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Making an impact at any age: How youths can empower other youths

Through humanitarian organisation World Vision, young people can give a leg up to vulnerable children looking to achieve their dreams. 

Child sponsor Soon Chuan Min interacts with World Vision beneficiaries in Ende, Indonesia. Photos: World Vision

Child sponsor Soon Chuan Min interacts with World Vision beneficiaries in Ende, Indonesia. Photos: World Vision

Through humanitarian organisation World Vision, young people can give a leg up to vulnerable children looking to achieve their dreams. 

Children are often told that they can grow up to be anything they want. But for youngsters living in underprivileged communities, the opportunities to do so are far more limited.  

In 2018, Chuan Min, 16, set off for a village in Ende, Indonesia, with the mission of meeting the three children her father has been sponsoring since she was a little girl. After years of sending letters and gifts, Chuan Min was finally able to meet the beneficiaries – Zania, Clarita and Aurelia – face to face, alongside their peers.

“One of their friends told me that she wants to become an artist,” recounted Chuan Min. “But her village does not have an art school and she has limited art supplies. It made me realise that we are really blessed here in Singapore. By extending a helping hand, we are sharing opportunities with these kids, too.”   

Chuan Min also gained a better appreciation for the ready access to clean water in Singapore, after observing children trek long distances to collect buckets of water for use in the village. 

Chuan Min poses with a photo of her sponsored child Almaz.

Inspired by her visit to Ende, Chuan Min decided to use the hongbao (red packet) money gifted by her grandparents to sponsor a child. “I visited the World Vision website and felt a connection with a girl called Almaz who had been waiting for a sponsor for more than a year.” 

Aged 11, Almaz is from Ethiopia. Chuan Min sent her an e-mail, in which she talked about her hobbies and asked about Almaz’s own. This exchange marked the beginning of Chuan Min’s personal sponsorship journey, and her friendship with Almaz. Beyond making a monthly contribution, Chuan Min volunteers as a tutor for disadvantaged children in Singapore.


A World Vision service learning trip to Son Tra, Vietnam.

Like Chuan Min, Mr Shawn Lim, 23, also had a life-changing experience with World Vision beneficiaries. During a visit to Son Tra, Vietnam, he was deeply impressed by the resilience of the underprivileged youths he had met at a camp. In one activity, young participants reflected on their dreams and put down on paper their plans for the future. Mentors then discussed with them what their paths to success would entail. Subsequently, the youths were asked to remain in a push-up position directly above their written dreams for some time, in order to internalise the sheer grit needed to achieve them.

“I saw their sweat and tears. It struck me how hard these youths were willing to fight for their goals, despite the odds,” said Mr Lim. 

Spurred by this experience, Mr Lim used part of his allowance to sponsor Yunik from Nepal, aged 10, who had been waiting for a sponsor for more than 12 months. When Mr Lim enlisted in the army and started drawing a modest salary, he felt called to sponsor a second beneficiary through World Vision’s Chosen programme, which allows children to select their sponsor. He ended up being chosen by Joy, a boy who lives in Bangladesh.

“Joy chose me because he liked the colour of my shirt,” quipped Mr Lim. “I find the Chosen initiative particularly purposeful because it enables beneficiaries to take ownership of their sponsorship journey.”


Andrea Chee (middle) and her friends at a workshop organised by World Vision.

For Andrea Chee, 16, World Vision showed her the profound impact poverty has on people’s lives. After attending a World Vision event, she also discovered that one of the staff members was herself a former sponsored youth – living proof that with the right support, a disadvantaged child can achieve her goals and give back to the community. 

For such positive change to take place, both the child and their community must be empowered in multiple areas, which World Vision has identified as: Livelihood and microfinance; child protection; education; water and sanitation; and health and nutrition. To help the community break out of poverty, World Vision assesses a community’s needs and implements intervention programmes across these sectors. 

“I’ve learnt that we have to take a multi-faceted approach to supporting the child and their community,” shared Andrea. 

With her hongbao money, Andrea started sponsoring Anushika from Lindula, Sri Lanka, and has also sent school supplies to her beneficiary.  


World Vision Singapore's ambassador Felicia Chin (third from right) believes that child sponsorship can help the vulnerable break out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

Since 1950, World Vision has been dedicated to improving the lives of children, families and communities through advocacy and awareness, as well as providing access to basic needs like education, clean water, food security, nutrition, child protection and livelihood opportunities. 

The goal is to help communities become self-sustaining, safe places where children can flourish. Child sponsorships of S$45 per month to the same community are pooled together to support projects and activities designed to meet local needs and transform the child’s environment. Because of World Vision’s community-focused solutions, for every child sponsored, four more children benefit, too. 

World Vision Singapore’s ambassador Felicia Chin highlighted that besides helping to meet the children’s basic needs, sponsorship is also a precious gift of hope for the vulnerable. “And when we shift the focus from us to others, we will lead more enriching lives,” she said.

With every community it assists, World Vision commits itself to a time frame of over a decade. During the first three years, challenges are identified and an action plan is developed to ascertain the resources needed. Over the next six to 10 years, projects are carried out and more members of the community are trained to lead and take ownership of them. Thereafter, families should see improved living standards and be able to continue the projects on their own – a sign that true sustainability and empowerment have been achieved.

Beyond supporting children in need, World Vision also offers youth in Singapore the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of their overseas peers, and to be the change they want to see in the world. The impact of empathy and sharing one’s blessings can be deeply transformative and inspiring for both givers and beneficiaries. 

Said Andrea: “When we sponsor a child, we’re not only pursuing our own dreams, but also helping someone else pursue theirs.” 

With only S$1.50 a day, you can step up to break the cycle of poverty and transform a child’s life. Learn more about child sponsorship from World Vision.

Related topics

World Vision Child Sponsorship

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