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Meeting My Sponsored Child: Compassion Blogging Trip Day 3

Compassion Tanzania

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…” - Deuteronomy 4:9

Three years ago I was driving to pick my son up from preschool and listening to my favorite Christian radio station when I heard that the station was hosting a day of Compassion.  All day long the show hosts were sharing testimony from sponsors and telling listeners how they could get involved and make a difference in the life of a child.  It wasn’t my first time learning about Compassion International, but something in those few minutes it took to drive from my home to the school spoke to me in a new way.  The voice coming from my radio promised that it would just take three minutes to complete the registration process, and as I pulled into a parking spot at the school and looked at the clock, I realized that is exactly how long I had until my son’s class was over.  I grabbed my cell phone, dialed the number, and three minutes later was sponsoring Meke, a 13 year old boy from Ethiopia who just happened to have been born ten years to the day before my son…who I am happy to report was picked up on time that day.

Over the last three years we have sponsored Meke with our monthly sponsorship fees, the occasional letter, and additional funds at his birthday and Christmas.  We keep his picture on our refrigerator, we have Ethiopia circled on the map on our wall, and occasionally we chat about him, his country, and what it means to sponsor a child with Compassion International.

But honestly, until today I did not really understand the impact a sponsor has on the life of a child.

When I found out I was going to be traveling to Tanzania with Compassion International, I happily agreed to sponsor another child knowing that I would likely meet that child during this trip.  Our sponsored child, Meke, is turning 16 tomorrow, and I know that he will not be participating in the Compassion program for many more years.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to begin to change the life story of another child, and today I got to know more about that child’s life…

Mektrida- who happens to also go by Meke – is a four year old girl living near the city of Mwanza, Tanzania.  She has been in the Compassion International program for ten months, but was still waiting for a sponsor family when I asked to sponsor a child in one of the areas we are visiting this week.  Today I had the opportunity to not only meet Meke and give her gifts from my family, but also spend part of the day with her family in her home.

The Mektrida that I met in the Compassion International Child Development Center was quiet and shy.  She looked up at me only in brief glances, and took my hand to lead me to her home only after being prompted by the Child Development Center’s social worker.  I didn’t know what to expect as we made the 30 minute walk from the center to her home, and clearly neither did Meke, her grip on my hand tentative, her eyes unsure.  We walked through piles of trash mixed with mud, past sleeping dogs and one very ominous looking stork who was larger than Meke, crossed a busy road, jumped over open areas of water waste, and eventually made it to the community of buildings where Mektrida and her family live.

Mektrida’s parents rent a room in a small, four room concrete block building.  Inside the approximately 100 square foot room there is a double mattress, a row of containers for water and other supplies, and a few personal items.  Mektrida lives here along with her mother, her father, her eight year old sister, her 12 year old sister and her 14 year old brother.  She also has a 17 year old brother, but he has moved to the city to try to find work.  Mektrida’s father has crippled feet and is unable to labor to provide for his family, so instead he repairs shoes as often as he can to earn money.  Her mother also suffers from a handicap that makes walking difficult, so while her neighbors often help her carry water, she still walks Meke the half hour to the Compassion Child Development Center to receive services.  To earn money, Meke’s mother buys ground nuts, sorts them to remove the rotten or not developed ones, then roasts the remaining nuts over a charcoal fire outside her doorway.  She then places the roasted ground nuts in bags and seals them with heat, heading out in the evening to sell them in town.

Because of their dire financial situation, Meke’s parents would not be able to afford to send Meke to school without the help of my sponsorship through Compassion International.  The cost of the required uniform and fees are too great, and three times a month the schools check the records. If the family has not paid, they send the children home until the money can be saved to cover the costs.  Through Compassion International, that fear has been relieved, and Meke can continue her schooling uninterrupted.

Today Mektrida’s 14 and 12 year old siblings were away at school, but her 8 year old sister was home.  She met us excitedly, walking us into her home along with her mother.  Once inside, Mektrida’s mother shared her stories, explained her daily life and the struggles they face, and talked about the day her daughter was registered with Compassion. She says that she could have never hoped for such a day as the day a worker from Compassion International came to her door. To her, it was like a dream, a miracle of sorts.  They offered to provide Meke with appropriate clothing, health care, an education.  She could not believe that this was happening for one of her children, and because Mektrida was the child who was in the home in that moment, she was the one registered.

