Family Gift Keeps on Giving

Story and photos by Donna Atola, Kenya Field Communications Specialist

Ever wondered what a family gift means to a sponsored child? Read how one boy’s sponsor transformed a family’s life in Uganda.

Mankati with his family in Uganda.

“I am happy to be at the Hope Center because I always receive gifts from my sponsor that I love so much,” says Mankati as he smiles shyly.

“I also love to write to my sponsor because they write to me a lot.”

Mankati, 10, is the fifth born of seven children. He lives with his family less than a mile from Revival Children Hope Center in Eastern Uganda.

His mom Anna is a farmer but unfortunately their piece of land isn’t big enough to grow enough food to sufficiently feed them and their extended family.

So, Anna works as a casual laborer on other people’s farms in the village and earns the equivalent of $1-$2 per job, depending on how big or small the farm is. The payment is not daily but upon completion of the work.

Getting a better wage while working on farms in the village is not easy because most people in the village are farmers and prefer to have their own family members working on their farms.

A Suggestion From a Queen

As Anna’s farm provides food to be consumed at their home, the money she earns from working on other farms helps with other needs such as paying medical bills, buying school supplies, and other basic needs.

Mankati enjoys writing letters to his sponsor.

Unfortunately, this is still not enough to pay for all of their expenses. Anna says she needs about $12 daily to provide for the family.

Over two years ago, while in church, Anna, heard about a children’s sponsorship program that was coming to the community and would be set up at the church.

The program was led by Queen Sarah, the head of Obwa Ikumbania Bwa Bagwere in the part of Uganda where Mankati and his family live.

“Queen Sarah announced in church about the program and appealed to us to go and have our kids registered,” Anna recalls. “That, to me, felt like God’s hand was finally here to hold me and my family.

“I never got a chance to go to school, and my older kids struggle through school because of lack of school fees, so the thought of one of my children being supported through school motivated me to seek a chance.”

Of her seven children, Mankati qualified to be registered into the OneChild sponsorship program.

Loving Life at the Hope Center

Mankati began going to the Hope Center every Saturday, and he says he loves it.

He enjoys going down the slides and swinging on the swings at the center. He loves the nutritious food he gets every Saturday. And he always looks forward to playing football and reciting Bible verses with his best friend Moses.

Mankati loves his new mattress and sheets.

Mankati says that he also likes how kind and friendly Keziah, one of the teachers at the center, is.

“I love how Teacher Keziah is so kind to us,” he says. “I know I can talk to her if I have a problem, and she helps get me snacks whenever my mother cannot afford money for the snacks.”

Mankati was also blessed to be sponsored by a man named William.

One day, Brenda, a Child Champion from Mankati’s Hope Center, visited his family to inform them that William had sent a gift for them.

A Gift to Make Sleeping More Comfortable

After a discussion with Mankati and his mom, they decided on several ways to use the gift. And it went further than William may have imagined.

“Mankati freely talks to them about what happens at home. He had earlier approached me about his wish for a mattress,” Keziah recalls.

Mankati walks with his family’s goats outside their home.

“So, when the gift from his sponsor came, I asked him what he wanted to get, and he told me that he sleeps on an old worn-out mat and would love to have a mattress and bedsheets.”

Their sleeping conditions involved the kids crowding onto a tiny old sleeping mat on the earthen floor of their house. This made sleep uncomfortable because they’d breathe in all the dust from the floor.

“Before sleeping, it was routine for us to sprinkle a lot of water on the floor to ensure the dust doesn’t lift when we’re sleeping,” Mankati recalls.

Families with earthen floors also coat the floor with cow dung to minimize the dust. His mom had to reapply the cow dung every two weeks to keep the dust down.

Today, thanks to the family gift, Mankati enjoys sleeping comfortably with his sibling on a mattress with bedsheets.

Gift of Goat Helps Family’s Future

In addition to buying the bedding with the gift, the family also was able to buy a goat, which gave birth to twin kids.

Anna hopes that the multiplication of the goats will allow her to exchange the goats for a cow in the future, which could come in handy when she can sell the cow’s milk to pay school fees for Mankati when he joins high school.

The sponsor’s generous gift also enabled them to make improvements on the house that made it more comfortable. The earthen floor together with the walls have been covered with plaster, and today, dust in the house is a thing of the past.

“The plastered floor has saved me a lot of time,” says Anna. “Today I spend little time cleaning it as compared to the earthen floor, and now I have more time to work on people’s farms. It has also saved me the time I spent smearing cow dung every two weeks, because it is a hectic job.”

Window and door frames were also purchased.

Mankati’s mother Anna is so grateful for his sponsor’s gift, which allowed them to make some much-needed home improvements.

Initially, iron sheets had been nailed up to cover the spaces meant for windows. The door was made up of a flimsy old rusty iron sheet.

But with the new frames in place, they have wooden windows and a door that opens and allows for free flow of air into the house.

Family Lifted by Sponsor’s Generosity

Some extra money allowed Mankati to get a new pair of shoes, a school uniform, and a school bag. His mom even got some plates and cups for their house.

“I felt shy serving guests meals in my house because I had utensils that were not so presentable. But today, I enjoy serving meals because my plates and cups are decent,” Anna says with a smile.

The gift also provided Mankati with a new and wonderful experience. For the first time, as he turned 10, Mankati was able to celebrate his birthday with friends.

“I enjoyed my birthday celebration because of the cake and the many foods we ate on that day,” he says.

Today, the family is grateful for the gift and that Mankati is equipped to be a light to their family, thanks to William’s support.

“The hope of my son getting an education is so assured, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” says Anna.

“But the big blessing that came with the sponsorship is that we as a family are being lifted up, too. I only prayed for my son to be different — little did I know that the blessing would trickle down to us, too.”

Her hope for her son and other sponsored kids is that they may succeed in their studies and shine a light to their families.

Even a little gift can go a long way for a family living in poverty, like Mankati’s. Give a family gift today!

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