Have you ever wondered what it would be like to visit your sponsored child? While on a recent business trip to Honduras, Rolf Wulfsberg was able to meet his sponsored child, Eva, and see some of Plan's educational work in action. When he returned, he shared his experience. This is his story...
Monday began early in the morning. I jumped out of bed at 3:00 AM full of excitement and anticipation knowing that the next day I would actually get to meet my sponsored child, Eva. I shaved, showered, dressed, and headed to LaGuardia airport for my 6:00 AM flight to Miami.
Upon clearing customs in Tegucigalpa, I was now ready to face a country that I didn’t know and a language that I didn’t speak. My driver Lester and translator, Denise, showed up at my hotel promptly at 7:00 AM, and I was on my way.
The Trip to La Paz
Lester proved himself to be quite the driver. The “road” up the mountainside to Eva’s village is basically a bunch of rocks with some occasional dirt in between. At one point, we had to drive through a stream that crosses the road. If we had more rain on the previous day, we probably would have been unable to cross the stream. But Lester relished the challenge and masterfully guided our vehicle up the mountainside to Eva’s village.
Meeting Ava's Family
The moment had finally come. We got out of the car, walked past Eva’s aunt’s house and climbed down a rocky incline, and arrived at Eva’s house. Eva’s father came out first—a very handsome man with a welcoming smile. Then came Eva, a beautiful young woman all dressed up for the occasion. She came over to me and gave me a big hug. I fought back the tears of joy over finally getting to meet Eva after 6 years of sponsorship. She was very shy as I had suspected from the pictures Plan had sent me each year.
Next came Edin, Eva’s brother, who looked very much like the picture Plan had sent. Finally, I got to meet Eva’s mother, a beautiful, quiet woman. The family welcomed us all into their home and offered us a drink made with oatmeal. It was very tasty.
I shared with Eva a bunch of presents that I have brought her—school supplies, art supplies (Eva likes art), a special box with 3D butterflies on it and, of course, some chocolate.
I also got to meet the family pets—their cat, their dog, and some of the chickens.
Learning About Plan’s Educational Work in La Paz
Next, we went on a journey into the village to visit the school Eva attended when she was younger—she is now attends high school in La Paz.
I was very impressed with the work that Plan is doing for Eva’s community. In addition to construction work on the school, Plan has also implemented some important educational programs to ensure that the children understand their basic human rights. The program also emphasizes values and responsibility. The instructor demonstrated how they work on values, such as respect, as a group and how individual responsibility is demonstrated in “teams”. In each team, one student is responsible for ensuring that each team member understands the material while another is responsible for ensuring that everyone is following the “rules” and is not misbehaving or causing a distraction.
Another reason why the class is broken into teams is that it allows the teacher to teach the classes in an environment in which there are not enough books. So one group works on math while another works on history, etc. Then they rotate subjects—a very creative way of ensuring that each student gets to study each topic. I inquired as to whether a donor, such as myself, could provide additional textbooks—this was the greatest need expressed by the teacher—but he said the books could only come from the government, and there simply weren’t enough funds to make that happen.
Getting to Know My Sponsored Child’s Family
Next, it was off to visit Eva’s grandparents. Eva’s father and grandfather both work in the coffee business, growing coffee beans in the mountains and preparing the beans to be processed by a coffee company. Both men are very hard workers who provide for their families.
Once we had returned back to Eva’s house, her mother prepared a delicious meal for all of us—including the Plan staff—a rice dish, some tortillas, and juice. I know that the family did not have a lot of food, but here they were feeding all of us. It spoke so much of the kind of people they are and the love that they have in their hearts.
Saying Goodbye is Never Easy
After the meal, the Plan team and I headed back to La Paz to drop Eva off at her grandmother’s house. It was very hard to say goodbye to Eva, but the trip had sealed a place for her in my heart that will never go away. Before we left, I told Eva how my wife and I fell in love with her the very first time that we saw her picture on the Plan website. We looked at other children and other countries, but we both knew that it had to be Eva for us. And now to have met her and see what a wonderful, vibrant young woman she has become and to meet her loving family was more than I ever thought possible. I had dreamed of going to Honduras to visit Eva, but it was only a fortuitous business trip to the country that allowed it to finally happen.
But, it was not only that. Plan normally requests 8 – 10 weeks to arrange for a visit with a sponsored child. In my case, I only learned of the business trip two weeks in advance. Plan is very careful to protect the children in its programs, so a background check on me was an essential first step. Then there were other requirements and clearances required. I would need an interpreter. Yet, Plan was able to make it happen. I am so grateful for the effort the organization has made to bring Eva and me together in a way that goes so far beyond all of the letters and pictures. Thank you, Plan. You are a great organization. When I told a colleague of what I was doing and about Plan, she was so impressed that she committed right then and there to sponsor a child though Plan, too.
I miss you, Eva. My wife, Rachel, Zachary, and I love you so much!