At age 11, Tylyn Silander saw a World Vision commercial on TV and immediately knew she wanted to help children in Third World countries.
Right then and there, she packed her suitcase and insisted she would move out if her mom didn’t agree to sponsor a child.
Now just days after her 18th birthday, Silander has had the same sponsor child for nearly six years.
And she may have the opportunity to meet the little girl she’s been helping all this time when she travels to Peru in August through World Vision’s “Destination Life Change” program.
“This has been one of my biggest goals and I’m so excited to be able to achieve it before I’m an adult,” Silander enthused about going to work with children and families struggling with poverty.
“I want to use what I’m good at to help other people,” she added, noting she already spends much of her time with children from baby-sitting daily, to volunteering in the Special Education department, and having her co-op placement at the local nursery school.
“And I’m excited to see [my sponsor child], who will turn six just before I get there.
“I’ve helped her pretty much since the time she was born,” Silander said.
It was during March Break that Silander decided to fill out the application for the program online. She didn’t think she would get accepted—mostly because being 18 years old was a requirement and she was only 17 when she applied.
“But I got an interview and then when they called to say I had been accepted, I couldn’t believe it,” she remarked, adding she’s the youngest-ever selected to participate in the program.
Silander will be in Peru from Aug. 7-20 to assist with the El Milagro project—an ongoing community development task focused on benefitting sponsored children.
Before leaving, Silander must find sponsors for five children in Peru. She already has found sponsors for three of them.
“Child sponsorship is one of the most effective and exciting ways to make a long-term impact in the life of a child and within that child’s community,” the World Vision website states.
Silander explained to sponsor a child means a one-year commitment of just $1.16 a day ($36 a month).
She then will be able to meet the five individual children that she found sponsors for, and gain an appreciation for how each child’s life can be transformed by this new relationship with a Canadian sponsor.
Silander already is researching and preparing for her trip by learning about the language and culture there.
For example, she knows she must ask each child before making any physical contact with them, such as a hug or a hand shake.
“It’s all about security for the children because we don’t know what they’ve been through,” she explained, saying volunteers also are not allowed to give money to the families there and should not promise them anything unless they are certain they will fulfil it.
While in Peru, Silander also will be teaching children through a photography workshop.
“It will be art therapy by allowing them to use the technology we have,” she noted.
However, in order for Silander to assist the children in Peru, she must raise money to help fund the trip, which she’s required to pay for herself.
She indicated the cost is about $2,000 for accommodations, food, and transportation around Peru, plus airfare, immunizations, and other extras—bringing the total cost of her two-week trip to $4,000-$5,000.
She will be holding a garage sale, in addition to a spaghetti dinner/silent auction, to help raise some of the funds.
Silander is hoping individuals and businesses will offer some donations.
“I have always wanted to change the world,” she stressed. “And some people told me I couldn’t and I just said watch me.
“This is my chance to help others and to prove I can change the world,” she reasoned.
“I don’t care if it starts small.”
Having had a difficult four years in high school, Silander also sees her trip to Peru as a chance to be herself.
“I won’t be judged for it—instead, I’ll be accepted for what I’m doing,” she noted.
Silander plans to study child and youth development at Confederation College when she returns from Peru. And after she obtains her schooling, she wants to continue to work in Third World countries.
For more information about the program, call Joanna Robertson at 1-905-565-6200 ext. 3480.
To make a donation or sponsor a child, call Silander at 274-4425 (home) or 275-6874 (cell).