I was an idealistic teenager. I mean I was still a sulky, whiny, annoying one but in an idealist way. I'm sure the current generation of teenagers are just as idealistic and out to save the world. Sometimes it's just hard to tell cause it's in text speak. I knew I would be killed for bring home strays (and really fleas? ick!) so I found other ways. When I was about 16 I came home from a concert with a World Vision child sponsorship kit.
At that time I had babysitting money galore and pretty much no expenses but before long I headed to university and became very broke (a state that has continued from then on) so Mum became my co-sponsor. The fact that I am a married adult with my own house has not changed the fact that Mum is still my co-sponsor. (I think that's how we got my childhood cat actually. My uncle brought home a stray, some how Mum didn't kill her brother who was living with us at the time because she was busy having a baby-me- so she wound up co-owning it and then he moved away and we had a cat.)
Anyway, that first sponsor child's community became self-sustainable just months later. Then the one after that's community became self-sustainable. I have to admit I can't actually remember much about either of them. But that brought us to our current sponsor child, Yarley, who I believe was incredibly young when we received her info pack... 4 years old maybe? She lives in Honduras which I could find on a map when I got the packet but it took me a couple of seconds.
I am the one who does the communicating with our sponsor child. I was pretty bad at it for a few years but I now try to send a little letter every other month or so. Generally I type it up so I can keep track of what I've already said so I don't just keep repeating the same three things over and over. Plus that way I can insert photos of us and the pets directly into the letter. I figure the person who has to translate the letters probably appreciates that. As a former teacher I have a lot of stickers and have a bit of a sticker addiction. I tend to buy stickers every time I go in Staples. So I generally put in stickers. I do wonder what the child does with that many stickers!! I'm sorry! I'd send something more exciting but I really don't think it would ever get there.
Even when Canada Post isn't on strike it can take months for a letter to get there. That's why I appreciate the fact that World Vision goes to the trouble of printing up Christmas Cards, Easter Cards... this year for the first time a Canada Day card that had really cool stickers with famous places in Canada (If anyone from World Vision reads this give whoever designed that a gold star). I loved that one! Next time they send something I'll take a photo of it for the blog cause this post is seriously lacking in photos. Anyway, they make sure it gets to you to be signed and sent back in time to arrive for the holiday. This means you tend to be signing Christmas cards in September which is weird but a good reminder!
So recently I received the Annual Report on our sponsor child. In it we got a photograph, a drawing, and an update on the projects in their area. It also includes a page where the child answers a few questions via an interpreter. It's nice to hear that she's doing well but the cynic (yet idealist) in me wonders just how honest some answers are when you have to give them to an adult to write down for you. At what age do you realise that the adult writing down your answers is going to think "Teacher" is a good response to what you want to do when you grow up? That is what she wants to be at this point. At her age I'm fairly certain I wanted to have a pet dolphin that could talk like Jonathan Brandis on Seaquest so I won't hold her to it!
Actually when she was much younger I got an update that said she'd done poorly in math and when asked how she felt about school she said it was boring. I laughed at that pretty hard and loved the fact that the adult writing down her answers had let it stand! It was a wonderful little glimpse into her personality. From so far away, working through an interpretor and with months between the writing and receiving of a letter I don't fool myself that I understand anything about Yarley's life. It can be all too easy to think of her as a 2-dimensional "needy child". It's nice to have a reminder that she has likes and dislikes just like every other little girl who is being properly provided for. It's nice to think I've played a part in her life being secure enough that she can complain that school is boring!
You know I'd originally thought I'd write a blog about World Vision, how the program worked, why I really like being a World Vision sponsor, that sort of thing. I thought I'd give some examples of things I send to my sponsor child (though it's mostly just stickers) and how easy it is to write to her. I meant this to be one of my "encourage you to think about what you could do" posts. Instead I'm fairly certain this falls firmly into the category of Leigh-Ellen has issues.
So this has been a post with no photos, a gross misuse of ( ) and many run-on sentences. I promise to shape up my act!!