Hunger exists in the U.S. and around the world, and our donors reach out to help those who suffer. Some have chosen to help individual children directly through Feed the Children’s Child Sponsorship Program. This program, which a sponsor donors with a child in one of the eight countries, has made a huge difference in the lives of these kids – kids like Rhea.
Born in the municipality of Mabinay in the Philippines, Rhea began life as a happy, healthy little girl. Unfortunately, those days were fleeting. Rhea contracted polio, a virus which causes flulike symptoms and can result in death, paralysis, and wasted muscles. Thankfully, Rhea survived and escaped complete paralysis, but the disease left her with weakened arms and legs. Rhea can no longer walk or move herself around her family home, where she spends her days under the care of an aunt.
Apart from her aunt, who also has mobility issues, Rhea’s family isn’t home much. Her mother works as a farmhand in the town’s sugarcane plantations. Her father and older brother, also manual laborers, often leave the town to find higher-paying jobs. Her younger siblings attend school.
Since contracting polio, Rhea can no longer attend school. The infrastructure to support a child with disabilities simply isn’t there. However, when Rhea entered the Feed the Children Child Sponsorship program, it opened new opportunities.
Before Rhea became a sponsored child, none of the children in her family were attending school regularly. The cost of school supplies – notebooks, paper, books, pencils – not to mention food for lunches – was simply too much for her family’s meager budget.
When Feed the Children arrived in Mabinay, we set up support for all the children in Rhea’s family. Her siblings received basic school supplies. Rhea’s sponsor also sent learning materials. Now, when her siblings come home from school, they spend time in the evenings sharing what they learned with Rhea. She’s learning how to read and write for herself. It’s difficult, but Rhea is grateful for the opportunity.
“I love the things my sponsor has sent me,” she says. The gifts from her sponsor and the support of Feed the Children have improved the lives of Rhea and her family.
Best of all, being a sponsored child shows Rhea she’s not alone. Some days, her world can feel small and closed-off as she waits inside her home, seeing no one outside of a few family members for days or even weeks at a time. It’s hard to imagine places and people she’s never seen or met, thousands of miles away – much less that one of them would care enough about her to reach out, not to mention to help her. But it makes a difference.
“Because of my sponsor,” Rhea says, “life is better.”