I've never really sponsored a child before. Year ago I succumbed to the pressure of an emotional missionary pitch and "adopted" a child in some faraway land. I thought it would be a good project for the girls and me--to develop relationship with and encourage a needy child from a foreign country.
That lasted about three months, I am ashamed to say. But it was hard to feel like we were supporting--on any level--this little girl who was just a tear-stained face in a photo. All we knew was her name and her age. We tried writing letters, but never heard back (I'm not sure she spoke English). Rather than feeling connected to the child, I felt like I was mailing my monthly check into the black hole of mindless giving.
Which didn't set well with me . . .
But I am about to fill out the paperwork to sponsor a little girl at the Uganda Jesus Village. I don't have her picture in front of me, but I have her smile in my heart. I've met her, hugged her neck, listened to her giggle and heard part of her story. I don't know much yet, but here are the things I do know:
She's the youngest child at the UJV--I'd say around five years old;
She's one of the few UJV children not abducted by the LRA;
She is the only child who is HIV positive;
She needs special medicine for her condition;
Her mother is living, but too sick with AIDs to care for her child
and her name is Kevin . . .
While we were in Kampala, I asked Cameron and Jennifer how the whole sponsorship thing worked. Did the children who had sponsors eat better and have more clothes than those without? Did they get more privileges?
Cameron explained that it didn't work like that. All the money that came in for the kids basically went into a fund that paid their school fees (there's no free education in Uganda). The church that oversees the UJV--Streams of Life--provides all the food for the children at this point. Sponsors can write their children and send gifts, but the UJV staff tries to keep things pretty evenly distributed.
Jealousies can abound in that kind of situation. Candyce told me that Lucy (the girl she sponsors) got picked on and tormented because she was the flower girl in the wedding.
(The orphanage in Seeta, where Lindsay's Resty lives, has a wise policy. There are 12 children to a house there. They suggest that the sponsors buy small presents for all the children in the home when they do something for their child. Makes sense to me. I'm sending 12 journals I made from Little Golden Books with the team that's going back there in June. Resty can pick the one she likes then give the rest away).
I am excited to develop a friendship with Kevin. I can pray for her daily. I can email her messages that Cameron and Jennifer will deliver. I can visit her as often as the Lord allows. I can hear more of her story and maybe someday visit her home in northern Uganda.
And with God's help, I will!
If you are interested in sponsoring a UJV child, visit their website.