Helen Stott, one of our fab child sponsors (and wife of our Head of Supporter Experience), shares her closing thoughts and those of her three children at the end of their visit to their sponsored child in Uganda.
I often wondered what life was like for my sponsored child. What better way to understand it than through the eyes of other children, so I’ve asked my children to each pick a moment that particularly interested them during their time in villages here in Uganda.
My sponsored child Alice has got no teddys at all. And she’s only got two rooms; a dining room and a bedroom. The bedroom is split into two places, she and her two sisters and one brother sleep together. I wouldn’t want to sleep with my brothers because they are annoying. Alice’s father made the house all by himself. Alice likes her house. Alice has a very big land around her house, with bananas and peanuts. Her favourite food is rice, and her favourite game is piggy in the middle.
Alice has no hair. She is a bit shy, and me as well. Very early in the morning she gets some buckets of water. She has baby chickens that were only 3 or 4 days old, which I really liked, and I wish I had baby chickens at my house. They have wooden mats, it wasn’t splintery, but it wasn’t very comfortable.
Cody (age 11)
When I went to Kenneth and Roggers house I noticed it was bigger than other houses I had seen. It had four rooms. I then found that they had been sponsored for a long time and their sponsor had given them extra things. Now they had solar power so they can read at night. I hope that one day they will have cell phones since they could now charge them. They were given a cow and they bred it to get more. Me and Tanner played football with them. They didn’t have a ball, but we had brought one to give them. I don’t usually like football, but it was OK because it was 2 on 2. They liked it too.
I am happy their sponsor stayed with them a long time, as they now have a better future.
Tanner (age 13)
When I arrived at the local school, all the children crowded around as we looked so unusual. I sat in a lesson on maths, and felt quite intimidated as they were very smart. I was given sums alongside them and hoped I could get them right. I had expected that they would not be as clever as a top-set UK kid – but I was wrong. This impressed me and I realised that maybe school for them was a privilege and perhaps they work harder than me!
It was exciting when I showed off a backflip. Everyone crowded around and yelled for another boy to come. He showed me he could do a backflip too. Except he did two in a row. I showed him that I could do two, so he did three, and then four! On one of them, he kicked a small boy in the face. I was pleased the boy wasn’t hurt, but surprised that no teacher came to stop us from continuing the competition. In the UK I would have got a detention just for doing a back flip, let alone for kicking another boy in the face while doing it!
Helen (age still not disclosed!)
After travelling along a road, more a rambling path through mud and trees, and finding ourselves stuck in a ditch, we met Olive, a beautiful lady with a stunning smile. She welcomed us to her mud and stick home and laid out a flax mat for us to sit. Immediately I was struck by how gracefully she moved. She offered to teach Melissa and I to weave a mat, which usually a girl would learn in school.
Olive was surrounded by banana trees and good land, none of which was now hers. Her husband had become sick a few years ago and had sold the land to pay for medication. After he died, Olive was left with no land, no skills and 5 young children to bring up. Olive is also HIV+. Her wonderful neighbour has taught her to weave mats as she had no chance to learn this when she was young as she only attended school until Year 2. She spends 4 hours each day weaving. After two weeks she has finished one mat which her neighbour then takes to market to sell for £5. Olive is too unwell to go herself.
Recently World Vision has come to her community and one of her children is sponsored. I was grateful that her whole community is helped and not just her one child because of it. Olive is given medication which means she is well enough to weave mats and prepare food for her children. I asked Olive if she thought much about the future. She said that she does but it worries and scares her. She knows she will die and is worried for her children.
Hopefully the children will go to the grandparents close by. If they stay in the area, World Vision will be able to support them through the tragedy of losing both parents and help them towards a future with hope, nutrition, water and education.
As we left, I bought a mat from Olive. I overpaid her a little, and felt pleased to give something to her in a small way. However, she then showed me what it really means to be generous. She chased us down the road and presented us with one of her 6 chickens. I knew that finding food was the one thing she worries about most. I felt helpless to refuse as it would have been an insult, and frustrated that I could not help her more. We had given her less than a fraction of what we have to spare. She gave us so much from what she greatly needed.
Meeting our sponsored child and others near her has opened all our eyes to a different way of life; not a better or worse one, at least, once the basics of life are met. I feel privileged to be able to help provide these basics, and perhaps play a small part in creating opportunity for the future.
Reflecting on our family experience these past few days, I hope it has shown my children that they have a role to play in sharing the basics of life with others, but equally, that sponsored children have a role in showing us another way to live.
We are in Uganda for another day, and would love to answer any questions you have, or read your comments. You can comment in this blog, or head to World Vision’s Facebook page and leave us your thoughts. We’ll do our best to respond to any questions you, or perhaps your children, have. Also, on Facebook, you can see more photos of the stories above, whether you are a Facebook member or not.