Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In My Own Words: Meeting Glendy

Sponsoring a child is a life-changing experience for many people. Sponsors can develop fulfilling relationships with their sponsored children that last a lifetime. Some are fortunate enough to travel to the remote villages and actually meet their sponsored children and their families.

“In My Own Words” is inspired by those dedicated sponsors who want to share their sponsorship story...

Three years ago, I sponsored a child in Guatemala who lived in Antigua, located 30 miles from Guatemala City. At the time, she was 5 years old and about to enter school. I thought it would be rewarding to go there and meet Glendy Roxanne Camargo and her family. I contacted the Children International world headquarters located in Kansas City to coordinate my visit.

Upon my arrival in Guatemala, I called their local headquarters in Guatemala City, and a few days later was picked up at my hotel in a mini-van provided by an interpreter. Forty minutes later we arrived in the historic city of Antigua and a compound that has a small infirmary consisting of limited dental and medical services. Of course, all the children gathered around to get a glimpse of the American visitor.

We were directed to a small office where Glendy and her mother were waiting. They were a bit quiet, and held back as after all it was our first encounter. After hugs and greetings, we were then driven to their living quarters where numerous families were housed. Tropical birds were abundant along the pathways, and tortillas were cooked on stone stoves in the open. There were also lots of flies everywhere.

Once we reached Glendy’s home, I learned that five people lived in a hut consisting of a corrugated roof, dirt floor and heavy plank walls. There were two beds, makeshift closets or small dressers, an electric stove, a small TV, no toilet or running water and, of course, lots of flies. Can you just imagine?! Needless to say, I broke down and cried – and we complain at times. I will never complain again! We are so blessed!

I met the rest of the family and disseminated the gifts I brought with me in two large suitcases. There was something for all members of the family.

Glendy loves dolls. She had two worn-out dolls of which I’m sure she loved dearly. Well, I had six dolls, and she was overwhelmed with emotion as was the rest of the family.

Soon after, we were off to Guatemala City. Glendy had never been there before, and was truly in awe of the sights and sounds along the way. The highlight of the trip was a long stay at McDonald’s. McDonald’s there is truly a showplace. I travel a lot and it is the very best.

Early in the evening, we arrived back to her compound where I also met her father and grandmother. We took more pictures with them. It came time for me to leave, and we walked back to the van. As I was about to depart, I bent down for a hug and kiss. Glendy clung on tight as she didn’t want me to leave. Of course, you know what happened next.

Yes, I cried again!!

It was one of life’s experiences I shall never forget, and I’m sure she won’t either.

Same time next year, Glendy?

Harold Wentworth


Betsemes said...

"Sponsors can develop fulfilling relationships with their sponsored children that last a lifetime."

But yesterday I was left with the impression that once a child leave the sponsorship program all connections with the sponsor are broken. Am I missing something?

About the story, can you guess what part of the story was the most emotional for me? This one: "Glendy clung on tight as she didn’t want me to leave", it brought tears to my eyes!

Jennifer said...

You're not missing anything, but you'll always have the knowledge of having made a difference in a child's life. For most sponsors, that lasts a lifetime, whether a sponsor remains in contact with the child or not. Some experiences, like sponsorship, have the power to change your life forever.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

I think I heard that if the child and sponsor both wish to remain in contact, they can, outside of the program.

Jennifer said...

Anon...that's correct, but we don't facilitate the communication or provide personal information.

Betsemes said...

OK then, let me extend this a little more. Let's think on the hypothetical situation that the comunity that my sponsored child lives in is reaching self-sufficiency and the project is going to be closed. I get a notification letter and I want to visit the child before CI's personel leaves the community. Is that possible?

Jennifer said...

I would encourage you to contact a Sponsor Services representative for more information about traveling to that community or any area where we work. They can be reached at 1-800-888-3089.

Betsemes said...

I apparently am becoming a pest :-), but I have another question. This post was titled “In My Own Words”. What is it? Is it a way for sponsors to submit stories or things to post on the blog or is it something else?

Jennifer said...

You're not a pest, but Kelly and I don't want to steer you or any sponsor in the wrong direction, so we'll always point you to our dedicated staff with who have all the answers :)

We welcome sponsors to send us an email with their sponsorship experiences.

TK said...

Hi Jennifer,

You and the people in Children International did a wonderful job.

I absolutely agree that being able to make a difference in a child's life is a wonderful and rewarding experience that lasts a lifetime, and the privacy of both sponsors and the sponsored children are also very important.

I think most sponsors would agree that during the course of sponsorship, they establish lifelong friendship with the sponsored children, and vice versa. and some may even consider the children are part of their families. Imaging how cruel it will be when they completely lose contact with each other upon the child's graduation from the program or for other reasons.

If both parties agree to keep in contact after a child's graduation or leaving the program, Children International may want to have some flexibility in its policy or to establish some sort of procedures in helping the sponsors and the children maintaining contact, maybe at lease for a short period of time before, during and after the child's departure from the program, so that the sponsor and the child have the chance to find a way to keep in contact by themselves.

Thanks again for the good job.

Jennifer said...

Hey tk...thanks for you comments and kind words and we'll definitely think about ways that we can make the process easier in the future for eveyone involved!