Guest post by David Levis, ChildFund Sponsor
In 2011, David Levis was the grand prize winner of ChildFund’s Facebook promotion, the Experience of a Lifetime – a trip to visit his sponsored child. David chose to travel to Uganda, where he and his wife, Stacie, sponsor several children. A public school teacher from Citrus Heights, Calif., David opted to take the trip during spring break 2012. We’ll be following his travels next week as he visits five sponsored children and ChildFund programs.
Soccer balls and pumps, check. Baby dolls, Hot Wheels cars and Frisbees, check. Pencils and solar lights, check—the list goes on. This is a very different kind of packing list. My wife prepared me a few months ago, when she turned to me and said, “You only need one pair of pants and a shirt, right? She laughed and I laughed, and then she said, “No, really.”
We have been looking forward to this time since winning the “Experience of a Lifetime” last August. After months of preparation, both physically and mentally, the day of departure is almost here!
Over the last few weeks, so many things have come together. We have packed and repacked everything multiple times, and in multiple ways, trying to get as many small gifts for the children to fit in my luggage as possible without exceeding the 50-pound limit per bag.
As of tonight, we have to repack it all over again. A stuffed animal, medications and odds and ends from our latest Kmart trip has put us back at square one. Stacie is once again attempting to weed out my clothing!
In addition to meeting the children that we are blessed to sponsor, I will also be visiting a local school that ChildFund supports. Using Google Docs, my students and I have been making connections with the teachers and students in grade 7 of Buyengo School in Busia, exchanging questions and group photos. I look forward to visiting the school and meeting the students and teachers.
Meanwhile, I finished off all of my vaccinations, and started my malaria-prevention medication. I’ve packed multiple mosquito repellants, and a travel guide to Uganda so that I can brush up on the culture and the landscape. Using the itinerary that ChildFund has provided, I’ve also been using Google Earth to map out our trip. It’s going to be an amazing experience.
I’ve also had incredible support from my family and friends, who are all preparing to follow our trip through social media, blogs and Skype. Our family has been featured in the local newspaper, and even our children have been involved in preparing gifts for the families we will meet.
As I leave California this weekend, I will not be traveling alone. I take my family, friends and fellow ChildFund sponsors with me in thought and in spirit. It is my hope that I will be able to share this experience in its entirety with everyone I can when I return.
I invite you to follow along as I travel across the world for a true “Experience of a Lifetime!”
by Virginia Sowers, ChildFund Community Manager
Congratulations to ChildFund Facebook fans:
In honor of the seven winners, we’ve sent an educational gift (a school uniform and/or school supplies) to a child in each of the seven countries featured in the photo album.
You’ll find photos of the children on ChildFund’s Facebook page. Their stories are touching.
Anmol, which in Hindi means precious, is enrolled in St. Anthony’s Orphanage Project in New Delhi, India. She received a school supply kit.
Brenda attends a child-friendly school in the remote and rural Honduran community of Sabana Ronda. Her grade point average last year was 94 percent. She received a new uniform and shoes along with some school supplies, notebooks and materials for arts and crafts.
Keli, who participates in ChildFund’s U.S. programs in Oklahoma, received much-needed school supplies and arts and crafts items.
Thilan, enrolled in Lanka Taiwan Children’s Program in Sri Lanka, was the recipient of a new school uniform.
Elise, whose family was forced to flee armed conflict and relocate to Ziguinchor, Senegal, now has educational supplies her parents couldn’t afford.
Irene, who participates in Kenya’s Kerwa Child and Family program, loves her new school uniform. She attends in PCEA Ruthigiti Academy.
Jenipher, whose parents are subsistence farmers in Zambia, has never owned proper school shoes or a uniform until now. She comes from a family of four children, and the family was overjoyed to receive the gift for Jenipher.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Facebook promotion and for telling others about ChildFund’s work with children in 31 countries.