A hope that can reach the skies
Tearfund New Zealand
Written by Kelly Burgess from Tearfund New Zealand.
Just last week, on an incredibly hot and humid day in Denpasar, Indonesia, I met with sponsored child Chica, 9, outside the boarding house where she lives with her parents and two younger siblings.
Chica with mum, Deborah, dad Petrus and her baby brother.
A few of us from Tearfund had just flown in from New Zealand, this was our first trip to the field since the pandemic began. We were hopeful and full of expectation, ready to hear the stories of sponsored children and their families.
Project director, Dominquez led the way to Chica's home on his motorbike. Her community is found through a maze of tight urban streets that trap the heat, children played out in these alleys all day, knowing exactly when to dodge a passing scooter or car.
Chica welcomed our small team with a refreshing smile and happily shows us the single-room dwelling that her family of five calls home. The polite young girl took a seat in the small amount of shade outside, ready for our conversation. I could sense from mum, Deborah, that ‘mum anticipation’, what will she say? Is she happy? Is she okay? (I know this feeling well), so I flicked her a knowing glance as I perched on a wooden crate.
Sponsored child Chica dreams of being a stewardess one day.
I can tell you that Chica was beaming, excited for our chat. Dad, Petrus, hung close in the alley near his home, watching his youngest play. While we settled in to our sheltered spot, I noticed that Dominguez was in his element, talking with neighbours who had gathered to watch this little scene unfold. I was impressed with how Dominquez moved among the people there - I could see the familiarity and care that flowed from him to her whole family, he knew all their names.
Chica sparkled as she began to tell me her story.
"I am in grade 4 (year 5) at primary school and I have lived in this house, in this community all my life. I love my family so much! I also really love cooking – especially eggs and sausages. I enjoy school and especially maths – I am good at it and it makes me feel clever. I am learning the piano and get lessons from a friend of my Dads, my favourite song to play is Abba Papa (Holy Father)”.
At three years old she was registered in the Compassion Child Sponsorship programme. With help from the project, and her sponsor, Chica and her family are supported with food, schooling and medical care. This support has enabled them to be released from poverty in Jesus' name.
Deborah tells me that being part of the programme has been an immeasurable help to their family, Chica interjects, “It makes me feel so blessed because the project helps my family so much”. Deborah also tells me about receiving food hampers, which during Covid was crucial – and what a difference receiving, birthday and Christmas gifts from Chica’s sponsor had made to them financially.
This helping hand from Tearfund's partner Compassion lifted the weight off Deborah and Petrus' shoulders and gave them the freedom to encourage and champion their children. Now they can put all their energy into helping Chica chase her dreams.
Chica hopes her future, will take off! "When I grow up, I want to be a stewardess, I want to fly anywhere and visit many other countries – but especially Korea and the United States. I've never been on a plane before but imagine that it would feel so fun to take off and fly," she says.
Chicas' cousin Lita is a stewardess, and she wants to be just like her one day, but when I asked her who her hero is she immediately says, “My hero is my papa – he works so hard, he sometimes takes me with him when he works, we spend time together and he is so kind to me.” Petrus looks up proudly when he hears his daughter speak of him (one eye still on a busy toddler). Petrus has regular work delivering water gallons to the many cramped homes in the area. None have running water in this community, so his role is crucial – he works a full day, six days a week to provide a home for his family.
Chica with her Dad Petrus.
Heroes don’t always have capes, sometimes they have wings like Lita, or a loaded motorbike and a loving heart like Petrus.
As I wrote this story, I could have focused on the problems, and how difficult the living conditions are in Chica's community. How the daily battle for survival, for clean water, for a daily meal is visceral, but it didn't seem to fit anywhere. What rises to the top of my memory, sitting here tapping away in New Zealand, is love. The glance of pride between a father and a daughter, the quiet way a project director carefully place's a bag of rice and staples inside a tiny home, and the laughter of an alley full of neighbours who have come to share your joy.
I realised that what I felt was the lightness of what Chica’s sponsorship brings to this family, the lightness of a burden lifted. What struck me most about the value of sponsorship was the care of a community, Chica is known, loved, and protected.
It’s simple and true – what has been manifest in Chica’s life because of her sponsorship is the freedom to stay a child a little longer, to dream of her future, and to dare reach for the skies.
Hope has wings, and is so much more powerful, than poverty.