When Jackie's mother died, she was left to raise her younger siblings while her father searched for work. But through sponsorship, Jackie has been able to remain in school and now dreams of becoming a doctor.
Jackie bends over a pot, stirring sweet potatoes that bob and float in the boiling water. She brings her stained apron up to wipe the sweat from her face. Three children dart around her feet, and she waves them away from the fire. "Go play," she tells them. And for a moment, she watches as they scratch pictures in the dirt and toss a ball in the dusty yard. When was the last time she played?
A CHILDHOOD LOST
This has been Jackie's life for the past six years. When Jackie was 11, her mother died from an illness that was never treated or diagnosed. The day Jackie's mother died, she knew her childhood was gone. She had seen dozens of children in her neighborhood lose their parents to AIDS and malaria. Almost without exception, each one would drop out of school and join the millions of child laborers in Africa.
But Jackie had a support system that most of her peers didn't: the Buye
While Jackie's peers had to scrounge for money for food and clothing, Jackie had a sponsor who covered many of her daily needs, including her school fees. Members of the Buye Presbyterian Church checked on Jackie and her family regularly, ensuring they had adult supervision even when her father was looking for work. Jackie grew into a role model for her siblings and a blessing to her father.
"I am so grateful and proud of Jackie," says her father. "She leads us in prayer every night and every morning before we leave the house. We thoroughly depend on her for food, and we also benefit from what she receives from the church. She takes care of her brothers and sisters, and above all she does not complain. Thank You, God, for Compassion that prepared Jackie to this extent."
"THEY ARE MY PARENTS..."
Jackie, who is now 17, is not merely content to survive her difficult childhood. She is confident that she will finish high school and go on to college. She says that although she lost the support of her mother, she gained the support of her sponsors, who encourage her in her dreams.
"They are my parents," says Jackie of her sponsors. "Through their support, I have food, and when I am sick, they meet my hospital needs. They cover my school needs, and when I need to talk to someone, I can write them letters. They stood by my side when I lost my mother, and I love them. God bless them, and I will never disappoint them."
Jackie plans to attend medical school and become a doctor. She would like to return to her village and serve children in poverty, especially orphans. And with her determination and strength, there is little doubt that she will one day achieve that goal.
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