Wednesday, December 24, 2008

On the 12th Day of Christmas My Sponsor Gave to Me…

…12 Months of Friendship

It seems perfect that our last day of Christmas be about something that is so important during the holiday – the connection we have to one another.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to most of your that your sponsored child thinks of you as a friend, a steady, reassuring presence in what can be a fairly chaotic and uncertain life. That’s why your letters are so meaningful. They provide that special boost when it’s needed most. And when your child knows you’re going to be there all year long, well, it helps them believe that his or her life has possibilities.

More than once I’ve had a sponsored child entrust to me a message that I am to spirit back with haste to his or her special friend. “Tell him I love him,” or “Please tell her that I am thankful for her and pray for her every night.” Often, they’ll make me promise. And, often, with a fair amount of luck anyway, I can play the part of happy messenger and deliver the dispatch.

So, in celebration of the friendship that sponsorship helps foster, on this, the 12th day of Christmas, I’d like to share with you what the season is really all about, as told by sponsor Robin Buckley, who was lucky enough to be with his special friends, Roberto and Bianny, so near the holiday.

From his blog, written shortly after his visit, which was just a couple of days ago:
Today was spent visiting with the two boys – Roberto and Bianny – whom I sponsor through Children International. Unlike my visit in June when I was able to see the boys on separate days, this time it was necessary to see them together because of the busy Christmas season. And so, we decided to spend the day at one of the larger shopping malls in Santiago. I had brought several gifts with me from Canada but wanted to give the boys the chance to pick out what they wanted.

Building a lasting friendship: Robin and Bianny exchange a hug.

Since Roberto lives about an hour away from Santiago, he came with his mother and one of the CI Social Workers and they went directly to the mall. Yaseni, the CI field office worker (and my translator) arrived at my hotel together with Bianny, his father and their Social Worker and then we were off to the mall to meet up with Roberto.

We all got together in the cafeteria at the Mall to figure out our plans for the day. This mall is absolutely huge and would rival anything we have back in Canada. I told the boys that they could go shopping and that they had 2500 pesos each to spend (about $75 US).

By the time the boys had finished with what they considered “necessities”, they had purchased some new shoes, jeans and a t-shirt and had a little left over to buy a toy.

By this time, we were all getting hungry and so we returned to the cafeteria for some lunch. The unanimous choice was for pizza from Dominoes.

When it was originally suggested to me that we would have to combine the visits with both kids, I was a little worried because I didn’t know whether or not they would get along. Roberto is 11 and Bianny is 9 and at first they were a little apprehensive together. But there’s a kid’s play area (similar to what you’ll find at McDonald’s back home) and they both headed there after lunch while the “adults chatted.” I think this was the “icebreaker” because when they returned to the table, they were laughing and joking together. It’s absolutely amazing how kids can get along when you leave them alone!

We left the mall to take Roberto, his mom and their social worker to the bus stop for their hour-long ride home at which time I gave Roberto the gifts I had brought from Canada. These mostly consisted of school supplies – notebooks, pens etc that is so lacking in this country as well as a watch that I had gotten for him. Then Bianny, his dad, their social worker, Yaseni and I headed over to Bianny’s house to spend some time there.

While there, it was time to give the gifts I had brought from Canada for Bianny and his adorable little sister. I felt bad about the fact that there were cousins visiting and I didn’t have anything to give them.

And then unfortunately, it was time for me to leave but I did so with the promise that I would be back again sometime next summer. The family wished me a “feliz navidad” and Bianny wanted to give me a hug.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what Christmas is all about!

Thanks Robin. And thanks to all of you for being that friend year in and year out. It truly matters. The happiest of holidays to each and every one of you, and our gratitude for making it all possible.

Make sure to come back tomorrow for a special post by Children International president Jim Cook.

Posted on behalf of Scott Cotter. Photo courtesy Robin Buckley.


Robin said...

A thank you to Scott for wanting to include my visit with Roberto and Bianny on Monday.

I would also like to mention how fantastic the field office staff are in Santiago, in particular Yaseni. She has been with me on both my visits with the children (this time and in June). Her commitment to CI and to the children shines through in everything she does. Even after the visit with the children was over she took me back to the field office and showed me around the facility, introducing me to the staff and showing me the medical and dental facilities. When she asked me "which visit did I enjoy the most" I had to reply "my next one which will be in June or July!"

Heather M said...

Fantastic! What a way to spend Christmas!