Super Love Keeps Dami Grounded
Article by Richard Miller, Compassion Australia
Photograph by Paul Mergard
Dami Im talks about the special relationship that has helped her to keep her X-Factor experience in perspective.
You might recognise her from Channel Seven’s The X Factor: the statuesque young woman in impossible heels and glamorous costumes, her winning smile, her quiet grace and poise. Even if you’re not a television watcher, you’d recognise that incredible voice soaring on your radio waves, most recently in her new single Super Love.
Dami Im—the winner of Australia’s 2013 The X Factor—is a star on the rise. But even in the glare of the media spotlight, this humble 25-year-old is keeping her feet on the ground and her heart open to children living in poverty by partnering with Compassion Australia as an ambassador and sponsor.
She says her support for Compassion began when she was a university student, years before she’d even dreamed of appearing on a television show.
“I got into uni and I was doing some private teaching, music teaching, so I was earning a little bit of money,” Dami says. “I felt like I wanted to do something about the poverty that’s going around in the world … but I didn’t know what to do about it.”
When Dami, a committed Christian, heard about Compassion on the radio and through her local church, she decided to sponsor a child. She knew that through her sponsorship, a child in a developing country would have opportunities to go to school, to receive good nutrition, a safe place to play and much more. It seemed like a good place to start in her fight against poverty, especially when she found out that Compassion works in partnership with local churches in developing communities.
“I feel so humbled to know that by sponsoring a child with Compassion, I’m changing someone’s life in such a big way,” she says.
Her first sponsorship began in 2007, and it didn’t take her long to convince her soon-to-be-husband Noah to sponsor, too.
“We wanted to sponsor children from the same country because we thought one day we could go and visit them together,” she explains.
That was before The X Factor made Dami Im a household name. Little did she know that she would have the chance one day to travel to India with Compassion to meet her sponsored child, Somoli.
Always passionate about music—she plays classical piano and the violin as well as singing—Dami says she was a performer from a young age, but struggled for the confidence to take others’ opinions in her stride. After years of self-doubt, she says she didn’t know whether her dream of a pop music career could ever come true.
When Noah urged her to audition for The X Factor, she saw a way to cast off her shackles and chase her dream.
“When I decided to audition I was at the point where I just really wanted to sing in Australia, but I was so frustrated because I didn’t know how to get that happening. [Noah] just thought I was being too hesitant, and so he gave me a gentle push to try harder. I eventually agreed and decided to give The X Factor a shot.”
From her first audition, it was clear that the Korean-born beauty had a special quality. Viewers all over the country fell in love—and Dami’s quiet life exploded into song.
Yet even in the most hectic months of her life, when her schedule was brimming over with rehearsals, interviews, photo shoots and promotional spots—not to mention the pressure of performing in front of a national audience every week—Dami knew she had to keep her perspective.
It was then that writing letters to Somoli, her sponsored child in India, helped Dami to see the opportunity she had to make a difference in others’ lives. When their relationship began she was a teenager and Somoli just seven. In the years that passed, Dami realised that Somoli didn’t love her because she was a great singer or a TV star—she loved her because they had been through a lot together, they’d written to each other and encouraged each other. It was a small anchor in a storm of media attention, but along with her own faith and her husband’s constant love and support, it helped.
“Through X Factor things were crazy, and even after [the show] a lot of things in my life changed, but having a relationship with my sponsored child kept me more grounded.”
In March 2014, Dami and Somoli met face to face for the first time when Dami and Noah travelled to India with Compassion to see firsthand the difference their sponsorship was making.
Now 14 years old, Somoli dreams of becoming a nurse to help her friends and neighbours access good quality medical care.
Communicating with the help of a translator, and through hugs and gifts, Dami says she could clearly see the difference sponsorship makes in Somoli’s life, and in the lives of children living in poverty in her community.
“I can see that Compassion has started something that is very hopeful,” she says. “A child in the program [has] access to education, help with hygiene, medical things and fitness and all sorts of different care—and they’re being looked after spiritually as well.
“I think it’s really effective that Compassion runs their programs only through churches because local churches understand their area and the children better than anyone … it’s really important that the child gets the opportunity to realise that somebody really cares for them and that they’re not alone in their hardship.
“Now that I’ve seen what Compassion does, I have witnessed that it works.”
About Dami Im
Dami is a South Korean-born Australian singer and music teacher who won the fifth series of The X-Factor Australia in 2013. She released her winner’s single “Alive” and debut album through Sony Music Entertainment Australia, both of which debuted at number one on the ARIA charts and achieved multi-platinum sales. The 25-year-old is a committed Christian from Queensland who attends Brisbane Full Gospel Church with her husband, Noah. Dami immigrated to Australia with her family at the age of nine. She studied at the Young Conservatorium of Music, graduated with honours in music from the University of Queensland, and is an accomplished violinist and pianist.
See more on Dami and her music at: damiim.com
About Compassion Australia
Compassion is Australia’s second largest child sponsorship organisation and is part of Compassion International, a global network of both funding countries and 26 developing countries. Together we are a Christian child development and child advocacy ministry working in partnership with local churches to foster the development of over 1.3 million children living in extreme poverty. More than 100,000 of these children are currently supported by over 73,000 Australian sponsors.
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