There is no doubt that sponsoring a child through Hearts & Hope is a wonderful thing. Giving a child the opportunity to attend school – a child who otherwise might not ever have that chance. Developing a relationship with a child on the other side of the world. Letting them know you care for them and pray for them. Sending them small gifts in a sponsorship packet to show you are thinking about them. It’s all wonderful use of resources – your time, your money, and your love.
Our goal is for a sponsored student to move through primary and secondary or vocational school, maybe even university, and be able to support themselves and their family. To have a better life than the world has planned for them. And when that happens, it is glorious! We have seen it. Students who are now teaching in our Hearts & Hope schools or working on the Hearts & Hope staff. Students who are about to graduate and enter the medical field or the world of finance in Uganda. So much promise, because someone cared enough to be their sponsor.
But a program such as this isn’t without its painful moments. And our family recently experienced just that.
We have sponsored Matia in the village of Kamuli for almost 5 years. Last year, he was in P6 – the equivalent of 6th grade in the US. He had dreams of becoming a pilot someday and Mark and I were excited to be a part of helping him achieve that goal!
The Primary Sponsorship Coordinator sends updates on students to the US staff each month. Last month, we were saddened to hear that Matia had left the Hearts & Hope school in Kamuli. It happens sometimes – families move and kids either have to leave school completely or attend a different school. Or sometimes parents need students to remain at home – to help provide for the family or to care for younger siblings while the parents work. What a difficult decision for a parent to make! But our sponsorship of Matia ended.
Over the past 5 years, I have spent hours with him. I’ve met his family. I even received a live chicken as a gift from his mother! His pictures litter the side of our refrigerator and his most recent photo is in a frame in our family room. It’s hard to believe there won’t be any more photos; no more signs of him growing up.
We are sad but will always pray for Matia and his family. We pray that he does become a pilot and marries a sweet young lady someday and has a family of his own. We pray that he knows he is loved and that he always has food when he is hungry.
We will be assigned a new child to sponsor in Kamuli. There are always kids who need sponsorship and we are happy someone else will be given the opportunity to get a quality education at a Hearts & Hope school. We will love this child and support them, just like we did Matia. Their picture will be added to the refrigerator and we will gather items for their packet. But there will always be room in our hearts for both.
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.