It’s afternoon in New Brunswick. Flipping through the channels, Matthew** (names changed) sees the face of a child in a developing country, and pauses to listen to his story. The little boy is six years old, his name is Pedro, and he lives with his mother and siblings near a landfill. His days aren’t spent in school; they are spent with his family scavenging through piles of garbage that this morning’s truck has brought. Perhaps today, they will find enough bits and pieces to salvage and sell so that they can have enough to eat tonight. Pedro wants his mom to be proud of him, so he does his very best, but he’s tired, he’s hungry, and he knows the day will be long, hot, and dirty.
The narrator appeals to the viewer to sponsor a child like Pedro in order to provide for him the best chance to develop and grow, to provide nourishment and education, to show him that someone cares.
Matthew watches, trying to understand how this could be possible, how there could be children in these situations around the world. A few questions stand out above the rest. “Is this child real? How do I know that my money will go to this child?”
He turns the TV off, and walks away, convinced that he can’t possibly make a difference.
In Honduras, it’s letter writing day at a local church supported by Compassion. Little Juan writes to his sponsor, a woman named Michelle from the United States. A minimum of three times a year, the sponsored children write to their sponsors. Sponsors are encouraged to write as often as they’d like, but Juan has never received any communication from his sponsor. He struggles to find ways to catch his sponsor’s attention. In his notebook is a record of all the letters he has written, as well as all the questions he has asked. The questions that have previously gone unanswered. He longs to know his sponsor, but he’s not sure he ever will. The only questions on his heart as he stares at the blank page are... “Is my sponsor real? How do I know my letters are reaching her? Do I matter?”
Still, he writes. He is grateful for the sponsorship that allows him to come to the project and receive all the benefits he desperately needs.
Maria takes a seat next to him as he writes. She’s been waiting for a sponsor for over a year. She too has many questions. “Are sponsors real? If so, why don’t I have one? Am I not pretty enough? Did I do something wrong? When will it be my turn?”
Before this trip, all we had ever heard was the North American perspective -- “Are these children real? How do I know my money will help them?”
The perspective from the children was completely unexpected... “Are sponsors really real?”
This little boy wanted to see a photo of all the children we sponsor. His eyes grew big when he saw that I really was a sponsor, even if I wasn't HIS sponsor. His name is Jesus Humberto, and someday, he would love to meet his sponsor. In the meantime, he followed me around all day and let me the one standing in his sponsor's place for the day, loving on him and spending time with him. He's precious.
The majority of us on this tour actually sponsor children in Honduras, several from projects we’ve visited this week. We have been in the homes of sponsored and unsponsored children, we have seen them, spent time with them, held them, talked with them, met their families... It doesn’t get any more real than that. We were blessed to be the ones to bring the proof to these children that yes, sponsors are real. We are real, just as these children are real. The money does help, the letters do matter.
On Friday, I met the Sponsorship and Correspondence Representative from our sponsor child Bessy’s project. She took many photos of Bessy and I, not only to capture the memories of that precious day, but to show the children back at the project that yes, sponsors are real.
I plan to bring photos of Bessy and I back home with me, to let people know “Yes, these children exist, they are real.”
To become a real sponsor to a real child today, please consider sponsorship...
For sponsorship from Canada, please click here
For sponsorship from the U.S.A., here is a link from my friend Kristen, a U.S. advocate for Compassion.