In three days my step son Bill (Will) and I leave for Malawi with World Vision. It is kind of hard to explain, but the preparation for this trip, particularly purchasing little gifts like crayons, school supplies and other items for the children we will meet can invoke deep emotions. Both of us will be meeting our own sponsored children on this trip and have taken the time to purchase special things for these children and their families.
Bill had an extraordinary experience today; this is what happened in his words:
I went to the dollar store today to purchase a few more gifts for the kids in Malawi, mainly more things for my sponsored child’s birthday. When I got to the cash I started a conversation with the girl at the checkout. I ended up explaining to her what the items I was purchasing were for, and her eyes lit up. She went on to explain to me that she herself was once a sponsored child, when she was growing up in Rwanda, from the age of five until eighteen. She told me that she was very grateful to her sponsors and the money they sent her monthly allowed her to go to a good school and helped feed her. Most of all she was just grateful that through the hard times someone on the other side of the world cared and was willing to help. They exchanged pictures, gifts and letters over the years as well, and receiving a package from her sponsor was always very exciting for her. She elaborated and told me that people who think it is a scam or that the money doesn’t get there are wrong.
It was all I could do to hold back the tears as I left the store, an in person example that what organizations like World Vision are doing is helping those people. I wish all the naysayers could have a conversation with Jouduis, I think their opinion would quickly change. She even made more of a believer out of me. Three days till my flight.
I have often said that one of the reasons people don’t take the step to sponsor a child through World Vision is that they believe that the overall problem is too big and that it isn’t likely that sponsoring one child can put a dent in the problem. I believe that World Vision’s approach works on many levels and that their philosophy of offering a hand up, not a hand out is the only way of tackling this problem.
I have also always believed, and I think Bill’s experience today proves, that even though you may not be able to solve the entire problem by sponsoring one child, there is something quite profound and meaningful to them in the knowledge that someone else in the world, who they don’t even know, actually cares about them! This was confirmed today by Jouduis – what other conclusion could they come to? This has to be very uplifting to people living in such dire conditions, I think this alone is a good enough reason to sponsor a child and their family.
There aren’t many people that start sponsoring children at the age Bill is at, they understandably have other priorities as they are just starting out and would rather spend money on other things, but I can tell from his reaction today that this was an unexpected and extremely moving experience for him, and he has no regrets.
This is Bill’s sponsored child “Chikondi”, who we will meet in the next couple of weeks.