When people consider being a sponsor for a child in Uganda, many times its a check box…yep I did something good, look at what I am doing for this child. And it IS great, giving the gift of an education to a child is one of the best things you can give. But what we love about our sponsorship program is there is so much more. They are more then a picture on a card, or on a computer screen. This is your child, you are part of their family and they are part of yours. We love to watch relationships grow through letters and photos. You get their report cards, you get to see how they are doing in school. You get letters from their parents, mamas, grandmothers or guardians. You see how your monthly donation is changing not only the life of your sponsored child, but the lives of their whole family and better yet…your life too!
If you don’t believe me…read what two of our sponsors have to say!
A letter from John and Michelle, sponsor parents to Mutesi Sumaya
How we came to Know and Love Mutesi? It all starts with our own boys. My name is John and my wife is Michelle. We moved to Todd County 9 yrs ago with the intention of giving our boys Kevin and Andrew a better education than Montgomery County was offering.
In that process our Boys met Rory. Who has influenced them both in more ways than she probably knows. From computers to Legos I would always hear the name Ms. Fundora. As a parent who always wanted to be around my kids I started chaperoning as many functions with the school as possible. We even shared a story or two of how our own kids were somewhat alike. In those times I found that the boys feelings toward Rory were founded. Rory cares and loves her students(kids). You can see it in what she does.
My youngest son Andrew volunteered at a Project Yesu run. I had always heard rumblings of this young girl in the community who was championing a cause in Africa, but didn’t know all of the details. Let alone that it was Rory’s daughter Mallory! When I went to pick Andrew up I saw all of the people and was astonished at the turnout for her Charity Run. I started researching the charity and even heard about it at church. It took a year or so before becoming a sponsor. My wife Michelle and I were sitting in the living room of our home when I came across a Facebook post of Project Yesu. I told her at that time that I was ready to become a sponsor. Just looking through the pictures broke my heart. So many faces to chose from. Each deserving a sponsor. So since we had only had boys for years we chose to pick a young lady. Then which one? Michelle said it has to be a June baby. Both of our boys were born in June. So our choice was made…….Mutesi it was…..
Now fast forward to our first letter and pictures of our Uganda Princess. She is the middle child of 8 being raised by her Mom whom she praises each letter. She loves art and dancing. In one letter she floored me with a story of her love with helping the elderly! I knew right then that this was the perfect fit for our family. I was raised by a true “Pay it Forward” family long before the movie. She also is doing great in her new school.
Our last letter was from Mutesi’s Mom…..It was so touching with her thanking us for helping with her daughters education. I wanted to get on a plane right then and hug her neck. If we could pay for all of her children Michelle and I would in a heartbeat.
If everything goes to plan I hope to be able to travel to Uganda in July to help in any way I can. I cant wait to hug as many folks as possible! Thanks Mallory for all you and your Mom do for these children and young adults. You are truly inspiring at your age. At 44 I don’t think I have done half of what you have.
This trip to Africa was amazing and I’m still in the process of unpacking the emotional and spiritual change that comes as part of the mission experience. Please bear with me as I write this report more like that of a journal entry, I feel I’ll be able to convey a more rounded presentation of how it was to meet my sponsored kids on their turf.
Let me backtrack to the luncheon in November of 2013, where my family committed to our three kids. At that time, my heart felt more like we were doing a good deed sponsoring, having no idea the true impact that I would later experience when finally meeting each beautiful face.That day at the luncheon, like many sponsors of many different organizations, left me with the feeling that I was doing my part and it created a warm and fuzzy feeling that easily felt more like a check in the box than a relationship to a child. That thankfully changed the day we got report cards sent home and my husband and I looked over them as we would look over our own children’s report cards. We discussed the grades and really thought about the environment that these kids were experiencing. It was the first reality check for me.
Moving way forward through a time in my life that God was moving in big ways, I landed myself alongside Rory and Mallory in Africa and at the doorstep of my three sponsored kids. I had no real idea or expectation of what it would be like meeting them. I was anxious, nervous and excited about the meeting and mostly I was prayerful. Serving God’s will over myself was one of the most focused motives I had for the whole trip and time and time again I felt God nudging me to just simply show love.
The day of the village trip arrived and I was ready. I had my gifts in tow and my heart ready. As the day unravelled from one amazing experience to the next, and my first sponsored child, Kintu Mark was sent my way, I was beaming and just wanted to treat him like my own child. I rubbed his arm and talked to him, letting him sit on my lap and smiling from ear-to-ear at my good fortune. The funny thing (and in hindsight I believe this was a total God thing) was that there was a mistake in identity and the boy I had thought was Kintu wasn’t really him but a child of a different sponsor. I do believe that God wants us to treat all of His children like our own, whether we sponsor them, gave birth to them or whatever and I think that was a little wake up call for me not to forget the village children all around as I was eager to meet my sponsored kids.
The next day was when I actually got to see my first sponsored child, Waiswa. He touched my heart in a way that’s hard to describe in words. The leaders toured us through the village and his house was one of the first stops. His Jaja was very pleasant and very thankful I had come. Waiswa was quiet, distant and elusive. He seemed to only be lingering out of instruction from his Jaja. I wasn’t sure how to react to him and my heart longed to do the right thing, to be kind and show love, but I wasn’t sure how to be on his level. I smiled at him and let him have his space until I could get a better read on what to do next. The awesome thing was I didn’t need to do much, because as we continued to walk, Waiswa, just came along, never talking, just being with us. I could feel his respect and as the day went on, I was able to pull out a few smiles by just enjoying a meal together or rolling a ball to one another. Waiswa taught me more about how to be in the moment and letting go of filling the empty space with noise. He taught me how to be without all the empty conversation and how God’s love is like a blanket that wraps over each moment if we just give it to Him. Each day at the village, Waiswa was around, maybe not right at my side, but he would check in and the last day he showed me his drawing pad I had given to him as part of his gift, filled with drawings and beauty. He filled the quiet parts of my heart.
Shortly after meeting Waiswa, I did finally get to meet the real Kintu Mark. He was very much like Waiswa in the aspect that he was quiet and just seemed to stay near. Unlike Waiswa’s more intense demenor, Kintu was more playful and I was able to enjoy watching him interact with his friends. Kintu also surprised me with his beautiful artwork in the drawing pad that I had given him. My sweet girl, Kauda Grace was at boarding school, so meeting her was not as causal as meeting the boys. It was a meeting at the school office and the gifts I gave her had to go back with her father. That made things a little harder, but not hard enough to interfere with her taking a piece of my heart. She walked along with us as we toured the facilities and colored in her drawing pad with me as Mallory and Rory discussed future plans with the school director. I enjoyed watching her with her father, Patrick and it warmed my heart to see the father-daughter bond. As we left, she cried and even though it broke my heart, I know she is in the best place she could be with the quality of the school she attended.
The interesting piece that is hard to convey in words is the quiet bond and respect that I didn’t feel like I deserved just for paying school fees. They treated me like I was a guardian, or better yet, their guardian angel. I felt like I learned more about generosity, hospitality, respect, love, and faith from my sponsored kids and their families then anything I could have given them. I went to a luncheon in November of 2013 thinking I was doing a good deed and left Uganda in July of 2014 with my heart fuller than I would have ever imagined.