I’ve been affected by ActionAid’s TV ads about sponsoring a Third World child who will communicate with me by word and artwork.   So I got in touch with them.   They offered me a choice of gender, age, and country.   I decided on female, 8 to 12, and any country.   I’ve been wondering why I chose 8 to 12. Perhaps because younger wouldn’t be able to communicate much and older might be less vulnerable.   It may be because I haven’t got a grand-daughter. Certainly I chose female because of the greater vulnerability.

They sent me an excellent welcome pack detailing what they’re about and including a photo and personal details about the girl I’m sponsoring.    I was surprised to find that the latter left me highly emotional.   I was flooded with warmth towards this little stranger.   Her name is Shardha and she’s seven.   She lives in a village in Pakistan with her father, who is a small scale farmer, her mother, and her eight siblings.   I rang ActionAid to find out what actually becomes of my monthly payments.   I was told that the money wouldn’t be Shardha’s personally but she will be an ‘ambassador’ for ActionAid and my payments via her will help her community.   Their introductory letter says

There is hope for these children.   They are the reason that ActionAid exists.   For over forty years, along with their communities, they have been our teachers.   We have learned to harness their enthusiasm and determination and set in place the things they have been denied: a reliable source of food, clean water, access to healthcare and education for their children.

I wondered about how we’d communicate and apparently they have a local representative who will translate our messages.   The sent me a large card to get things going and I wrote an account of our family with details about Anthea and me and where we live and attached two photos of us.   I’m looking forward to hearing from her enormously.


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A translated letter and a painting arrived within a matter of days. My dear friend, I hope you are well.   I and my family are fine.   I would like to share with you about myself.   My name is Shardha.   I live in village Ratmor.   It is located in District Umerkot of Sindh Province.   We play many local games in our village area but I like Guddi, a local, traditional game.   I play with my friends.   My best friend’s name is Heeri Bar.   We have goat and cow in our house.   My favourite animal is goat.   It gives milk.   I love taking my goats for grazing in the fields.

She’d done a crayon drawing of her house and buildings.


We may be nearly 4,000 miles apart but I feel very close to her.



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