AUSTRALIA – Eurovision superstar Dami Im is famed worldwide for her musical success. But the Aussie singer, who has a number one single and album to her name, found her greatest work and passion far from the sparkling stage lights, in one of the most poverty-stricken places on Earth. Im began sponsoring children in poverty when she was 17, through the charity Compassion. She and her husband Noah now sponsor eight kids around the world. To show the vital work the charity does, Im took A Current Affair on a trip to the remote island of Masbate in the Philippines.
“I think it’s easy to sort of get caught up in all this glamour and all the extra things that go on, that get offered to you, and the lifestyle, and just showing off trying to have more and more and more than other people,” Im told reporter Tineka Everaardt. “I think that just makes you feel empty and you’re always hungry for more, and that never satisfies you.”
That search for more meaning led Im, in part, to the Masbate slum the locals call “Waterworld”, where makeshift homes are propped up on stilts above the swamps. The homes have no running water or electricity, and up to a dozen people often squeeze into a hut. Last year, Dami made the journey to Waterworld to visit her sponsor child Rodnie for the first time, and now, she’s back again.
“He’s a beautiful kid, his mum’s really lovely,” Im said. “You could just see his mum was really worried about everything, with their living condition so tough.” When Im visited Rodnie and his mother Lourdes last year, the five-year-old boy had been sick. “He was so skinny, he had cuts and bruises everywhere,” Im said. “The worst thing is, you know, if you have a family member that’s sick and you can’t afford to go to the doctors and you just have to watch them be sick, no family should go through that.” But a year later, and with the support of Compassion, Rodnie is doing better.
He now gets healthcare for the first time in his life, and is going to school – a rarity in the regional Philippines, where many kids are forced to work. “He’s just come to life,” Im said. Lourdes said she was “very thankful” for the help her family had received.
And Im also donated a selection of musical instruments to the whole community. “I think there’s so many different charities and messages that we hear every day, and you just don’t know what happens on the other side,” she said. “But for me, I’ve seen these kids, these families in real life, and I’ve seen the difference it makes. I’ve seen how my sponsor kids actually change for the better in just a year of sponsorship.
“It really changes the lives of these children and I just want everyone to know that there is something that we can do to help and make a change.”