Meeting the teenager they have been sponsoring in Uganda has proved an emotional experience for Chichester couple Peter and Pauline Sutton.
The pair have just returned from the African country, where they met 13-year-old David, the child they have been sponsoring for six years through child development charity Compassion UK.
Pauline, 67, a retired nurse, said: “Meeting David was an amazing and emotional experience. It was wonderful to see where he lives and meet his extended family.
Peter, 63, added: “We were also very impressed by the love, care and support he was receiving from the Compassion team.”
David lives on the plains of Kidongole, north west of Mbale in eastern Uganda, where houses are typically constructed of dirt floors, mud walls and thatched roofs.
He lives under the care of his father, stepmother and siblings and they depend on subsistence farming.
Most adults in the area are unemployed but some work as farmers and earn the equivalent of around £10 per month.
Peter said: “We wanted to show David our support and especially encourage him in his studies, as he finds reading difficult.
“The Compassion staff have played a big role in building his confidence. He now has a tremendous sense of belonging and feels safe and secure, he is being nurtured in a caring environment where he receives the educational and spiritual support to grow into a responsible young man.”
Compassion UK says that in most parts of Uganda, education is encouraged and viewed as important, indicated by the government making the first two years of secondary education free.
However, large classes of up to 75 children are common, along with a lack of teaching resources and equipment for the classrooms, leading to a poor quality of schooling.
Peter and Pauline’s sponsorship of £25 a month enables David to be part of his local Compassion project, where he receives nutritious meals, emotional support, medical attention and the chance to get a good quality education.
Since returning to the UK, the couple have been passionate about encouraging others to sponsor a child like David.
They explained: “It’s a life-changing experience for both you and the child, our support has enabled David to have aspirations for the future as he grows into a young man.”