At times during our visit today, I felt overwhelmed with sadness.  Seeing a family living under the conditions that Mektrida simply knows as her life left me feeling hopeless and helpless in certain moments, but Meke’s mother did not convey either emotion.  Instead, she thanked us over and over again for not only sponsoring Meke, but also for visiting her home.  She also allowed me to sit and pray with her and her children, asking God to help her family afford a home of their own.  She shared that even on days when they have nothing to eat and are suffering terribly, she believes that she would suffer less if she lived in a home that was theirs, and from which they could not be evicted.  We prayed for the health of the family, for their ability to continue to find daily bread, and for the children to grow strong and find success.  With the help of a translator I was able to tell Mektrida and her mom that they are beautiful, they are strong, they are precious, and they are loved. Even in the face of such desperate conditions, I left feeling hopeful for the entire family and intensely aware of how great a contribution my $38 a month will really make to Meke and her entire family.

Despite the moments of sadness today, the majority of my time with Mektrida was filled with joy and laughter.  Once I presented her with a doll I brought as a gift from my family, the shy little girl melted away and her eyes sparkled, her voice filled with laughter.  I taught her the hold-your-arm-out-and-take-a-picture-of-yourself move, which was followed by dozens of requests for more pictures once she saw her face reflected back to her on my digital camera’s screen.

When we went outside to play and found only dirt, I grabbed a rock and made hopscotch squares, Meke’s feet already bouncing through the numbers before I could finish. When I missed the ten square, she created the box with a rock of her own, and gestured for me to fill it in with the number.

Meke and her sister quickly became mother and favorite auntie to her doll baby, which she named Angel, and soon Meke was carrying Angel around much like the other women in her community, wrapped with a colorful scarf, tied tight to her body.

At one point the dirt outside Meke’s home was transformed into a top hair salon, and for the low price of a hug, I was able to have my hair worked on by the most amazing team of small children hair stylists anywhere in Tanzania.  There was much confusion when my hair refused to put into plaits, and our translators laughed as they told me that there was an intense discussion among the girls about whether or not I had extensions.  Unable to find where they were attached, the girls finally believed that this strange hair grew all on its own from my head.

The crowd grew once the bubbles came out, and I had to quickly get another bottle for my fellow blogger The Nester so that we could divide and conquer the large group of kids shouting anxiously for more bubbles to appear or a chance to blow some bubbles of their own.

We were also able to help Mektrida’s mother with some of the tasks of her day, walking to fill her buckets with water, and carrying them back on our heads the way we were taught.  They asked me to only fill the bucket half way, sure that that would be difficult enough…and it was.  Our attempts to balance the water and walk were met with laughter, but I knew that the work was appreciated. We also helped sort the ground nuts so that Meke’s mom could roast and bag them to sell this evening.

Following our home visit, we walked with Mektrida back to the Compassion International Child Development Center, one slick and soapy container of bubbles still gripped tightly inside her little hand, the prize from her morning.  Back at home, her mother continued to prepare the ground nuts while Meke’s sister likely played with Angel the doll baby and colored in their new coloring book.

It was incredibly difficult to leave Mektrida and her family, but I am excited to continue to correspond with them through pictures and letters.  Having had the incredible privilege to spend the day with them today, I now have a much deeper understanding of the impact of our sponsorship, just $38 a month – money not even missed – as well as the importance of regular communication with the sponsored child.  My time today with Mektrida has inspired me to work harder to communicate more often with Meke in Ethiopia, and to encourage others to sponsor a child through Compassion International.

Please sponsor a child through Compassion International today, another child like Mektrida living a life that to most of us is unimaginable, and yet is waiting to be filled with the hope that comes from sponsorship.

Compassion Tanzania

Comments

  1. 1

    Amy, you are beautiful! What you (the other bloggers, Compassion International, and all the people that sponsor those kids) are doing is beautiful! I wish I could click that button and sponsor a child, but it’s just not possible right now. Hopefully soon.
    Sara @Doodle741 recently posted..Stonewall Kitchen – Mustard Recipe Contest

  2. 4

    What a beautiful family! Simply beautiful!

