Kids can make a difference in the world – by Tyra Swenson
When we began this journey with Hope Chest just over three years ago we had a vision that we were going to impact the children, the villages, the community and Uganda and we were going to feel like we were doing what God put us on Earth to do by loving others as he does and we do feel this way. What we didn’t know though is how it was going to impact our children and change us! It is hard to put into words what Sponsorship has done for our family. When we love others as God intended us to, something in us changes and when your children get to experience this it is an amazing journey to watch their minds, hearts, thoughts and love for others expand.
Don’t get me wrong, there are so many times I think (and sometimes say out loud) “Ugh, have they forgotten the Orphans in Uganda? Why are they acting so spoiled? Are they really being ungrateful right now? Do they not remember the pictures of the mud huts? How about the tears of the children as we leave them? Do they really think they have anything to complain about?” Then I have to laugh at myself because as a grown adult I forget this all the time, I let myself get sucked back into what society thinks we “NEED” to survive, I let myself forget those beautiful eye that look at you with the longing to be loved, with hope, with sadness and I easily get sucked back into this world’s idea of living and loving others even days after returning from our amazing trips in Uganda!
I have three amazing children, Damon who is 11 (and has traveled with us to Uganda), Bree who is 8 (who is saving up money currently for her first trip) and Owenn who is 5. Each of my children sponsor their own children and how they do that is by giving up their Christmas gifts from us. I know, I know, I have heard it all from people who don’t agree with us and gotten all the nasty looks from people after Christmas is over. We go out and about in the community and they ask my children “what did Santa bring you?” and “what did your mommy and daddy get you for Christmas?” then my 5 year old blurts out, “There is no Santa and my mommy and daddy don’t get us presents” without further explanation of because we sponsor orphans. I can’t tell you it is easy for my children every year Christmas comes around and they go back to school and their friends tell them all about the AMAZING gifts santa and their parents got them but I can tell you it has changed their view of what Christmas really is about and what giving up things you want to help those who really need it really means. These HARD lessons are what really change kids, what really mold them to care for others, what makes them understand sometimes doing what is right and what God calls us to do is HARD. If it was easy wouldn’t we all do it, wouldn’t we all LOVE others without judgment, wouldn’t we all give up things we want to help those who can’t survive on their own?
I wanted to ask my children some questions and give you their honest answers because I believe you will understand their view from being involved in this program. How it has impacted them each differently and how, as they grow older, they understand it more and more.
How do you feel like you are helping the kids in Uganda?
Damon (11yrs) – “It shows the kids there that God is there for them and there is hope and that they are important and have an impact on the world.”
Bree (8yrs) – “I feel like by sponsoring them it helps them have meals and go to school and feel loved.”
Owenn (5yrs) – “I am helping them so they don’t die without food and by praying for them.”
What do you feel like it shows others for you as a child to sponsor another child?
Damon– “It shows people that anyone can help and make a difference and everyone should!”
Bree– “People probably feel like it is a great idea and will want to sponsor kids too!”
Owenn– “That other kids will want to do it too!”
Would you change anything about sponsoring these children?
Damon– “Yes! I would have more kids I sponsor and I would create a commercial to tell millions of people that Hope Chest is here and how the program helps kids in Africa so we can help more kids in Africa!”
Bree– “Yes! I would love to change their homes and give them my bed and blankets because I have a lot of blankets and could make a bed of my own with all the blankets I have and give them my bed.”
Owenn– “Yes! Praying to God I don’t want kids there to die and I want them to be healthy and one day I can go and visit them.”
Is it hard to give up Christmas presents to sponsor your child?
Damon– “No compared to what kids have in Africa we aren’t giving up anything.”
Bree– “No because we already have way more things/toys than we need and they don’t have anything for toys besides rocks, cans and things that aren’t even toys. I think it is sad that other people here aren’t giving up things to sponsors kids.”
Owenn– “No because I know it makes the orphans happy!”
So you see being involved in this program, taking these trips, and sponsoring these Orphans are changing my kids. Every day, every conversation, and every Christmas I see it more and more in them. It wasn’t as though the day we joined this journey with Hope Chest my kids lives changed instantly, it is a process, it is a life lesson, it is a constant battle for them and for us to not be selfish, to not let the world mold us, and to understand what loving others truly means.
Kids can make a difference in this world …. Just ask my kids!