Sixteen-year-old Lorenzo, a sponsored child from Bolivia, has an entire “family” behind him.
As an honorary member of the Harmony Science Academy’s National Honor Society in Houston, he has developed a special bond with his many sponsors.
“When I became the coordinator, I knew I wanted to expand the concept of ‘giving back to the community’ to a bigger, broader plan,” said Ineke Kerkhofs. “For many years I have supported Plan International, first because my parents sponsored a little boy in Bolivia through Plan – then Foster Parents Plan – Netherlands, and later when my husband and I sponsored a child, even before we had children of our own.
“I told the NHS students about Plan and from day one, they loved the idea. They were more than willing to use part of their NHS membership fees to pay for this sponsorship.”
The honor society created a “NHS” tree in its hallway, featuring all current members. Lorenzo has his own name tag. His name is also listed on the NHS shirt, and at NHS ceremonies there is always an update on how Lorenzo is doing.
The group deliberately chose a student who was their own age. His sponsorship will last until he is 18, at which point they will sponsor another 14-year-old.
Being able to contribute to a community outside of their own is one of the best aspects of sponsorship, Ineke said.
“We have not only been able to help a child, but we have helped him in his own environment, so that one day he too can give back to his own community,” said Christina, an honor society member. Christina’s sentiment was echoed by all of the honor society members.
The NHS aims to write at least three letters a year, and through Lorenzo’s responses, they’ve learned that his favorite hobby is soccer and his favorite food is locro.
“Our interactions with Lorenzo have taught us that despite the distance, we aren’t so different after all, and hopefully he has learned that there are people out there he can depend on, one of which is our small organization,” said Ineke.
“We have been able to see our friend grow up throughout the years, and he will always be a part of our organization and, most importantly, our family.
“Within NHS, we do many fundraisers and events, but I love that sponsoring Lorenzo is a long-term activity that continues to grow with us. I only hope that by doing this with our NHS students, we are planting seeds so that when they are adults they too will continue to reach out to other people through organizations like Plan.
“Through this sponsorship we have learned that not only is there so much for you to give, there is so much that you too will receive in return.”