You may know it but you don’t “know” it

Wednesday April 21, 2009


You may know it but you don’t “know” it

I have been sponsoring a child for the last few years through Tumaini International. I send in thirty dollars a month, a little more if I am feeling generous, and don’t really think twice about my monthly contribution. I get a letter ever few months from the boy I am sponsoring. He tells me how he is doing in school and in life, and says thank you for sponsoring him, the usual. About once or twice a year I receive an updated picture of him. I have written a few letters to my boy, telling him about myself and try to leave him with some encouraging words each time. It is pretty easy to overlook my contribution, thirty dollars doesn’t seem like much and this boy didn’t really go into much detail about his life and what the money actually does for him.

It is kind of funny because back at home thirty bucks buys me dinner, a movie and not much more. I have thrown away thirty dollars on food, clothes, movies and countless other insubstantial things and not thought twice about it. There have been a few times when I second guessed if I should send in my contribution to my boy, there are also been times that I didn’t send in money because I didn’t make paying for it a priority because I had spent my money on my movies and late night Norms outings. Questions would scatter through my mind; does the money even go to him? Is this just a scam? What is the point? How much of a difference does this even make?

I think it is funny that I second guess paying money to sponsor a boy in a third world country, but don’t think twice about throwing away more money of a weekend excursion or a Christian living book (how ironic). I tend to overlook my contribution, I don’t think it is even going to make a difference or impact anyone, but I discovered that it does make a difference, every penny truly counts.

When I pulled up to the home of the child I sponsor, I instantly realized why this boy had made the list of most needy of a sponsor. A wall from their home had collapsed and corrosion rotted the remaining walls. Piles of waste and debris were strewn across this home. Their garden was filled with weeds and dirt, this drought prevented them from growing food. Everything was in shambles and completely grubby. No one was there when we arrived so we sent out a team to find them. I sat on their best chair, a broken, flimsy and decaying pieces of wood shaped like a chair. I tried to take everything in, I moseyed about this home and couldn’t even begin to imagine how someone lived in this wreck. The decaying building, the lack of sanitation, no water in sight, the lack of food… how do they live? About thirty minutes later the driver returned with my boy. He stood before me in clothes that were more than a few sizes too small and that didn’t seem to have been washed for ages. He is seventeen years old and is literally nothing but skin, bones and rotten teeth.

I wish I could express how it felt to meet Stephen. I couldn’t really believe that this was real. I read his letters and I saw his pictures but it was never really real to me. When I wrote letters I never truly comprehended that on the receiving end there was a living personIt is so easy for me to look at my thirty dollars simply as thirty dollars. I think that I saw it as a few more movies and dinners but never saw it as a human before. I knew that this boy existed and I knew that my donation was supporting him but I never “knew” or internalized it. I knew that my donation was putting him through school and giving him enough money for food, but I never “knew” it. I knew that there was a starving boy ten thousand miles away from my home who’s only means of support was me, but I never “knew” it. I knew I was making a difference, but I never felt like I was. I knew my money was giving someone opportunities to survive in life, but I never realized that my money was actually giving someone opportunities to survive in life. All I did was write a check for thirty dollars once a month and I never realized that my thirty dollars was changing someone’s life, I mean I knew it but I didn’t “know” it… does that make sense?

I filled my backpack with food for Stephen, and if it weren’t for that he and his brothers and sisters wouldn’t have eaten that day, the money I had donated was going towards his schooling at this point. I spent about ten bucks on this food and didn’t think twice about it and yet these ten bucks gave this small unfortunate family enough to stay alive for a few more days. It is so easy for me to overlook my contributions and donations because to me they are just a small amount of money, leftovers in a way. The amazing thing is that these “leftovers” have truly saved Stephens life. If it wasn’t for this organization he wouldn’t of made it to this age or gotten an education, and he wouldn’t be leaving for a trade school in this May. My leftovers saved a life. There truly was more than just a face behind those letters and pictures; there was and is a living person.

Maybe some of you are where I was before yesterday. Maybe you have no problem tossing out cash for the movies, dinners, and weekend excursions, but find it difficult to support someone you’ve never met. Maybe you have a child you sponsor and you are just like me and know you are making a difference, but don’t truly “know” it. I’m writing this today just to encourage you in your continual contributions, not to me I’m not asking for any money. For those of you who already sponsor a child in another country, keep it up and “know” that you are making a difference and don’t second-guess your giving. For those of you who have other organizations or institutes you donate your time or money to, “know” that you are making a difference. For those of you who toss out cash for dinner and a movie but second guess giving to charitable causes, I urge you to consider sponsoring a child through Tumaini International. I can guarantee that 100% of your donation actually goes towards a child. You will be saving a life, whether you “know” it or not, and if you ask to have a child near where I stay I can visit them and give you personal updates on their life. I can also take pictures and video of them for you, in an attempt to help you put a face to their letter and to help you “know” you are making a difference. F.Y.I. This organization was created by Christians, but serves Muslims, atheists and all religions, it doesn’t force Christian beliefs on people, it meets monetary needs and offers spiritual support for those that want it.

Stephen wasn’t as fortunate as me to born into the U.S. He wasn’t given a free education like me. He didn’t have both of his parents there to support him. He wasn’t given new clothes, let alone clean clothes. Three meals a day seemed more like a dream than a reality for him. He was born into a pretty bad position. He has a brother and two sisters. His parents died of AIDS, which left him in the care of his grandparents. His grandparents weren’t in a position to support him and his brothers and sisters financially, so their upbringing was difficult. His grandparents died while he was still pretty young, which left his oldest sister to care for them, while still being a child. Stephen, by all means, should have died of starvation or disease; he shouldn’t be here. But God used me to save a life and make a difference… I can’t even express what it feels like to truly make a difference.



Prayer Requests:
Youth Convention I am speaking at on Saturday, I just finished my sermon, but need prayers.
Generator for Tumaini
The medical building is now complete, they are in the process of hiring the medical staff, pray that the best are chosen.
Stacy’s wheelchair, I think I found one for 1/6 of the cost that I had been told it would be and am going to try to buy it the next time I go to town.
Travels, Mike Carman is traveling back to the U.S. today and we have a few people flying in the next few days.
The Youth Camp and my sex talk.

We keep our sandals outside. Last night it was POURING rain and one of my sandals got washed away and went to where all of the sewage is… Kenyan sewage is worse than ours… by far!
I watched “Strangers” with my roommate last night… it was a joke… don’t waste your time. Not scary and VERY lame.
“Pants” means woman’s underwear… without knowing it I said something REALLY inappropriate to this older woman because I didn’t know it meant something else.
About 6 PM it gets pitch black here
I eat about half a loaf of bread a day
I had porridge this morning that someone made me…. It was like purple warm water… I am pretty sure that gruel would be more appealing.

Unaendaleajay shuleni? How are you doing in school?
Una- end-ah-lay-ah-jay shoe-len- knee

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 9:44 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>