Friday, February 11, 2011

A Mothering Moment

The second Friday of every month, the OurCompassion Virtual Letter Writing Club encourages sponsors to write to their kids. As I sat down to write Fabiola, Nayeling, and Dieufanette, a few things came to my mind...

In case you're wondering, I don't have any kids of my own. But do have my beautiful Haiti Babies, Fabiola (Compassion) and Dieufanette (World Vision) and Nayeling from Nicaragua (who I get to write to for free!)

Recently I found out that one of my girls didn't pass her final exams for school. This particular girl is always asking for prayer that she would do well on her exams. We talk a lot about school and I'm always trying to be encouraging; I never really considered that she may be having a hard time in school.

It hit me harder than I would have expected when I heard she didn't pass. I felt like I ought to have prayed more and been more sensitive to her struggles, as if I had failed her somehow. I started asking myself questions that I'm sure every mother asks herself but were new to me: Does she have a specific challenge? Is she just not trying hard? Do the teachers understand her? Do they help her? Is she going to believe that she's stupid and give up?

This frightens me because, in the third world, an education is one often the key that releases a child from the prison of poverty.

This is especially difficult for girls who often are denied the same opportunities as their brothers. Teaching any child is deeply empowering, but for a girl who has always been forced to rely or be subject to the men in her life, this is a miracle. Furthermore, while a young girl is in school she has more people in her life protecting her from being abused and victimized. Girls who drop out of school are, in some cases, forced into adulthood without protection.

But this is just the beginning.

When a girl in the third world gets an education several things happen. First, she receives an affirmation that she is worth educating. Secondly, she believes that she is intelligent enough to succeed in school and put that education to a good use. That kind of affirmation of worth and usefulness makes a girl less likely to be forced into an abusive marriage. She is also more likely to teach those same values to her her children and a mother can be the most powerful teacher in a child's life. The United Nations Girls' Education Initiative has some powerful information and resources regarding the education of girls throughout the world.

All of this ran through my head in the 5 seconds after reading her letter.

"What do I do, God? Am I going to lose her?

"I am her Father, I am her Teacher, pray for her. And tell her. Tell her you love her and care about her."

That's it.

If you sponsor a child through any organization, Compassion, World Vision, Samaritan's Purse, Children of the Nations, anywhere, take 10 minutes and write to them today. Ask them about their life: What are their struggles? What are they afraid of? What are they learning in school? There may be a language barrier, but is there any way you can help them? How incredible would it be for you, a stranger an ocean away, to help a small child in poverty with their homework? I admit, that idea makes me a little weepy.

Here are some more letter writing tips.

Do you sponsor a child through any organization? What are some things you struggle with when you write to them? I would love to hear your ideas or even just some sweet stories from their letters.

--Sarah Elizabeth

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