Supporter Spotlight

A thank you to our Plan International Australia community

For more than 80 years, Plan International has been working alongside children and their communities to build a more equal world, and passionate supporters like you have been with us every step of the way.

Whether you joined us 40 years ago or four months ago, you have made our life-changing work with communities around the globe possible, and 2020 has been no exception. It has been a tumultuous year from the get-go, thanks to the Australian bushfires and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

We want to say a very special, and heartfelt thank you to all of you – our incredible supporters – who have donated, advocated, fundraised, volunteered or even just shared our work with their friends and family during this difficult period – without you, we simply could not do the work we do.

We know COVID-19 has taken a toll on you too, but as a community we've been humbled by how we've come together to support children and their families, especially girls.
 
Thanks to supporters like you, we've created a strong community – one that's dedicated to children's rights and equality for girls through thick and thin.
 
To celebrate you and to say thank you, we want pay homage to some of the incredible supporters in the Plan International Australia community.

Despite diversity in age and background there is a thread that connects them all – a desire for girls everywhere to have equal rights and to create a world where all children, no matter their gender or where they are born, have the opportunity to thrive.

Gary Leong

Gary

Gary Leong was 18 years old when his father gave him a small monetary gift for starting university and he decided to put some of his father’s gift towards sponsoring a child through Plan International Australia.

That was more than 42 years ago, and since then, Gary – now Dr Gary, a paediatrician, leading advocate for children’s health in Australia and author of Ride to Life– has had a family of his own, and sponsored 19 children through Plan International.

Why are girls’ rights so important to you?
I have two beautiful, healthy, grown up daughters myself, Julia and Vivienne, and I look forward to having some granddaughters too one day!

If you think about the history of girls and women, it is only in the last 100 years that girls and women have had universal suffrage in Australia, and in many countries still do not have the same opportunities or rights or equal pay as men!  

I am sure if there were more female leaders in the world it would be a world with less wars, better equity and peace. Boys and men have to come to terms that girls and women are equals and our sisters, mothers and daughters and deserve our respect and support!

How do you support Plan International Australia and why did you choose this method?

As a paediatrician there can be no better way to help disadvantaged children such as those supported by Plan International Australia, to give support to such children to reach their potential though better public health and education.

By building stronger healthier families and communities, Plan International Australia is contributing to a better world and giving all children around the world a chance to live a purposeful life to help others in their community. 

Do you have any memorable moments from your time supporting Plan International Australia?

 I have  sponsored so many different children from so many different countries it is hard to put one child as foremost in my mind. But I do remember this one girl Leidi from Colombia, it was like she was another of my daughters – as she grew up from a young girl to finally becoming a young woman – it was wonderful to see her growing  and receiving her letters in Spanish and the photos of her and her family. That was 25 years ago, so I suppose she must be a mother herself now, I do hope she and her family are well and my support has made a positive impact on her life.

Two other memorable moments are was when my extended family, as part of our regular four year Leong-Lim family reunions, raised enough money to sponsor two children each for four years through the Hong Kong Plan International office. It was nice to give back to Hong Kong and China where our family roots still are firmly grounded.

 

Billie Lane

billie

Billie Lane has a very strong sense of social justice for a 10 year old, and has been fundraising for Plan International Australia for more than a quarter of her life!

An ABCME program about International Day of the Girl ignited Billie’s passion for girls’ rights when she was just seven years old, and after discovering the inequalities that girls like her face around the globe, she knew she had to do something to help. After doing some awareness raising at her school, she decided to start fundraising for Plan International Australia, and has been one of our most dedicated young supporters ever since.

What first inspired you to support Plan International Australia?

In 2017 ABCME were promoting ‘International Day of the Girl’ and I realised how so many girls around the world were treated unfairly.  I was in Year Two at the time and asked my teacher to do a presentation with my best friend Juliet about girls’ rights.  The following year I decided to actually start fundraising for girls in need.

Why are girls’ rights so important to you?

Girls’ rights are extremely important to me because I strongly believe that girls deserve exactly the same treatment and opportunities as boys. They can do anything that boys can do and even better.

How do you support and why did you choose this method?

I fundraise for Plan International Australia because although it involves a lot of preparation (requesting raffle prizes, setting up tables and stalls, organising games) it’s great fun and helps to spread the word about the inequalities facing girls.

What is it about Plan International Australia’s work and purpose that resonates with you?

Plan International Australia is very passionate about all the work they do. When I first spoke to them on the phone to enquire about how to start fundraising, they were incredibly helpful, kind and encouraging.

