Rochester teen to travel to Uganda to meet her sponsored “sister”

Rochester teen to travel to Uganda to meet her sponsored “sister”

16-year-old Caitlin Sullivan and her mum, Tania, will travel to Uganda next week to meet 15-year-old girl, Opisia, who they support through child development charity Compassion UK.


As teenagers across the country will be preparing begin to celebrate the end of their exams in a couple of weeks, Caitlin Sullivan, along with her mum, 41-year-old Tania, will be flying to Uganda just a few hours after her history A-level exam finishes on the 9 June.

The Sullivan family have supported 15-year-old Opisia, for the last eight years – since she was seven. Opisia lives near Jinja, Eastern Uganda in a hillside community where typical houses are constructed of cement floors, brick walls and tin roofs. Most adults in Opisia’s neighbourhood are unemployed but some work as subsistence farmers and earn the equivalent of £6 per month.

“I have grown up in a generation where our main concerns are whether or not you can afford the newest gadget. 15-year-old girls in the UK, me included, can worry about whether we have money to go to the cinema or go shopping at the weekend. We take education as a given, not even really appreciating it. I have never had to worry about when my next meal would be,” shares Caitlin.


Compassion sponsor Tania and her family


Not only do Caitlin and Opisia live countries and cultures apart, their family backgrounds couldn’t be more different. Opisia is an only child, whereas 16-year-old Caitlin Sullivan is sister to 12 siblings – Harry, 13, Eddie, 11, Sid, 10, Patrick, eight, Oliver, six, Joseph, five, twins Anna and Libby, four, Isobel, three, and Tim, two, with her older two siblings having left home. During their trip, dad Mike will be looking after the remaining children at home in Hoo.

Caitlin has been home-educated since she was nine, along with ten of her siblings. One of the benefits of a flexible schedule has been that Caitlin and her family have been able to travel, often for weeks at a time. In 2013 her family spent nine weeks travelling around France and Italy, and earlier this year she travelled to Iceland with her dad.

“This will be a once-in-a-lifetime-trip. I’ll be able to meet Opisia in person, a girl who has been part of our family for eight years but who has never met us. Also, it will great to see the inner workings of Compassion as a whole. We’ll be observing the projects, meeting inspiring people and seeing a place normal to many, but completely unfamiliar to us. I can’t wait to meet Opisia as she’s asked regularly in her letters for us to come and see her; I’m sure she is just as eager to finally meet us!” reflects Caitlin.

The Sullivan family also sponsor 9-year-old Richecarde from Haiti through Compassion UK and Wajeeda, 15, from Sudan through Plan UK and Hilario 10, from Honduras through World Vision.

For more information and photographs contact Ella Dickinson or call 07840 203332.

Becca Stanley

Words by Becca Stanley


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Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.