Becoming #chosen

This past week I had the privilege of traveling to South America with World Vision to see how they’ve been working with communities in Ecuador and witness their new #chosen initiative at work firsthand.

World Vision Volunteers in Ecuador
part of our team with the local World Vision volunteers in Ecuador

I can definitively say that my life has been changed by getting to meet so many amazing people in Ecuador. I know that this simple blog post telling about my experience won’t even begin to do it justice. But I hope that by writing down the details, others will be able to get even just a small taste of the incredible things that are happening through child sponsorship with World Vision in Ecuador.

#Chosen

If you’re not familiar with #chosen, it’s World Vision’s new take on child sponsorship where the child has the power to choose their sponsor. (As opposed to the traditional sponsorship model where sponsors choose a child to sponsor from pictures on a website.)

(This short video demonstrates the #chosen concept in a nutshell if you’d like to see more about how it works.)

I left the US on a Tuesday afternoon and flew into Quito, Ecuador to meet up with the rest of our group, which consisted of several bloggers as well as a few World Vision staff.

Leading up to the “choosing party” that would happen at the end of our trip where we’d get to experience the kids picking their sponsors, we got to visit several families and groups that have been impacted by the work that World Vision is doing.

How World Vision Helps Communities

I was absolutely blown away by how much World Vision does to help the communities they serve. I knew that they did child sponsorship. What I didn’t realize was how far they are able to reach with those funds to impact not only the single child, but their families and their entire communities as well.

Dirt road in Ecuador

Before World Vision even goes into a new community to set up programs, they do an in-depth study to discover what that specific community needs the most. It’s not a one-size-fits all plan. It is genuinely meeting needs of each individual place.

Once they have determined the needs, World Vision goes in with a plan to target the root causes of poverty, not just its symptoms. The plan is also designed with the goal of enabling the members of that community to be responsible for the work and the progress.

World Vision is typically in an area for 15-20 years, at which point the community is able to continue the programs that have been established far into the future without the need of assistance from World Vision any longer.

town square in village in Ecuador
Many of the villages we visited had a town square area like this one in the center.

They’re not just going in, giving a little bit of temporary help, and leaving. They’re not causing communities to rely on them indefinitely. World Vision is helping to positively change the future trajectory of these communities, the people in them, and the children born there. It’s pretty incredible.

Meet Diana

On the first day of our visits we met Diana, a single mom of two cute kiddos– Lupita, who is 5, and Karey, age 2. Diana is also a caregiver for her elderly parents, including her father who has health issues and is unable to work.

Mother and daughter in their kitchen in rural Ecuador
Diana and her daughter, Lupita
Mother and Son in Ecuador
Diana and her son, Karey | photo by Matthew Paul Turner

Through training from World Vision, Diana was able to learn improved methods of nutrition so she can feed her family in a way that enables them to grow and thrive. She has her own garden where she grows herbs, fruits, and vegetables to use in her cooking.

Potted herb garden in Ecuador

We were so honored that she made us a delicious meal of chicken, rice, and vegetables that we ate together in her home.

Along with her nutrition training with World Vision, Diana also learned the skills she needed to open a sweet shop business with a few family members, which helps her bring in enough money to be financially independent and pay for her father’s medical care.

Woman and teenage boy making sweets in Ecuador

Female Entrepreneurs

After leaving Diana’s house, we visited a sewing group made up of 25 female entrepreneurs. With the help of World Vision, who assisted in providing their building and supplies, they create costumes, clothing, and bed linens that they are able to sell to earn money to help their families.

Sewing workshop for female entrepreneurs in Ecuador
the sewing workshop

Traditionally in this area, only the husbands are able to work (mostly in farming) to bring in an income, and it can sometimes be hard to make ends meet. By providing a way for the women in the families to also learn a valuable skill and earn money, the families are more able to become financially independent.

Woman explaining about a sewing program in Ecuador
learning about the sewing program from one of the women involved

Finally, we visited a sweet shop that was set up with the help of World Vision.

A little girl sits in the doorway of a sweet shop in Ecuador

Again, the women who work here are able to learn a valuable skill that can also bring in additional income for their families.

Women making sweets in Ecuador
Meseidy from The Noshery working to make sweets with the women who run the shop

Jaime and Marta

On the second day of our visits, we were welcomed into the home of Jaime, who is 12 years old and lives with his grandmother, Marta. Jaime is sponsored by a family in Alaska through World Vision and loved showing us some of the letters and mementos he has received from his sponsor.

A young boy and his grandmother in Ecuador
Jaime and Marta

Jaime plays the drums and also works at his uncle’s shop. The money he earns mostly goes to help his family, but he occasionally keeps a little back to buy himself his favorite treat– french fries! 🙂

little boy and grandmother making beaded jewelry in Ecuador
Jaime and Marta making beaded jewelry at a table in their living room | photo by Matthew Paul Turner

Jaime and Marta make beaded jewelry, which they sell in their community. We were so honored that Jaime gave each of us one of his beautiful creations!

Group of bloggers in a small house in Ecuador
From left: Matthew from World Vision, Melanie of Melanie Ham, Stephen of Stephen David Leonard, Rebecca from Foodie with Family, Jaime, Mary from Barefeet in the Kitchen, me, Meseidy from The Noshery, and our translator, Solome

World Vision’s Impact on a Local High School

After we left Jaime’s house, we went to a local high school where students specialize in animal husbandry.

Teachers and students at a high school in Ecuador
with the teachers (in green blazers) and students from the high school

Previously, the students had only been able to learn the theory behind the work. But thanks to the help of World Vision, they were able to set up facilities to house animals and really put what they were learning into practice.

