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An Inspiring Visit to Dahshur, Egypt

Ernie and Kelly Sabo with Aya, right, and her older sister.
Ernie and Kelly Sabo with Aya, right, and her older sister.

In November of 2010, Ernie and Kelly Sabo traveled to Dahshur, Egypt to visit with their sponsored child Aya and her family. Fresh from their travels, they sent us the following letter about what they call "one of the most memorable and life-changing experiences" of their lives:

My husband and I arrived back home safely on November 8th from our trip to Egypt. We had a wonderful trip! We saw so many memorable temples and pyramids, and learned so much about Egypt and the history there. But with all that we saw and experienced in Egypt, nothing will ever top our visit with our sponsored child Aya, her family, and our visit to Dahshur. It will forever be one of the most memorable and life-changing experiences of our lives.

We were so excited about meeting Aya on November 7th. The anticipation had built all week leading up to our visit. When the day arrived, were were excited and nervous about meeting her. We hoped that she would be happy to see us and that she would understand who we are. We were picked up at our hotel in the morning and driven to Aya's village by members of Plan.

From the moment we met the Plan staff, my husband and I felt so comfortable and any anxiety that we were feeling disappeared. Mona was our English translator and during our drive to Dahshur – the village where Aya lives – she gave us some background information about Plan, Plan's approach to working with the communities, and the programs that are currently active in Egypt. We found the information extremely helpful. We have read about the work that Plan is doing in Aya's community from the updates that we receive, and Mona's explanation was an excellent way to reinforce Plan's work and projects that are currently in progress.

When we arrived in Dahshur, Aya was walking home with a community volunteer. We stopped and picked them up and they rode with us for the short drive to Aya's home. Our first impression of Aya was what a beautiful young lady she is. She was a little shy but was happy to see us. When we arrived to her home, there were some other women from the village there. We had the pleasure of meeting Aya's mother and her older sister "Shu-shu" (her nickname) who is also a beautiful young lady. We felt so welcome and comfortable in their home. They seemed so happy that we came for a visit, and we were treated with kindness by everyone.

We had brought a number of gifts for Aya and the family so we spent some time giving our gifts. We think Aya was a little overwhelmed just as were we. It was a surreal experience to know that we were sitting with Aya and her family in their home. Being there in person, talking with Aya, her family, Plan staff, and the other volunteers strengthened our connection with Aya, her family, and the people of Dahshur.

There were so many memorable moments from our visit, but a few in particular stand out in our minds. The first has to be the hugs that Aya and her sister gave us - they were the best hugs that we have ever received and they will be with us for the rest of our lives! To see them smile was something we will never forget. We are so proud of Aya and her sister. They are both attending school which made us so happy since we know education is so important.

We also had an opportunity to visit a young man in the village as part of our visit on that day. His name was Achmed and what a wonderful person and young man he is. The way his face lit up when he saw us and how he smiled when we hugged was also something we will never forgot. We are so happy for Achmed and his success as an entrepreneur. He should be very proud of himself as we are of him. When we went to see Achmed, many of the children that were on their way to school came to see us, say hello, and welcome us. The smiles on their faces left such a lasting impression and will be a memory that will stay with us forever.

Our visit with Aya and to Dahshur was short because of the constraints of our travel schedule. My husband and I were flying back home on the 7th, later in the afternoon. Even though our visit was short, it will be a moment that will stay with us forever. We will never forget the opportunity that we were given to experience a visit with our sponsored child. We are so very grateful to have had this opportunity.

There are many things that my husband and I will take away from our visit with Aya but one of the most important things is how much sponsoring a child can make a difference in a child's life. To know that someone from away is thinking of you and loves you means so much, not only to Aya and her family but to my husband and me.

We traveled to Egypt as part of a tour group. Many of the people on our tour had never heard of Plan so we had an opportunity to share information about all the good things that they do for children around the world. Our visit with Aya was an inspiration to many of the people that traveled with us to Egypt. We hope that from our experience and inspiration, some of the people will also get involved with helping to change the lives of children around the world.

Many people are skeptical about charity organizations. They are not sure if the charity organizations are legitimate and if their donations are actually going to the families, children, and communities. But we believe that our visit with Aya helped others to see that there are good organizations out there, and that Plan is one of the best. We may never know if any of the people from our trip will eventually sponsor a child, but if at least one child is sponsored as a result of our visit than we are happy that we may have helped facilitate this sponsorship.

We have enjoyed sponsoring children through Plan and intend to keep up our sponsorships. We have gotten so much out of our sponsorship over the years and through the connections that we have made with our sponsored children and their families.

We want to thank the Plan staff for all that you do on a daily basis for children across the world! Thank you does not seem enough for all of your kindness, hard work, and dedication to improving the lives of others.