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Meeting Fernando: Sheila Reid visits her sponsored child

Meeting Fernando: Sheila Reid visits her sponsored child

This summer, I flew 5,500 miles across the world to visit a little boy from Brazil who I’ve sponsored for four years through Plan International UK.

Over the past 35 years, I’ve sponsored five children through the charity. Fernando is the first boy I’ve sponsored, having previously supported two girls in Ecuador and two girls in Bolivia.

This year, as Plan International turns 80, I’m also celebrating my 80th birthday – so what a great time to visit the wonderful country that is Brazil and see how my sponsorship money is supporting Fernando and his community.

Actor Sheila Reid travelled to Brazil this summer to meet eight-year-old Fernando and his family.
Sheila with Fernando and his mum at home in Brazil

Travelling to Fernando’s community near Codo, in the state of Maranhão, was no mean feat.

An eleven hour flight from London to Sao Paulo was followed by a four hour flight to Teresina and then a four hour car journey, until I reached my destination in the north east of Brazil – but this journey was entirely worthwhile, as I was able to meet Fernando in person for the first time.

Spending time with his family was incredibly humbling and I will cherish my memories of them forever.

Fernando and I have exchanged cards and letters over the years, and we’ve learned quite a lot about each other.

Before visiting, I already felt like we had built up a friendship. That bond was strengthened by visiting his school, meeting his family and being introduced to his pet rabbit, Cebolihna.

I showed him photographs of Scotland – where I was born and love to spend time – along with photos of my husband and myself performing in different plays, and his mother showed me photographs of their family.

Spending time with his family was incredibly humbling and I will cherish my memories of them forever.

Visiting Fernando was such a wonderful experience. I was so impressed seeing the dedication of the Plan International staff and the scale of their achievements and ambition.

Watch my video below to see my trip in full, and find out how you can sponsor a child with Plan International UK here >

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