or before 20 November the Staff and Board at Baptist World Aid will MATCH your monthly gifts for the first 6 months (valid for the first 25 new Sponsorships)*. This means that communities where we have Child and Youth Clubs will benefit from our matched funds.

One of the privileges of being on staff at Baptist World Aid is having ready access to the stories of children and young people like Pathan. And it’s one of the first things that stands out about the unique approach our Partners take: they believe in children, and in their capacity to lead. So they give them opportunities to help shape their families and communities as well.

Obviously, our faithful supporters share this belief. For over 50 years, thousands of Australians have partnered with children through Child Sponsorship, receiving the great joy of witnessing children bring generational change to their communities.

It takes a Child to raise a village

In Pathan’s case, our Partners have helped direct his leadership skills towards life-changing action on behalf of others. He and his friends, with the help of Partner staff, repaired a broken, unsafe road in their village. They’ve also worked together to protect young girls from the sexual harassment that has been known to happen in the community and surrounding area – mapping out safe routes for girls to walk and making sure no one walks alone. There also used to be violence in the local school, with teachers employing corporal punishment beating children with canes. With the help of our Partners, the children spoke up about this and the use of the cane is now prohibited.

It makes sense then that when asked, Pathan describes the Child Club as ‘an organisation which makes the children get their rights.’

Having such a firm understanding of child rights also helped Pathan stop his friend’s family from giving her away in child marriage. She came to him for help and was going to call the helpline they’d heard about in Child Club. Pathan suggested talking to her parents first and went with her to do so. The marriage was stopped, and the family was also spared the dishonour of being reported.

Pathan suggested talking to her parents first and went with her to do so. The marriage was stopped, and the family was also spared the dishonour of being reported.

Pathan’s story convinces me all the more that it takes a child to raise a village. We see it time and again – when children are given access to tools and support, they lead their communities out of poverty.

Now is the time to become a Child Sponsor

So, as we join our supporters in celebrating World Children’s Day this year, we’re also hosting a Giving Day in the hope of signing up as many new Child Sponsors as possible.

World Children’s Day is a day set aside to advocate, promote, and celebrate children’s rights around the world. Celebrating and advocating for children is part of the DNA of Baptist World Aid and has been from the beginning. And yet, the current reality is that COVID-19 has resulted in multiplying crises for children growing up in poverty. The impact has been catastrophic and could affect children’s lives for years to come. There’s never been a more urgent time to support children like Pathan.

Children in these communities face multi-dimensional challenges. Poverty, child marriage, and violence could have easily stood between Pathan and his dreams, as they do for so many children globally. But our Child Sponsors are helping to support children as they learn, grow, and lead their communities out of poverty, and they’ve been doing so for decades.

Over the years, we’ve witnessed the difference Child Sponsorship makes in communities. Children learn about their rights, and health and hygiene, while also participating in arts and sports programs. At the same time, their families gain access to projects such as livelihood training, agricultural practices, fish farming and financial literacy programs. Our Partners also provide emergency support in times of unexpected crises as well.

That’s why our Staff and Board is matching monthly gifts from new Sponsorships signed up on or before 20 November, for the first 6 months*. We’ll be investing directly into Partners and projects supporting children and their families in Uganda, Bangladesh, Malawi, Cambodia and Nepal increasing the impact of our generous supporters.

I’m in. And I hope you will be too!

Join us by sponsoring a child on or before 20 November by calling 1300 789 991 or sign up online.

*Terms & Conditions: Matched offer available until the matched fund runs out or until midnight Saturday 20 November. The value of the first 25 new standard sponsorships will be matched for the first 6 months only. Matched funds will be invested into projects that support children and their families in Uganda, Bangladesh, Malawi, Cambodia, and Nepal.