Search
  • TMHCF

The magic of sponsoring a child

By Jim Culverwell, trustee, sponsor, fundraiser and volunteer.


Being part of The Mud House Children's Foundation gives us amazing experiences.

We're so privileged to be working with un-airbrushed, genuine Maasai and we learn so much about what it is to have enough, to be content and to be generous.


These things in this part of Africa have remarkably different meanings to being back home in the UK. In fact, pretty much everything we see and experience is different.


For example, on my most recent visit, three hours after leaving the tarmac road on our way to our destination, we reach a village beside Lake Natron, called Engarasero, where we stop for a break and lunch. Usually, it is blisteringly hot, so we seek out some shade.


Here, in an unimaginable scene in the UK, we stop in a bar and have our picnic. We bring all the food with us. For the bar owner, it means we buy drinks from her, so she's happy to let us do this.

On this occasion though, we have another reason to stop at Engarasero, which is that we're collecting a new recruit to the Sakala Hostel and the school, a new sponsored child, Obedi Rotiken.


To say this is a life-changing moment for Obedi is a massive understatement. Imagine how terrifying it would be, on his own with two Maasai and two Swahili he has never met, and worse still, four "mzungu" (the inoffensive name the Africans have for white people), with whom he may never have been in such close proximity.


Until the moment he is chosen, no one, least of all the boy, knows who it will be. We alternately sponsor a girl and a boy for obvious reasons.


This process of offering a place in the 'Sponsor a Child' scheme generally takes place when we are not in Africa, so it was a special privilege to witness it taking place.

Our manager explains the criteria and discusses with members of the wider community in Maasai, a language of which we understand only scraps. A decision is reached quite quickly, and the child is sent for and arrives shy and bewildered dressed in a rag. His mother is also sent for. she is also shy and not totally clear what is happening. However, the decision has been made by the wider community based on what is best for all (a lesson for us at home).

He will know that his life will never be the same, because he will have been told how important education is. Education is hugely valued and recognised in the Maasai community, as having such massive potential, not only for the child but for their peers and the wider community of which they are a part – yet another lesson for us.


Obedi Rotiken doesn't look totally chuffed, but the people who chose him burst into spontaneous applause – the universal signal of congratulation. They understand what they have just done for him, his mother and siblings and what the new sponsor's generosity has enabled. They also want to thank us in the only way they can, which is to give us hospitality from their own meagre resources.


For the next 24 hours, Obedi is very quiet, as anyone would be; whisked from the only existence he knows, first into a vehicle full of strangers, for a gruelling four hours across merciless rock/dirt roads. Then to a strange house, a type he is certainly not aware of, to eat food he may never have been given and to sleep in a bed he has never seen nor imagined. What a sensory overload! What a shock to his system.


Waiting for the new child are the rest of the sponsored children and the ladies who care for them, ready to welcome and befriend him and so, in less than a day, he is settled, smiling and participating in the singing, dancing, drawing and fun that Sunday comprises.


It's a wonderful thing to witness, to facilitate and to be a part of.


If you have any questions about the 'Sponsor a Child' scheme, get in touch with Jim Culverwell or any of the UK team for more information and the opportunity to change the life of a Maasai child.



67 views

©2018 by The Mud House Children's Foundation. 

Registered Charity 1160089