Press Release

A conclusion of the incident in which a sponsored child’s photos led to concerns about his identity and World Vision Hong Kong’s latest response

When World Vision Hong Kong found out about the incident, we immediately followed it up with World Vision Ethiopia. The staff were able to get in touch with Natnael, the sponsored child. We have filmed a short video for Natnael to thank his sponsor and emailed to the sponsor. Natnael firmly believes that it is due to his sponsor’s continued support since 2011 that he is able to plan better for his future. To allay public concerns, we have included part of the video in a post on Facebook, but for the sake of protecting the privacy and dignity of our sponsored child, preventing the exposure of his personal data and respecting his own will, we have blurred part of Natnael’s face in the video. The original video is sent only to the sponsor for her personal viewing and will not be made available to any third parties.

In the past, in order to facilitate the processing procedures, the Annual Progress Reports of each sponsored child were mailed directly to the sponsor from the office of the child’s country. Ms. Yordanos Berger, Programme Manager of World Vision Ethiopia, also wholeheartedly apologises for the human error in Natnael’s Annual Progress Report of 2019, in which a photo of another sponsored child from the same community was wrongly attached. She further explains the various challenges that the local office used to encounter when photographing an enormous number of sponsored children within a limited period of time, that human error may occur on rare occasions due to the remoteness of the communities and the need to involve volunteers and community members. However, World Vision has been gradually improving the procedures of handling sponsored children’s photos. By transitioning the process from manual sorting to a mobile app which matches sponsored children’s photos and personal data in a digitalised and centralised manner, we are determined to prevent such mismatches from happening again.

In the emails sent by World Vision Hong Kong in 2018 and 2019 concerning Natnael’s birthday, as well as a reminder email sent last week of the upcoming Annual Progress Report of 2020, the latest photos were not attached and this have caused confusion for the sponsor. Once again, we sincerely apologise for all the concerns caused among our sponsors and the general public. We have immediately begun reviewing the processing of sponsored children’s photo and improved the communications with our donors.

In view of the widespread discussions raised among the general public about Child Sponsorship in the aftermath of this incident, World Vision Hong Kong issued a statement to thank the sponsor’s support and netizens’ opinions. We promised that we would continue to improve and refine the procedures of our work, collaborate with our offices in different parts of the world, and strengthen our checking and monitoring processes, so as to ensure that our donors are provided with accurate information and that their donations are carefully and appropriately used. We also emphasised that it is because of the support of our donors we have been able to turn the communities into better places alongside children and families in need, making progress in sectors such as health, education, water, livelihoods and child protection, while also gradually empowering them an opportunity to experience transformation of life. Finally we assured the public that this sponsorship journey is precious for each and every sponsored child and their families concerned, and on behalf of all our sponsored children, we thank their sponsors for their unwavering and continued support.


Published on 3 Feb 2021

World Vision provides food and hygiene kits to affected people in quake-hit Hait......

[2021/08/17] A 7.2-magnitude earthquake rattled Southwestern Haiti on 14 August 2021. The death toll rose to nearly 1,300 on ......

Seven million people in East Africa are starving, urgent help is needed

[2021/07/08] The global COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by climate change and conflicts, is devastating the world’s poor, with ......

Spring Charity Walk for Children ends on a high note

[2021/03/06] The Closing Ceremony and Prize Presentation of Spring Charity Walk for Children 2021 was held today (6 March). T......

World Vision kicks off “30-Hour Famine 2021” online fundraising appeal today

[2021/01/14] The 30-Hour Famine 2021, jointly organised by World Vision Hong Kong and Commercial Radio Hong Kong, kicked off ......

32 gifts from World Vision’s Gift Catalogue help vulnerable children change live......

[2020/12/11] Christmas is a time of giving, and for many this year, the need is greater than ever. By picking Christmas gifts......

Blast in Beirut Leaves 500,000 people in Dire Need of Help, World Vision calls f......

[2020/08/06] The massive explosion in Lebanon's capital Beirut on 4 August has left up to 500,000 people in need of humanitar......

Aftershock of COVID-19 forces Eight Million children in Asia into begging, worki......

[2020/08/04] World Vision warns that as many as eight million children in Asia alone could be exposed to harm through begging......

COVID-19 will put 4 million girls at risk of child marriage, World Vision Intern......

[2020/05/25] Aftershocks – A Perfect Storm, a report released by World Vision International earlier this month, reveals that ......

91% of Children surveyed by World Vision felt distressed by COVID-19

[2020/05/04] World Vision interviewed 101 children and young people from focus groups in 13 developing countries over the pas......