Josephine and Tanya spend a day site-seeing along with 40 other sponsors and 44 other sponsored children. Whether viewing Bujagali Falls or the source of the Nile River, the two women never ran out of subjects to talk about.
On the morning of Wednesday, September 3, 2003, 21-year-old Josephine Nyakato headed to Nakawa Child Development Centre (UG-129) just as she had done for the past 10 years. But when she reached the project, a worker informed her that, in less than a week, her Compassion sponsor, Tanya, was coming for a visit! The next eight days were unlike any she had ever known.
A Good Samaritan
When Josephine's parents died of AIDS over a decade ago, she and her twin brother Joseph -- along with their three brothers and one sister -- went to live with an aunt. When the aunt also died of AIDS, she left the children, as well as their two cousins, living alone with no one to care for them.
A kind-hearted neighbor, Steven, became guardian to the eight children. Soon, Josephine and Joseph were both enrolled in Compassion Uganda's program. With the help of the student center, Joseph and Josephine's newfound "Uncle" -- as they call Steven -- ensured that their needs were met.
When Josephine was 12, she learned she had a new sponsor, Tanya, who was just four years older than she. Over the next nine years Josephine and Tanya wrote countless letters to one another, becoming close friends in spite of the miles that separated them.
As Josephine received her exciting news on Wednesday morning, Tanya had already begun the nearly 40-hour journey from Illinois to Uganda. Upon arrival in Kampala, she had much to occupy her time and attention as she anticipated her Sunday meeting with Josephine. But for poor Josephine, trying to focus on her university classes, the next four days "passed so slowly!"
When Sunday finally arrived, Josephine and her family prepared a traditional meal for Tanya, complete with beans, posho (Ugandan "bread" made from cornmeal), chicken, and matoke with binyobwe (mashed plantains with peanut sauce). They were perhaps a little surprised when Tanya arrived with nearly a dozen other sponsors in tow. But since Josephine's Ugandan hospitality had led her to prepare far more food than she needed to, there was still plenty to go around for every person in the group.
Wednesday morning was a chaotic, noisy, joyous time. Limited time and long travel distances had kept most of the sponsors and children from meeting on Sunday. So Wednesday was full of hugs, kisses, smiles, tears, questions and answers as 41 sponsors from all over the United States met 45 sponsored children from all over Uganda.
And in the middle of them all were Josephine and Tanya. As close in height as they are in age (with both women standing over five feet, eight inches tall), they talked, laughed and watched the commotion.
As the sun set, nearly 100 sponsors and sponsored children piled back onto buses to head home. Toward the front of one bus sat Josephine and Tanya, as if they'd always known each other, slouched down so they could prop their knees on the backs of the seats in front of them. They reviewed the day, talking about everything they could think of before they said goodbye.
Then someone asked, "Josephine, when did you find out that you'd get to meet Tanya?" Even in all their talking, it was a question that hadn't been asked. Josephine's eyes got big and she and Tanya both started laughing as she answered, "Just last Wednesday!"
What a difference eight days had made.