Being a Champion for Young Women
— Mary Kathryn Tiller · Tuesday, November 3, 2020 —
At Orphan Outreach, it is often said that sponsorship can be as little or as much as you make it. It may be as simple as sending a monthly check or as much as traveling each year to visit your child. For Amanda Ramsay, it is a powerful opportunity to stand in the gap for a vulnerable teen. It’s a chance to breathe life into their dreams.
“My experience with Orphan Outreach has sort of evolved over the years, as have my reasons for sponsoring. I started sponsoring two kids about three years ago, and today I am sponsoring five. I have all their pictures and letters on my fridge. I think of them every day as I leave my apartment. When you hear these children’s stories and what they’re going through right now, it’s impossible not to respond.”
When Amanda first learned of Orphan Outreach, she resonated with their core values and wide range of services- particularly their commitment to providing each child with a quality education.
“I grew up in a Christian household where there was as much an emphasis on our education as there was on our moral upbringing. So, when I learned that Orphan Outreach partnered with several schools and after-school enrichment programs, I was impressed. I was thrilled to have found an organization that saw the importance of investing in these kids academically, as well as morally.”
Interested in sponsorship, Amanda reached out to Orphan Outreach and asked them to connect her with a child in need of a sponsor. She was soon paired with a boy in Honduras and a girl in Guatemala. Amanda sponsored both children for over a year, until one day when she received a notice that the young girl she sponsored in Guatemala was no longer a part of the program.
“I had been sponsoring L through CadaNiño, which, among other things, was teaching her computer programming skills. It broke my heart to think she wouldn’t have access to such a phenomenal learning opportunity anymore. I called Orphan Outreach to find out exactly what had happened. Amy Norton (Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for Orphan Outreach) was really helpful and explained that unfortunately, as the girls get older, they tend to be pulled from these programs because they are needed at home. It seems to be a rather common occurrence.”
Learning this shifted something in Amanda, and she began to dream of doing more for the children she sponsored. She wanted to champion their education and ultimately their dreams.
“I can relate to these girls on some level. I’m Cuban American. My mom came from Cuba when she was a little girl. My family faced a lot of hurdles when they came to this country, not speaking the language and living in poverty. My parents made huge sacrifices to educate my siblings and me. The education I received gave me the ability to think for myself, make decisions for myself, and demand what I wanted out of this life. I wanted to give that same opportunity to these girls.”
Amanda’s passion for educating young girls continued to grow as she tuned in to an Orphan Outreach webinar, where they discussed the effects of COVID in Kenya.
“During that webinar, I learned many of the social issues that existed in Kenya, pre-COVID, are being magnified—whether that’s food insecurity, lack of education, and even teen pregnancy rates. I was so moved by the information they shared, I decided to call and learn a little more about the needs in that area.”
Amanda reached out to Amy once again and learned that teenage girls, ages 13-15, are the least likely to have a sponsor. They are also particularly vulnerable. Moved by the statistics and reflecting on her own life experiences, Amanda committed to supporting these young women through sponsorship, specifically those who were least likely to receive a secondary education.
Amy spoke to the social workers in Kenya and told them of Amanda’s goals. She asked them to recommend a young woman who needed support in order to continue her education. After a few short weeks, they sent her their recommendation.
“I’ll never forget when Amy told me about C,” Amanda shared. “She said, ‘C has a very bright future but is quite vulnerable in her situation. You can make a difference for her.’ C dreams of becoming a doctor, but she’s had a very hard life: her father passed away, her mother is terminally ill, and she has a number of siblings. I believe she deserves a chance. Sponsoring her education is so much more to me than just paying for her books. It shows her someone cares. It allows her to attend a boarding school where she’s given three meals a day, a safe place to sleep, and clothes to wear. I want to do everything I can to support C as she earns her degree. And when she does, Amy and I plan on attending her graduation and throwing her a big celebration. I can’t wait!”
Amanda has since taken on several more sponsorships, each of them a teen girl in need of support to gain a higher education. Connecting her personal passion for education with the needs of children around the world was life-changing for Amanda, just as it was for the girls she now sponsors.
Inspired by her experiences, Amanda encourages others to be more intentional with their sponsorships- seeing them as an opportunity to use their personal passions to meet a specific need.
“As I’ve gotten to know Orphan Outreach and how they operate, I’ve been really happy with the services that they provide. They’re attentive, consistent, responsible, and organized. If someone is interested in sponsoring a child, I would encourage them to take the leap! But don’t just sponsor any child. Really think about why you want to sponsor a child, and then reach out to the staff. Let them help you identify a program or a child who would most benefit from your support. Make it personal, be intentional. It makes all the difference.”
Are you ready to stand in the gap of a vulnerable child? Get to know the children ready for sponsorship, and say "yes!"