Ealing resident Shemi Virani has written of her experience visiting Rachel, a Ugandan girl she had been sponsoring for years. It coincides with the launch by World Vision UK of its latest campaign,1,000 Girls, which aims to empower 1,000 girls by October 11, International Day of the Girl Child. 


WHEN I had my first baby in 2005, I began to think about all the opportunities he would have in the UK – healthcare, education, a safe and secure home, something that children in other countries often lack.

This thought kept hammering in my head until I decided to take action. I contacted children’s charity World Vision and began sponsoring Rachel from Uganda, my parents’ homeland.

Through the sponsorship, Rachel was able to go to school. Over the years, her English improved noticeably – from having a helper write her letters to me, she slowly began to write parts of it herself.

She would draw pictures, tell me about her family, how she helped them, her community and her dreams for the future. Our relationship continued to develop.

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Much to my husband’s surprise, I signed up to the London Royal Parks Half Marathon in January 2011.

As I never used to exercise, I wanted to do something that my friends and family would see as a shock and they would sponsor me. I ended up raising nearly £5,000.

The following year, my family and I travelled to Uganda to meet Rachel and her family. The memories of that day will stay with us forever.

During my trip, I had the privilege to witness first-hand how people’s lives had been changed through sponsorships and donations, including mine.

This is why I encourage people to start sponsoring children.

By giving what they can, they will help improve the lives of many vulnerable children, particularly girls, whose education is often ignored.