For Lionel, a nine year old boy living in Zimbabwe, a life of poverty is the only life he has known. Lionel and his mother live in a block home with an asbestos roof. They light oil lamps in the evenings, and they walk to the nearby community tap for their water supply. He lives the average life of a Zimbabwean child – attending school, doing chores, and playing soccer with his friends.
At a very young age, about three or four years old, Lionel knew of more trials and concerns than any child should be burdened with.
Lionel’s story was filled with difficulties, even before Lionel was even born. Lionel’s birth was the product of rape, and for a woman in Zimbabwe, a single mother is one of the hardest jobs to have. Without a husband or father to provide for her and her son, Lionel’s mother did all that she could to take care of their family, even if it meant sacrificing her own morals. For many families in poverty, children are often left alone during the day while their parents are out finding work. At a very young age, about three or four years old, Lionel knew of more trials and concerns than any child should be burdened with.
When Lionel reached four years old, he was registered into the One Child Matters Hope Center in his community. The center has provided him with at least one healthy meal per day, regular medical check-ups, tutoring for his studies, and a safe environment where Lionel has learned to make friends. He has been part of the One Child Matters program for five years and has been faithfully sponsored for all of his years in the program.
One of the most profound and sweetest qualities about Lionel is that he is a dreamer.
Through the One Child Matters center, Lionel was also given the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and the great love that He has for him. While Lionel never knew his biological father, and never had a father figure in his life, Lionel’s first and only exposure to the love of a father was the love from his Heavenly Father. In some ways, Lionel’s lack of father figures has become a true blessing, because now Lionel knows a Father who will never leave him, will always provide for him, and loves him more deeply than he will ever know.
Even more, Lionel’s involvement with the One Child Matters center has had a life-changing impact on his mother. Soon after Lionel’s enrollment in the program, she began volunteering at the center. She was welcomed into a group of women who have learned to sew, and together they sew the school uniforms for children who are unable to afford them. After volunteering at the center for several years, she has now joined the team as a staff member and is able to provide for her family! Lionel and his mother attend church together and continue to rejoice in God’s redemption and provision in their lives.
He knows that God has created him to do great things, and because of the support of his mother, his community, and his sponsor, Lionel is on his way to achieving his dream.
One of the most profound and sweetest qualities about Lionel is that he is a dreamer. Since before Lionel entered the One Child Matters program, he has had the dream of becoming an airline pilot, and his dream remains today. Because of Lionel’s potential, purpose, and hope found in the Lord, he knows that with God all things are possible. His hopes have not wavered, even as he continues to face the struggles of living in poverty. He knows that God has created him to do great things, and because of the support of his mother, his community, and his sponsor, Lionel is on his way to achieving his dream.