Updates from the One Child Matters team, partners, and supporters.
Does sponsorship make a difference? You may wonder about that when you pray over the photo of a child you’ve put on your fridge, or when you get communications from us in the mail. This commitment I’ve made, does it matter?
Two staff from One Child Matters headquarters in Colorado Springs traveled through Ethiopia and Kenya on their way to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
As always, God directed their steps, bringing children to the projects just so they could meet. Our friends had other meetings on their schedule, but when they met Antony, it was obvious that God had something to say to us.
He attends a One Child Matters project in Kenya which helps him succeed in the nearby government school. Antony was eager to tell us all about his sponsors, even begging us to go to his house so he could show us their picture.
Antony’s home is a simple mud structure, and when our friends stepped inside the dark hut, they were astonished to see a shelf built into the mud wall. Antony’s mother had ensured her son would have a place to study by candelight, a little mud shelf.
Antony’s love for his sponsor is so clear, so profound. His prayers are sincere, and their photo cherished.
We wanted to share Antony’s story with you because sometimes it’s hard to see the difference you are making on this side of eternity. But oh, just imagine the reunion in heaven when Antony will finally meet those who invested in him!
We pray that as you seek ways to make a difference in the life a child today, you recognize that sponsoring a child is effective and important.
I can remember meeting Lokina. She was hard to miss – even as a group of Maasai women welcomed us with their traditional song, Lokina stood out, a statuesque woman draped in a royal blue kanga fabric with a bright smile.
It was only later that I noticed how she kept her arms wrapped around her middle. One of the other ladies on the Women’s Circle of Caring trip with me knew a bit of her story, that she had a form of epilepsy and had fallen into a fire after a seizure. She could not fully straighten her arms, the scar tissue from burns was too thick.
Living in the bush of Africa is difficult enough. Feeding your children and managing your household while your husband herded cattle possibly hundreds of miles away is quite another. And Lokina’s husband left as her condition worsened. She was truly on her own.
Or was she? One of the things we focused on with Women’s Circle of Caring was how women can minister to one another. We, a group of American women from all ages and stages of life, could minister to and with women in Kenya, and we can help them see how they need each other.
In the few years that Women’s Circle of Caring visited a region where One Child Matters served, we saw a true community form among the women. Their focus was caring for their children, and yet they themselves benefited as well. We saw hearts knit together — across cultures, and across a community.
Lokina’s story is a powerful one. She learned more about her own worth because others were willing to invest in her – very similar to the sponsorship model she saw transform her own son.
She must have known exactly where it was. That’s all our staff could think when young Hiwot ran back out of her house, clutching a letter from her sponsor. The home Hiwot shared with her mother and sister was tiny, but her quick return made them realize – she knew exactly where her sponsor’s letters were.
What’s more, the letter was two years old. It was a prayer card from her sponsors, and the words it contained were powerful, speaking right to her heart.
Our staff had asked Hiwot if she could share a letter from her sponsor because the workers at Hiwot’s project had shared about Hiwot’s transformation since being sponsored. As she walked with the staff toward her house, they learned more about her.
Hiwot’s name is quite common for little girls in Ethiopia. In Amharic, Hiwot means LIFE.
But life as Hiwot knew it was tremendously difficult.
Her father had left the family years earlier, forcing Hiwot’s mother to work odd jobs in her struggle to provide for Hiwot and her sister. Still, they had very little hope for the future.
When Hiwot’s mother learned that One Child Matters was opening a child development center in their community in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capitol, she ran to get her daughters registered.
“That was the day that everything changed in my life,” Hiwot says.
In the years since, Hiwot’s life has improved dramatically, but there were times of difficulty – something Hiwot’s sponsors noticed in her letters to them. Dean and his wife Maria remember receiving a letter from Hiwot where she seemed troubled, and they wanted to write in response to that:
It was quite a while ago, but Maria remembers that what she wrote was influenced by a letter Hiwot had written to us. She wanted to encourage Hiwot because she sensed that Hiwot needed it. The Holy Spirit prompted her to write what she did.
Thus it made sense that Hiwot quickly ran inside her house and came back with that letter her sponsors had so carefully written to speak to her heart two years earlier:
We pray for you and your family that our Lord will keep you safe, healthy, and provide for all of your needs. Pray to our Lord for everything so that He will know your heart, and His sweet Spirit will live inside you. Remember that Jesus loved each of us so much that He gave His life for us so that we who believe in Him can live life through Him. He knows your heart, Hiwot, so always speak to Him through prayer. We hope your studies are going well, and thank you always for your prayers.
In God’s love, Your Sponsors