Christabel was our Zambian sponsored child for 13 years. From 2003 to 2015, I saved over forty letters, cards, and progress reports she sent to us. I was able to visit her twice, the first time in 2003 and then again in 2007. I knew this was a special little girl when I read one of her earliest letters as she was just turning seven years old.
“How are things down that far end? I hope and trust that everything is quite okay. I am really willing to start school so that I go further and know how to travel alone to some places and that in the near future I may touch the USA. But unfortunately, I am still at nursery school.”
The first time I met Christabel, the World Vision staff took me to her home, a long distance from the nearest village. It was a very quick visit. I wish I could have spent more time there. Apparently she had the same feeling. She wrote this right after my visit, “I wish you could pay me a visit again so that you become familiar with my village. I think on your last visit you did not have enough time.”
The second time I met Christabel, she was in the village waiting for me. We had a nice long visit, and with the help of a translator, I learned that she enjoyed watching television at a neighbor’s house. A few years later, she bought her own television with a special monetary gift we gave her family. She told me she was looking forward to watching World Cup Soccer. But school remained important to her, and she talked about it often.
“I am now a happy school-going child as I was provided with school requirements. It was all smiles when I was among children who received a pair of school shoes. It was like a miracle to have my feet in shoes. I am able to proudly walk to school smartly. My feet are now protected from any harm. My helper explained to me that it was made possible because of you.”
Christabel was not shy to point out if I didn’t write for a few months. “It was all smiles when I received (a letter) from you after so long a time. I was wondering as what could have gone wrong till at last. I am so happy to learn that you and your family are in good health.”
Smiles were a common theme in her letters. “I am praying for you everyday to have always a good smile,” she once wrote. “When I see your picture, I feel proud of you with a smile face.”
And now I’m praying that Christabel’s face is all smiles. A letter from World Vision last month announced that she has gotten married and won’t be in the sponsorship program any longer. I’m very thankful that she grew to adulthood and gained an education before taking this important step. Educated mothers raise healthier children and help their communities to thrive. I am thankful that she brightened so many of my days with her smiles and cheerful letters.