this isn’t going to be the usual photography-oriented post, but it’s still related.
I’ve been sponsoring a young girl in Kenya for the past seven years through Compassion. We exchange letters, and I often send lots of photos and postcards.
Child sponsorship has always been something I wanted to do when I started working. In part, I wanted to do it because I want to remember that the money I earn should not always be about me and my comforts. I want to remember that an individual’s life in another country can be made better if I forego just 10 lattes a month. And I honestly do like letter writing and snail mail very much.
I do wish I’d considered child sponsorship when I was younger. I think it would have made me a better steward of my finances and resources. Maybe that’s something I wish I told my younger self – to find and support causes that look far beyond your own concerns and the tiny world that revolves around you.
Having Caroline as a regular “pen pal” has been really fun. Every time I travel, I always look out for postcards specifically for her. I always stop at free postcard stands in my country and other countries in case there’s an interesting or educational postcard I can send. Sometimes if the postcards are too tacky, I print my own photos and send those to her. I’ve also sent stickers, cards, brochures from tourist attractions, and pages from coloring books.
Beyond the fun factor, child sponsorship has enlarged my heart for this one individual, and for her country. Every time I get a letter from her in the mail (about three or four times a year, because it takes a few months to translate and send over) I marvel at how someone so far away whom I’ve never met in real life has captured my imagination for so many years. She usually writes me about school and her family, and asks me to pray for her to do well in her studies.
Come October, it’ll be a dream come true to finally be able to see this special friend in real life. The biggest question on my mind has been “What will I say when I finally see her?” Will it be full of awkward silences? Will she be more interested in the gifts I bring? Should I make a list of questions?
Whatever happens, I’m believing this once-in-a-lifetime visit will leave a great impact on me. And hopefully I’ll be able to better communicate the importance of living a better story when I come back from this trip and share about the experience.
I intend to take as many photos and videos as possible of the meeting. I’m also bringing along a Polaroid camera so that she and her family can have instant photos of the visit.
More than anything else I hope I remember to tell her that she’s beautiful and that my life has been so enriched by having her in it.
I’ll be writing more about my preparations for this trip in the coming weeks.