Elena Alliloueva-Lorigan ’94
Moscow, Russia/ Lynchburg, VA
elorigan [at] childfund [dot] ie
Finance and Sponsor Relations Manager
ChildFund Ireland, Dublin

I was an exchange student at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia for the school year 1993-94. This was a most memorable experience as I made friends with a number of students and several teachers and, as I was in the senior year, I was able to participate in the prom and graduation ceremony.

I was very lucky with my host family, Sally and Walter Merciez. We developed an exceptionally warm friendship and did a lot of things together. I was so homesick when I arrived that I don’t think I’d have lasted a month, not to mind the full year, if not for them. When it was time to leave, the following July, a lot of tears were shed and my host family said they’d never again take another exchange student… They went on to have nine more after me!

When I returned to Moscow in 1994 I entered the Russian State Humanitarian University (RGGU), graduating with a BA in Economics in 1998. Two years later, I completed a Masters in International Economic Relations at Moscow University for International Relations (MGIMO).

I met my husband, Owen Lorigan, in Moscow in 1998; an Irishman, he was studying music at the Moscow Conservatory. We got married in 1999 and moved to Ireland in 2000.

We have two children, Philippe (10) and Sasha (9), who go to the Lycée Français d’Irlande, the Franco-Irish School, in Dublin. As this is part of a world-wide network of schools which follows the French school curriculum, there are many children from families with various cultural and religious backgrounds studying there. This contact helps them to understand and respect the differences that can exist between people.

To me, Ireland is a wonderful place to live, work and raise children. Irish people are warm and friendly; they strongly believe in social equality and respect others, regardless of their cultural background or place in society.

The Irish welcome – céad míle fáilte – is famous around the world, and when it comes
to helping people in the developing world, the Irish have also opened their hearts and purse strings. It is not surprising that in spite of the economic downturn, Ireland, on a per capita basis, remains one of the most generous donors internationally, with the vast majority of Irish households regularly donating to at least one charity.

For the last seven years I have been working for an Irish registered charity called ChildFund Ireland and continue to be surprised by the generosity of Irish people.

ChildFund Ireland is one of 12 members of ChildFund Alliance, a global developmental child sponsorship organisation founded over 70 years ago, which raises €470 million annually and runs operations in 55 countries around the world.

The operations of ChildFund Ireland are divided into two main areas: we receive and manage grants for our programmes from IrishAid, which comes under the department of Foreign Affairs of the Irish Government; and we receive and manage funds from over 3700 Irish individuals who sponsor over 4080 children around the world.

Our programmes include child sponsorship, community and economic development, education, psychosocial support, and food and safe water security, which aim to create long-term, sustainable, community-based solutions to development problems affecting deprived, excluded and vulnerable children and their families.

Child sponsorship is a wonderful way of uniting people from different countries. Just like in student-exchange programmes, connecting the student with the host family, where people who don’t know each other are brought together, often resulting in a life-changing experience, the sponsor and the child get to know each other, although not always in person, but through the writing of letters. We know many success stories where a sponsor’s support has dramatically improved a child’s situation and changed their life for the better. In addition, we have systems in place to allow sponsors visit their sponsored children, which can often be an eye-opening experience for both.

Child sponsorship is also a very transparent way of giving because, as our sponsors can correspond with their sponsored children, they see for themselves the difference their sponsorship makes to the children’s lives. In addition, sponsorship money provides support beyond an individual sponsored child and also assists the child’s family and community. Sponsors also receive an annual child progress report from the project where their sponsored child receives assistance.

Over the years with ChildFund I’ve had the opportunity to visit our projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Thailand, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and India. This past September I travelled to see our programmes in Kenya and Mozambique. These project visits have become one of the highlights of my job as I get to see our work first hand, appreciate the needs of people in the communities and see how ChildFund addresses them.

It doesn’t cost much to sponsor a child; it’s more about caring. It’s simple: the more people move away from being self-focused, the better the world will become! Anyone who would like to learn more can go to http://www.childfund.ie/.

In conclusion, I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity that being an exchange student in the USA gave me 17 years ago and I’m confident that this experience helped me hugely in believing in the innate goodness of people and influenced my life and career choice.

