Continuing our posts from staff for ChildFund New Zealand’s 21st, Kiri explains why she works at ChildFund.

Kiri and friends in Sri Lanka

By Kiri Carter, Communications Manager

When I was a little girl I dreamt of saving the world. Despite the fact that all the fairytales I read had the girl being rescued by a prince, I didn’t want to be saved by someone else. I wanted to be the one doing the saving, a superhero.

In my imagination I performed feats of derring-do and swooped in to save lost children and injured animals, and anyone who was oppressed or frightened. Everything was put to right in my world and the endings were always happy.

Growing up I discovered a number of important things about the limits of my powers and the way the world works. It turned out that I couldn’t make everything right on my own and some endings were going to be sad no matter what I did. Sometimes you need to ask for help.

Happily I found out that you don’t need superpowers or grand gestures to make someone else’s world better. And it’s a two-way street – helping someone and being helped makes you both better off. A compliment, a smile, offering to help out a sick friend with their shopping – every day a thousand small gestures make a thousand worlds better.

I see it every day working for ChildFund – a child sponsorship that costs less than two dollars a day enriches the lives of both giver and receiver – and entire communities. And because there are a bunch of generous Kiwis doing this, we are literally saving tens of thousands of children’s worlds.

Something else I discovered while working for ChildFund is that, like the young me, pretty much everyone would rather do the saving than be saved. That’s why I’m sure that we have child sponsors who don’t have much themselves but continue to sponsor children in need year after year. But it’s not just our supporters that feel that way.

When I started at ChildFund in 2007, one of my very first tasks was to write an opinion piece for National Children’s Day. I based my editorial around two Ethiopian girls who only had each other after their mother passed away one night as she slept between them. The eldest girl 15-year-old Selamwit worked 11 hour days changing money for cab drivers and earning small change for her trouble. She worked so her younger sister Bethlehem could go to school.

Reading the transcript of the interview I was struck by how seriously Selamwit took her responsibility even though she was clearly very sad. The interviewer asked the final question, ‘If you could wish for anything in the world, anything at all, what would you wish for?’

Selamwit replied, “I would wish for God to give me strength so that I can work harder to be able to care for my sister.”

She doesn’t ask to be saved or expect anyone to save her. Selamwit wants to save her sister.

Selamwit with her little sister Bethlehem

The photo of these two girls sits on the wall above my desk to remind me of why I’m here. That there are people – children – who struggle against incredible odds for survival, for love – who are the real superheroes. And that superheroes need saving, too.

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