Former Sponsored Child Pays It Forward

Stories of Hope      4 min read

“World Vision began in Korea in 1950 to help many children suffering from the Korean War. And I was one of those children supported by World Vision.”

- Oh Sung-Sam


After the Korean War in the 1950s, countless orphans and widows struggled to survive. Hungry children scavenged for food; mothers worked 15-hour days in factories or peddled wares on the street to make ends meet.


It was around that time also that Oh Sung-Sam lost his father, causing his family to plunge into poverty. His mother sewed clothes in a factory, but she didn’t earn enough to support Sung-Sam and his two younger brothers. When he was nine, he went to live in an orphanage to ease his family’s burden. But all that didn’t stop him from hoping for a better life.


When Sung-Sam was 10, the Gustafson family from the United States entered his life through World Vision’s Child Sponsorship Programme. From that moment on, his life would never be the same again.


Sung-Sam, now 73, came in person to Malaysia to share about his incredible life journey, how World Vision helped him, and his promise to pay it forward with us as we celebrated World Vision’s 70th Anniversary in January 2020.


Passing on hope


Sung-Sam believes strongly in passing on love and opportunities to others in need. "I started with three children and increased the number to 68." Two years prior to retirement, Sung-Sam was sponsoring 46 children and now in retirement, he still sponsors 10. He also continues to stay in contact with his sponsors, the Gustafsons, and the friendship now spans three generations.


Reflecting on his half-century-long journey with World Vision, Sung-Sam said with emotion: “I was once a sponsored child, but now I have become a sponsor. When facing difficulties in life, we may feel like the hardships never end. We need to tell people in despair that there is no ordeal too severe to overcome. It is my sincere hope that World Vision will keep walking with children for whom dreams are just a luxury, so that one day they can realise their dreams.”


Because of his sponsors, Sung-Sam could hope for a brighter future despite growing up during the aftermath of the Korean War. And because of you, vulnerable children today can have hope too, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Join Sung-Sam and many other child sponsors around the world to make a difference for children today.

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