As a Remember Niger sponsor and volunteer translator/interpreter, I was given the extraordinary opportunity during our trip to meet the girls that my family, friends and I support. On Tuesday and Wednesday this week I got to see them at the Tsibiri boarding school. I shook their hands, spoke to them, and posed for pictures with them. On Wednesday, I got to sit down with them and hear more about their life situations and what led them to the school. They were shy, but on Wednesday when I asked them if they remembered me from the previous day they smiled and said “Oui.” At that point, my heart melted. I gave them both a squeeze and took more pictures, which I promptly showed them, telling them how pretty they were. In fact, I wanted to scoop them up and bring them home with me!
If this blog post were a movie, this is the moment where you would hear the sound effect of brakes screeching and the image on the screen would freeze. A voiceover would say, “I suddenly realized I was getting a bit carried away!” And since that moment, I have been reflecting more deeply about what it means to sponsor a child.
My sponsorship is a tangible, financial gift which allows a poor child to attend an excellent school. It is also an opportunity for me to direct my positive thoughts, energy and prayers toward some very deserving little girls. And that’s where it stops. Although I am thankful beyond words to be a mother, I am not their mother. It isn’t up to me to try to influence their lives any further, because they have family members and teachers to do that. I was ashamed to realize that I’d been thinking of them as if they were puppies that needed a good home!
What does it mean to be a sponsor? It means providing financially for a child so she will be able to grow physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It means smoothing the way for her a little bit so she can grow up in Niger to be a mother, a teacher, a doctor, a businesswoman, or anything else she wants to be. It means opening a path for her to be able to enrich the lives of those around her. Ultimately, it means lifting her up so that she can lift up her family, her community, her country, and maybe even the world.