Cold Feet actress Fay Ripley explains why she’s sponsored a child with ActionAid for 12 years, and what it means to her and her family.
I first started sponsoring a child with ActionAid more than 12 years ago when, in the run-up to her seventh birthday, my wonderful daughter Parker decided she could do without presents that year.
Instead of the traditional, often-expensive parties her classmates were having, she wanted to do something to help others less fortunate than her. I couldn’t have been prouder.
I’d become aware of the bubble of privilege my children were raised in and, although we were (and are) so grateful for everything we have, our little family wanted to give back.
We decided to hold a fundraising party and instead of the usual pile of plastic gifts, Parker ended her birthday with a pot of over £300 – enough to sponsor a child for over a year. It was the start of a journey that we still treasure today, more than 12 years later.
Why my family loved sponsoring a child
Soon after signing up for child sponsorship, we received our first letter from Jamila, a little girl in Tanzania, and my son also signed up to sponsor a child – a boy from the same area.
We received photos, beautiful handwritten messages and drawings from the children in Tanzania, which helped my kids learn about life in another country and the different challenges children face.
Being able to write back was a joy for my kids. They loved comparing their favourite foods, subjects at school and their favourite games to play.
And soon, the fridge and kitchen cabinets adorned with their letters, the children we sponsored felt like members of the family.
I’ll never forget my visit to see child sponsorship in action
When I had the opportunity to visit Tanzania, to see child sponsorship in action, I jumped at the chance. I hoped it would be the trip of a lifetime, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It was remarkable to meet so many kind and generous people, who lived many miles away from the home I knew, but nonetheless welcomed me as an old friend.
At the same time, it was overwhelming to see the real challenges communities faced: the hidden crises of poverty, abuse and violence that deny children their right to a childhood.
Simply because of where they were born, too many children in Tanzania, and around the world, face a difficult and dangerous life.
Too many children are denied their right to a safe home, an education, or even a meal in their tummies each night.
In the region I visited, many girls faced a long walk of many miles to get to school, putting them at risk of sexual violence each day.
Some girls would never get the chance to go school, and could even be forced into child marriage. As a mother, this wasn’t easy to hear.
But I’ve seen for myself how child sponsorship helps local ActionAid workers bring real change to communities.
I’ve seen how it gives children their right to an education, access to clean water, protection from abuse, and food in their tummies. I’ve seen the hope and happiness in children’s faces when they know they’re supported by ActionAid.
Being able to see this first-hand is an experience that will stay with me forever.
What 65p a day can do
ActionAid are in urgent need of more child sponsors, to help give children back their childhood.
I know the work they’re doing is transforming communities around the world. And it’s meant so much to me to be a part of that transformation, for the price of just 65p a day.
But there are too many children, right now, waiting for someone who will sponsor them.
I started my life-changing child sponsorship journey 12 years ago.
Will you start yours today?