Although I live in Kansas, I have a strong connection to a country more than 8,000 miles away.
That connection is my sponsored child, Victor, who lives with his mother in Kenya.
The story of how I came to sponsor Victor is unique – just like anyone who has the privilege of sponsoring a child or aging friend.
I first heard of Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, or CFCA, when a job opening came up in 2010 for web editor and writer. Today I work as CFCA's online content manager. It's a great job, and I get excited about going to work each day. But one of the best results, in my opinion, was the opportunity to meet Victor and his family.
As I went on CFCA's website to sponsor a child, I knew I wanted to help a child who had no father. Sometimes people will choose to sponsor a child with the same birthday or a specific name, or perhaps they want to help a child with special needs. For me, though, it had to be someone who had lost a father.
From what I have read in the Bible, God has a special place in his heart for the fatherless. The word appears more than 40 times throughout the Scriptures, usually in the context of providing justice and support for them.
As soon as I saw Victor and his smile, I had an inkling that he was the one.
When I read the description of his family, I saw almost immediately that his father had died, and his mother was raising him by herself.
In that moment, all I could think was, "This could be the child I've been looking for!"
I learned later about his family's struggle with poverty — how Victor lives in a wooden house with no electricity and a cement floor. His mother is the sole breadwinner, depending on seasonal work to try to earn enough for her family For some perspective, many of the families we serve earn less than $2 US a day.
My hunch that Victor was “the one” was confirmed with the first letter I received. It came from Eva, Victor's mother, because Victor was still too young to write.
"I thank my God who has granted me this time to say that you are most welcome in our family," she wrote.
Eva explained more about their life in Kenya. Her love for Victor shines through in her description: "He is the firstborn in my family and the only child. His father Stephen passed away in 2005 and therefore I am a single mother."
Eva ended by praying that God would bless me, and thanked me again for sponsoring.
That was one of the best moments of my life.
All too often the problems of poverty can seem overwhelming, to the point where we feel paralyzed to do anything about it. But as Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one."
Through my monthly sponsorship contribution, Victor is able to have enough to eat and attend school with all the school supplies he needs. He even gets a birthday and Christmas present through CFCA. Eva now belongs to a CFCA mothers group where she can meet other mothers of sponsored children for community support.
Over time, sponsorship has made me realize that I have received far more than I could ever give. And it's shown me how blessed I am that Eva and Victor have welcomed me into their family … a whole continent away from Kansas.
Paula, a child sponsored through CFCA in Colombia.
CFCA serves more than 300,000 children, youth and aging persons around the world. Founded by lay Catholics and rooted in Catholic social teaching, CFCA is open to all faiths.
CFCA's Hope for a Family sponsorship program provides personal attention and direct benefits to children, youth and elderly and their families so they may live with dignity, achieve their potential and participate fully in society.
Just $30 a month can provide a child or aging person with food, access to education and health care, and the support needed to build a path out of poverty.