Gifts From the Heart

Gifts From the Heart

By: Brandy Campbell, with Milka Boidya   |   Posted: July 02, 2008

Sponsorship Transforms an Entire Family
Waljang plays with his goats, a family gift from his sponsor, Cheryl. Through her gifts, Waljang's family now owns goats, chickens and a cow each a source of food and income for the entire family.

Waljang walks quietly across his family's dirt yard. A crude basket swings from one arm as he creeps closer to a chicken preening in a patch of grass. With a whoop, Waljang lunges forward and the chicken squawks, leaving the boy standing in a cloud of dust and feathers. He laughs and carefully scoops up the warm eggs left in the grass.

The Blessing of Sponsorship
While collecting eggs is a game for 6-year-old Waljang, his parents view what he collects in his basket as treasure. They can remember only three years ago when Waljang and his siblings were malnourished, barely surviving on a diet of rice and curry.

Waljang's father made just U.S.13 cents an hour as a laborer, and his mother stayed home to care for Waljang and his four brothers and sisters. Like 90 percent of the children in their community, Waljang's older brother had already dropped out of school and worked odd jobs to supplement his family's income. Waljang's parents knew that, without help, their youngest son would follow the same path.

Beyond Their Dreams
When Waljang was 4, his parents registered him at the Achkipara Child Sponsorship Program (BD-404). To the surprise of Waljang's family, his sponsorship covered far more than his education costs. While most of his peers were malnourished, Waljang ate heartily at the center. He trotted home with a rattling bottle of pills to treat his malaria and typhoid.

Gradually, the weight of Waljang's survival grew lighter as his parents watched their son grow strong and healthy. But Waljang's sponsor, Cheryl, understood that poverty affects Waljang's entire family. So she sent small family gifts. With this money, Waljang's father, Probir, began buying chickens and goats and a cow to raise on the small plot of land his family rents. The eggs, milk and meat from the animals supplemented his family's meager diet.

Waljang's brothers and sisters showed fewer signs of malnutrition, and even his parents grew healthier. Now, by selling a few eggs in the market each week, Probir is hoping he will be able to put his younger children in school as well.

Daring to Dream
Cheryl may never get to see her gifts at work in Waljang's family. She'll probably never see Probir milk their goat or watch Waljang chase the chickens. And Probir will likely never be able to thank her in person for the gift she has given the entire family especially the hope she has brought to young Waljang.

"I want Waljang to do what he dreams of," says Probir, "but it is my dream that he will be a doctor. We have no doctor in our town, and I believe Waljang could help a lot of people. I would like to see him change the community, just like Compassion and his sponsor have changed our lives."