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Sponsorship changed my life - Lauras Story

"Sponsorship changed my life"

Laura, sponsored child, with her Mother

Laura grew up in a rural community in El Salvador. When she was five years old she was supported by a committed Plan International sponsor. Sponsorship enabled her to live the life she always dreamt of and now she’s dedicating her life to helping others who need help like she once did. 

“I was born in the hills to the south of San Salvador. Most of the population in my town has a strong indigenous cultural identity and is very poor. 

“My history with Plan International began when I was five years old when they started work in my community. Soon after their arrival, I was registered as a sponsored child and began my life as part of Plan International’s family in El Salvador.”

Laura with friends

When I was nine years old I was selected to be a representative of my school to participate in a child rights training programme by Plan International. This was an enormous moment in my life.

“I remember this training activity as if it were yesterday. The first question was “What do you children know about rights of children?” These ideas moved me deeply.

“My participation in the training program was very active and I believe this led the Plan International representative to decide to continue inviting me to participate in other activities. 

“Other activities included attending the first diploma course on a culture of peace and I was very proud to have been invited to give my opinion at several Plan International country managers meetings. This was a very exciting time in my life. All these activities helped me become familiar with Plan International’s work and staff.”

“In 1997, when I was 11 years old, Plan International again gave my family a wonderful opportunity and helped us build a house made of concrete blocks. This was a tremendous improvement over where we had been living. I was so happy to have a nice house to live in, and to date this is where I continue to live.”

Laura with sponsored children

"There was another project in 2002 that had an important impact on the course that my life would take - it was called Children in the Media.

I began to realise that girls had the right to aspire to professions other than teachers or secretaries, which were the only professions approved for women in my town.

"My eyes were opened to other career options such as becoming a communicator or a journalist. This led me to want to fulfil my dream of going to university and studying communications. 

“At age 14 in ninth grade, I had to make a big decision – to continue with my secondary level studies. In my community, most girls did not go beyond ninth grade. Both my father (a wise man supportive of girls’ rights) and my mother knew that I really wanted to continue studying. Fortunately for me, Plan International again came into my life at a crucial moment by awarding me a scholarship to complete my high school education. Our family was quite poor and couldn’t have completely financed my secondary education.”

“At 18 years of age, just as I was finishing my high school studies, I became involved with a boy and became pregnant. I suddenly felt that my world was coming down on me – I felt I had disappointed my parents and Plan International staff who had believed in me. In the midst of all this turmoil, my son Luis Angel was born. 

“One day the community worker, Rita, came to see me about my situation. Rita told me there is no reason to stop living my life and especially going after my dreams. This conversation lifted my spirits and helped me get my life on track again. She motivated me to become active again in those activities that my new responsibilities as a mother would allow.  I went back to being a volunteer at Plan International, delivering letters from sponsors to the boys and girls in my community and filling out surveys for updates, along with the corresponding photos.

After a time in this role, several Plan International staff in the field urged me to apply for a position in the sponsorship department. I applied and to my great joy, was hired.

“The next six years was an amazing period in my life. I was simultaneously a new mother, a university student and a full-time employee in Plan International’s El Salvador country office. 

“I often wonder how I was able to find the time to do all that I did. I progressed through several jobs within the sponsorship department, each with increased ranges of responsibility and complexity. These included sponsorship operator, trainer for community volunteers and just before graduating from the university I was given the job of coordinator for sponsorship.

The school supplies and uniforms I received as a child are gone, but the skills and competencies I learned will continue and are what have helped me achieve what I have to date.