If I am going to tell this story correctly, I have to start at the beginning.
My name is Joanne Hutchinson and I am about to turn 54 on Sept., 28, 2011.
I have never had my own children. I got married for the first time at age 50 to a wonderful man, Carl who had two sons. After a year of dating ( in Jan. 2002 ) I rented out my house and moved in with Carl. After six months of living together, Damon, then 7 years old and Nigel, then 10years old moved in with us and have lived with us ever since.
We decided it was best for all if I worked part time, I am self employed, and looked after the boys & our home.
While having my lunch, as I work from home, I saw the World Vision sponsorship program on TV in 2005. I was so moved by what I saw that I called right there & then among my tears, to sponsor a child. I think especially as I did not have any biological children of my own. When I called World Vision they asked me what country I wanted to sponsor a child in and I saidAfrica. They then asked if I wanted a boy or a girl. I said a boy as I was getting used to dealing with boys. I thought that we could all get involved with this sponsorship and the boys could relate better with another boy.
So Carl came home from work and I told him I sponsored a child today through World Vision and they would send me the details later.
When I received the package telling me about Njamba, I put his picture on my fridge and it, and annually the updated ones have been there ever since.
I faithfully sent the Christmas cards and birthday cards back to Njamba each year with stickers or stars in the envelope. I received my annual reports and saw him grow. I learned what he had done that year, what his favorite subject was and what he wanted to be when he grew up. He would always draw a picture in the annual report and he is quite a good artist. You could see the progression of his work from at first a soccer ball to a quite detailed bus. He was 10 at the time and his birthday is Jan.31, 1995. In 2006 I wrote him a letter, but other than that I had no contact.
Carl & I got married in Oct. 2007 and had plans to go to meet Njamba that year. I would be turning 50 and Njmaba 13 so I thought it was significant for both of us. I emailed the World Vision office in Mississauga Ontario and asked many questions about Njamba & his family. They were wonderful with their response and after a bit of time, due to logistics I received my answers back as follows.
As it turned out, due to getting married and Carl taking a huge cut in pay to teach woodshop in a high school for underprivileged kids, our finances where very tight.
I was very disappointed but had to put off our visit.
Carl is now doing a 4/5, where by the TDSB takes 20% off his pay every week for 4 yrs and puts it aside so that in the fifth year he can have the year off. He told me we would go toAfricain 2015. It was better than nothing so I had to be patient.
I was lying in bed one morning about 5 months ago and I thought Njamba would be 20years old in 2015 and I didn’t know how long World Vision would allow me to sponsor him. As soon as it was9:00amI called theMississaugaoffice and asked how long you sponsor a child for. The staff member told me that it was usually 18-20 but that the World Vision project in Kalabo, where Njamba lived was ending in the fall. They have a school & health centre and are self sufficient now. I asked when they were going to tell me this and she said that I would receive a letter about three months before the project closed. This was May 2011. My response was that I had planned to go visit him in 2015, but if they were closing the project, then I have to go now.
I was given the name of the co-ordinator who looked after sponsorship visits in theMississaugaoffice and the rest is history.
I immediately told Carl that I had to go now! He was unable to accompany me, but he understood that World Vision was driving me the 700K from the capital city ofLusaka,Zambiato Njamba’s village near Mongu, the capital city ofWesternProvince. He knew that I would be safe on my own.
I went the next day to get my police check done and get a new passport. I started researchingLusakafor accommodation and learning more about the country.
There was numerous correspondences between Diane at theMississaugaoffice and myself to determine dates. I was told that normally you would visit your child for an afternoon after visiting the school & health centre that WV had built. I didn’t want to travel all that way and only visit for ½ a day so I asked if there was anything we could all do together in his area. I wanted to take Njamba & his family toVictoria Fallsin Livingstone, but it was too far.
So it was arranged that we would all go to the Liuwa National Park about an hour from where Njamba lived.
I then set out planning what I was going to take as gifts. I had been saving for 4 years now, but had just given most of it to Good Will about a month before as I thought we were going in 2015 and could save again.
I started my lists. I wanted to take the typical soccer balls, books, pencils, crayons, notebooks, clothes etc. but my main goal was to take items which could be used to make extra income as he was now 16 yrs old. Njamba has a twin sister Ngebe, an older sister who is 34 Nyambe and has two children, and two brothers, Kufuku 20 yrs, old and Mutiowa13 yrs. old.
I wanted to take something for everyone. I also inquired how many children where in his village and found out there were 12 other children, all under the age of 5 yrs. So here is my list of what I took and the only reason I have it written down so carefully is that I was afraid it was going to get stolen from the suit cases as friends had told me to be careful. I know it wouldn’t do the family much good, me having a list, but I wanted to be able to tell the airlines should anything happen. A Big Thank you to Jami’s Mom Millie who sent that big pile of notebooks & folders and crayons, Flip flops for everyone in Njamba’s family, the cutest little water shoes for the grandchildren, a purse for Ngebe, a beautiful shell necklace for Mom, a whole bunch of hoodies, buttons, medical supplies, and what all else I forget there was so much.
Also my friend Heather has two little ones herself, Maeve 3 and Cohen 6 and I went over to their house and she put together 43 lbs of children’s warm sweaters & sleepers & t-shirts & pants and about 15 little cars & stuffed animals. I had to occupy Maeve & Cohen while she filled the suitcase they gave me to take & leave with the family as well so they wouldn’t be upset that I was taking their toys. If they only knew! One day when they are older I will explain what a good thing they did.
Also a big thanks to Daniela, my next door neighbours beautiful daughter. Daniela donated her own collection of dolls, even with the tags still on them as she took such good care of them.