Australian Georgie Paschalis could not anticipate the surprise that she was about to have. When she sat in front of the computer, a familiar face showed up in a video message. The woman on the other side of the screen resembled the picture of the girl she had kept on her nightstand for so many years.
"Oh my God!" she said bursting into tears. On the computer screen, all the way from Kenya, a smiling and happy Nancy appeared.
In 1994, a 20-year-old Georgie Paschalis was still living at her parents’ house in Melbourne, Australia. One day, after watching a World Vision documentary on Africa, the young woman decided to sponsor a child. She did not ask for permission, nor tell anyone about her desire to become a sponsor. A few days later, she received a picture of a little girl in the mail.
"It was just about giving, and it was about me hoping that I could make a difference," Georgie said recently, looking back at what she did.
What Georgie didn’t know at the time, was that her generosity would have a significant impact in that little girl’s life, who, like millions of children around the world, lacked basic health care, education, and access to clean water.
A girl named Nancy
As a child, Nancy couldn’t imagine what her future was going to be like. Born in Kajiado County, in Kenya, she moved with her mother and brothers to Oltepesi – a dry lowland area without running water – after her parents broke up.
"I remember asking for water for the first time; they brought me a brown liquid, that looked like African tea. I realized that it was in fact water, but it was water from a pond," Nancy remembers. She also recalls seeing other women in her community fetching water on their backs for up to five kilometres.
Nancy dreamed of a different life. She wanted to study. But because she was a girl, Nancy was discouraged from getting an education or pursuing a career.
"A girl was considered – and maybe still is – inferior to a boy. I was not supposed to be brighter than the boys,” she explains.
One for all…
Georgie's support of Nancy through World Vision’s sponsorship program helped her stay in school. It also delivered new uniforms, books, handbags, clothing, school subsidies, new classrooms and clean water tanks for many students in the area.
Nancy used to flee to the comfort of books and school and would read everything she could find.
Nancy worked hard and was a top student in high school. The confused and isolated Kenyan girl, who used every moment of spare time she had to read, had finally found herself.
Not only did she graduate from high school, but Nancy also went on to university to study veterinary medicine. At age 34, she held a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in project planning and management, from the University of Nairobi.
"But I'm most proud of my high school certificate, even more than my master's degree. Because this was the turning point in my life and proved that I could do anything I wanted, "said Nancy.
Nancy has had many accomplishments both in her personal and professional life.
Today Nancy is a humanitarian aid worker. She has been to Ethiopia and South Sudan to manage emergency relief efforts. She worked on agricultural and livestock programs in northern Kenya. Since the fall of 2018 she has led the emergency aid response in East Africa for a major international development agency.
In addition to her professional achievements, Nancy has much to celebrate in her personal life as well. She is the mother of a 10-year-old daughter.
Back in Melbourne, the video with the message from Nancy ends, and Georgie’s eyes are filled with tears. Her sense of fulfillment in seeing a little girl become a confident mother and a humanitarian aid worker, is more than she wished for.
Nancy concludes, "I'm grateful for what she did, and how much it meant to me. Thanks to Georgie and World Vision, I had the chance to get an education."
“If I had not gone through high school, I would not be at this level in life because that is what has determined everything else,” Nancy says.