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What Can A Photo (or Two) Do?

My family and I decided to take a big step on Sunday. Actually – the first part of the step began on Friday evening. I’ve been watching and photographing some birds in a little bog/pond area beside our church in Rockford. I drove over on Friday evening to see what might be in the pond, and was pleasantly surprised to see our priest walking around the grounds with another gentleman.

That man was also a priest, visiting from Texas. Father James O’Toole explained he had been invited to be a guest speaker for the weekend. The visiting priest told me (with a smile on his face) – that he’d like to “trade” one of his own photographs for one of mine. He’d said we could exchange our photos on Sunday during Mass.

On Sunday – sure enough – Fr. O’Toole shared with the whole congregation he there to literally beg all of us for help. He was a representative of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. I don’t care what your religious beliefs are – but bottom line – there are thousands of poor people out there who need someone to help them no matter what faith you are part of.

And so – we decided helping another person in need would be an excellent exercise in learning about counting one’s blessings, and understanding how good we have our lives in this country. We found a little child the same age as our son Alex to help. And so in exchange for one of my lighthouse greeting cards – this is the photo we received:

This is Hilston. He lives in Kenya in a slum village known as Kangemi. He is eight years old – the same age as our oldest son. He has an sister who is about 14, and a brother who is 10. Their mother is so sick with HIV/AIDS, she is unable work. Their approximately monthly income in US $ is $10 a MONTH. Yes – $10 for an entire month.

Hilston sleeps on the dirt floor with no mattress, no water, no electricity and the walls of his home are just metal sheets. He is reported to be a good student, and fortunately in good health himself. His favorite school subject is drawing, and he likes football (soccer). But his family is so poor, they cannot afford medications or basic items he needs for school.

Hilston is our new “family member” and we will be helping him each month. Shortly, we’ll receive mailing labels so we can write to each other (a translator takes care of the correspondence between us, as he speaks Swahili “Kiswahili” ).

Just like many Americans, we feel the sting of the rising grocery prices and gas tank fill ups. We don’t even exactly know how this monthly contribution is going fit into our budget. But – considering how bad his needs are, we are living like royalty. We decided we don’t need our newspaper right now (we’re having problems getting it delivered on time anyway). We can save the money we turn in from pop cans. We can easily stop having a few lunches out.

I figured out something else. If I sell just two 8×10 prints a month, I will triple his family’s income with our support. Just two prints and Hilston might have a better chance at life.

So just know – if you buy a photo print from me – you might be helping a very young man reach his potential someday…

And if you feel the need to help another human being – please consider a sponsorship yourself! CFCA is a highly reputable organization. You will have a chance for a one-on-one sponsorship of a child or aging person – and you’ll be able correspond in writing with your new friend via a translator. Can you imagine what you can do to change another person’s life?

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  1. Christian Foundation for Children and Aging says

    Stacy, this is a beautiful post. We’re excited that you’ve joined the CFCA movement, and trust it will be a wonderful experience for you, your family and Hilston. Thank you for sacrificing to impact his life. Please let us know if you have any questions.

    — Kristin Littrell
    CFCA staff
    e-mail: kristinl at cfcausa.org

  2. An update to let everyone know – we received our first correspondence from Kenya with Hilston’s family. Written by an older sister, the letter was very touching and we know they are truly in need. They commented how sad the family is because their mother is extremely ill with AIDS. The letter included nice drawings, and a very grateful response for our assistance for the boy.

    I’m grateful to the kind remarks and support of my photographic work. Blessings!

  3. JoAnne Sheehan says

    Our family sponsors four children thru the CFCA. Three of our sponsored children. Argeri, her sister Johana, and Carlos, are from Costa Rica and Gerald is from Uganda.
    We have been “family” for over four years. We love hearing from them and we write back all the time as well.
    We discovered a software called WordMagic that translates English to Spanish for the Costa Rican children so they get our letters faster than having to wait for a translation from the many volunteers at CFCA. We are very proud of Gerald, our sponsored boy from Uganda. We can see how he is growing up and learning English. His letter writing improves every time we receive a letter! We are so proud of him!
    God bless you for sponsoring Hilston. You will become so attached and so proud of his accomplishments and inspired by his great faith, despite the myriad of hardships he faces every day.
    We feel blessed to have our children and thank God for allowing us to be able to sponsor them.
    Today our parents asked about sponsoring a child from CFCA.We are thrilled to be gaining a new sponsored family member.

  4. JoAnne,

    Thank you for such a touching reply to the post. It’s exciting to receive a letter from Hilston and his family – they write and print in excellent English and send us lovely drawings as well.

    We look forward to seeing his progress, and I want to thank everyone personally who have taken the time to read and respond to my post here.


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