Published Tue, Mar 12, 19. Written by Caroline Wilkins.
By: Patricia Carroll
Seven years ago I decided to sponsor a child. I entered into it with the idea that I was going something really good for a child in need, but at the same time, in the back of my mind, I was thinking about how it made me look really kind and good for doing it. (Go ME!!) I proudly sent off my first letter, telling her all about me and my family, and the place I lived, asked a few questions about her and waited impatiently for my first letter from her. It came, just a few dictated and translated lines from a seven year old who could not yet write well, along with a drawing of a ball and a doll, and I proudly showed it off, this letter from MY child. (Go ME!!) I wrote her again, telling her all about things I was doing, asked a few more questions about her schoolwork and again impatiently waited. I had good intentions of writing her once a month, as any good sponsor would. (Go ME!!) Well, I never seemed to actually get around to doing that, but when I got a letter I would reply right away because I was a good sponsor! (Go ME!!) This went on for a couple of years, and I was pleased with myself for the good I was doing (not that I actually KNEW exactly what good I was doing, but I was sending money and that had to be good, so Go ME!!).
But then, I had the opportunity to travel to meet my sponsor child.
I thoughtfully chose gifts to take her (and told all my friends what I was taking her .) (G0 ME!!) Would she like the gifts I brought? Would she remember that I had sent birthday and Christmas gifts through the sponsorship organization every year? (Go ME!!) Would she recognize me? Surely she would, because like a good sponsor I had sent pictures and told her all about me. (Go ME!!)
The van arrived and Kirabo and her translator got out. We did know each other instantly from our pictures. That beautiful girl came to me with a shy smile and hugged me and in that instant all the Go ME!! in me was gone. In that instant I understood that this was never about me. And as we sat and talked, and painted her nails and put together puzzles, and colored in coloring books together it became more and more about her.
I came home and my letters were no longer about ME, they were all about her and all the things she told me; her life, her family, her hopes and dreams. Child sponsorship was no longer about helping a child and making myself look good in the process. It was now about helping a child achieve all she could achieve and be all she could be. It was now about the fact that the money pays for school uniforms and supplies she needs. It was now about the fact that it funds afterschool enrichment programs that improve her study skills and advance her learning. It was now about the fact that it helps pay for more nutritious food than might otherwise be available.
I have been lucky enough to visit with my child every year for the last four years. I take pictures of us when I am there, and send them to her once I have come home. She’s a teenager now. I have been so blessed by having the opportunity to walk through these growing up years with her. I cannot wait to see the adult she becomes. And what’s in it for me? Nothing that matters! What’s in it for her? So much to improve her future! And that is all that matters!