What would YOU save in a hurricane?

We’ve sponsored kids for years. Firstly with an organisation called Tearfund (who do great stuff but not child sponsorship any more), then with Compassion. Saving a life for the price of a daily paper? A no-brainer.

While I hate to admit this, I didn’t write many letters to the kids myself. I got Zoe or our children to do it. We did pray for them, but it’s hard to be all meaningful when all you usually get back is a coloured in flag from the country and a translated note saying, “I go to the project. I like to play football.” We put the kids photos up and remembered them but really, I forget all the middle names (the South American ones have a lot!).

One year we were excited to open a school report on one of the boys we sponsored. “The boy has acne.” That was about it.



Best dress and a balloon hat

On our penultimate day in Haiti we had a party. 100 people gathered in Port Au Prince at a church that had decent facilities. We were amazed how good it was, then we found it was owned by Americans who all gather to worship there.

Excited families had travelled far (the record was two days on crowded public deathtrap ‘Tap Tap’ buses), to sing and enjoy music,  face paints and balloons, bead making and footie. Many of them were able to meet the people who have actually sponsored them – something Compassion sometimes can arrange – a thrill for everyone involved.It wasn’t until we saw those reunions take place, and then started to give presents and letters to other families, that we realised just how VALUED those who sponsor kids really are.


I started to get it a couple of days before when we went to a house smaller than my garage, well -a mud hut with a tin roof – where a man and his wife lived with six daughters, two sponsored. His job was to go to the well and get water which he hoped to sell through the day. Furniture? One chair.

I asked whether they knew who their sponsors were. They went into the house and brought out a treasure; every letter and photo ever sent, perfectly kept. Lovingly they unfolded these momentoes from people they loved and prayed for every day with thanksgiving, but in all likelihood would never see until heaven.

The picture above is of Wobenly, a lovely boy sponsored by some great friends of ours, the Tods. He and his mum were so delighted to receive a few little presents; a bouncy ball, a toy car, some pens. Blessed are the poor in spirit! He hugged me so tight it seemed he’d not let go. I got to speak to other kids and parents too as I helped them make some bracelets and necklaces with boxes of beads we had brought. I put a few beads on the string and held it up to show. “Just three beads each children” said the interpreter. They’d have been happy with that but what the heck – I said they could go crazy with as many as they wanted.

A guy called Ian had sent a package through too. I talked with the Mum and son and she produced a red coloured cloth pouch covered in love hearts. This again contained every letter and photo they’d ever received. She carefully put their new note and pictures in there. The children would hug the photos of their sponsors.

Later in the afternoon I connected with her again, she  was asking whether anyone could also sponsor her younger daughter, to help the family (Ian is now doing so, which is great). She explained that she’d lost her house in the hurricane. Since September the family have had to live on the floors of relatives and friends.

Hang on – wasn’t this the same woman who had the pouch full of letters? Yes. It was what she made sure she saved from the house.

How worthwhile is it to sponsor a child? I hope those of you who already do will be encouraged that you’re doing a great thing, saving a child from the poorest of the poor in every way it’s possible to be saved. If you haven’t done it yet I hope you’ll go to the Compassion page and do so, please let me know if you have it’ll make my day too.

In the amazing film About Schmidt Warren (played by Jack Nicholson) comes to the end of his miserable working life and with a  mess of a family and no friends, after a road trip across the States he wonders whether anything he has ever done was really worthwhile.  He never smiles throughout the movie. Early on he’d sponsored a poor child, who he writes to as if he really can understand. “Relatively soon I will die, and will my life have made any difference?” he wonders.  Treat yourself for a few minutes as you watch.