I was unprepared for how I would feel when she leapt into my arms. A small thin Haitian child my husband and I know mostly through letters and not so flattering pictures.
A child I met once as a little girl,
who is well on her way to becoming a young woman
And now I know where she lives.
It took me two days to get to her; 3 planes to Port Au Prince, a small chartered flight to Port Au Paix, a boat ride to the island of Tortu, a hike up a hill to her village. When we arrived, the gate to her school opened with a buzz of excitement. Then she leapt.
And I caught.
Smiles spread across our faces, tears flowed. We were filming a video, so for one day she was a celebrity. Cameras followed her as she played, studied, sang, and jumped rope, to show her in a day like every other. But it was a day like no other.
2 worlds collided in a single relationship. A daughter with no mom. A mom with no daughter. Lending healing to those unmet places in each other’s hearts.
We hiked up a hill to her home, where her grandmother greeted us. She smiled and I saw she had no teeth. Her grandfather was perched in a chair in front of her house. He was blind.
These were her caretakers.
Dijinica was abandoned by her mother and father. They moved to the Bahamas when she was a small child and left her behind. Her grandparents had twelve children, so she had a myriad of aunts and uncles who still lived in her village.
But no parents.
As the camera rolled, tears rolled softly down her cheeks for the brief moment she talked about them. The rest of the time, I observed a coating around her heart, reflected in her stoic personality.
Until that beautiful smile spread across her face.
How I wished I could have positioned it there permanently. To take the sadness from her life and melt it away with my sponsorship.
But her story will be part of who she’ll become. And God willing, our sponsorship will help her get there.
Compassion sent her picture to me when she was seven. You get a picture and a number and a place to send your check and stationary to write your child and you know that child exists. You get more pictures as she grows.
You write her when you can while you balance a job, your house, your family, your commitments and all the things you never get to in your overcrowded life.
For your child, it is a different story.
Dijinica had a single table in her home, and on it were pictures of my husband, my step son and me. We were the mom, dad and brother in this little girl’s life.
For $38 a month, we had provided a meal, some clothes, and an education. What I didn’t know was that we had also inadvertently purchased a permanent place in this little girl’s heart.
And now she has one in mine.
When we walked down the long hill to goodbye, she couldn’t bring herself to look at me. I didn’t force her. I understood. Too many goodbyes in this little girl’s life.
So I let her tears rolled down my cheeks.
And now we carry her hope in our prayers.
Our lives are bigger because of her.
To learn more about sponsoring a child with Compassion International, follow this link: http://www.compassion.com/laurieshort