Friday, December 24, 2010

Africa Day 8- "Child Sponsorship" (Ghana)

Children are such a blessing from God! I would love to have children of my own someday. But my husband and I have been married three years now and still haven’t been able to start a family. We trust that God will bless us in His timing.
But today….He put someone special into our lives.  His name is Alfred! And I am his new World Vision child sponsor. I wish you could meet him!

Alfred is 8-years-old, lives in Ghana and loves building his own toy cars. He wants to be a banker someday. His mother sells charcoal, his father is a farmer and his 4 siblings each have his same contagious smile. I’m so proud!

It was Alfred’s smile that first drew me to him. He’s learning English in school but only understands a few words so far. Yet, his smile speaks a thousand words. His smile immediately told me that this boy is kind, generous, gracious, humble, respectful and loving. And in my brief afternoon meeting Alfred, he was all that and more.

I wanted to become a child sponsor for many reasons. Most of all, I want to make a difference. This two-week trip through Africa has taught me how truly blessed most of us are in America. We don’t need chickens, goats or cows in our own backyard to keep our families from starving. Most of us can hop in our cars and make a quick run to the grocery store. Maybe we’ll pull over to the drug store and fill a prescription. Or maybe we’ll get thirsty and pull into Sonic for quick drink.

That doesn’t happen where Alfred lives. His daily chore is to go fetch water for his family. So after school he hikes to the local well and pumps it into a bucket.

How can I really make a difference in Alfred’s life? Should I send him money? Should I send him lots of gifts? I know now from this trip that there really are certain gifts I can give that will change Alfred’s life forever.

For one, just becoming his child sponsor means I am now financially enabling the World Vision staff in Ghana to help make his community better. Although he wants to be a banker, if I just gave Alfred money at this age he probably wouldn’t know how to spend it. Someone else would use it for him and maybe not on things that directly help my WV child. But in giving through World Vision, I know Alfred will get help with school, he’ll get medical attention if he gets sick and he will grow up with a loving team surrounding his community and looking for ways to make his life better.

Secondly, I now look at the Christmas gift catalog through a different lens. Now when I see chickens, bed nets, water wells, cows, etc….I can actually picture Alfred and know that he or someone just like him will benefit from my gift.

I’ve been asked on this trip, why would I encourage someone to be a child sponsor? I would say it’s just the first step in making a real difference. Being a sponsor means you’ll have a real face and a name to call your own and will visualize as you move forward in challenging yourself to do or give more.

I have Alfred. We both love to smile! And he’s already blessed my life more than he could know.

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