The commercials aren’t shown as often these days, but there once was a time when you could hardly get through the evenings TV shows without seeing Sally Struthers or some other actor or actress pleading on behalf of starving children in some far away land. They showed dirty, hungry, tear-filled, hair-matted children looking sweet and innocent, while Sally begged for you to drop whatever you were doing to sign up for child sponsorship. How could you resist such sweet innocence? But the warm, fuzzy feeling always left about fifteen seconds after the commercial was over. If you did take the time and spend the money to sponsor a needy child, that was pretty much the end of that. You sent in your money and, at the end of every year, you received a tax-deductible receipt. But whatever happened to that darling little kid in the commercial who needed a Kleenex? What was her name again? You may have gotten an update on your sponsored child, or not.
It just would have been great to know, to really know, that your child was being well cared for and benefiting from your gift. Statistics today show that people want to do more than have a tax-deductible gift automatically deducted from their account every month; they want to be involved. And they want to see the difference they’re making. Really impacting someone’s life means being actively engaged in someone’s life. That’s where today’s child sponsorship is quite different from the programs of the past. You won’t see any commercials about the children of Bulembu, but there are plenty of children in need. They’re orphans – all of them. Every single one of them has a name. They have a history and they deserve a future.
Sherry Dorsey wanted girls. After all, she was in the midst of raising four boys back home in Canada. After visiting Bulembu on a mission trip arranged by her employer, G & J Parking, she knew she wanted to sponsor girls. Now she has three girls. G & J takes a group to Bulembu every year, and this year, Sherry got to meet the girls she sponsors. She’s been able to interact with them, help with homework, and general smother them with love and affection. What makes this especially exciting for Sherry is that she is able to see the impact her money is making. More than that, she’s able to make an impact in person. But the connection she’s made with the girls won’t end at the conclusion of her 10-day trip. She is able to write letters to the girls and they often write back. The relationship continues even across miles of oceans and land.
Sponsoring a child is a family affair for Sherry. Her husband, James, is with her on this trip and, while her youngest two are also with her on this trip, all four sons have visited Bulembu previously. Her oldest, a university student has also begun co-sponsoring a child. He’s so passionate about what’s happening in Bulembu that he even got the Bulembu logo tattooed on his arm. Sherry says it’s important to all of her kids to be actively engaged in what’s happening in the lives of these children.
“We want to benefit Bulembu in some way so that when we walk away from the town, we have left a piece of us behind,” Sherry explained. “We want to be sure we’ve given them just a little bit of love that they have needed.” While Sherry and her family have been blessed to be able to meet the girls they sponsor, their story is unique. Not all child sponsors are able to make the trek to Swaziland for that one-on-one interaction. But they can still experience relationships as real as if they were in the same room. Sponsors can choose to sponsor a boy or girl (or both) and there’s no age restriction to begin sponsoring. Children from one day old to 21 years of age can be sponsored.
There are more than 200-orphaned children in Bulembu, and more arriving weekly. Sally Struthers isn’t here to beg for your participation, but if you’ve ever wanted to make a difference in the life of a child – a real, personal difference – this is what you’ve been waiting for! And the benefits of sponsoring a child in Bulembu are plentiful! To learn more about how you can sponsor a child, visit www.bulembu.org.
By Theresia Whitfield