A candid conversation with five-time child sponsor Athens

Athens  is a Fil-Am who works as a registered nurse in New York. She is also the sponsor of five children in World Vision. We sat down with her for a few minutes to hear about her thoughts on child sponsorship and life as a Filipino-American nurse.


World Vision: Tell us how you started your sponsorship journey. How did you discover World Vision and become a child sponsor?


Athens : It’s actually funny to say this, but I have a huge crush on Marc Nelson. I follow his Instagram and when I saw that he was sponsoring ten kids, I thought, “What’s that about?” I looked into it and found World Vision. I saw child sponsorship as an opportunity to help out and give back to the Philippines so I signed up. I think Marc Nelson now sponsors 15 kids and maybe someday I’ll hit that number, too.


WV: How long ago was that? Who was the first child you sponsored, and how old was the child then? Do you have special memories with your first sponsored child?


A: I think that was about seven or eight years ago. The first kid I sponsored, Mark, was six years old at the time. Now he’s a teenager – fifteen years old – and he looks like a fine young man. Recently, I got him a bike. When I was working as a nurse in NY during the pandemic, I really appreciated how a bike helped me get around. I asked Marge (of World Vision Donor Care) if she could help get the kids bikes because I wanted to give the kids a way to get around and have fun. They got a bike for Mark and I have a picture of Mark with his bike.


WV: You now sponsor five kids through World Vision. How did you get to that number? Do you add one child every year around the same time, like on your birthday?


A: After sponsoring my first child, I added another one soon after. I add one about every year or so. More recently, I’ve decided to sponsor kids for my nieces and nephews. So my niece and nephew now each have a sponsored kid in their name and I just pay the monthly pledge on their behalf. I’ll add another child once my youngest nephew turns three. I want my niece and nephews to understand that there are kids in the Philippines who need their help. I encourage them to save and think about those who have less, and that we’re helping to support a child together through sponsorship. I want them to grow up thinking that child sponsorship is a natural thing. I want to start them young. Maybe one day they’ll sponsor five or fifteen children.


WV: Tell us more about the child you’ve sponsored for your niece. Do they get to correspond? What has it been like for your niece?


A: I first sponsored a child for my niece when she was six. Interestingly, the sponsored child is around the same age as her. They haven’t been in touch yet but now that my niece is nine, I think she’s old enough to understand what sponsorship is about. So I’ll encourage her to start writing to her sponsored child and grow that relationship, but also be mindful that they grow up in different circumstances so we have to be sensitive about what we communicate.


WV: What are the things you appreciate most about being a child sponsor?


A: One of the things that really helped is how the kids say they’ll pray for me and my family. This meant a lot during the pandemic, working in healthcare in New York. My sister, who’s also a nurse, she and I both got COVID. My sister got hit really badly but eventually recovered. It was comforting to know that the kids were praying for us and I felt that their prayers really made a difference.


WV: You’ve also encouraged your friends to become child sponsors. What do you tell them?


A: I’ve gotten two or three friends to sign up with World Vision as sponsors. The thing with World Vision is consistency – it’s not just a one-time thing. You give monthly and you form a connection with the kids. You get updates, you know where your support is going, and you have a chance to correspond with the kids. Sponsorship is a chance for you to focus on one kid, have a level of commitment, and form some kind of attachment with them.


WV: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your sponsorship journey?


A: Sponsoring children in the Philippines helped me reconnect and find my roots back home. It also made me realize that you can help by starting small. I’ve been sponsoring kids even before I had a niece and nephew, but the desire to help increased after they arrived. I began to see how kids have so much potential and I want to help nurture that potential for the future. I’ve always believed that if you give kids the opportunity to do good, they will. So that’s what I’m doing with sponsorship, giving kids opportunities.


WV: Any final words to our readers?


A: I hope I can be in a position to help more kids or encourage others to help more kids. Maybe someday I’ll meet Marc Nelson and by that time I’ll be sponsoring 15 kids. (laughter) I hope I can be an inspiration to others the way Marc was to me.




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