When Joe and I first moved in together I happened to glance at a legal pad he had his budget written-out on, all caps in a neat column down the page, and my eyes were drawn to CHILD=$25. My first thought was “Child?!? What child?” How could we have gotten to this stage of our relationship without my knowing that he had a child? My next thought was “Wow, that’s pretty cheap for child support!” (Then I very briefly thought “Budget…what an interesting concept…” which tells you everything you need to know about Lori’s Views on Money.) Turns out he didn’t have a child, but sponsored a little girl through an organization called Children International (CI), and has done so now for over 20 years. (Not the same little girl, mind you; they tend to grow up!)
On his recent work trip to the Philippines he contacted the organization and managed to get a half-day off from architectural photo-drudgery to meet and visit Perry Ann, the child he is currently sponsoring, and her family. Accompanied to her village outside Manila by a driver and social worker from CI, he got to see first-hand where she lives with her family of seven in a crumbling cinder-block house (smaller than our living/dining room/kitchen area, and we live in a small house!) with flaking corrugated roof. Surrounded by similar houses on every side. Every month we receive a letter from Perry who lets us know such things as what she likes to study in school, how her father is teaching her to play the guitar, and how her health is. Also included is a report from the social worker letting us know how our money was spent, and the family proudly showed Joe the (much needed and appreciated, according to sweaty sweaty unacclimated Joe) electric fan we read about some time ago. I can’t tell you how gratifying it feels to know that what we send out entirely on faith is actually going where it is supposed to and making a difference in others’ lives.
Joe didn’t stop at just a visit and snapshots at the house, though, he loaded the entire family, plus a couple cousins and such, into the CI van and treated them to lunch at a restaurant–10 people! Then, after the meal they walked around a local shopping mall, and being a musician Joe was drawn to a music store where he spontaneously bought Perry a guitar, (which she got to pick out herself–a blue one–you rock, Perry!), strap, chord chart, the works! Needless to say the girl was absolutely thrilled! Joe later took the mom aside and slipped her some money for the family and asked her to get the siblings something special, too, so they wouldn’t feel left out.
The generosity and self-less love that exudes from this man I am so fortunate to call my husband just overwhelms me. It makes my heart swell with pride and my throat swell with an about-to-be-wrenched-out sob. How many people would take the effort to do something like that? It’s not like we make a lot of money (by US standards…), but a little bit can go a long way in a country with staggering rural poverty statistics like the Philippines, or Colombia, where I also sponsor a child. And to think there’s a young girl playing her own guitar, singing and smiling that beautiful smile you see in the picture, sharing a bit of her own joy, makes you feel like you’re doing something right in the world.