Meeting my sponsor child Kamala in Nepal with World Vision Australia

Sitting in the car as we approached the school I felt a rush of emotion as the time was fast approaching. More than five years of sponsorship, close to a year of planning and hundreds of hours of travel and I’m only minutes from meeting my sponsor child Kamala.

Meeting Kamala

Meeting Kamala

I stayed in the car a minute longer as my hosts Kiran from the World Vision Nepal Dhanghadi Office and Intern Absara climbed out to wait for me. I took a short video of my nervous anticipation, braced myself for the hundreds of little faces that would greet me and prepared.


As we strolled into the schoolyard we were surrounded by children, they are fascinated by this tall blonde visitor at their place of learning. They giggle as I glance in their direction. I’m sweeping their faces, searching for my Kamala, my sponsor child. I don’t know how the meeting will happen or when, or what’s the next steps. I have so many photos of her, but she has grown up over the years and a person can look so different in the flesh, I hope and pray that I recognize her.


Standing and observing the playing children, a few come close to ogle me and I smile and make a face to them. Suddenly a girl strides toward me from my left and strikes out her hand “ Hello. Nice to meet you.” The girl is not wearing school clothes, and his followed by a woman in a sari and some others. Kiran approaches me from my right and I flick my head back and forth between them and ask quietly, still holding her hand “Is this her? Is this Kamala?” The mother takes my hand and shakes it and greets me in Namaste. I raise my hands to my face and take in a breath as I begin to shake and cry. I can’t help it. The emotion! I scoop up Kamala’s hand again and embrace her. I apologise for my crying and Kiran explains to her that I’m not sad, I’m happy.


The family soon come to join and there is now a gathering of close relatives. I walk to Kamala’s mother who has also been crying while watching the greeting. We do the Namaste greeting and I bow my head to show respect. She holds my hands tight and shakes them. She introduces then her Ama, her mother. The grandmother of Kamala. I begin to cry again as I move to greet not one, but both of Kamala’s grandmothers. These respected elders also greet me with a Namaste. I’m then introduced to her father, elder brother, younger brother and younger sister. I’m rapidly losing count of family members and before I know it, we’re huddled together for a family photo. Four or five cameras point at us and shoot off photo after photo as we pull together. Wow! So much emotion in such a short time.


Family portrait

I’m taken by the arm on my right by the mother of Kamala and on my left side gathered in by the two grandmothers. Kamala walks in front of me and I’m led to the meeting room where we can get to know each other and chat about their lives here. As we settle in, I ask a number of times “Tik sa?” “Are you ok?” to Kamala. This is overwhelming for me, but as a child of 12 with her entire school and family watching on, I can imagine this is extremely overwhelming. Kiran, our World Vision guide, also translates and asks her if she’s ok and assures her I’m a friend. She smiles faintly as her family begin the ritual of welcoming me and the other guests to the village.


After having a traditional welcome, it’s time for me to get to know Kamala. She is a little shy but was so bold when she first greeted me. I wanted to make her feel at ease and decided gifts and fun things were a good start. As I sponsor Kamala jointly with my mother Sarah, I had been loaded up with some amazing Australian gifts for her. Mumma loves to shop and she’d done a great job of finding education and fun things for Kamala to share. We gave her a game, books to read, puzzles of Australia, pencils and Australian colouring books and stickers. We also looked at a giant map of Australia together and a card filled with Australian animals. It was nice to share with her these things from my home.


I got to learn about the family and the siblings of Kamala. Her cheeky younger sister hovered between the two of us the whole time. I could feel her lounging on my arm and twirling my hair in her fingers. She was a funny little thing and seemed to adopt me right away. Kamala said thank you for the sponsorship and it meant a lot to her to receive the cards and letters. When I first got there, I had shown her the cards and drawings that we had received and that I had brought them with me. I also got to see our correspondence and the history of the sponsorship in her folder at the office, which was a beautiful walk down memory lane.


