A COUNTY Limerick farmer got to see with his own eyes the difference he is making in Uganda by sponsoring a child through World Vision Ireland.
Rodger Heffernan, aged 70, from Oola, has just returned from Africa where he met Christine, 12. Through World Vision Christine writes cards to Rodger to let him know how the €25 he pays a month helps her and her family.
The charity trip of 22 flew from Dublin to Amsterdam then on to Uganda.
“It was lovely to meet her, that made my trip. I got a big hug. She had very little English so we had other people interpreting for us. The money is helping her education. They brought us on trips to see schools - they’re doing a lot of work in schools over there,” said Rodger. They live on 50 cent a day so the €25 he sends every month can do untold good.
“It’s completely different there, it’s luxury here - it’s survival out there. They only live to about 48, 50 years of age but they are the friendliest people you could meet, big smiles, shaking hands, the whole lot,” said Rodger.
As a beef farmer Rodger was surprised by the quality of the land.
“The land is fine out there but totally under-used. They have no horses, no cows. All the work is done by hand. It was grand and green there.
“Wells are badly needed, even in the hotels you couldn’t brush your teeth with the water. Hand pumps, like we had in Ireland decades ago, are a major luxury out there,” said Rodger, who covered the cost of the week-long charity trip himself.
Christine lives in a community with six or seven homes - but not what we would term as houses.
“She lives with her parents and eight other kids,” said Rodger, who after meeting Christine now looks forward to staying in touch.
“It was brilliant to meet her. She knew me to see. We aren’t writing to each other as strangers, we are friends. I brought her a Tipperary and an Irish jersey and a few books about Ireland. My land is in Limerick and the land across the road is Tipperary but I was born six miles from Tipperary Town,” said Rodger.
Many of World Vision Ireland’s - a child-focused overseas aid agency - development programmes are funded through child sponsorship.
“It means that our supporters have an emotional connection with the children they sponsor and the communities their sponsorship supports. The money donated goes to the child’s community, supporting schools, health centres and livelihoods- giving the child’s family and community the best chance in life.
“Rodger was great to have with us. His expertise, especially his vast knowledge in farming, was perfect for the trip,” said a spokesperson.
For more information on becoming a child sponsor go to www.worldvision.ie or call 01 498 0800.