Mvumisi and I met for the first time in April of 2014. He was exactly as I imagined him to be..pensive and gentle. And I left feeling very emotional and a little concerned about what he might have gotten from the experience. There was no doubt that he and his family were delighted with the gifts that I showered on them. But I tried to imagine what it felt like from the perspective of his big brown eyes, meeting this emotional blond woman and being surrounded by cameras snapping away.
Was this all about me? A selfish desire to meet and hold the little boy who had stolen my heart when I saw his picture at the booth. He had no say in the matter of who his sponsor might be, in fact he had no say in becoming a sponsored child at all. But I had made a promise to his Auntie that I would come back and see them again. And here I was.
Sponsor visits are a unique experience and nothing can prepare you for the rush of emotion and adrenalin as you wait to pick up your child from school. I could not make him out at first as there were so many children crammed into the classroom but his teacher called him to pack up and as he stood I recognized those deep brown eyes. I did not want to embarrass him in front of his classmates and so we embraced quickly and got on our way to his home where Granny and his Auntie were waiting for us. So far so good, no tears, he seemed relaxed and I reminded myself to enjoy every second and stay in the moment.
Our group wound our way down to his familiar little house and as I stepped into the front room I noticed that they had moved the furniture around and that they had prepared the room with plastic chairs around the perimeter for us all to sit. It took a moment or two before I noticed the framed photos on the wall. I stopped breathing and I felt my heart constrict so strongly that it hurt. There was my photo, the one I use as my profile on Social Media all blown up. Next to it one of Robbie and I on our wedding day and finally one of my children Caline and Zaven on our last vacation together. My heart then opened. This was not just about my love for him. My existence in his life did matter, it did make a difference, I was important to him. The relief and surge of happiness overwhelmed me as I gulped down sobs. One by one my group entered the little room and gasped in amazement at the three framed photos and looked to me to see my reaction.
We sat and I felt basked in love and free to love unconditionally as I did for this family and my little boy. We were served rice and pumpkin and sweet potato, all 16 of us! And Mvumisi ate beside me, taking my plate and his when we had both finished.
Neighbours had congregated and they burst into spontaneous song before it was time to leave and go back to our bus. I hugged his Auntie and told each other how much we loved each other and then it was time to hug Mvumisi one last time. But he had turned his head and something was wrong. I bent done closer to his face and saw that tears were running done his cheeks. We looked into each other’s eyes and I pulled him into my arms and sobbed. I felt his little arms tight around me, holding on as we both cried. And I told him I loved him over and over and his hold tightened even more… my sweet sweet Mvumisi.
I don’t know where Mvumisi’s mother and father are in the picture or how he is looked after in the home. But I do know that as all children, he needs to be held, and loved and nurtured. He needs to her ‘I love you’. He needs to feel the love of a mother and through my letters and presence in his life, I can give him some of this.
I feel the natural mothering instinct to care and protect my little Zulu boy and I plan to be there for him forever. Through my sponsorship I can contribute to the programming of the community to improve the lives of all the children who live in Umvoti ADP. But through my letters and gifts to him and his family, I will give him unconditional and never ending love. He is in my heart forever as one of my own children.