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Mirror of the World: How An ANCOP Child Sponsorship Experience Can Help Change Lives

MY NAME is Sasha Almeida and I am a 28-year-old female Canadian who has lived a privileged life. 

However,  my  parents always stressed  the  importance  of  helping those in need of our help. My parents  are  members  of  Couples for  Christ  (CFC)  India and  a  few years ago, they began participating in the child sponsorship program of Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP). They asked me to sponsor a child. 

 

I agreed to do so but never followed through, because I felt that I didn’t  have  enough  money  to sponsor a child. I could barely afford my own expenses. 

 

Dad's ninja move bears fruit

 

One day, on a visit to my parents, my  dad  once  again  asked  me to sponsor a child. Again I said yes, but this time, my dad got a flyer and  plopped  it  down  in  front  of me to fill out. To be honest, it was the beginning of something very special to my heart. 

 

My  very  first  sponsored  child was six-year old Akash from Orissa, India. What really made me happy was  that  he  wants  to become  a teacher!    When  I  started  to  receive  letters  from  him, with  his photo and his progress in school, the feeling I experienced was like something I had never felt before. I was so proud and happy and filled with love, because to me, he is my adopted son and I think about him every day. 

 

I couldn’t shake the need to do more, so I asked my dad for another form in order to sponsor a girl from Africa, and my dream came true!  Her  name  is  Harriot  and  is the  same  age  as  Akash. Harriot wants to become a nurse. I do worry for Harriot as she is a girl in Nairobi and the political and civil unrest makes me nervous. But I know God will look after my adopted son and daughter and lead them  to  opportunities  that  will enhance their lives as well as those around them. 

 

A Christmas trip for keeps

 

This Christmas, I had the opportunity  to  travel  to Bhubaneswar, Odisha  to  meet  with  the  priests my dad worked with to bring ANCOP to India, and also to meet my sponsored child, Akash. These priests were so kind and full  of  joy,  laughter  and intelligence that it was infectious and inspirational. Spending time with the priests was an eye opener for me. Although we had never met before,  they  were  so  welcoming to both my sister and me, and it felt as if we were family from the beginning. They took time out of their extremely busy days to drive us around and show us the beauty of Odisha. 

 

We  went  to  visit  Dhanmandal where my sponsored child, Akash, lives. But before that, we visited an  all-girls  orphanage  in Goa.  It was a beautiful experience to meet the  orphans  who  were so  sweet and welcoming as they presented us with beautiful flower arrangements  and  touched  our  feet  as  a sign of respect, which is a custom of their tribes. 

 

After lunch, we distributed the candy, crayons and soccer balls we had brought with us. This brought joy to their faces. 

 

Seeing them play with the soccer balls made me realize how much I truly take things for granted at home, but at the same time, how life’s  circumstances  brought  me to this position where I am able to help in the way I can. 

 

Finally it came time to do what I  had  been  waiting  for  the last year; to speak with my sponsored child. Speaking to Akash, through an  interpreter,  and  holding  his hand  was  a  big moment for  me. He seemed so shy and surely did not fully understand the scope of what ANCOP is doing, but to me, he is perfect. 

 

He has made me very proud as he is going to an English Catholic school and his sister is sponsored by  my  grandmother who  resides in Goa. 

 

My  trip  to  Orissa  was  a  rejuvenating  experience.   Love can overcome  the  hatred,  anger  and destruction of the world. Children, given  a  chance  at  education,  can contribute to their families, their villages, and society as a whole. By educating one child we educate a whole generation. 

 

I  would  like  to  end  with  this quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also  change.   As  a man  changes his  own  nature,  so  does  the  attitude of the world change towards him.  This  is  the  divine  mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and  the  source  of  our  happiness. We  need  not  wait  to  see  what others do.” 

 

(Contributed by Sasha Almeida, Canada, January 2018, edited by Noemi Pamintuan-Jara. Reprinted from www.cfcancop.org.)

Added on Tuesday, February 21, 2017


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