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New Zealand New Idea

21 August 2004

Saving Lives

Xena's Lucy Lawless becomes a real-life heroine as she steps up for World Vision to save children's lives

Well-known across the world for her lead role in Xena: Warrior Princess, stunning Kiwi actress Lucy Lawless is now being recognised for her humanitarian work with children.

Already a recognised and respected advocate of children's health in New Zealand, Lucy is also helping children overseas through child sponsorship.

Lucy has sponsored Even Banik in Bangladesh over the past 10 years, and he now looks as happy and healthy as any Kiwi 14-year-old. Even was recently delighted to receive a soccer ball from his famous sponsor when the CEO of World Vision NZ -Helen Green - visited his home.

However, Even hasn't always had a smile on his handsome face. Last year he developed a bacterial infection in his armpits, which couldn't be treated in World Vision's local medical clinic. He was in danger of life-threatening septicaemia, so the World Vision staff quickly took him to the Calcutta Hospital, where he was operated on and treated with strong antibiotics.
Even now appears quite recovered, but still has one more trip to India for his final check-up. 'Please pray for me that I can be fully recovered,' he wrote to his sponsor.

For Lucy, it's proof of how vital child sponsorship is. 'It really is a matter of life and death for these children,' she says.
'All the things we take for granted here: Specialist children's hospitals, accident and emergency care 24/7 is just a car ride away, antibiotics are readily available - not to mention good food, clean water and all the supposed necessities of life,' Lucy says.

'They're not a "given" for the children who need our sponsorship. I'm just really happy the money I give every month goes such a long way.'

It's not the first time Lucy's sponsorship has saved a life. In the Malawian village of Chiponde, extra money she sent for her sponsored child, Jailos, helped save the entire village from starvation in 2002. Jailos' grandfather - a canny village headman - had saved up money in the bank for Jailos' education. But when he saw how the harvests were failing, he withdrew some of the cash, leased some more land, bought seeds and fertiliser and had the village planting. The harvest of maize meant the village nad enough to carry them through the lean times.

'I saw those full granaries with my own eyes,' says Helen Green, who visited the village just after the harvest.
'And it was so astonishing to see the amount of maize there. It was the only village in Malawi we visited that had plenty of food in that time of famine.'

Back in Bangladesh, Even's mother told Helen how grateful she is for Lucy's sponsorship. 'She said they couldn't have got Even to the hospital without help from World Vision.' Mrs Green says.

Although Even's family is poor and live in a one-room house, they feel they are very well off in comparison to others in their village. They talked about being fortunate. The children are in school and the mother hopes Even will further his education. He speaks a little English, and he certainly seems to be a bright boy and full of promise. To me, this little family was a great example of what child sponsorship can do.

Even's medicines were displayed on the only shelf in the room; they were so proud of them, and so grateful.'

World Vision is looking to find New Zealand sponsors for needy children in Bangladesh and India. To sponsor a child, or to inquire about sponsorship, please phone 0800 80 2000 or log on to .

A special offer to New Idea readers who sponsor a child before the end of August - a free copy of Brooke Fraser's album What To Do With Daylight.

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