It’s hard to believe, but this week you become a teenager! I hope that your day is filled with joy, health and much celebration.
When I began sponsoring you just over three years ago, I must admit, I was a little nervous. I thought I would be better at sponsoring a girl because I was one, once upon a time. I knew girls around the world were treated terribly in some countries, and I wanted to help ensure the life of a girl in one of those places would be better. So, you were a bit of a surprise to me, a mystery.
I roamed through the store trying to figure out what gift to send you as an introduction to myself. What did I know of 10 year-old boys? Better yet, what do I know of 13 year-old boys! I’ve never stopped roaming the aisles puzzled by what I could send that would make you smile. I hope my meager offerings make you laugh, or at least tell you how crazy we Americans really are. But I know that anything I send in those padded little envelopes doesn’t compare to the one gift I provide that matters above all else: hope. I am humbled by that thought. I am proud knowing that my small, monthly donation could help not only change your future, but give you one.
I am so very happy to see new photos of you thriving in your community. I love that your favorite school subject is math, when my math is terrible. I’m excited that your even able to stay in school, be well-fed, help your family with chores and stay healthy. I know these are not guarantees in your part of the world. They are things I take for granted, but you help remind me that is not the case everywhere.
As you grow, I also keep coming back to one thought: I want you to be a man who treats everyone, especially women, with compassion. I pray that because I am a woman sponsoring you, you will grow to have a different view of women than many other men in Africa. I think this is a privilege I did not recognize at first. Though I am very distant from your part of the world, I have a hand in shaping your views. I can help show you what kindness looks like. I can give you a glimpse into my faith as you are developing your own. I can provide needed assistance to your family and community not just because I am able, but because it is my honor.
I have other wishes and dreams for you, though I’m not entirely sure I should:
I want you to be filled with a sense of justice.
I want you to remain healthy.
I want your family and those you love to be spared from suffering and disease.
I want you to grow up, and have options in life.
I want you to know true joy.
I want you to finish school.
I want you to be generous to others.
I want you to have a deep faith, knowing that God’s promises are meant for you too.
Most of all, though, I want you to have your own wishes and dreams. And those come from having hope.
As you turn 13 this week, I am praying for you. (I hope the package I sent you reaches you in time, but if not, you can celebrate then. I’m a pro at dragging my birthday out, so enjoy it!) Turning 13 is a big deal here in America, and I would imagine it is there in Kenya as well. I hope you are showered with affection from your friends and family. I want it to be a day you’ll remember. Know that I am thinking of you, miles away and what feels like worlds apart. I hope we are able to meet in person one day, but if not, I’m happy knowing we both celebrated your thirteenth birthday in our own way.
Happy birthday, Tumaini!
I sponsor Tumaini through World Vision. After comparing a couple of different websites, I felt it was the best option for me because the monthly donations benefit not only the child, but the family and community. Of course, I wanted to give a child a better future, but I think that is best accomplished by supporting the entire system. Second, I am interested in their other programs like disaster relief, micro finance, clean water, education, and more, all through the lens of faith. So, it also made my giving more simple. I have been happy with my sponsorship and other one-time gifts on issues like those mentioned, and would recommend World Vision to anyone. They have a very holistic approach, which I appreciate. If you are interested in sponsoring, though, please think about it carefully and make sure you are in a financial position to do so for an extended period of time.