When I began sponsoring a little boy in Bolivia many years ago, I never even gave it a thought to one day visit him. We had the typical sponsor/child relationship. I sent my monthly donation and occasional small gift, and we would exchange letters sporadically.
Shortly before that little boy aged out of the program, I had begun yearly mission trips to Ouanaminthe, Haiti, with my church. I had fallen in love with the country and the beautiful people. I felt especially drawn to the women. It didn’t take long for me to notice how tough their lives are and how much faith and strength they possess. So I decided my next World Vision sponsored child would be a girl from Haiti, and I sponsored Judenise, who was 12 at the time. Shortly after, I began to also sponsor Inessa, who was the same age as Judenise. I chose an area as close to Ouanaminthe as possible with the hopes that one day I would be able to coordinate a visit during my yearly trip.
I have always had a strong desire to spend more time in Haiti. I had only ever spent that one week each summer in Ouanaminthe and had never seen any other part of Haiti beyond Fort Liberte. After last year’s trip, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to do it, and I just had to meet the girls!
I contacted World Vision right away so I could get the ball rolling. They were so great to work with, making me feel like they were just excited as I was at this opportunity. I was very impressed with the privacy and security measures they take in planning such a visit, so it did take a couple of months before I received the final word that the visit would take place. I remember reading that email and getting goosebumps all over at the prospect.
All nerves quickly vanish
The day of the visit arrived. I had already been in Haiti for almost a week, visiting the Citadelle (a huge mountaintop fortress, built by Henri Christophe, one of the leaders of Haiti’s slave revolution, to protect the newly independent country from the French Army), going to the beach, spending time with friends, and just trying to absorb the culture. But that day, I knew, was going to be the highlight of my trip.
Any nerves I may have had about the meeting were put immediately to rest as soon as I arrived at the World Vision office in Cap Haitien. The staff there was so warm and welcoming, I felt a peaceful happiness that stayed with me throughout the day.
First we visited a school that World Vision helped to build. It was a typical school in Haiti, filled with children in perfectly clean and pressed uniforms, with all the girls wearing matching ribbons in their hair. As we walked into a couple of classrooms, we were met with huge smiles, revealing perfect white teeth.
Next we proceeded to the World Vision office for the Bassin Diaman project where I would meet Inessa and Judenise. I got a glimpse of the girls and their families sitting on a porch as we entered, and I remember thinking at that moment and several times throughout the day, “I can’t believe this is really happening!”
I went into the office building and immediately noticed a big welcome sign with my name on it. In fact, there were decorations and welcome signs all over the meeting room, too. That was one of the many times I felt embarrassed by the fanfare everyone was making over me. I can’t count the number of times I was thanked and blessed that day — by everyone at World Vision, the girls, and their families. I was a bit uncomfortable thinking of how little I give each month and how they consider it such a big deal.
Finally the big moment had arrived. We were all seated in the meeting room, me across from these two lovely teenagers. I was asked if I recognized my girls, to which I replied, “Of course!” Their pictures are displayed on my desk at work where I can see them every day. Although they were more grown up and even more beautiful in person, of course I would recognize them anywhere. Introductions were next, Inessa was accompanied by her mother, father, and little sister. Judenise was with her father. It was such an honor to be able to meet them, too.
I got a glimpse of the girls and their families as we entered, and I remember thinking at that moment, and several times throughout the day, ‘I can’t believe this is really happening!’—Kelly Moore
We all walked around the neighborhood so I could see the source of water partially provided by World Vision and to meet a family who was the beneficiary of a brand-new house that was partially provided by World Vision. In the backyard of the new cement house, complete with a bathroom and water source, was the family’s old house, which was built of branches and palm bark and covered by a leaky tin roof. The joy and gratitude on that woman’s face will be forever in my memory. Although I never had any doubt the money donated through World Vision is money well spent, it was cool to see those tangible, life-changing things with my own eyes.
We talked about our families, jobs, school, and much more, and we took lots and lots of pictures. The time went by quickly, and the culmination was a celebration in my honor. A long table full of the most delicious foods and fresh juice. Really?! This was just too much! I felt the tears start to well up in my eyes, but knew if I allowed them, I might not be able to reign them back in.
That night, and many times since, I have gone over the visit in my mind. It really was the perfect day; one I had been dreaming about for years. I am thankful to the families of the girls for allowing us to meet, to the wonderful World Vision staff whose hospitality goes beyond words, and most of all to God for orchestrating the whole thing. Looking back over all the things that led up to this great day, I can see his hands all over it.
Kelly Moore, a child sponsor since 2004, is a billing manager living in Lancaster, Pa. She is the mother of two and grandmother of two.