Meeting her sponsor child Jacintah last year in Emali will be in Rachel Le Blanc Smith’s memory bank forever, especially now as travel may be difficult for awhile.
My day in Emali was very well planned. I was picked up from Nairobi by two employees of ChildFund Kenya. They were friendly, helpful, very professional and clearly very passionate about their job. I immediately felt in safe hands.
I met Jacintah’s family first at the ChildFund Emali office and we then drove to a school to look at a borehole that had been built there by ChildFund providing water for the school children.
Then, we drove on to look at other ChildFund projects in the community including the Emali youth centre which is being built.
We then met Jacintah and her brothers at their school (there were exams on so ChildFund had pre-organised what time would be appropriate to not disrupt Jacintah's exams). It was so lovely to meet her, she is such a beautiful, sweet and gentle young lady. We were both a little shy so we just talked about things like school and what she likes to do.
The local ChildFund team were always present and assisted us in every way we needed, yet they still gave Jacintah and I enough space to make a bond and to get to know each other over lunch. They also made sure we kept to schedule.
It’s hard to say which memory hits me the most about meeting Jacintah, I think I just felt so happy (a bit sad too) and overwhelmed about how grateful her mother was. I could see it in her mother's eyes that they were truly grateful that Jacintah was being provided for which made me feel a little silly as I really don’t feel like I am doing much, the money just leaves my bank account once a month and I don’t even notice it. But clearly my money is going somewhere where it is truly needed and making a difference.
Trust the system the ChildFund team work with, remember that progress takes time. If you get the chance to visit your child, relax and let the day flow. Give your sponsor child and their families love and encouragement, and remember a different way (in terms of customs and traditions) is not necessarily a wrong way. Show gratitude and humility. Enjoy the day, and use it to help learn more about your sponsor child and their family to help with your letter writing when you return back home. It’s a once in a life time opportunity to visit your sponsor for the first time, and what an incredible experience it is!