Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Big Family Across the World

By David Hylton, Public Relations Specialist

The smile on a child’s face … the warmth of a hug … watching the shyness disappear – these are all reasons Christian Children’s Fund sponsors travel on Study Tours to visit their sponsored children.

In June, several CCF sponsors traveled to Zambia on a Study Tour to meet children they only knew through letters and photographs, to see CCF’s programs first hand and to experience the culture of a foreign nation.

CCF Assistant Director of Marketing Gary Duncan says more than 600 sponsors have participated in CCF Study Tours since the program began in 2002. He describes the Study Tours as a big “family reunion.”

Here’s a look at what some of the sponsors experienced on their trip to Zambia:

Ebba McArt of Grantham, N.H.
Ebba met her sponsored child, 16-year-old Mercy. She said that although life is hard for Mercy, she has a strong and loving family. Mercy is thinking about becoming a journalist and is a good student who likes to read, Ebba said. She also likes to sing.

“There is no whining or crying from children even with harsh living conditions.” Ebba said. “Children seem well adjusted and happy.”

Alexandra Travis of Sante Fe, N.M.
Alexandra added to her sponsorship family while in Zambia. Before the trip in June, she had five sponsored children – one each in Vietnam, Mexico, and India and two in the United States. She decided to participate in this Study Tour because she always wanted to go to Africa. After seeing how many young children were orphans because of the prevalence of AIDS in Zambia, Alexandra decided to sponsor 6-year-old Natazia. “When I was introduced to her I melted,” Alexandra said. “It makes my heart soar to know I can change a family’s life and give comfort with the promise for a little bit brighter future.”

Jill and Katherine Drerup of Athens, Ga.
The mother-daughter team met 8-year-old Peggy on the Zambia trip. Peggy was shy at first and took a while to crack a smile, but she eventually opened up. This Study Tour was the third for Jill.

“I’m proud to pass on this legacy experience to my daughter,” Jill said.

Katherine, 17 and a senior in high school, plans to always help children in need.

“I’m definitely going to sponsor several kids when I get established. I feel like I have one big family across the world,” Katherine said.

Glynis Crabb of Hollister, Calif.
Glynis immediately connected to her 6-year-old sponsored child, Tisanke. Tisanke’s nickname, Tisa, bears a striking resemblance to Glynis’s granddaughter’s name – Tessa. There also was a family entrepreneurship connection – Glynis owns a horse farm while Tisa’s father is a farmer.

Tisa was initially very shy, but opened up after receiving gifts of a doll, a sweater and a backpack.

Glynis has been on five CCF Study Tours.

“The children in every country are the future of the world and they deserve the best that we can give them,” she said.

Patrick and Jenner Mathiasen of Seattle
The Mathiasens have a history of helping others in their careers – Patrick provides specialized care for elders as a psychiatrist geriatric; Jenner tutors disadvantaged children. Their work of helping others spreads overseas as they sponsor four children through CCF in Mexico, Thailand, Zambia and the United States.

The Mathiasens met their “small bundle of energy” Mervis on the Zambia Study Tour. Mervis’ shyness disappeared once they got to a playground to have lunch.

“I learned, once again, how I am surrounded by material wealth and take it for granted. We were given a glimpse of the world through the eyes of a small child,” Patrick said.

For more information on CCF’s Study Tours, click here.

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