Friday, February 16, 2007

A Party for Lizzy

As a photographer for Children International, I’ve met hundreds -- if not thousands -- of sponsored children around the world. I was excited to learn that my next assignment would take me to Lusaka, Zambia, where I would meet my own sponsored child, Lizzy, for the first time.

I became Lizzy’s sponsor last summer after my sponsored child of 13 years, Karl, graduated from the sponsorship program. Upon realizing that I would be in Lusaka on her birthday, I started planning how I could make this special day for Lizzy.

When I met 6-year-old Lizzy at her aunt's home, she was quiet and shy. Her mother had passed away only a few months earlier and her father was no longer around. She now lives with her aunt and cousins, who have taken Lizzy and her siblings into their own family. With so many children who’ve been orphaned due to AIDS and forced to live on the streets, I was comforted by the fact that her family was caring and she had a safe place to call home.

I arrived in Lusaka hoping for two suitcases to come off the plane, but found that only one had made it to Zambia with me. Although clean clothes would’ve been nice, I was thankful it was the suitcase full of gifts that my friends, family and I had purchased and carefully packed for Lizzy and her family. It would be five days before the suitcase with clean clothes would finally catch up with me!

Later, we arrived at the new CI community center for an afternoon of birthday fun. The staff had cheerfully decorated one of the rooms and had snacks and treats for everyone to enjoy. With her first birthday party ever in full swing, the cake and gifts arrived and Lizzy’s face glowed with smiles. And so did mine...for I had received the best gift of all...a huge hug from Lizzy.

Posted on behalf of Greg, a long-time Children International photographer who has traveled around the world capturing the essence of our sponsored children and their communities in hopes of giving sponsors a glimpse into our children's daily lives. Look for more from Greg next week as he, Damon (a staff writer for Children International) and I travel to Honduras.

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