She's only 6, so she can't actually write a letter yet, but did add some words in English, and drawings of flowers
But there was also a long letter from whoever helped her prepare this message, responding to things I'd sent her and telling me about the things she likes. She thought the pictures of the eggheads on the UCD campus, for example, were very funny...
...and she has never eaten an artichoke (which I pretty much didn't think she had, but I thought a photo of an artichoke was an interesting thing to send her).
I also had made tiny little books with pictures of some of our foster dogs in them for each of the kids, which I thought they would like. She said she did.
She told me about her favorite food, which is rice with dal. I remember long, long, long ago Walt and I used to go to an Indian restaurant in San Francisco and I remember eating dal soup, which we always called "gunpowder soup" because it tasted like gunpowder smells.
These are just the early days of establishing a relationship with this little girl and I hope that I get to learn more about her as the time passes. The thing I like about Compassion is the real feeling of community that it creates. It's not just me and these kids, but it's me and hundreds of other people and their sponsored kids. They established a social networking site for Compassion sponsors, where you can exchange good news and bad news and concerns and ask questions. I joined several groups, including a group for people who sponsor kids in Brasil and a group for people who sponsor kids in the same project where Anjali lives.
Compassion sponsors trips for sponsors to meet their sponsored child. I read stories of kids who travel hours (as many as 12 sometimes) to meet their sponsors. Also, sponsors who can't afford to take the trip themselves can hook up with someone else who is going to send bigger gifts to their child--there are wonderful videos on line of some of these meetings.
There seems to be a great transparancy about this organization that I like. You'd like to think that all of your money goes where it says it's going when you donate to an organization, but with some of them you just don't know. But with the opportunity to share experiences with other sponsors and the chance to visit the children and sometimes see the places where they study, you get a better feel about it.
I trusted Christian Children's Fund too, but only because I knew the guy who ran it was a very good guy with whom I'd worked with the Experiment in International Living. I figured if Charlie MacCormack was heading up CCF, it had to be good.
I don't really have a relationship yet with Anjali, Pedro and Fred (a little boy I am not sponsoring, but am writing to because his sponsor doesn't write to him), but I enjoy sending them letters and little gifts (you can include things that are made of paper and are no thicker than 1/4", which allows for things like thin coloring books, puzzles, stickers, patterned bandaids, etc.) and I know that as the time goes on, I will begin to learn about them and then things will get a bit more personal.
And it really is a thrill, after waiting so long, to finally get a message!
I also received notification from KIVA that enough money had been repaid from the micro-loans I've made that I could make another loan. I looked through the loans that are active and found a mother of five in Nigeria who sells food and "local gin." How can I not help out a gin-lover?? (And, trust me, if you're the mother of five, you need some gin from time to time!)
And while we're talking about helping out those less fortunate than ourselves, have you gotten yourself over to the National Association of Free Clinics yet? You can donate money to help sponsor a free clinic day for the nation's uninsured. Keith Olbermann mentioned the group in his eloquent program about health care in America and enough people donated that they were able to sponsor two free clinic days. Other shows are hopping on the bandwagon too (Dr. Oz is one I know of). Not only does it offer people without insurance (many of whom have jobs currently), but it also is an undeniable picture to our legislators of the dire need for health care reform in this country.