It's with a heavy heart and immense sorrow that I'm writing my post today. I'm not quite sure what to say in it really. For the last three or four years, through Children International I've been sponsoring a young boy in Zambia, a country in southern Africa. Each month (and on special occasions), I would send him and his family money to help him and his family survive through the poverty that they're subjected to in their country each and every day. Christopher was able to go to school, get clean drinking water, and fresh food because of my support.
Every couple of months, letters and drawings personally from Christopher arrived in my mailbox, occasionally with a photograph of him. Even from half way across the world, I was able to see him grow into the man he would one day become. I learnt of his favourite sport of soccer, his love of science and maths, and of his family. It was truly a blessing each time I received these letters in the mail... I absolutely loved it.
On Saturday, I received a letter like any other from the outside appearance of the envelope. I was looking forward to reading Christopher's next letter. The letter inside was however very different than expected. Accompanied with a beautifully written card from the president of Children International - Jim Cook, was a letter (I'm choking up here writing this) telling me that on April 24th Christopher had drowned and sadly passed away. He was only 11 years old.
In loving memory of a special life, A life that you cared for and touched. We share your grief and extend Our deepest sympathy. -Jim.
My heart sunk.
I still don't really know what to make of it all. I have no idea the grief that his family is going through right now and my sincerest, deepest sympathies will be forever with them for the loss of their boy. I honestly did feel really connected to Christopher even though we'd never met and were half a world away. I still don't know the details surrounding exactly how he passed, but I know he's now in a much better place and no longer has to worry about things I know I take for granted... simple things like clean water or the next meal on the table.
Rest in peace, Christopher. Your photograph (the one in my hand in the image above) was always on my desk where I work every day and it will always be there. I had always hoped that we would meet one day. Even though you were a world away from me, it really did feel like I was always able to reach out and help... because of the photographs you sent me.
I don't mean to be dramatical by sharing the images on this post, but I just have to convey how truly moving this ongoing experience was for me. I'm still in shock at how abruptly this all came to an end. Thank you to Children International for allowing me the distinct honour of helping make Christopher's life richer, even if it were only for a brief period of time. To anyone who is reading this (and has read this far) -- making a difference in this young child's life was one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had. It was a sincere privilege to share it with him and now also with whomever is reading my blog.
Any contribution you can make truly does change a child's life.