After the terrible tsunami hit last year, George Lammers, right, spent several breathless weeks waiting to hear from Praveen, the child he sponsors. Here, George is relishing the time he and his wife, Debbie, spent with Praveen on a recent sponsor tour to India.
George Lammers is a seasoned giver. Years ago, he adopted a young son. So it's not so strange that the quiet, unassuming man decided to sponsor a child through Compassion. But when George, along with his wife, Debbie, hopped on a plane to travel thousands of miles to India to meet this sponsored child, this veteran giver received the gift of a lifetime the squeals of laughter from Praveen, a child steeped in poverty but covered in love.
An Orchestrated Meeting
There was an air of suppressed excitement and expectancy on June 23 as sponsors met with their sponsored children at the V.G.P. Golden Beach Amusement Park.
In the beginning, Praveen understandably was a little shy.
"I knew we'd broken the ice when we went to the beach," says George. "I knew Praveen had never seen the sea or the beach or even traveled in a train. Project staff told me that Praveen had his face glued to the train window all the way to Chennai. When we were at the beach, Praveen just laughed and squealed with delight.
"He knew a few phrases in English and he told us sit down when he wanted us to sit on the sand and let the breakers wash over us. We did and he squealed with delight. Hearing that squeal in his voice and seeing his smile made this trip worthwhile," says George.
Skeptic Made Into Believer
George admits that he wondered whether sponsorship worked. He wondered whether the money reached the child and if sponsorship had an impact. His skepticism was put to rest by his experience with Praveen through sponsorship and on the sponsor tour.
"Meeting Praveen underscored the importance of writing to your sponsored child. I'd kept all of Praveen's letters and pictures in a three-ring binder. When Praveen saw his letters and pictures carefully encased in the clear plastic sheets in the binder, his face just lit up. He was so excited to see his latest photograph with us. He probably never realized we got it or even that we treasured it. It touches us to realize that he keeps our pictures and letters too."
Increasing the Fold
"This trip showed me the value of writing to your sponsored child," George says. The value of letters is far greater than the value of the money we send. Benefits of sponsorship are good but the letters and pictures are far more important. It shows a child that he is loved and wanted and is precious to someone. Meeting with Praveen was incredibly special. Now my letters to him will be more personal and he'll be more real than just a picture. Now we know his dreams and aspirations and we want to be with him, all the way through," says George with quiet emphasis.
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