It is always a little bit difficult for me to explain the importance of student sponsorship, or the way it can impact lives. Quite honestly, I probably wouldn’t be able to understand it at all if I hadn’t had several opportunities to hang out with my students.
I recently received updated school photos of my students, Robencia and Andredenel, and it gave me a “time marches on” feeling. When I first began sponsoring Robencia and had the opportunity to meet her, she was a tiny little preschooler at our Lanzac school in Haiti. She was shy and timid, but right when the translator (who, fun fact, just so happened to be my now-husband Hachemy) told her who I was, she threw her arms around my waist and gave me a big hug. She knew me from my letters and the bond had been created. The more I would visit her at her school, the more she would come out of her shell. She began waving at me from her seat in the classroom, and pointed me out to her friends while they played at recess. A couple of years after first meeting her, I was down in Haiti for another trip and had the opportunity to meet her father, and it was an interaction I will never forget because it was such a heartfelt, eye-opening moment to me. After we had a short visit and were saying our good-byes, he gave me a hug and said “thank you for caring about my daughter.” Wow.
When I first met the little boy that I sponsor, he was an ornery little boy up at his school in LaHatte. He had a mischievous grin and was Hachemy’s little buddy, holding his hand and wanting to carry his water bottle for him all the time. I just knew that I needed to sponsor him and continue building that relationship. Over the years when visiting him, he always asks about Hachemy first. He has a messy family structure, so it is neat to see how Hachemy could be a father-figure for him during those years.
It has been ten years (A WHOLE DECADE!) since I started sponsoring Robencia, and nearly six years since I started sponsoring Andredenel. When I received their latest school photos, I compared them with some of the first photos I ever took with them and it was mind-blowing to see how much they have grown. It has been such a privilege for us to be able to sponsor them all of these years and encourage them through letters, photographs and in-person interactions.
Now, when people ask me if sponsorship really matters, I can truly say that it does. They are real kids with real dreams and real struggles, and deserve every opportunity in the world. They play with their friends, have chores at home, and enjoy being at school just like many of the kids here in our communities. Through sponsorship, we can make them feel valuable and encouraged. Time goes by quickly; let’s not let the opportunity to make a difference pass us by!