Lynchburg, Virginia was the Start of My International Journey

Elena Alliloueva-Lorigan ’94
Moscow, Russia/ Lynchburg, VA
elorigan@childfund.ie

Finance and Sponsor Relations Manager
ChildFund Ireland
Dublin

I was an exchange student at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia for the school year 1993-94. This was a most memorable experience as I made friends with a number of students and several teachers and, as I was in the senior year, I was able to participate in the prom and graduation ceremony.

I was very lucky with my host family, Sally and Walter Merciez. We developed an exceptionally warm friendship and did a lot of things together. I was so homesick when I arrived that I don’t think I’d have lasted a month, not to mind the full year, if not for them. When it was time to leave, the following July, a lot of tears were shed and my host family said they’d never again take another exchange student… They went on to have nine more after me!

When I returned to Moscow in 1994 I entered the Russian State Humanitarian University (RGGU), graduating with a BA in Economics in 1998. Two years later, I completed a Masters in International Economic Relations at Moscow University for International Relations (MGIMO).

I met my husband, Owen Lorigan, in Moscow in 1998; an Irishman, he was studying music at the Moscow Conservatory. We got married in 1999 and moved to Ireland in 2000.

We have two children, Philippe (10) and Sasha (9), who go to the Lycée Français d’Irlande, the Franco-Irish School, in Dublin. As this is part of a world-wide network of schools which follows the French school curriculum, there are many children from families with various cultural and religious backgrounds studying there. This contact helps them to understand and respect the differences that can exist between people.

To me, Ireland is a wonderful place to live, work and raise children. Irish people are warm and friendly; they strongly believe in social equality and respect others, regardless of their cultural background or place in society.

The Irish welcome – céad míle fáilte – is famous around the world, and when it comes
to helping people in the developing world, the Irish have also opened their hearts and purse strings. It is not surprising that in spite of the economic downturn, Ireland, on a per capita basis, remains one of the most generous donors internationally, with the vast majority of Irish households regularly donating to at least one charity.

For the last seven years I have been working for an Irish registered charity called ChildFund Ireland and continue to be surprised by the generosity of Irish people.

ChildFund Ireland is one of 12 members of ChildFund Alliance, a global developmental child sponsorship organisation founded over 70 years ago, which raises €470 million annually and runs operations in 55 countries around the world.

The operations of ChildFund Ireland are divided into two main areas: we receive and manage grants for our programmes from IrishAid, which comes under the department of Foreign Affairs of the Irish Government; and we receive and manage funds from over 3700 Irish individuals who sponsor over 4080 children around the world.

Our programmes include child sponsorship, community and economic development, education, psychosocial support, and food and safe water security, which aim to create long-term, sustainable, community-based solutions to development problems affecting deprived, excluded and vulnerable children and their families.

Child sponsorship is a wonderful way of uniting people from different countries. Just like in student-exchange programmes, connecting the student with the host family, where people who don’t know each other are brought together, often resulting in a life-changing experience, the sponsor and the child get to know each other, although not always in person, but through the writing of letters. We know many success stories where a sponsor’s support has dramatically improved a child’s situation and changed their life for the better. In addition, we have systems in place to allow sponsors visit their sponsored children, which can often be an eye-opening experience for both.

Child sponsorship is also a very transparent way of giving because, as our sponsors can correspond with their sponsored children, they see for themselves the difference their sponsorship makes to the children’s lives. In addition, sponsorship money provides support beyond an individual sponsored child and also assists the child’s family and community. Sponsors also receive an annual child progress report from the project where their sponsored child receives assistance.

Over the years with ChildFund I’ve had the opportunity to visit our projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Thailand, Ecuador, Mexico, Brazil and India. This past September I travelled to see our programmes in Kenya and Mozambique. These project visits have become one of the highlights of my job as I get to see our work first hand, appreciate the needs of people in the communities and see how ChildFund addresses them.

It doesn’t cost much to sponsor a child; it’s more about caring. It’s simple: the more people move away from being self-focused, the better the world will become! Anyone who would like to learn more can go to http://www.childfund.ie/.

In conclusion, I am very grateful for the amazing opportunity that being an exchange student in the USA gave me 17 years ago and I’m confident that this experience helped me hugely in believing in the innate goodness of people and influenced my life and career choice.

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