Dave sits with his sponsored child, Amanda, just moments after they met. "She just latched onto me and sat in my lap for at least a half hour," Dave said. "She didn't care if we went to the beach or not. She was happy to just sit there and giggle and be with me."
In August 2002, sponsor Dave Bohr boarded a plane in Baltimore, Maryland, and headed for Miami. Before that flight, the 27-year-old Pennsylvania-native had never been on an airplane. And that flight was only the first of 10 that he experienced in the next two weeks.
In Miami, Dave joined up with nearly 40 other Compassion sponsors and staff for the Brazil Sponsor Tour. They were all headed down to visit their sponsored children and their travels were scheduled to take them -- by plane -- to Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Manaus, and Sã¯ Paulo.
Dave is a matter-of-fact man. His reason for finally climbing on a plane -- "There was no other way for me to meet (my sponsored child) Amanda"-- was as straightforward as his reason for never having climbed on one before -- "I never had anywhere I needed to go or even wanted to go."
Learning More about Poverty
Dave heard about Compassion when his Bible study decided to sponsor a child together in 1997. Two years later, he became Amanda's sponsor. Desiring to find out more about Compassion and Amanda firsthand, he decided the sponsor tour to Brazil was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
Dave had opportunities to interact with Compassion Brazil's children in Rio and Fortaleza even before he met Amanda. He made a discovery through his interactions with some young girls during the first project visit. The language barrier kept his conversation with them from going much beyond the exchange of names. But, "It didn't matter," Dave learned. When he saw the girls later as they stood in line for lunch, they began reaching out their arms and calling, "David, David!" He walked over and took their outstretched hands and they smiled and laughed.
"They just wanted me to touch their hands, to show them some attention," he explains. "Before, I knew about things like the lack of food and the need for school, but I didn't realize how much children lose their feeling of self-worth in poverty."
As he met Amanda several days later, the need to love these children impacted him stronger than ever. "When she walked in, I saw her and thought, 'There she is,'" Dave recalls. "When I caught her eye, I asked, 'Amanda?' She nodded. I pointed to myself and said, 'David.' And she ran up and hugged me and we stood like that for a good 15 seconds. Then I started to let her go, but she just continued hugging me and hugging me. It made me realize how important it was to her that I sponsored her."
The two spent the day at a nearby beach with over 100 other sponsors, children, translators and project workers. They built sand castles, swam and enjoyed the beautiful day. But Dave says it didn't really matter where they were. "We were happy just to get to be together."
"Someone's got to speak up."
Midway through the tour, Dave began to talk about taking some child sponsorship packets back home with him, to see if any of his friends might want to sponsor a child after hearing about Compassion and his trip. Within a few days of returning home, he decided to take it a step further. He joined Compassion's Volunteer Network, a nationwide group of sponsors who donate their time to tell others about the ministry.
It was another clear-cut decision for Dave. "When I got home, I saw just how much people didn't know here," he says. "When I compared what we have here with the poverty in places like Brazil, I knew I should join. Someone's got to speak up."
As part of the Volunteer Network, Dave has hit the ground running. Whether he is answering phones at a radio station during a Compassion telethon, speaking at a college chapel service, talking about the Brazil tour to a Sunday school class or manning a table at concert -- whatever the event, Dave is committed to offering as many people as possible the opportunity to sponsor Compassion children. And all this work is proving worthwhile, with 62 children already sponsored as a result of Dave's efforts.
Dave doesn't want to forget about all he saw and learned during his time in Brazil. "I still think about the kids I saw, and all the other kids like them around the world," he says. "Then I look around the house and think of the contrast. So I'm not rushing to spend money so fast these days. I don't run out for fast food every time I feel like it. Or I wait for the book I want to buy to come out in paperback. These little changes will allow me to at least have the option of sponsoring another child down the road."
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