    I have heard of sponsors giving a small financial gift that allows a family to build a home of their own. When I say small, sometimes something like $150 to $200 can literally build a home. Isn’t that amazing? I wonder what it would cost in Tanzania. Perhaps someone from the Field Office would know.

    If you would like to attempt a fundraiser, I would be happy to help in any way that I can. My heart goes out to this family and maybe we can be an answer to prayer?
    Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies recently posted..Anticipation and Ache

    • 5
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      Yes, Michelle, the family’s number one prayer is to be able to afford a home of their own. They would be so blessed if you would life them up in prayer!

      • 6
        Teena
        Follow on Twitter: teenamprice
        says:

        I would love to give a little to that… if you find out and maybe when you come home can arrange something… please let us know. My daughter and I could blog about it and get the word out…

        Praying for you. She is beautiful. I love her smile. How amazing for you to meet her.

        much love & grace~

    • 7
      Glenda P says:

      Ok…I prayed, went into action and called Compassion (Missy took my call) and here’s what I’d like to challenge each one of you to do…..if (22) of us could find a $20.00 bill that we could spare we can have a home and a SEWING MACHINE of their own for these two families!! YEAH!!
      All we need is the children’s sponsor I.D. number and we can call in our payment to Compassion specifying the child number, child name, & how much we want to give, and for what specifally we want it to go to! (i.e.) —- TZ…, Meke, for new home —- KE…, Kawira, for SEWING MACHINE —- Meanwhile Compassion does the research and will find out exactly how much these items cost and will let us know when they have enough $$ for that item…
      So, Amy and Beth Ann, please let us know your child’s I.D. number, as I would like to call Compassion with a donation!

  3. 8
    Teri K Ablouh says:

    I support a little boy in Tanzania. HIs name is Ezekiel. It has been about 10 years since I started. I really enjoy what you have shared about this family, and I would like to help, along with others, in helping them get a home of their own.

  4. 9

    Reading that you helped her mom with daily tasks is what moved me to tears. That is powerful. Thank you for sharing this glimpse through your eyes.
    Carisa recently posted..2:1 Conference

  5. 10

    Tears! I loved reading your heart today! I am so glad you got to meet your sponsored child and what a gift you were to this little person. What a powerful moment. Thanks for pouring out yourself this week to use your voice to speak up for those beautiful children.

  6. 11
    Valerie J. says:

    No words, just tears.

  7. 12
    A.Smith
    Follow on Twitter: asmithonline
    says:

    I don’t even know what to say after reading this because I’m so humbled. You’re an inspiration Amy. Bless you and the divine light that you shine because YOU are the true definition of what it means to be your brother’s keeper.

  8. 13
    Davidia & Stan Seevers says:

    After reading “Too Small to Ignore” we sponsored our first child, Amoni in Tanzania. His program is EAGT Igovu Mpwapwa Student Center in Tanzania. We receive many pictures and letters from him pictured with his grandmother along with food items and clothing they purchased with birthday and family gifts. That was three years ago and we now sponsor five children and feel so blessed to be loved by them and be called grandma and grandpa. God’s gift of hope through Jesus is reaching so many through Compassion and we’re blessed to be a small part. It is truly amazing what a difference $38.00 a month makes in the life of the family. We can’t say enough about the great things that Compassion is doing around the world.

    • 14
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      Five children!! Davidia and Stan, you are such a HUGE blessing to those families. Thank you for sharing your blessings in this life with them and for sharing your story with me.

  9. 15
    Molly Gold
    Follow on Twitter: MyGOMOM
    says:

    You have been given such a gift to witness the grace of God in front of your very eyes through the humble hearts of these families. Living vicariously through you every day =)
    Molly Gold recently posted..How to Make a Family Sports Basket

  10. 16
    Janet
    Follow on Twitter: janettwokay
    says:

    What a beautiful story, Amy. I sat there mesmerized as I read your words and looked at your photos. I’ve added Meke and her family to my prayers.

