Fred and Scheryn Pratt have sponsored nine children over the years with CFCA. One of them, Newton, is pursuing an education in art with the help of CFCA and the Pratts, who contribute to his art school fees in addition to sponsorship.
Here is an excerpt of a conversation our correspondent Natasha Sims recently had with Scheryn about their sponsorship experience.
I heard you got to visit Newton’s home and school. What was that like?
It was very eye opening. He goes to the Buru Buru Art Institute, and it’s a college.
It’s very nice with a lawn and grounds and nice buildings, and we toured the school. And that was just like a typical college, but small ñ not big like in the U.S.
Well, his home is in a very poor slum. It is one small room for three people: his older brother, his mother and himself.
It’s crowded in the sense that there’s so little space and there’s very little furniture.
When I say one room, I mean 12×12 or 8×8, so it’s small. It’s on the third floor of an apartment building.
There was one light bulb hanging from the ceiling, but the power had been turned off so they had no electricity. The neighborhood is full of trash ñ you know, nothing growing, just mud and dirt.
It’s a long walk for him to go to school, but I felt that the school would be kind of like an oasis for him because it would be a place of friendship.
I was glad that he has the school in his life.
Did you get to see his artwork? What did you think of it?
Yes, we did in the sense that he gave me a wall hanging. I have artwork of his at home that he has sent me over the years. I have the wall hanging he gave us when we were there and another painting.
Also, CFCA had a cultural day and he had done this beautiful banner that was on display. He was specifically asked by CFCA to do this.
I think maybe the first one was this picture of Bob Marley. He drew this picture on just a piece of paper and told me it was painted with shoe polish. There’s just not a lot of money for supplies.
And then I got a couple of other paintings. These two were oils and I just thought they were outstanding, very beautiful. But again, just very simple ñ the paper, and the quality of the media.
But he’s always so good about explaining the paintings he sends. And of course it’s just something he can fold up and put in an envelope.
But I was very honored to receive artwork from him while I was there because I could see how he doesn’t have a large accumulation of things, so to be giving them to me I felt was very meaningful.
I think [his artwork] is very personal to him, and I felt like he was sharing a really special part of himself with me when he would share his artwork.
Since I first started writing him he has told me his love is drawing and painting, so this is something he has loved to do. It’s a big part of who he is.
Newton is a wonderful correspondent. He is so polite. He is just Ö a dear wonderful person.
And not just him, all of the CFCA children, each one is just so unique. You just feel such a privilege to be able to be connected with them and to share something of their life.
You mentioned how you came back with a different perspective of your life?
I think for one thing you start thinking more of these children, because, instead of being just a piece of paper, which is a letter, they become real for you.
All of a sudden they become a part of your family, you pray for them, and you want to share what you have with them. They come right into your family circle.
You read something about Kenya in the paper and you become interested because it’s a real place with real people suffering or celebrating there.
I think you become less materialistic because you realize that your things are just so temporary and really kind of meaningless in so many ways because you see other people living without these things that you thought you had to have.
What has CFCA meant in your life as a sponsor?
CFCA is the connecting, that’s what makes it all possible. I am so impressed with CFCA. When we go on these mission awareness trips CFCA explains everything. They show you everything.
They go out of their way for you to meet their staff, to connect with your child. They explain all the usage of the money; they make it possible to do special things for your child.
CFCA is just the critical piece between you and your child. I am just so overwhelmed by what a wonderful organization CFCA really is and how much they care about these children, these aging people.
They’re tops. They’re just tops.