Action plan opens up a whole new world

PUBLISHED: 14:36 25 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:14 06 May 2010

Ruth White with her sponsored child and her family

Ruth White with her sponsored child and her family

RUTH White is still spinning with excitement after her one-year round-the-world journey. The 47-year-old mother-of-two, of Stevenage Road, Hitchin, decided to leave her job and take a once-in-a-lifetime trip. After taking in 14 countries, several adventur

RUTH White is still spinning with excitement after her one-year round-the-world journey.

The 47-year-old mother-of-two, of Stevenage Road, Hitchin, decided to leave her job and take a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

After taking in 14 countries, several adventures and a visit to a child she sponsors in Bolivia, Ruth is home and thrilled with her accomplishment.

The dream to get up and go had always been at the back of Ruth's mind, but the final push came one day at work.

Ruth is a welfare benefits advisor for the Citizens' Advice Bureau.

"I was interviewing a client and I had to ask her nationality.

"She informed me she was English, and then went on to proudly tell me that she had never left her hometown of Luton.

"It struck me so much and was incentive enough to make me put my plans into action rather than sitting on them any longer, as so often we do," said Ruth.

She took the brave decision to re-mortgage her home and said goodbye to her two sons, 22-year-old Stephen who works as a sound engineer and 20-year-old John who's studying economics at Warwick University.

"My friends thought I was mad, but I just knew I had to do it. Something inside was calling me.

"I'd seen so many elderly people through the work I do who have never really been anywhere.

"Then they get ill or housebound, so even though they may have the money in the bank, they can't do anything with it.

"I just knew I couldn't be on my deathbed and say 'I didn't do it'."

The major highlight of Ruth's trip happened when she was in Bolivia and she had the chance to meet Daniella, who she's been sponsoring through the development agency, Plan.

"I had done many things in my year, but for some reason I felt nervous about this visit.

"However, I was in good hands because the staff at Plan Bolivia couldn't have been more friendly and accommodating.

"When we arrived at the school the children were there to greet us and there was a wave of excitement.

"When I got out of the car I was surrounded by a sea of about 45 enthusiastic and curious children.

"This was amazing. Daniella was pointed out to me and was shy to meet me, which wasn't surprising really as she clearly felt in the spotlight in front of all her friends."

Ruth was treated to a concert in celebration of Sea Day and then given a tour of the school, which was built by Plan.

"I felt elated to have seen the whole thing and to have met everybody.

"The experience left me very moved, and I was so impressed at the work Plan has done, not least at all because I had visited other very rural areas where there was no such involvement, and the difference was profoundly striking," said Ruth.

Plan International works in 90,000 communities in 62 countries around the world, operating with a child-centred ethos.

Children are at the heart of Plan's activities.

The charity has 119,000 sponsors in the UK, donating money monthly to help children and their families in developing countries such as Bolivia.

Ruth found the trip to the village very emotional and said: "I could feel tears welling up in my eyes and had to try very hard not to blub."

Looking back on her year away, Ruth feels both proud and hungry for more.

"I came back feeling like a billion dollars, feeling totally alive and guess what? I want to do it all again."

If you'd like to sponsor a child visit the charity's website at www.plan-inter national.org


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