February 20, 2022


A tragic family death, that could have seen the lives of her children spiral into poverty, instead prompted a mum to change the lives of Australian children doing it tough.

Experiencing the loss of her husband when her children were very young, gave Marianne a unique perspective on the struggles of families.Advertisement

“In 1984 my husband died suddenly when my daughters were four years and 18 months old,” Marianne explains. “As a single parent, the saving grace was that I was financially secure and could provide for my children. It was a huge relief.”

Decades on, Marianne is now a psychologist. She has seen in her job how family hardship can cause a child to disengage and miss opportunities at school. Some who fall behind will disengage forever and never achieve their potential. Marianne wanted to pay forward her gratitude for always being able to provide for her children. So, when she heard The Smith Family could match her with an Australian child in need, to help them make the most of their education, she seized the chance.

The Smith Family’s sponsorship program provides three key pillars of support – financial support for school essentials; guidance from a Learning for Life Coordinator who works with the family to identify the specific needs of that child; and access to out-of-school learning and mentoring programs.

Today, Marianne is a proud sponsor to two students facing complex challenges at home and school. Thanks to Marianne, the parents of her sponsored students can buy learning essentials. Things like books, stationery and uniforms, they might otherwise go without.

“Not having basic things to fit in, like the right school shoes, can affect a child’s self-esteem. It can make it hard for them to pay attention and learn,” she explains. “But when a student can walk into school in proper full uniform, they can feel good. They know ‘I’m part of this, I have a right to be here’.”

The out-of-school learning and mentoring programs enable her students to build the skills they need to thrive in class and beyond. “They have one-on-one homework help, they have extra tuition,” she says. “They can focus on specific areas they’re behind in.”

Marianne realises it may shock some people to learn one in six children and young people live in poverty in a supposedly rich country like Australia. “If you live in a more affluent part of the city, you don’t necessarily recognise how many people do live in poverty,” she says. But understanding the hurdles these students face, Marianne feels a personal responsibility to do something. “It’s just a regular withdrawal on my credit card: it’s so easy yet makes such a difference.”

She invites others who can, to do the same. “It’s really important that children know that they matter, not just to people in their personal lives, but by the wider community,” she says. “My sponsorship can have enormous impact, boosting a student’s confidence, and ability to learn, and giving them a brighter future. It’s a simple way to make an enormous difference.”

While we’re all excitedly labelling our children’s school books and fitting them out in uniforms, it’s worth asking ourselves if we could help support other Aussie kids to feel that same start of school buzz.

To find out how to become a sponsor and make a lasting difference to a child in need, visit The Smith Family.

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  • I think the Smith family is bloody amazing


  • The Smith Family do a wonderful job. Sad that so many are living in poverty. This lady is lovely to give so much given she has had so much heartache herself.


  • She’s an amazing women.


  • What a wonderful & inspiring woman


  • What an amazing woman! Love the Smith Family, such a great charity, and helps a lot of families in need.


  • wow what an amazing woman to go through something that tragic while her kids were so young and make something positive happen from it


  • What a wonderful outcome from such tragic beginnings


  • Doing a great job. The kids less fortunate thank you.


  • Truly inspiring!!


  • Its a wonderful program but isn’t it a shame that these multi billionaires don’t help more. Just a few of them could solve the poverty issue in their own countries.


  • Amazing job, we need people like this everyday.


  • Sad for kids to be in poverty. Good work the Smith Family are doing.


  • This is good to hear


  • Wear the stylish Avila to avail with your little one.


  • We turned my daughter at 18 months due to her having long legs I will try longer with my second though.


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