From potential school dropout to 21-year-old engineer
A former CCFC-sponsored child credits his sponsor with changing his life
Balamurugan’s life hasn’t been easy. The 21-year-old engineer at a solar-power company in India has overcome many challenges: his mother died, his father remarried and left the family, his older brother was adopted by an uncle and Balamurugan was sent to boarding school. At school, he suffered seizures and kidney failure, and although his grandmother tried to care for him, she became sick, too. Thankfully, in 2007, Balamurugan was sponsored through Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), and his life took a turn for the better. We recently caught up with the thankful young adult, and he shared warm memories from his time as a sponsored child.
CCFC: Do you remember your sponsor?
Balamurugan: I could never forget my wonderful sponsor — [or his] family. I saved and treasured the letters from my sponsor; they are still with me as a reminder of the support. I have framed the photo of my sponsor and his family, and it occupies an important place in my home where I can always see it. Whatever I thought of sharing with my father — which was impossible — I shared with my sponsor through letters. He was encouraging, motivating and supportive.
CCFC: How did being a sponsored child affect your day-to-day life?
Balamurugan: Maths and English were very challenging, but the facilitator at the creative-learning centre in my village, established by CCFC and its (local partner) PAD, was supportive. I visited the centre regularly to study, play and participate in extracurricular activities. The children in my village were organized into groups and given [guidance on] conservation, the importance of keeping the village clean, personal hygiene, physical and mental improvement through play, folk art and skills-training. This gave me the confidence to face [difficult] situations. Through the sponsorship program, I accessed medical support, and that’s why I am alive today.
CCFC: How did being a sponsored child affect your life path?
Balamurugan: My life is changed, and I owe it all to my wonderful and sacrificing sponsor. The sponsorship program enhanced my [life], reducing the burden on my grandmother. We [moved] from a humiliating thatched hut to a pukka concrete house with a solar-power system. Now, I [care] for my grandmother, and that makes me extremely happy and proud; I am recognized in my village and by my relatives — they treat me with esteem.
CCFC: How did you build your career?
Balamurugan: After 10th grade, I joined the diploma course in Mechanical Engineering. In my village there are very few [educated people — most] are managing their family on a meagre income from seasonal livelihood opportunities. Higher education is very important, but opportunities are limited. My family couldn’t afford to educate me, but PAD (a CCFC local partner organization) supported me in my first year, and my sponsor supported me in my second year. Based on my letter, my sponsor sent me Rs. 15000 (approximately $300), and the parents’ committee in my village supported me in my third year. After completing my diploma, I got a job as a site engineer at the solar-power station in Kamuthi. When I got the job, I remembered my sponsor and thanked God for the support. I still remember him telling me I should help other poor children and be a role model.
CCFC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Balamurugan: I hope to be a role model to show our village children [the value of the] sponsorship program. When we support deserving children in accessing education, we are making change possible.
About Christian Children's Fund of Canada:
Christian Children's Fund of Canada (CCFC) is a child-focused international development organization and a member of ChildFund Alliance. For more than 50 years, CCFC has been helping children and families of all faiths move from poverty to self-reliance. CCFC supports children and communities in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Nicaragua and Paraguay. Currently, CCFC has almost 50,000 children sponsored, benefiting nearly 400,000 people around the world.