James and I sponsor a 10 year old boy in Ethiopia through Compassion International. We started sponsoring him last summer. We'd hoped for a long time that we'd get to meet him during one of our upcoming trips to Ethiopia. As soon as I found out when our court date would be, I emailed Compassion to see if we could arrange a visit with him. Compassion requests that you give them 8 weeks notice to plan a visit. We had less than a month's notice for our court date, and I was not really hopeful that it would give Compassion enough time to plan a visit. We'd only have one day where we could plan a visit, and our sponsored child would have to be driven to Addis Ababa, where we will be staying. He lives very far away from the city, and for us to travel to see him, we'd have to spend the night in a rural part of Ethiopia. We were also concerned that it would add $$$ to the cost of our trip. Compassion replied to my email with further instructions regarding what we needed to do to plan a visit. We'd have to pay $70 for background checks in order to proceed. It seemed so hopeless, that we felt like it would be a waste of $70. We decided not to bother with it.
Two days later, someone from Compassion called me to see what was going on. I was impressed! Compassion is a big organization, and I thought no one would pay us any attention if I didn't respond to their email. I explained my concerns to her, and she assured me that they would do everything that they could to arrange a visit for us. I went ahead and filled out the necessary paperwork and waited to hear back from them.
We found out last Thursday that we will be able to met our young man! We will have to pay for his transportation, a translator, and meals. but it's going to be less than $50! Compassion is going to drive our guy to the city & he will spend the night there with an escort from Compassion. Our visit will take place at the Compassion field office in Addis Ababa. I'm sure this will be his first trip to the city, and it might even be the first time he's ridden in a car. We are really looking forward to meeting him. I'm really thankful that Compassion was able to arrange this for us!
We were given a list of suggested gifts for him, and I hope he doesn't find it overwhelming. Here's what we're giving him:
School supplies, a soccer ball (you must deflate these for the airports), toothbrushes, toothpaste, a metal water bottle, a hand crank flashlight, a photo album, a Cardinal's hat, and hand pump for the soccer ball, and a Jansport backpack.
My aunt gave a Jansport backpack when I was a freshman in college, almost 13 years ago. I've become sentimentally attached to it because my aunt passed away unexpectedly right after I got married. She loved to travel, and she was a nurse. I think she would be pleased to know that the gift she gave me has was with me through pharmacy school and in Haiti on a medical mission trip. It has lasted me through college, pharmacy school, and trips to Mexico (twice), St. Thomas, D.C., Florida (twice), NYC, Yellowstone, Haiti, and now I'm taking it to Africa. My mom did have to sew one of the straps back together once because Daisy chewed it apart, but it had not affected the usefulness of the backpack. I hope he is able to get as many years of use out if his!
My mom and dad sent us a little money to get him something, so I got him two Cardinal's shirts. (Thank you!)