Blog Action Day sort of does this thing to me every year where it creeps up on me and all of sudden it’s today! Except that it’s not actually that surprising since I’ve had it marked down on a calendar for about four months. Nonetheless I managed to pull this together this morning for the World Vision New Zealand blog because ” the power of we” theme is practically the understatement of the century in my every day work.
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I was sitting in the back of a bus bumping through back roads somewhere near Cochabamba, Bolivia when I heard this story.
There was a little girl. She was four, maybe five years old when her parents wanted to give her away. They walked door to door asking their neighbours if anyone would take this girl, their daughter. In a country were thousands of people struggle to live on incomes smaller than I could ever imagine, living in small brick houses, barely providing meals for their family, no one wanted this girl. And so they left her.
Later a woman was walking by. She had no money, three kids of her own, and a very ill husband. She found the little girl whose parents had left her. The girl was alone, eating noodles from the ground. The woman asked whose daughter this was. But no one knew.
That woman took the girl home and adopted her. She had next to nothing, but she had the heart of a mother to give this little girl.
This was a story I heard before, maybe read it somewhere. I recognised it because it’s the type of story you never really forget. And I knew where it was from. Nine months earlier I had been preparing for this very trip to Bolivia with a team of eight bloggers who would be writing about the gift of sponsorship upon witnessing it first hand. I scoured our photo library in search of images from Bolivia that our team could use in our announcement blog posts. Photos that could be used to create banners for our readers who might be inspired to sponsor a child.
This was the photo we used:
It was taken six months earlier and its caption spoke of a little girl who was adopted by a neighbour family. I remembered she was a sponsored child and her new family had a pig farm started from a small gift of two piglets from World Vision’s Gift Catalog.
It was the little girl from our banners. It was the little girl whose story I was hearing.
Arminda was ten times more angelic and charming than in her photo, if you can imagine that. She has this giggle that makes you wish you saw what she saw in all of us – we must have been awfully silly looking as we awed at her family’s pigs.
I knew the photo I had seen before of her was taken awhile back, but on the day we met her she wore the exact same pale pink plaid dress. I asked Andrea, our host who is a communicator with World Vision Bolivia, why that was. Perhaps she had no other clothes. Andrea told me Arminda had other outfits, but this was her best. She knew we were coming and she wore her best for us.
I carried Arminda’s smile and sweet laugh home with me a week later. I was sitting at my desk staring at a stack of emails in my inbox when I got a frantic Skype message from Andrea saying she learned Arminda’s sponsor was unable to support her any more and someone new could pick up her sponsorship donations. I practically leaped out of my seat at the opportunity. I got to become Arminda’s sponsor.
The week prior in Bolivia, I especially connected with Deb on our trip. Deb has such a heart of gold, a child sponsor herself, and a woman of immense faith… my sort of mum away from home. On our bus ride back from meeting Arminda’s family that day, Deb had told me she felt God asking her to build a house for Arminda’s family. They lived now in small huts strung together by sheets and rope. A house would give them a single roof to live under, a home of their own.
A couple of months ago, I received this email note from Deb:
Hey Lindsey, I wanted to let you know that Blake and I just confirmed that we are going to be able to build a house for Arminda and her family. We are so excited!! I wanted you to be the first to know that your sweet little girl is going to get a real house with walls and a roof. Even a bathroom and kitchen. Woo Hoo.
Deb and her husband were giving something special to my sponsored child and her family. It was gift — for Arminda and for me.
This is the power of we — when we care more for more than ourselves and when we care for our neighbours near and far. The power of we is caring for families… our own but also each other’s families. And that’s what Deb is doing for Arminda and I — caring for our family together.
World Vision Australia’s blog ambassadors are also writing on the power of we today.