Kamala started to smile a little and I could see her watching me. She would just look up at me, I would smile at her or make a cheeky face and she would smile modestly. I told her “sundari” – it means beautiful in Nepali. I asked them to translate a story for me too. My friend in Nepal is called Sundar, meaning the male version of beautiful, handsome. He calls me sundari but he failed to mention that it also means female monkey. The girls laughed at this story and told the World Vision staff that I was definitely not a monkey. I felt at this moment closer to Kamala and I held her hand and squeezed it. She held my hand back and seemed much more at ease.

Kamala's relatives and friends

Kamala’s relatives and friends

It was time for me to share some of my family. I took out the trusty iphone and showed pictures of my mother, father, brother and sister. In Nepal, family is very important. They want to know about your background, where you come from and what your family has been doing. Not so much about what happens next, it’s your history that’s important. They all agreed my family was beautiful and enjoyed comparing the pictures of them with me.

Showing my family to Kamala

Showing my family to Kamala

The parents and the World Vision staff engaged in conversation and I had some time to just sit with Kamala, her sister and another little friend. It was time for selfies!! I wanted to see the big beautiful smile of Kamala and so I showed her my big smile – she caught on and we both smiled together with the cheeky monkeys hanging behind us. It was so lovely to laugh and relax with these little sweeties.


After all to short a time, it was time to leave. I wanted to make a reason to stay. I wanted something else to see here or do here. I knew it wasn’t possible and felt our time coming to a close but I just couldn’t bare it. All this time, for what seemed like just a few minutes. Kamala took me by the hand and her sister launched onto me and grabbed my other arm. The girls walked me out and seemed to be leading me a bit astray. Kamala’s father had to yell out to her and direct her back to the driveway where the car was, I think they were trying to unsubtly kidnap me and keep me there.

Grandmothers and friends

Grandmothers and friends

Kamala looked up at me and had asked me before we left the meeting if I could come to her house. Due to child protection policy of this World Vision ADP there are no home visits allowed. I completely understand this and am happy to comply, but how does one explain this to a 12 year old girl who wants to invite you into her home and share her world with you? I left that for the staff to do in Nepalese and with my eyes said sorry. As we stood near the fence and the other children came rushing out to farewell us, I could feel the sadness mounting. Kamala gazed up at me and we held hands. I embraced her for a hug and touched her face and said be good.

The World Vision Volunteers, Kamala and her mother

The World Vision Volunteers, Kamala and her mother

There were tears and hugs with mum and the grandmothers. They kept holding my hands and touching my face and pulled me in for long big hugs. I think it’s important for them to meet the person who is involved in their child’s life from a distance. It’s certainly important for me to know them and have a connection with them. I’m so glad I could be there. The goodbyes seemed to drag on and on, none of us wanting to say goodbye. With each round of handshakes and hugs, I again went back to Kamala and pulled her in for another hug. I wanted her to know how much I cared.

Kamala's mother

Kamala’s mother

My parting words to mum, dad and the World Vision staff were “School is so important. Her education is number one.” It was translated for them and I said it’s so so important that she remains in school and gets her education. It’s my wish for her and it’s something I believe so passionately. Every child should have access to quality education and the opportunity to learn. She’s a healthy girl and I hope for her a bright future.


I climbed in the car and it looked as though the entire village had come out to see us off. Amongst the hundreds of little faces I could only see Kamala’s staring straight back at me. She had a gentle smile and she seemed so calm and content. I waved and waved as we pulled away.


Usually I don’t like to turn back, I like to say goodbye and go. This time, I turned my head and I looked back to see her running after the car. She was running and running, powering her legs along. Her little brother joined her and they chased the car waving and smiling. It was breaking my heart but I couldn’t turn away. I was laughing and commentating their approach of the car and their running. They ran for as long as they could keep up and then stopped as they approached the turn off to their home. From there they stood and waved, the three little siblings waving until we were completely out of sight. What a moment, I’ll never forget seeing them run with such joy and warmth to bid us farewell.


The afternoon was a full program of local office visits, program observations and site visits. It was wonderful to see what the area was up to but my mind was awash with the warm memories of my meeting with this little girl I’ve known from afar for so long. I look forward to sharing the stories and things I’ve learned from this project in many more blogs.

Mothers group in the same area. Also an Early Childhood Development centre.

Mothers group in the same area. Also an Early Childhood Development centre.

