The Transforming Power of LoveBy Florence Joy Maluyo
Anna knew love at a young age. She’s seen it from her parents who, despite poverty, worked tirelessly for the children’s future. She felt it from a couple who did not know her but chose to care for her just the same. Love, as she learned throughout the years, is capable of impacting the future.
The Pains that Come with PovertyAnna grew up in a family of nine. The sixth among seven siblings, she grew up in poverty, her parents making ends meet with her father’s income.
“My dad was a tricycle driver while my mother was a housewife. The lack of food, good toys and new clothes, we can tolerate. But the most painful part of being poor was having to see my mom as a little child skip her medicines for rheumatic heart disease because we did not have enough money,” she shares.
To help their father, she and her siblings had to collect water spinach to sell to pig owners. Instead of playing with the children in their neighborhood, they were selling banana cue. “I wanted so bad to study so that I can help my family,” she adds.
“They Remember Me”In the early 2000s, when Anna was around 7, World Vision started working in her community. She and her younger brother became part of the organisation’s sponsorship programme.
“That [Child Sponsorship] changed my life and my family’s. From then on, my brother and I would no longer worry about our school supplies and uniforms,” she says.
Her mother, whom she loved dearly, also became one of World Vision’s most active volunteers. “I learned volunteerism from my mother. I am happy she got to go to places because of the works she had been doing with World Vision. I am also grateful because whenever she had [heart] attacks, World Vision was there for her,” she says. Anna’s mother died when Anna was 12.
Throughout her growing up years, especially after her mom passed away, Anna remembers how the letters and cards from her sponsor made her feel loved and remembered.
“I’ve kept all their letters because they reminded me that Tanya and William were always thinking of me. Even now when I feel I’m at my lowest, I re-read the letters they sent me and I feel encouraged. William and Tanya didn’t have children yet when they sponsored me. I felt like I was their firstborn,” she smiles, overcome by gratitude and love for the second parents she wishes to see face-to-face one day.
Overcoming PovertyWith her determination, her father’s hard work and support from World Vision, Anna finished a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Before her current work as area coordinator for a community-driven development project of the local social welfare department, she was with World Vision as sponsorship support staff.
“My experiences growing up influenced my decision to become a development worker. I was cared for by many people who are not even related to me by blood and that inspired me to be who I am now. In my work now, I can relate to the struggles of the families I talk to and to be able to help make a difference in their lives gives me so much joy.”
Anna also did not forget to give back to her family, especially her father. “He is old now and I’m glad that I could buy him things he couldn’t buy before because he was only thinking of our welfare,” she shares.
Asked what she wants to tell her sponsors Tanya and William, 20 years after they decided to sponsor her, “I thank God for your lives. Thank you for making me feel that I am part of your family. Thank you for the letters you sent me. I will never be able to express how much they meant to me growing up.”