It’s an improbable friendship. Edgar Gonzales is a World Vision employee and former sponsored child. Fred Penner is a name many Canadians will recognize for his decades on the music scene, and especially as a beloved CBC children’s entertainer.
“I remember when you first pulled me aside,” says Gonzales to his friend. “I remember thinking, ‘Who’s this guy?’”
“Who is this strange bearded man?” jokes Penner.
“I had never heard of the show until then!” says Gonzales laughing, referring to Penner’s cult-favourite kids’ show, Fred Penner’s Place. Gonzales immigrated to Canada 20 years ago, after Fred Penner’s Place was already off the air.
Gonzales and Penner are speaking about the moment when Penner introduced Gonzales to his song, “Somebody Believes”. The music video for the song, featuring Penner and friends, along with moving shots from World Vision programs, recently launched in Canada.
A song is born
It all started with happenstance. Gonzales happened to be pulled into a meeting of World Vision Ambassadors that Penner was attending. “Everyone was eating pizza, and I was telling my story," Gonzales says.
Inspired by Gonzales' story of resilience, Penner jotted down the beginning of the song three years ago. "Within an hour after hearing you speak, I had written the song,” Penner tells his friend. "Hearing you speak, and your enthusiasm got right inside me.”
Making a difference
Penner has been a supporter of World Vision for almost two decades. In the early 2000s, he travelled to Zambia with his son to film a program to promote child sponsorship. The trip had a profound impact, and he’s remained an advocate of World Vision’s work ever since.
“My philosophy is: never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child
. I carry that with me through my music," he says.
Fred Penner, World Vision Canada President Michael Messenger, and former sponsored child Edgar Gonzales. Photo: Corey Scarrow
Gonzales is living proof that believing in a child can have lasting impact. “If someone believes in me, then who am I not to believe in myself?” he says. His sponsors, he says, gave him “hope and inspiration.” Now, “We owe it to the next generation to let them know that we believe in them.”
With this song, that is exactly what Penner hopes to do. “It doesn’t take that much…to give them that sense of purpose, energy and life...That’s why we’re here on this planet.”
Fred and Edgar are part of a world-changing movement that knows no boundaries. Join the movement by sponsoring a child, and changing their life for the better.