I don’t know why I gave up wearing dresses, perhaps because I never wore many dresses growing up on a sailboat.
I like dresses. I just don’t buy them very often.
But I knew I needed something special to wear to meet my sponsored child, Nairesiae.
A week before we left for Africa, I found the perfect black dress and a red scarf.
It wasn’t until after we arrived that I discovered my sponsored child is Maasai. The color of the tribe is red.
We drove more than two hours from Nairobi on pitted, punctured roads to the project. Singing and dancing awaited us.
After a warm welcome by the Maasai children and staff, we toured the project. We saw the water supply they’d dug, the trees they planted, the kitchen where they fed the children, and learned of the 20-plus bee hives from which they’d just taken their first honey harvest to support their work. I even milked my first goat.
Then we hopped in the Land Rover to visit our sponsored child’s home. (When I first sponsored Nairesiae, I nicknamed her “Little Flower” in my mind as a kind of prayer that she would blossom into the fullness of all God has for her.)
The deeply eroded road made us feel like we were riding horseback as we bounced to and fro. The road dwindled to a path before vanishing entirely. We continued driving through shrubs anyway until we reached a remote cow-dung hut.
My sponsored child and her family lived in a house of poop. [Tweet this]
Cow-dung houses are common among the Maasai, but many who have the means move to build with more modern materials. This hut was maybe 150 square feet. With little ventilation, the wood cooking area filled the home with barely breathable air, impacting the health of the lungs of the parents and their five children. Whenever it rained, the roof leaked and all its contents became covered in mud if not damaged.
Now in the Maasai culture, wealth is measured in terms of wives, children, and cows. As a result, many who are not Christians practice polygamy. Male and female circumcision (also known as female genital mutilation) is considered a rite of passage to adulthood.
But the family of my sponsored child is Christian. One man married to one woman. And through Compassion, they are being encouraged to consider an alternative right of passage to adulthood that does not involve female genital mutilation.
As we greeted the family, I noticed mom was wrapped in fine Maasai attire, the dad had likely borrowed a suit. Little Flower wore the dress and jacket given to her by the Compassion project. We were all wearing our very best, something special, for this day.
Little Flower, whose eye was swollen from a bee sting, was shy until her mother took a Maasai cloth and wrapped it around me as a gift. As soon as she placed a beaded necklace on me, Little Flower ran up to be and began tugging on my cloth. I had been accepted.
We gave the family a variety of gifts including sheets, towels, and toiletries as well as a soccer ball and set of jump ropes.
I asked the difference the Compassion project had made in their lives. They showed me the mosquito nets over their bed and the water purifying system that now allowed them to drink clean water.
Over the course of the afternoon, we played together, sat together, ate lunch together, and laughed together. I fell more in love with her with each passing moment.
Mid-way through the afternoon, I took my scarf and wrapped it around Little Flower’s neck. She smiled proudly and followed me around the project wherever I went. As we packed up to leave, she took the scarf off to hand it back to me.
“It’s a gift,” I said, knowing she wouldn’t understand a word.
I wrapped it back around her neck and her face became radiant with joy. So did mine.
As we visited another Maasai home, I was once again struck by the difference the Compassion project makes in the lives of these families. Just take a peek. The two children below are not in a program:
The Maasai program we visited hosts 302 children, but 15 still need sponsors. I met one child, in particular, you must know about. Her name is Seleina. While she’s in the Compassion program, she’s still waiting for a sponsor. She’s the youngest of five and lives with her grandmother—who has no means of support except begging neighbors for food.
Will you be Seleina’s sponsor?
She’s a friend of Little Flower, and at one point she asked if we were her sponsors. Sadly, we had to tell her “no.”
“But we’ll make sure you get one!” I promised.
Will you help me keep my promise? [Tweet this]
We asked Compassion to set up a page specifically for Seleina. If you click here and you see her picture, she is still waiting for you to sponsor her.
Will you be the one? If you’re the one, will you email me? I have several pictures I want to send you. (email@example.com)
If you don’t see her picture, there are still others from Kenya who are waiting on you to become their sponsor—some for more than 150 days.
It’s not too late to join the online #SummerBibleStudy at MargaretFeinberg.com through John and Genesis. Click here to learn more.