Weeks before visiting Adrianti, my Compassion sponsor child, I eagerly prepared a gift: a cute backpack filled with various items from Australia to nurture her childhood and kickstart her adulthood. After months of planning (and worrying), the big day finally arrived. I was so anxious. What if it’s awkward between us because I can’t think of conversation starters? What if she’s so shy she won’t talk to me, or even like me? What if the whole day goes horribly wrong? Grace, our Compassion host, informed me that unfortunately Adrianti’s father had been involved in a motorbike accident and won’t be joining us. A wave of dread engulfed me. Oh no. Is he dead? What kind of accident? Is he okay? How is Adrianti taking it?
Grace continued to explain that Adrianti’s aunty might join us instead because her mum has left the family and……“
“Wait, what? The mum left?”
“Yes. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for this to occur in Asian cultures. The father is usually the one who earns the money and due to his accident, he wasn’t able to work for 2 months so, yeah, the mum is not around anymore…”. I could feel my eyes tearing up. I desperately tried to hold it in. I really wanted to move on with the day and finally meet Adrianti so I could have something joyful to encounter rather than be submerged in such a tragic event. I couldn’t imagine what she was feeling and going through.
It wasn’t long before I did finally meet Adrianti. It was such a surreal experience. Much better than any photo or letter that Compassion could’ve provided me with. She was actually standing in front of me. She was almost as tall as me! Endless chatter followed: her favourite subject at school is religion and she enjoys playing badminton! She rides the motorbike with her friends to school and she absolutely loves nasi goreng (fried rice)!
Tentatively, I decided to ask her about her father. Understandably, she was hesitant to answer. “… He is doing well physically but not so well up here,” Adrianti gestured to her head. I was instantly overwhelmed with my own feelings of shock and despair, as someone who has suffered from depression could. “He is very confused as to why his best friend, who was with him on the motorbike when the accident happened, died, but he has survived”. Grace translated for me that apparently, due to financial issues, Adrianti and her father had to leave the place where they were living and move into a house provided by the local church. I was relieved to hear they at least they had somewhere to stay. Adrianti’s aunty and 16-year-old cousin also had to move in to help out while her dad recovered. Sadly, Adrianti’s cousin – who was not part of the sponsorship program – had to drop out of school for the last 2 months while helping out at home. My mind was racing. I could not comprehend the amount of devastation happening to this family. And yet despite the circumstances they found themselves in, they were coping and they had not given up. It really was so inspiring. Adrianti truly is a hero. The day eventually ended when I had the privilege to (tearfully) pray for Adrianti and her family.
Adrianti’s testimony is only one of the many reasons why sponsorship programs are so impactful for less privileged communities. For children, it could mean the difference of being able to continue their education while others may be forced to drop out of school following personal hardships, just like Adrianti’s cousin. Choosing to sponsor through Compassion also meant that the local church was able to provide her family a home in time of dire need. My visit was also a timely reminder of realising how fortunate and privileged I am.
I may never be able to fully convey through words the amazing and profound encounter I had visiting my sponsor child. I can however, strongly recommend experiencing it first-hand. Take a leap of faith and sponsor a child today! You may discover they are your hero too!!