Sponsoring Smiles – by Laura Marshall
Welcome to a series here at Orphans of Teso called Sponsoring Smiles, where we’ll talk about each aspect of child sponsorship, going in depth with each one. Our goal is to give sponsors a deeper understanding of what sponsorship does in the lives of the children and in the community. We’ll be talking about clean water, health care, discipleship, education, and to start off, we’ll look at food and nutrition. These posts will focus on the newest CarePoint, Ongongoja, as we strive to fulfill our goal of 100% smiles through 100% sponsorship before we visit again in August.
The region of Ongongoja is considered by locals “the ends of the earth.” They feel as though they are forgotten, both by the government and by the people. Ongongoja has been dealt a series of blows that has essentially wiped out an entire generation of people. Many children have lost one or both parents and are taken in by someone else, usually a relative. This puts a burden on an already stretched caregiver, who likely has other children to take care of.
Imagine something with me for a moment. You are eleven years old, and when you wake up in the morning, there’s nothing for breakfast. You get ready and head to school, where there is no lunch. Try to imagine how difficult it would be to pay attention in school, to really learn what is being taught. After school, you head home, where, if it’s a good day, you’ll get a very small dinner of cooked tree leaves or greens from the field. The leaves aren’t meant for eating and have little or no nutritional value; they serve only to physically fill your stomach in an effort to stop the feeling of hunger.
I get grouchy if my lunch is late, and my kids? The word “hangry” was invented for them. I cannot begin to fathom a constant, gnawing feeling of hunger all day, every day.
Here is an excerpt from the book “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind,” a true story of a boy in Malawi who lived through a famine:
“Despite what I’d imagined earlier, the hunger was just as painful in class as it was in the fields. Actually, it was worse. Sitting there, my stomach screamed and threatened, twisted in knots, and gave my brain no peace at all. And I soon found it difficult to pay attention. … At recess, talk of soccer was replaced by tales of hunger.”
I have never known hunger like this, and if you’re reading this, you likely haven’t either.
But there is good news! When you sponsor through Children’s HopeChest, your child receives a meal a day, 6 days a week, in the middle of the day. This meal gives many children the nutrition, the sustenance they need to get through the school day. This might be the only meal the child gets, but it is more wholesome than they might have had otherwise, and it comes during the school day, allowing them to focus and hopefully learn what’s being taught.
The meal eaten at the CarePoint also takes some pressure off caregivers, who have one less mouth to feed for dinner. Often, children share their meals with siblings, which helps other children in the family as well.
Technology has given us a reach into our world unparalleled in all of history. We have access to information about places all over the globe, and this has brought much suffering to light. This access also brings our brothers and sisters around the world much closer than they’ve ever been.
“There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.”
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
For just $38 a month, about the cost of a family of four (like mine!) eating at a sit-down restaurant, you can change a life. Literally, in every sense of the word, sponsorship changes lives. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for not just us, but for our brothers and sisters in Uganda—plans to give them HOPE and a FUTURE. If you choose to sponsor, you can be part of God’s plan to give the children and families HOPE and a FUTURE.