“She appeared out of nowhere, I didn’t see her coming! But she just threw herself at me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.”

 

Meeting-Violet.jpg

For 11 years, fourteen-year-old Violet’s photograph has sat amongst pictures of Paul and Linda’s three daughters and eight grandchildren. For 11 years, she’s been in their prayers and on their hearts despite them never meeting.

Until this moment.
 

The sound of rejoicing

With the windows tightly shut keeping out the red dust of the road, Paul and Linda were nearing the end of their 6,330 mile journey from Spixworth near Norwich to the north of Masindi, Uganda.

“We were maybe 50 meters away when we heard them. The windows were up but we could still hear them singing, singing their hearts out. Because we were told Violet was shy, we weren't expecting the moment when she ran to us. There was no stopping her!

“It was like we’d know each other ever since she was born, and we’d been apart for so long.”

"It was an extremely emotional time to finally meet Violet, as we had always regarded her as a member of our family. We hoped to be a blessing to Violet and her family, but it was very humbling to come away feeling so blessed by their hospitality towards us," recalls Paul.
 

The moment we met Violet


“Violet has no parents,” explains Linda. “She has a lot of half siblings and cousins, and two grandmothers. Eighteen of them live in a tiny house 20ft x 8ft. They’re like sardines packed in.

“There’s no income. The only income they have is when they sell a goat to pay bills.

Violet-and-her-grandma.jpgViolet, sitting with her grandmother Karungi.

“I asked Violet’s grandmother what her biggest fear was and she said not having enough food to feed all her children.”
 

The start of the couple’s sponsorship journey

Paul and Linda first heard about Compassion at a Hillsong Conference 12 years ago.

“We went away and prayed about how many children we could sponsor, where in the world and also which gender,” reflects Paul. We have three great daughters who have had such amazing opportunities growing up in the UK and we felt we wanted to give some of that back to girls around the world.

“We would have loved to have sponsored three girls but our finances didn’t stretch at the time so we sponsored two girls, Cake in Thailand and Violet in Uganda.”

Through Paul and Linda’s support, Violet and their other sponsored children receive nutritious meals, uniforms and school materials, regular medical check-ups and one-to-one support.

"We love that despite the challenges Violet faces, she does not allow those challenges to define her life and that she has dreams and aspirations for her future, the same as any teenager. She loves making 'crafty' things such as jewelry, handbags and bracelets. She is a happy girl," say Paul and Linda.

While they knew their child sponsorship support made a difference, their visit introduced them to a team of often invisible heroes who, like them, wanted to see Violet succeed and break free from poverty.
 

How one sponsor empowers a team to surround every child

“A huge amount of people input into each of these children’s lives. We hadn’t seen a Compassion project in action before and it really hit home seeing all the staff at the same time and seeing how many people are instrumental in each child’s life. There’s a saying: It takes a village to raise a child - when you look at all these people involved this is the case.

The-team-behind-changing-a-life.jpgViolet surrounded by a few of the incredible people who are investing in her life.

“Their dedication and commitment to see these children thrive is amazing. Whether it’s the pastor, so enthusiastic for children to receive teaching of scripture and to see them flourish in practical skills; the community liaison who links the project with the community; the Compassion ground staff who look after the area and various projects - every single one shares the same dedication and commitment towards these children.

"We believe that every child born into this world deserves the same opportunities, it is therefore the responsibility of those of us who are able to make a difference. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something."

"Linda and I are passionate about seeing children's lives changed through sponsorship and we now have the privilege to sponsor, through Compassion in addition to Violet and Cake, Ruth in Togo, Feindia in Haiti, and triplets, Joshua, Joseph, and Teddy in Kenya," says Paul.

"God truly stirred our hearts through this visit to become more involved and allow Him to lead us wherever we can be used."

You too can join a team of extraordinary people empowering a child to break free of poverty. Sponsor a child today and surround them with a loving community, plus the education and resources they need for a bright future.

Sponsor a child and give them a hope more powerful than poverty.
 

An insight into your sponsored child's world

 

Linda-and-Violet-bead-making.jpgViolet, dressed in her blue project uniform shows Linda some of the beadwork she has been learning as an income generating activity.

“There are currently about 150 children in the Compassion project,” explains Paul. “We were there for the day while the sponsored children were in the programme,” says Linda. Violet would normally have been part of the class where they are learning traditional dancing. She has also been learning bead craft, making handbags and necklaces, so the children can earn a small income. Every child also has two meals whilst they are there on a project day.”

Serving-lunch-at-Compassion-project.jpgPaul and Linda helping to serve lunch to the children at the project.

“I was very impressed that the whole curriculum for the year was laid out of the wall of the project for each age group,” says Paul. “One group were learning how to cook, another group of lads were doing carpentry. It was really interesting to see how they were making something useful from the basic tools they had. This group were making a bench that they would then sell at the local market.

Visiting-a-Compassion-project.jpgDaniel, the project director, shows Paul and Linda the project timetables.

“With the older children the project also teaches them how to go to an interview, how to dress, how to speak. Not every child is going to be academic, and so vocational skills are so important.”
 

11 years of relationship building through letters

Sponsor-letters.jpgSitting on a bed in her home, Violet reads some of the letter Paul and Linda have sent to her over the 11 years they’ve been sponsoring her.

“We write to Violet and our other [Compassion] sponsored girls as often as we can,” says Linda. “I always think I should do it more often. I’m usually prompted when we get a letter. After seeing the joy a letter brings to a child it doesn’t matter if you get answers to the questions you ask, it’s just important to write. Your letter doesn’t have to be complicated, the children just want to know that you care and are praying for them.”

“I understand that for some people a visit would be beyond them financially but to write a letter makes the world of difference,” adds Paul.
 

How we can help give a hope more powerful than poverty

“Looking at each person on that photograph that play a part in Violet’s life. And I think that was the thing that struck me, you know, it’s not just us, each member of staff plays a part in making sure she thrives, making sure she reaches her full potential and that’s what really stuck me and will really be treasured,” reflects Linda.

Empowering-Violet.jpg

Like Violet, every Compassion-supported child has an army of amazing men and women surrounding them, including you their sponsor. Together, children around the world are being given their childhood back and a hope more powerful than the cycle of poverty, through child sponsorship. 

Discover more about arranging a life-changing visit to meet your sponsored child, or considering beginning your own sponsorship journey today.

ORIGINAL WORDS : Emily Laramy PHOTOS : Helen Manson VIDEO : Ryan Johnson


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