Today was a long and emotional day, but in the best possible way. Today my family and I met the two South African sponsored children who have been a part of our family for many years. It was such a wonderful experience and one that I really wanted to share with other sponsors.
Sam and Surprise Stand Side by Side
Our family has sponsored Surprise for about 10 years now. He was 9 when we first embraced him long distance into our lives and he was chosen as he is the same age as our son Sam. It was such a delight to finally come face to face with Surprise, a tall and strong young man of 19. He is one of seven children and his large family surrounded him as we met. His youngest siblings were delightful four year old twin boys.
We know that Surprise’s circumstances have improved greatly over the past ten years. Partly due to our support, but also other factors like good employment for his father, his mother having a roadside stall selling wares to locals, and of course the ever positive presence of World Vision. Surprise’s family greeted us warmly and with great respect, wanting to show how grateful they were to us. They gave us gifts of peanuts, oranges and avocados all of which have huge value to them and we were honoured to accept.
We watched as the little ones played enthusiastically with the small gifts we had brought them, a skipping rope and few toy cars, the twins then enjoyed crashing into one another – it seems young boys are the same wherever you go!! We also took Surprise some little things to give him an idea of our world, our geography, our lives, as we have been so fortunate to be in his life for a moment or two. The most wonderful sight was the two young men, our Sam so pale and Surprise so dark but two handsome strong young people standing shoulder to shoulder on the brink of their adult lives.
We also sponsored a little girl the same age as our daughter Emily for the same reason, so they would grow up with their lives in parallel, very different but in some ways the same. The family left the ADP after a couple of years and we were given Ruth as our sponsored little girl. From the very first photo they sent of her stood squarely on African soil, hand on hips at 2 years old I recall thinking this girl has attitude. Today we met a beautiful, poised bright eyed 8 year old who after a little reticence (which isn’t surprising as we were quite a crowd with the WV team with us) became animated, enjoyed holding my hand and loved a good tickle!
She was also surrounded by the love of her very large family. She has been brought up by her grandmother, as her mother was very young when she was born. This meant her mother could return to school after her birth, something very positive here. Now 8 years on her mother is very much a presence in her life but a protracted one as partly through tradition and religion she does not live with the main family. It is very clear to see that Ruth’s security, safety and well-being is linked to her being with the extended family, her close relationship with her 91 year great grandmother is especially warm and delightful.
The family were excited to meet us and we spent a wonderful hour or so under the tree in the garden exchanging little bits of information through Maite, the wonderful lady who heads up the WV sponsorship programme at Kodumela. Ruth performed some traditional Zulu singing for us accompanied by her family. We were then presented with their truly luxury feast, made of peanuts and served on special occasions. It was a little strange to our taste buds, but to share that with her family was so special. Ruth was encouraged to present me with a gift and suddenly she was on her knees at my feet with a beautiful hand-made traditional sweeping broom which will come home with me to England alongside the one Surprise gave me earlier.
Reflecting on a Wonderful Day
To engage with these beautiful young people in their environment, even though it is so harsh, and to enjoy the hospitality of their families who have so many daily challenges, was truly inspirational. This sounds a bit of a cliché I know, trust me it is not; we as a family have been moved to a point we have not been to before. We will carry the lasting images with us forever, two young men stood together but with lives thousands of miles apart in so many ways, and a beautiful young girl excitedly sharing with her great grandmother and later her mother the small gifts we had taken her. What more is there to say but Thank you!
I’m really enjoying my time here in South Africa and I would love to answer any questions you have about what life is like here and what the children’s lives are like. You can post your questions below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. (Please feel free to talk about your own sponsored children, but if you do, for the sake of child protection, please only use their first name).
Nicola Brown is a long-term World Vision Supporter who is visiting South Africa with her husband Tudor and son Sam.
If you have been inspired by this blog you may like to sponsor a child in South Africa yourself