on the needles

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sharing a Family

My sister and I share a family. I mean in addition to the one we were born into. :)

We share a sponsorship family!

I started sponsoring through Children International in November 2007. It was something that I had thought of doing for a long time but had never found the right organization for me. Once I started sponsoring I discovered how great it made me feel to be getting to know my sponsor kids and making a difference in their lives. But I also discovered how skeptical and uninterested many people were in hearing about my sponsorship. The one person I could really talk to about it was my sister. I remembered she had sponsored a child for a few years through another organzation when we were teenagers.

My sister is a big softie just like me. She really liked hearing the letters I was getting from my sponsor children. I started encouraging her to sponsor a child of her own. I even sent her links to kids I knew she would think were cute. (My sister has a thing for kids with funny hair. I have a thing for kids with big pudgey cheeks.) She eventually sponsored five kids - two of them were ones that I "found" for her. :)

One of the kids she sponsored was Jhonathan:

My sister's sponsor child Jhonathan

Jhonathan is from Ecuador which is not one of the countries I initially sponsored in. But late last year the lady who babysat my daughter from the time she was born, died after a bout with cancer. She was a lovely person and was from Ecuador. I had heard all about how sweet Jhonathan was from my sister. In fact she really liked both of her Ecuadorian kids. They are very affectionate and their families are very nice.

Jhonathan with a backpack full of goodies my sister sent in 2008

I decided that I would sponsor some kids from Ecuador as a tribute to my good friend who had died. I initially sponsored Ana and Jhonny. A few months later my sister and I had a talk and we agreed that it would be great if we could team up to help out one of our sponsor families, so that is how I sponsored Alison, Jhonathan's little sister.

Alison in 2009 - the most adorable pokey little pigtails!

Alison is the youngest of all my sponsor children. She just turned three. She loves to dress up and her Auntie recently told me that Alison changes her dress many times a day and is very conceited. Lol! She plays with her little cousin, they fight, make up and play together again. She is lucky in that she is attending early childhood stimulation classes where she gets to color and is learning to use scissors. Alison's favorite color is red which is entirely appropriate for a little imp like her!

Alison and her mother Carina and brother Jhonathan in front of their home in 2008

When I started sponsoring Alison her mother Carina was a single mother. But shortly thereafter she married her boyfriend (who I think is Alison's father but not Jhonathan's father). At least I'm pretty sure they are married - it's sort of hard to tell exactly what is going on some times, that's the impression I got anyway. Carina recently had another baby - a boy, but frustratingly they didn't tell us his name!

Alison, Carina and Jhonathan in 2008

One of the immediate benefits of sponsoring Alison was that I get to hear about her in Jhonathan's letters to my sister. I also get double the photos of her since she is often included in photos of Jhonathan that my sister gets. She got these photos of their home in late 2008.

Alison, Carina and Jhonathan inside the kitchen area of their home in 2008

I hope the home isn't as dark and depressing as it seems from these photos but it probably is. From what I have been seeing from Steve's videos of his sponsor children this is a fairly typical home.

Alison, Carina and Jhonathan in the bedroom

The children share this bedroom with their parents. My sister bought the bunkbed that you can see in the corner. I thought that was a great idea. It greatly increased the sleeping space in the room and now at least each child has their own bed.

Carina, Alison and Jhonathan with the new bunkbed

I love the new bunkbed - and so does Jhonathan. He loves to make silly faces.

In addition to the bunkbeds, my sister bought the family some really nice furniture. (She had done the same for family in India - sadly all was destroyed in the recent flooding there.) :(

I love these pictures of the family. Little Alison is so cute standing on the chair.

Jhonathan, Carina and Alison with their new furniture

Jhonathan is really getting big fast. It's almost like you can actually see him grow up in these photos. My sister bought him the bicycle in the photo below. I think this is a great gift that the sponsor kids really love.

Jhonathan with a new bicycle and other special needs gifts.

What a nice family! Jhonathan's step-father Julio is a policeman. That's a great sign for the future of the family because it's considered a professional position. I hope that Carina and Julio will encourage the children to also aspire to a profession - it's the dream of many of the kids who live in poverty. The only problem is that Julio has to work in the city and can only get back home two days a month! My sister and I explored the idea of finding better housing for the family that would allow them to be together more but found that it was cost prohibitive. Unfortunately the same is true for the IGP plan that the family would like to do. Children International reccommended instead that we help with Jhonathan's schooling expenses so that he can go to a better school which is closer to home. I think that's a great idea and we intend to do that.

Sharing a sponsor family with my sister has been really great. We talk alot more in general and it has brought us even closer together. We really support eachother in our efforts as sponsors and it's great to have someone else who really understands how I feel about being a sponsor. I think it's going to be a rewarding journey watching "our" two kids grow up together and hopefully prosper in life. Taking that journey with my sister just makes it all the more rewarding.

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