Hannah Sande spent hours babysitting for her neighbors so that she could travel to see Hemalatha, her sponsored child. The teen also gave up Christmas and birthday gifts from her parents so she could save enough money to sponsor a child.
At 14, Hannah Sande appears to be the quintessential American teenager tall, slim, pretty, vivacious and friendly. She enjoys hanging out with her friends at the local ice cream parlor after a movie.
However, Hannah is unique. The teen used the money she earned babysitting for neighbors to pay for a recent 10-day trip to India to see her sponsored child.
She did this just to spend a few precious hours with 7-year-old Hemalatha, the little girl she sponsors in India.
Sponsoring a child is a family tradition for Hannah. Susan, her mother, sponsors many children. And five years ago, when she was just 9 years old, Hannah and her brother begged to sponsor a child. "They said, 'We will give up our Christmas and birthday gifts so we can sponsor children,'" said Susan.
Every year, as a Compassion volunteer, Susan mans tables with hundreds of child packet displays short biographies of children in Compassion's programs from around the world who are waiting to be sponsored or who may have lost a sponsor. Last year, they got around four hundred such packets for their table. Hannah went through the packets to see if she could pick out a child to sponsor. Then one hundred more packets arrived in the Sande home, and as Hannah said, "Hemalatha's face jumped out at me. I knew I had to sponsor her. Looking at her photograph ... she was barefoot."
Soon after came news of a sponsor tour to India. When Hannah heard about this tour, she was determined to be on it.
"I had been babysitting ever since I was 10 or 11 years old. I had saved all that money but I didn't know for what. When I heard about this trip to India, I told my mom, 'This is it: this money is for this trip. This is what I want to do go and see Hemalatha!' So I saved everything I possibly could. I told the family I babysit for that I was saving to go to India and I asked them to call on me for any babysitting jobs or for anything else that I could do."
Hannah observed, "Meeting Hemalatha was cool, awesome and fantastic. Though Hemalatha does not speak English, there was no language barrier. We spoke the language of love hugs and she kissed me all over my face. We also had the language of play we played games ball, parachute and we had fun."
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