Celebrating 45 Years of Friendship
The International Day of Friendship was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between people, countries, and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.
In honor of this day, we would like to share a story from one of our sponsors which spans thousands of miles and nearly 5 decades.
Meet Jack. Jack has been child sponsor with Plan for nearly 50 years. Through a series of letters, cards, and photographs Jack and his late wife, Katheryn, were able to connect with their sponsored child and gain a deeper understanding of her community from thousands of miles away.
Find out why Jack and Katheryn decided to sponsor a child with Plan, see how their friendship with Kinda led to the forging of new friendships, and see what it was like for Jack to finally meet their first sponsored child after 43 years of correspondence! This is his story...
In 1968, I was stationed on a U.S. Coast Guard high endurance cutter in Boston, Massachusetts and my late wife, Katheryn, was working as a bank teller.
While we had always been active in the youth programs at our local church, we were looking for a way to help other youth who were living outside of the United States. It was during this time that we decided to sponsor our very first child through Plan International USA–an 11-year-old girl named Kinda who was living in Hong Kong.
We sponsored Kinda until she was 18 years old, but we have never lost touch. In fact, several of our family members have met up with her over the years and new friendships have been made!
A number of years ago, my mother-in-law and her best friend met up with Kinda when they were passing through Hong Kong. Five years ago, our son Daniel met Kinda and her extended family while he was completing his airline training in Hong Kong.
Two years ago, I was able to accompany my son on a flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong. This trip was significant to me, because I would finally have the opportunity to meet Kinda and her family after 43 years of correspondence!
Upon our arrival, my son gave me a tour of his Hong Kong. In the evening, we had arranged to meet Kinda and her family for dinner. During our introductions, I noticed that Kinda had taught her mother how to say, “Hello” and ask me how I was doing.
During the next two days, I was able to see and explore Hong Kong through the eyes of Kinda and her husband, Bruce. I really enjoyed visiting the local neighborhoods and shops that were just off of the beaten path. It was a wonderful cultural experience!
Just recently, I have returned from a second visit to Hong Kong. On this trip, Kinda and Bruce accompanied me as we toured the New Territories–the northern part of Hong Kong. From their bedroom window, I was able to see mainland China. During this trip, Daniel took us all out sailing on Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong and I was able to see all of the ship and barge traffic. Having been associated with the maritime industry for nearly fifty-eight years, it was a fantastic experience!
One other thing that I’d like to add is that when my late wife, Katheryn, had passed away in 2010, Plan gave me a very thoughtful certificate honoring her role as a foster parent for more than 42 years. This certificate means a lot to me, as it honors the memory of my late wife and recognizes her life-long dedication to helping children.
Currently, I am the proud sponsor of a 7-year-old girl from Cameroon and I look forward to learning about her progress, too!