Since deciding to sponsor Hilario he has become one of the first things I think of when I wake in the morning, and one of the last things I think of before going to sleep at night. We talk about him and about how we hope his life will be and we talk with the children about how his life differs from their own.
We were so happy that we finally took the decision to sponsor a less fortunate child than our own. We hope that our letters to him will give him hope and make him feel loved by this family so many miles away. With World Vision you are allowed to send small gifts, anything as flat or small and light as possible that will fit into an A5 sized envelope, so I’ve been gathering small items – packs of crayons, stickers and a small inflatable ball to send over with our letters. I’m just waiting on a couple of photographs to arrive and then our first letter will be sent. I’m already planning what I’m going to say, then replanning it and changing it. Who knew that writing a letter would be so hard to do?
But despite the decision and making the commitment I still felt an ache in my heart. I know it’s not possible to change the whole world no matter how much you might want to and it’s not possible to stop the suffering of every single child by yourself. But there are still so many that need help. So I have wrestled with the idea of perhaps sponsoring a second child, a girl, maybe?
But, there’s the issue of money. While we’re not exactly struggling neither are we wealthy. I’m pretty certain that it’s only by God’s grace that the bills and mortgage are paid from one month to the next, and that we have enough money for enough food (in fact, most likely more than enough food) and clothes. We may have to wait until we’ve saved enough money for certain things, like when Mike’s car gave up the ghost, and it took us two months to save for another secondhand car, or like not having a dishwasher for four months until we had enough spare to replace it only last week, thanks to some money I received for my birthday. Our house still isn’t decorated despite it being almost two years since we moved here. And we can only decorate it as and when we have saved the money to do one room at a time. We still have debts to clear (debts for what? We can’t even remember how we got them. Big mistake we won’t be making again), but since making the decision to get out of debt and only buy something when we have the money for it we are making steady progresss, albeit not as fast as we’d like. And then there’s the whole economic climate. Is this really the time to commit to any more outgoings? Or would it simply be just stupid? But the thing is, we do manage. And we don’t suffer. Some nights we may have to settle for pasta with grated cheese over the top, but we don’t go to bed hungry. Some days we might have to pull on an extra jumper to curb the heating bill, but we’re never at mercy to the weather. And I know my children are safe and clothed and fed.
Is it better to have a home which will take years to redecorate to taste, or no home at all? And so what if we had to replace a car? We managed it. And a dishwasher, oh come on. Did it really hurt to *gasp* wash the dishes in the sink?! But still I struggled.
Meanwhile I’d been following the bloggers who had been sent to the Dominican Republic by Compassion International. This was the second trip arranged by the charity where a selection of bloggers were allowed an “Access All Areas” trip to see the changes that sponsoring children made. Meetings on video between the sponsors and the children they had been sponsoring and writing to made my eyes sore with the tears that fell from them, and the descriptive posts from each days events made my heart ache even more.
For a while I’d been looking at the UK site for Compassion. Every now and then new children would come up and some would disappear, the ones lucky enough to be sponsored, I expect. But yesterday I saw a little girl I hadn’t seen and I just knew that she was meant to be ours. You can mock me if you like, I really don’t care, but I immediately knew that this little girl was there and we could make her life better. I clicked on her details. She was eight years old, but her photo made her look no older than five or six. She lived in Uganda with her father and grandmother. No mention of her mother at all. Very little information, a photograph of a girl younger than her years who still managed a very slight smile at the camera. And I just knew.
So we had another conversation.
Text from me to Mike: “Do you think we can stretch to sponsoring an eight year old girl from Uganda too?”
Text from Mike to me: “No”
Text from me to Mike: “Really?”
Text from Mike to me: “Why are you asking? You’ve probably done it already.”
Text from me to Mike: “Actually I haven’t which is why I’m asking.”
Text from Mike to me: “It’s up to you.” (Oh, I love him!)
So I had a think. And thought that the way forward to help another child would be to deprive ours. Not really. But capping Ben and Stephanie’s handouts each month would save a fair amount. Having never really done the pocket money thing we just handed over the money when they wanted to go somewhere or do something. Now we would offer them a set amount a month and once it had gone that was it. I put the idea to Ben, who agreed.
So I text Mike: “Was thinking of capping Ben and Steph’s handouts to £x a month then not a penny more if they get through it. What do you think?”
Text from Mike to me: “OK, then they can work for any extra.” (On top of their normal chores. Oh, we’re so cruel to our children!)
Text from me to Mike: “That’ll cover a second sponsorship and we’ll still be better off.”
Text from Mike to me: “Go on then.”
Text from me to Mike: “x”
So with five minutes before I had to leave on the afternoon school run (Ben was home in the afternoon due to a half day), I quickly tapped in the online form and hit “Send”.
On the way to school I had a thought that had escaped me all this time. My unused gym membership had come to an end. That would be £28 a month not leaving my account, which I had been used to not being there. This meant that both sponsorships would only make an £8 a month difference to us! So the worry over the decision making had now eased and we are confident that we can afford to help two children, only we hadn’t realised it until we made the decision to do it!
The new allowance proposal still stands though! I met up with Stephanie while I was waiting to collect Harry from school, and put the proposition to her regarding a monthly allowance and the reason why. She was all for it and happy that we were sponsoring a second child. I told Caitlin and Harry about Doreen, and Harry proceeded to find Uganda on the globe and both said that they were going to tell their teachers about her tomorrow.
And me? I woke this morning without the aching (in my heart. My knees are a different matter completely). My children are learning about poverty and compassion (and geography) and how we must be grateful for what we have, rather than hankering over what we don’t. And whether we actually need what we hanker over to make us really and truly happy.
And Mike and I have learnt what it feels like to have seven children in our home, but another two in our hearts.
I’m editing this post to add this link of other people’s stories of Compassion. Please, please will you just think about it?