A Lasting Relationship

Trish and Gerry Kerr, from Celbridge, Co Kildare, decided to become child sponsors with ActionAid just after they got married.

Nearly 30 years later, in May 2016, the couple decided to meet the child they are currently sponsoring, Sujit, in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal. They wanted to see for themselves the impact of child sponsorship. Sujit, now 16, is the third child they sponsored and they have been sponsoring him for seven years.

Through child sponsorship Trish and Gerry have taught their own children about the world, as well as funding the development of some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.

Trish Kerr holding a little girl in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal. (Photo by Gerry Kerr)

Trish Kerr holding a little girl in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal. (Photo by Gerry Kerr)


How action aid is empowering women and communities

ActionAid is a global movement of people working together to further human rights and defeat poverty for all. ActionAid work in 45 countries around the world to support people to fight for and gain their rights to education, food, shelter, work and basic healthcare. ActionAid’s focus is on furthering women’s rights and education.

On visiting the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal, Trish and Gerry were delighted to meet all members of the community who had benefited from child sponsorship. They were particularly struck by the women’s group ActionAid had set-up.

ActionAid Ireland, in partnership with Irish Aid, coordinates a Women’s Rights programme in Malawi, Kenya, Vietnam and Nepal. The programme, which started in 2012, focuses on ending violence against women and ensuring that women and girls can break the cycle of poverty through economic empowerment. In Ireland ActionAid is supported by 6,000 child sponsors who give a donation every month, many of whom have supported the organisation for over 10 years.

Members of the women’s group in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal.  (Photo by Gerry Kerr)

Members of the women’s group in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal.  (Photo by Gerry Kerr)

Some of the welcome part in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal. (Photo by Gerry Kerr)

Some of the welcome part in the village of Dharmanagar, Nepal. (Photo by Gerry Kerr)

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD

The building blocks for ActionAid to achieve sustainable change around the world, at a local, national and international level have always been child sponsorship.

One woman who Trish and Gerry met from the lowest caste in Nepal had, through training and encouragement by ActionAid and the women’s group, gone on to become an elected member of the local government – she is now advocating to improve the lives of women, children and vulnerable groups in the wider community. This is one of countless examples of real and lasting change made by child sponsors, like Trish and Gerry, around the world.

With child sponsorship, the sponsor sees the different they are making in a community through the eyes of a child who is linked with them directly. They received yearly updates from the child and a picture of the child every two years. The donations are spent to improve the lives of everyone in the community. ActionAid focuses especially on ending violence against women, developing sustainable livelihoods and education – for both adults and children.

A Lasting impact on communities

By taking a human rights based approach ActionAid promotes the right to active, free and meaningful participation for all, it addresses discrimination and prioritises vulnerable groups and clarifies links between rights and duties, as well as the relationships between rights-holders (citizens) and duty-bearers (for example police, hospitals and legal systems). Creating local women’s groups and grassroots community groups are a fundamental part of this work.

For Trish and Gerry, what started with sponsoring one child in the 1980s has led to empowered communities. Upon returning the couple decided to sponsor another child in the knowledge their support is creating a great impact across Nepal.

Caption for Leading image: Sponsored Child Agnes in her school in Amuru, Uganda (Photo ActionAid)