By Kristin Littrell, freelance writer
In a humble home of sheet metal, surrounded by the smell of cooking fires, I met my new sponsored friend, Josselyn.
Before this trip, I talked with the Unbound staff about sponsoring a child from El Salvador, but I didn’t give them any details. I figured I’d follow up and select a little girl close in age to my own daughter, so they could walk together through childhood and share stories and dreams across the miles.
Life is full and in my ongoing list of things to do, I never got around to following up about my sponsorship. And then one day, a sponsorship folder appeared in my mail with a note that the project staff had chosen this child for me.
When I opened her folder, I couldn’t believe what I saw. Josselyn, who is 6 years old, is almost the same age as my oldest daughter, but there was more.
She has an eye condition similar to one my daughter had until we had it surgically corrected last summer.
The connection feels significant to me. So often, this is what God does through sponsorship. He gives us exactly who we need.
Sponsorship isn’t just for them, for the child or elder you’re “helping” overseas. We often think it is — that we’re doing all the helping, and they’re doing all the receiving.
But then you enter into the relationship, and you realize that you had it all wrong.
You find a purpose, a humility, a love, a friendship that you didn’t realize you needed until it’s there in the form of sponsorship.
My oldest daughter wrote her first letter to Josselyn before I left. She wrote out her top three questions.
What’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite food? What’s your favorite thing?
Josselyn’s answers: purple and hot dogs.
Ofelia is Josselyn’s mom, but actually she’s her aunt. When Josselyn was young, her parents left her in the care of Ofelia and her family.
Today, Josselyn is doted on by her siblings, clearly loved well and fully. They look at her with genuine love in their eyes, finding joy in helping her answer a question or finding her favorite dress-up purse.
Ofelia recently opened a little store at the front of their home. She sells snacks such as chips and soda. On a good day, she makes around $3.
Her husband is a day laborer, working in the fields planting beans and corn or finding odd jobs when there isn’t work.
As you can imagine, their collective income isn’t much. But with it, they raise their four children, and Josselyn.
It’s clear they have fought for Josselyn to have good care. She’s regularly seen by a doctor, currently patching her eye for several hours every day. They also visit a local ophthalmology nonprofit for further care. They’re committed to getting her the help she needs.
And that help includes Unbound. They’d been waiting for a sponsor for almost two years.
Sponsorship will lighten the family’s load, economically and emotionally. It will give Josselyn access to ongoing medical care and advocates that will help her family navigate school and more.
Most importantly, the family will decide how to utilize their Unbound sponsorship to best meet their needs. Sponsorship funds could be used as assistance for transportation costs to medical appointments, or for help with medical bills.
Whatever it is, it’ll be up to the family to decide.
That’s what makes Unbound sponsorship different. We don’t tell the families what they need. Instead, we work with the families, allowing them to map out their future, save up for their hopes, and provide for their children.
I’m moved by the strength of the families here. In the face of poverty and insecurity, they continue to fight for a better life for their children.
Ofelia reminded me again that life isn’t about ease and comfort. It’s about service and love. And usually that requires self-sacrifice and hard work.
Ofelia and her family are bright, shining examples of that. And that is a lesson I’m excited to share with my family back home.
Day 1: Adventures ahead for a one-of-a-kind blogger trip