It was an honour to have the opportunity to meet Kamala and now I can’t wait to share many stories of my visit with my friends and family back home. Especially my mum Sarah who I share the sponsorship of Kamala with. I wish more than anything she could have been there to experience the meeting. It’s proven to me once again how important child sponsorship is and how we really can make a difference to the lives of so many.

Sharing with Kamala the gifts from my mother

Sharing with Kamala the gifts from my mother

Thank you Kamala. Thank you for the joy you’ve brought me and for your beautiful smile.


You can experience what it’s like to help those in communities such as this by sponsoring a child:

Learn more about how Sponsorship works here:

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Seeing the work of World Vision and their incredible people in Nepal

Today I went to visit my fourth World Vision Country Office around the world. I was in Kathmandu, Nepal, at the head office and was met by the kind Anu. It never ceases to amaze me the kindness, dedication and passion of staff in this organisation, all around the World.

Anu from World Vision Nepal office

Anu from World Vision Nepal office

Anu has been emailing me, along with the lovely staff from the Australian office (shout out to gorgeous Clare) to help me arrange my sponsor child visit in Kailali District. I’ve been sponsoring little Kamala for more than 5 years now with my mother Sarah. I love Nepal and have visited twice in the past, I knew it was the place I wanted to have a sponsor child. I’ve now been sponsoring Kamala for 5 years and just can’t wait to meet her.


Speaking to Anu and learning about her work here with World Vision was so inspiring. She clearly has a passion for her job and has been working with World Vision for 10 years. She told me her favourite thing was hearing the stories of Australians and Canadians who come to visit their sponsor children here in Nepal. She didn’t realise that we were so connected, excited ad dedicated to our sponsor children. She was shocked to see so much emotion from the people and how much they cared about these children over the other side of the world. I smiled as I knew exactly what she was talking about. I shared with her my story about why I sponsor children and why I love what World Vision do and am now a #WVAblogger blog ambassador. Anu only cements my belief and trust in this organisation and the work they do around the world.


I’ve found a blog today that was written for World Vision Australia about saying farewell to my sponsor child in Tanzania in 2009. I had been sponsoring him for 5 years and at that time and in December 2008 I travelled to Arusha, Tanzania and met him. I can say without hesitation that it was the best day of my life. So naturally, saying goodbye to him in 2009 when the work in his village had finished, was not at all easy. These were my thoughts on the process:

“I still get teary thinking of him. I sent my final farewell card and cried with every word. Goodbye is always the hardest word to say. Lazaro, you are in my thoughts always, as you have been for so many of the past years. I teasure the gift you gave me when I came to visit you and it will continue to have pride of place in my room and my heart. You were an inspiration to me and you put my world in perspective. This world is so much bigger than we can ever imagine, it is so much greater than all of us and you are helping me to understand this.”

meeting Lazaro

I’m so excited to again be able to have this experience of meeting a sponsor child, and here I am. In Kathmandu, days from meeting her. I even wrote about her in that blog at the time:

“I started sponsoring a Nepalese girl one year ago as I also have a close affinity to this country. I look forward to developing a relationship with her and her community and someday soon visiting her in Nepal.”

Kamala more recently!

Kamala more recently!

It’s taken another 5 years, but here I am! Ready to meet this gorgeous little lady. I love receiving her updates in the post and it’s a bond my mother and I can share. Knowing we are changing the life of a little girl, her family and her community. The process has been somewhat held up as my flight has today been cancelled due to bad weather. This is why I allowed one week before my #everestbasecamptrek2015 to come and meet her and get to see her village. We’ve re-scheduled for tomorrow and pushed the flight back another day. It may be busy due to two days of bad weather and cancellations, but we will get there! Worst comes to worst, I’ll drive over night by jeep. I have to get there!

IMG_1327IMG_1330IMG_1326 Some of the wonderful things I receive from World Vision updating me about Kamala and her activities.

Thank you World Vision Australia and World Vision Nepal for making this possible.

I’m climbing to Mt Everest Base Camp on March 7, 2015. Sponsor me and support the work of World Vision Australia. You can follow our adventure on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the hash tag #everestbasecamptrek2015 and by following @inspiredadvntrs on Twitter and the blog here.

 Thank you for your support!!