Our work is powered by the generosity of supporters around the globe. Here in Australia, our passionate community is committed to building a more equal world where all children can thrive, and for more than 40 years, the Lyngå family have been doing just that.
Canberrans Gösta and Pauline Lyngå first crossed paths with Plan International in the 1970’s – they had three young daughters of their own, and began sponsoring two children, one in Ecuador and the other in Burkina Faso.
Passionate advocates for Plan International’s work over the decades Gösta and Pauline with the Canberra Friends of Plan group hosted scores of events to raise awareness and funds in their local community.
More than 40 years later, their youngest daughter Claire reflects on the family’s sponsorship journey and recalls the excitement of receiving letters from the other side of the world.
Pauline has since passed away, but Claire remembers it was her mother who was the most dedicated to writing letters to the family’s sponsor children, even writing some of them in her beginners Spanish.
“Mum was very interested in global matters and was very aware of how people live in different countries.” she shares. “I think she identified what would be a good thing to do to make things better in the world, and then she went about doing it in a fairly uncomplicated, straight forward way.”
In 1995, Claire was able to see the work her family supported in Burkina Faso firsthand, when she and her sister Ellen arranged to visit a Plan International supported community as part of their itinerary for a trip to Africa.
Guided by local Plan International community workers, the sisters visited key projects and Claire says she and her sister were glad to see the education projects that were helping girls access jobs, as well as the construction of a maternal health centre.
“There was really a sense that Plan International was achieving a lot in those villages (through supporting) schools, water facilities and health centres.” says Claire. “What has always impressed me about Plan International is that there are so many local staff who know the local context. They understand why you can do some things, why you can’t do certain things, what is appropriate. There was an integrity to the people we met.”
While there, the sisters had the opportunity to meet their sponsored child, Adama (then nine-years- old) and his family. “We sat in this shaded area and talked with and got to know the family” tells Claire.
“It was very important for me to understand that even though the focus is on the child, you are lifting the whole village, the whole area, everybody is benefiting from the support.”
The daughters sponsor children too, and they are proud that Pauline’s legacy lives on, supporting children and girls to access their rights through the gift she generously left to Plan International in her Will.
Today, Gösta still supports children through sponsorship – a 14-year-old boy in Burkina Faso and a 17-year-old girl in Cambodia – while his three daughters support other communities around the world. Now retired, Gösta recently took the opportunity to visit Burkina Faso and while there, he was able to meet with local Plan International staff and Adama – who is now a 26-year-old man! Through a translator, Adama told Gösta that he is now a farm worker in the community.
“You always wonder what happens to people,” Claire reflects. “You wonder whether sponsorship made a difference. You are curious. So to see pictures of Adama, later on, and knowing that dad had managed to meet him, I thought that was amazing!”