Students with incubator
students showing us an incubator that World Vision recently gave to them so they could hatch chicks
Pig in Ecuador
This guy was very anxious to say “hi!” on our tour! 🙂

The students were gracious enough to give us a tour of all of their different projects– they are doing amazing things!

Student in garden in Ecuador
student showing us their garden area

Angela and Yeisy– Ready to Choose!

On the final day of our visits, we were able to meet two sweet girls who ended up attending the choosing party to pick their sponsors.

First, we were welcomed into Angela’s home. Though Angela had not yet been sponsored, she had been able to benefit from community events and opportunities that World Vision had put on in her area.

young girl in Ecuador
Angela at her home | photo by Matthew Paul Turner

Along with receiving backpacks and school materials from World Vision, she also got to attend workshops and trainings which helped her to become more confident to speak in front of others.

(At the choosing party, Angela ended up picking Stephen, one of the other bloggers in our group, to be her sponsor!)

#chosen with World Vision
Angela with Stephen, whom she chose to be her sponsor | photo by Matthew Paul Turner

Our last home visit was with Yeisy and her grandparents at their house. Yeisy had had a sponsor, but they had left World Vision’s program, so she got the opportunity to pick a new sponsor at the choosing party.

Young girl with her grandparents in Ecuador
Yeisy and her grandparents

Yeisy had the brightest smile and a dynamic personality that could be felt even with the language barrier! She loves to dance and was kind enough to demonstrate her skills for us.

Sponsor a child through World Vision | https://wv.link/AbbyChosen
with Yeisy and her grandmother at their home | photo by Matthew Paul Turner

We went with Yeisy to a performance in her community where we saw other talented young dancers– they were amazing!

Dancers in bright costumes in Ecuador

The troupe is supported by World Vision and helps its members learn new skills, build their confidence, and have a blast at the same time.

The #Chosen Party!

On one of the last days of our trip, we headed off to the big event that we had all been waiting for– the #chosen party!

At the event, parents participated in family workshops and trainings while the children got to play different games and activities as they waited for their turn to choose their new World Vision sponsor.

Kids were taken into a room at the school where the event was held, and they were met with dozens of photos of all of the people and families who had signed up to become sponsors.

chosen party with World Vision
“Yo te elijo” means “I choose you”!

After looking at all of the photos, they chose the person or family they wanted to sponsor them– they were so excited!

The kids then had their picture taken with their sponsor’s photo and wrote them a letter to introduce themselves.

It was so fun to get to meet and hug the sweet kiddos who chose some of my friends, family members, and blog followers as their sponsors!

And though the entire day of the event probably ranks as one of my favorite days of my life, the absolute highlight was getting to meet Lady, who chose our family to be her sponsor.

She was so sweet to get to talk to, and I can’t wait to continue our relationship through letters, cards, and pictures!

You can be chosen too!

Our # chosen party in Ecuador was just the tip of the iceberg. We may have been the first event that collected sponsors digitally and then allowed the children to have the power to choose, but we definitely, definitely are not the last!

World Vision is continually looking for more people who would be willing to be chosen as kids’ sponsors in countries around the world. You could make an impact not only on that one child, but on their family and community as well.

I’ve now seen firsthand the power of child sponsorship and just how far the impact can reach. It can literally change the future of an entire community for the better.

If you’d like to be #chosen as a child’s sponsor, you can learn more and sign up here.

[And if you prefer the traditional method of sponsorship where you pick a specific child from a specific country, that’s still an option too! Head here for that.]

Thank you.

Thank you so much for “coming along” on this trip to Ecuador with me! I could feel your prayers and thoughts as I was there and so appreciate each and every one of you who sent them!

I look forward to continuing to support World Vision and the children, families, and communities they serve, and I can’t wait to see how God works in their ministry in the future.

14 Comments

  1. The best!!! Love that you got to experience this Abby!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      It was such an incredible week! I’m so grateful to you for connecting me with World Vision! <3

  2. Lenrie Ogot says:

    Hi Abby,

    This is just so adorable. What you’re doing is so commendable and honestly, anyone would love to be part of this. I’m already feeling #Chosen.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Aw thank you! <3

  3. Karen Gauvreau says:

    Oh Abby – that picture of you being chosen is amazing. Lady is blessed to have your family on her side.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thank you so much, Karen! We are looking forward to being her sponsor! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  4. Congratulations, Abby! We plan to do this for christmas this year! Looking forward to it!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Oh what a fun Christmas gift! It is such an awesome experience. Hope you have a great week, Heather!

  5. It’s so good to hear the good going on in the world. Thank you for being a part of it and letting us tag along vicariously!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Marielle! And thank you for “coming along” virtually! 🙂 Have a great week!

  6. Yeisy chose our daughter Grace as her sponsor! When she got the email, she wept tears of joy. It was precious! Thank you for introducing us to this process!❤️

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Oh you are in for such a treat! Yeisy is such a sweet, amazing kid! She just vibrates with love and energy and hugs everyone she meets. Such a sweetheart! I actually took a picture with her right after she chose Grace as her sponsor– I’ll email it to you. Thank you so much for coming alongside Yeisy and allowing her to choose Grace as her sponsor! Hugs!

  7. Keryn Means says:

    This idea makes me beyond happy. The fact that the CHILD gets a say is so important.My family and I have supported World Vision’s mission for decades (since I was a little girl), and it’s an organization we continue to be passionate about with our own kids. Thank you traveling to show what they are doing on the ground.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks so much, Keryn! It was such an awesome trip. LOVE to hear that you’ve had such a great experience with World Vision over the years… our family loves it too!

      Hope you’re having a great weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

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