Have you ever found yourself saying to your kids around the dinner table “Don’t you realise there are children around the world starving and would do anything to eat that dinner you’re not eating”? It’s ok, don’t answer out loud, just nod and agree that we sound like our own parents, right?!
One of the hardest things is teaching our kids how blessed they really are. How blessed they are to live in our nation of Australia, how blessed they are that they get to go to school, in a car, with a school uniform and a packed lunch. How blessed they are that they get to travel the world and even walk out their front door and enjoy amazing activities in our own city. How do you teach that to a kid? They have no concept of anything else except what they can physically see around them. It’s not their fault that they were born into the family and environment they live in BUT it is our responsibility to teach them that their world is far greater than they can imagine and full of people and children who go without so many of the things we take for granted.
One of the ways we teach our kids about the world and the amazing people within it is by partnering with an organisation and sponsoring a child from a developing country around the world. Through child sponsorship we have been able to not only support a child as they grow and go through school but through their sponsorship we are supporting their whole family. Let me tell you a bit about one of our sponsor children.
I was 16 years old and just started working part-time. I was living at home and spent most of my time dancing, dance teaching and going on adventures with friends. I was at a conference where Compassion Australia were giving the opportunity to sponsor children from all over the world and I had this excitement come over me. I actually had an income now and could afford to support a child and support their entire family somewhere overseas. Straight after the meeting I went down to the Compassion Australia stand and became rather overwhelmed at the wall of children staring back at me. How do you choose? You just want to help them all! One of the workers must have noticed my overwhelm as she came over and offered some help. Eventually I found him, this gorgeous little guy who was 5 years old and lived in Haiti. He was the same age as one of the groups of kids I taught dance to and I just imagined him fitting right into my class of cheeky, bubbly, fun 5 year olds! He had a love for soccer, swimming and volleyball. He also carried water, gathered firewood and did gardening. He lived with his mother and 2 other siblings. I remember having to call my parents to come and sign off on my paperwork as I was underage!
My little guy isn’t so little anymore! We’ve been writing letters back and forth for 16 years now! He is 21 and in his last year of the program. The things I have learnt from him are many. I still remember the time he got to go on a school excursion that my sponsorship money paid for. He went for a trip to the city and got to have a look at a hotel for the first time. He told me all about that hotel, every little detail including the paint on the walls! He was blown away at how grand it was and you can imagine that in Port de Paix, Haiti it wouldn’t have been as grand as maybe some of the hotels you’ve seen. He ended his letter asking if I will ever get to stay in a hotel? Pretty sure I burst into tears! Oh the different worlds we live in…
Before our own kids came along I attempted to plan a trip to visit him. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be and I have never told him that we tried. He still signs his letter off saying that one day he hopes that we’ll meet and I still hold hope that maybe that will happen.
When our daughter was born we sponsored another child. This time it was a girl from Rwanda. She has now left the project and gone onto work to support her family which has left a space in our family. This past week we have been going through the process of finding a new child to welcome into our family and this time we have chosen a sweet girl from Thailand of similar age to our daughter. Our hope is that they will be able to write letters back and forth and create a friendship that they will share forever. Maybe one day they will meet face to face and of not they will always have the letters they have shared and stories they have told.
Having these amazing children as a part of our lives has opened up many conversations with our kids about the world and the places they live. We have talked about the type of houses they live in, how they get to school, what they normally eat everyday and what language they speak. We have Google Earth’d where they live and had a look around their home towns to help the kids get a further understanding of how their lives are so different. Gosh we are blessed to have the internet to help us learn!
There are many different organisations that offer child sponsorship and from as little as a dollar a day. So why not welcome another child into your world and help teach your kids about this amazing and sometimes unfair world that we live in? I promise you that it is just as rewarding for you as it is for them.