Do you have any memorable moments from your time supporting Plan International Australia?

One good memory I have is when I was fundraising outside Woolworths and an elderly lady approached me and donated $50. She told me her story of how she was once a teacher, but was forced to leave her job because she got married. She resented this and was impressed that I was trying to make a difference for girls’ rights. 

 

 

Harv Kler

Harv Kler edit

15 years ago, Harv Kler embarked on a child sponsorship journey through Plan International Australia with an ambitious goal – to sponsor 25 children in various parts of the world.

Having seen our work first hand in his homeland, India, and in Laos, he was inspired by the grassroots impact in communities, and our mission to uplift girls. Today, Harv and his family sponsor 53 children around the globe, and his dedication doesn’t end there. Last year he donned his running shoes and raised $33,000 through City2Surf,  and Harv is now hard at work training for the next City2Surf - you can donate here.

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself? What you do, your family etc

My name is Harv Kler and my wife Manpreet Dhillon and I have been living in Australia for the last 20 years, We are both very proud Australians with an Indian heritage. I am a management professional and have worked across three continents.

How long have you been supporting Plan International Australia?

We have been supporting for over 15 years. When we started we had set a goal for ultimately supporting 25 children in various parts of the world. We started with five children 15 years ago, and today we support and sponsor over 40 children directly. Last year I ran the City2Surf and raised $33,000 for Plan International Australia which helped to sponsor a further 12 children for three years. I am planning to run again this year with a target of sponsoring another 15 children for three years. Our ultimate aim is to be able to sponsor over 100 children directly and through charity donations.

How do you support Plan International Australia and why did you choose this method?
For me child sponsorship is the best, as I can see what is happening and the satisfaction of getting reports and knowing your sponsor child is benefitting and being in touch with them is very humbling and rewarding.

What is it about our work and purpose that resonates with you?
The fact that 70 cents in a dollar goes directly to projects which are involved in upliftment and direct to charitable projects. We have personally met the management team in Melbourne and I’m very impressed with their dedication to the goals.

Why are girls’ rights so important to you?
Girls’ rights are very important to me because in a lot of countries there is still gender discrimination and the opportunities are not readily available to girls. That is why most of the children we sponsor are girls. Providing them education, sanitation, widening their horizons and ultimately improving their social conditions and empowering them helps benefit a community, country  and ultimately the world! 

Do you have any memorable moments from your time supporting Plan International Australia?

For us the memorable moments are so many that it is hard to write about one. To see the children grow over the 15 years and become adults, to see them doing well in education and deriving the satisfaction of being a part of their life journey and making a difference in their lives is a very humbling and rewarding experience.

 

Dorothy Luther

Dorothy Luther 2

Dorothy Luther credits her strong sense of community to her country upbringing. From chipping in to fight bushfires, to ‘passing round the hat’ for any local’s down on their luck, it’s an ethos she has carried into her adult life, and one that led her to support Plan International Australia. Dorothy has been sponsoring children with Plan International Australia since 1973, she’s fundraised in her community and she has chosen to support Plan International Australia's work into the future, through a gift in her Will.

What first inspired you to support Plan International Australia?
One of my work colleagues told me about Plan International Australia. It’s non-religious, ethical and very practical. It’s a good way to help at grassroots level, so I know the money really does get there. It also gives a personal contact with the community I’m helping.

How do you support our work and why did you choose this method?

Sponsor children, donations, work in op shop, street stalls, talk to groups – any way to raise money and awareness that I have capacity for.

The op shop sponsored 20 children, which were allocated to the shop staff to write to. We also donated to many field projects such as clean water and medical facilities.

Why did you choose to support Plan International’s work into the future through a gift in your Will?
I don’t want the support to suddenly stop just because I’m not here. There is still much to be done.

What is it about Plan International Australia’s work and purpose that resonates with you?
The big picture and long-term view that is implemented at grass-roots level, as well as at political levels – also that it is non-religious.

Why are girls’ rights so important to you?
Because I’m a girl too and I’ve experienced discrimination in my life, both at work and in public places like banks and restaurants.

Do you have any memorable moments from your time supporting Plan International Australia?
I have quite a collection of children’s drawings, from sponsored children and from the op shop sponsored children. My favourite quote from a letter from the field came from a South American parent who explained that their three-year-old ‘delighted us by finding all the new things in the world’.


These are just four Plan International Australia supporters, but there are thousands more who make our work possible, and whose impact is just as great.

It is thanks to the support of our incredible community that we’re getting through this tough time, and together we will be able to achieve even greater outcomes for children and their communities in the future!

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