  11. 17

    What a blessing you are to that little girl and her family! I pray that they will be able to move into their own home soon and fully put their trust in the Lord to provide for their needs.
    Yvonne recently posted..Travel to Tanzania!

  12. 18
    Terri K (@tkharmonic) says:

    I read this post with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

  13. 19

    oh how precious!! So glad you got to meet your little girl!

  14. 20
    Ashley
    Follow on Twitter: AshleyonIsland
    says:

    Ooh, that picture of Meke with her baby doll on her back just makes me smile. Thank you for this post and sharing your day with this family, what a tremendous blessing this is for you both.

  15. 21
    Candace Saxman says:

    How blessed you are to have been able to meet Meke! Our sponsored child, Neema, is in Tanzania as well and now, through your blog, I can much more vividly picture what her life is like and I can dream of visiting one day. Thank you.

  16. 22
    Chris Poage says:

    Thank you so much for writing and posting pictures. If you visit Kiloleni, please tell Shedrach that his sponsor Chris says hello.

  17. 23

    Such a great story, Amy! When I met Denise, one of our sponsored children, in the Philippines, my life was forever changed. I think of her constantly, and how her home is the same size as our minivan. Easy to remember on our daily errand running.

    Let the experience go in deeply, Amy, even in the midst of jet lag and culture craziness. It’s a really, really good thing. :)

    Praying for you guys!
    Tsh @ Simple Mom recently posted..Six things adoption has taught me

  18. 24

    I am just in awe of the amazing things you all are doing through the Compassion program! Thank you for sharing your journey! I recently sponsored a child from the Philippines (which I mentioned to you on twitter) and God has really been putting this program on my heart in a big way. I hope that I can one day travel to the Philippines on a mission trip and do what so many of you wonderful bloggers are doing. Keep up the AMAZING work!
    Mandy Rose recently posted..{Vlog: Stop and Smell the Roses} Pandora & Lip Smacker

  19. 25
    DadStreet
    Follow on Twitter: DadStreet
    says:

    Very touching story Amy and I was so moved by the pictures. I can’t think of another way to express what life and love look like all at once. Just, wow!

  20. 26
    Stephanie
    Follow on Twitter: stephsday
    says:

    What a wonderful experience for you! We sponsor a 12-year-old boy in Zimbabwe and I often wonder what his life is *really* like. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
    Stephanie recently posted..Radian RXT Car Seat by Diono [giveaway]

Trackbacks

  1. [...] highlight of the day was being there as Amy met her sponsored child Mektreda and then getting to go with them to visit Mektreda’s home. It was a cinder block home that [...]

  2. [...] our newest sponsored child, Mektrida, and the similarity in her name to Meke’s.  As I shared yesterday, I felt goosebumps when I heard the Child Development Center staff call Mektrida, Meke. [...]

  3. [...] on this link here you can see who the bloggers are and read their posts from the week; such as The Resourceful Mommy’s post about meeting her sponsored child, Gussy Sews journey to Gidionis home and the giraffe that [...]

  4. [...] exciting day for one of the Compassion bloggers today.  For Amy, it was time to meet her sponsored [...]

  5. The Needing says:

    [...] week in Tanzania the Compassion bloggers have witnessed the needing in ways they probably never imagined. I love that Compassion provides a way that we can stand in the gap for those families and connect [...]

  6. compassion says:

    [...] Stories of how important it is for these children and their families to have sponsors. Stories of children waiting over a year for a sponsor. Stories of how much these children LOVE their sponsors. Stories of sponsors meeting their sponsored child. [...]

  7. [...] from Resourceful Mommy has been my roommate this week and this week she met her sponsored child, Meka. How can you NOT love the smiles on that little [...]

  8. [...] Meeting My Sponsored Child | Resourceful Mommy [...]

  9. [...] in Tanzania with Compassion International, I met my newest sponsored child, Meke.  I would love for you to see just a glimpse of my time with Meke, including the time I had [...]

  10. [...] to be on Twitter when I noticed that some bloggers that I thoroughly enjoy were participating in a Twitter Party with Compassion International while on a trip to Tanzania.  Intrigued, I spent that next hour [...]

  11. […] Meeting My Sponsored Child | Resourceful Mommy […]

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