I wonder about the tiny boy, standing there in the picture. As he makes his way home from a day at the Compassion centre, shirt sticking to him in the humid air, what’s he thinking? Other children’s faces have shone as they’ve torn open their letters, some of them having joined the group almost a year ago, just like him. One girl gazes in wonder at the animals and butterflies on her brightly-coloured stickers. In spite of his sadness, he smiles as he holds a pack of his very own. What a generous sponsor, giving her enough to share with her friends.
The house comes into view. His toddler-brother asks about his day in excited Spanish. The boy leans down to show him the stickers. His face lights up, but soon he’s telling the older boy: “I’m hungry.”
They enter the house together. His brother finds a place to stick the stickers while he prepares a meal. Much later, their father will be home. He might have stopped on the way to buy a few necessities, or to huddle in the warmth of one of the bars with others who share his plight. The boy only vaguely remembers his mother’s presence; he doesn’t know where she is now. He thinks of the kindly neighbour who sometimes brings them food, wishing his mother was like her. “You’ll understand one day, son,” his father says whenever he asks, too tired at the end of a long day to go into details, and the boy doesn’t press him. He’s tired too. He wraps the thin blanket tighter as his eyes close in the darkness.
* * *
That’s what I see in my mind’s eye as I think of this motherless 8-year-old, in desperate poverty of family, not to mention his physical poverty. Perhaps that’s why my favourite item in Compassion’s gift catalogue is the gift of caring for a waiting child. When children are registered with Compassion, the quest starts to find them a sponsor, so they need their picture taken. Perhaps they don’t own a pair of shoes, but I’ve never known Compassion to photograph a child barefoot. I have every confidence they’d want to make provision for these children until such time as they have a sponsor. If people give generously to you this Christmas, perhaps helping Compassion to care for a waiting child is one way you could give something back.
Just a thought.