I’ve been researching some smaller organizations that I’ve heard about. I have had a wonderful experience with sponsoring with Manna 4 Lempira for the past 15 months, a smaller organization, so I know how great they can be. I wanted to make sure, of course, the legitimacy of these organizations and what they provide. I wanted to see if their values called to my heart, and if God placed any desires on me to support them. One such ministry that I was called to was The Bridge of Hope. It is a Christian organization that works in 4 communities in Sierra Leone, one of the very poorest countries in the world. The average life expectancy is only 45 years old. The average adult has had less than 3 years of schooling. The Bridge is operated primarily by volunteers so that donations can go directly to helping the people of the communities. They work with local, indigenous leaders on projects that are driven by locals, instead of Westerners. Sponsored children have access to education, dental care, a feeding program with daily nutritious meals, clean water, churches and teaching about Jesus, medical clinics, the rebuilding of their community, and agriculture and animal farming projects and loans to help families and members of their community. Child sponsorship with The Bridge of Hope is $15/month.
All of this being said, I decided to sponsor a child to support the work of this ministry and do more for a child in Sierra Leone. I browsed through lots and lots of photos, looking for one that I felt called to. When I saw an 8 year old girl named Mariatu, her eyes and shy, unsure smile made me feel a connection. I sponsored her and wrote my first letter to her, which can be written online.
This week, I logged into my account, and I was surprised to see a different girl named Mariatu, with a different last name, age, birthday, child number, and photo, instead! Seeing as I had already sent a letter, and I didn’t want there to be any confusion, I sent an email to The Bridge of Hope to clear things up. I got a response less than 24 hours later, and it could only be described as God’s plan. It turns out the Mariatu I had sponsored had moved away with her family to another village. Their child advocate in Sierra Leone, who had my letter to her, had given it to another girl who was unsponsored and also named Mariatu. The advocate said she was very excited to hear she had a sponsor. I also got emails with additional photos of her, a child profile with some more information, and a video to me!
Now, I definitely couldn’t say no at this point! Not that I would have anyway. As soon as I saw this adorable little 5 year old Mariatu’s picture on my account, before I knew what was going on, I was in love. She was younger than what I was planning on, but God’s plans are greater than mine. For another little girl to be waiting with the same name was clearly no coincidence. I’m grateful I didn’t have to choose another child and that God chose this little girl for me and made it very clear and easy. And, like I said, I’m in love with her already!
Mariatu’s favorite color is green and her favorite subject in school is number work. When she’s at home, she helps by “greeting parents and elders”, which I think is adorable. Her favorite game to play is to “play cook”, and when she grows up she wants to be a teacher. Another future teacher. This girl is clearly meant to be mine.
click on the photos to see them larger
The video is precious, and I love her smile at the end. Everything happens for a reason!