I was very excited to receive another correspondence boy from Togo. As you know, I have such a heart for Togo and its children. The culture and spiritual oppression has moved me deeply. I was so excited to receive his information.
Benjamin is a 13 year old boy from near Lome, Togo. His chores are washing clothes and running errands and he likes to jump rope. He lives with his parents who are both employed, his father as a barber and his mother as a petty trader. I am unsure of how many siblings he has. They earn approximately 33 US dollars a month. His community needs food, improved housing, and affordable education. He lives very close to my Yayra who is also in Togo. I wonder if they know each other? They go to different Compassion Child Development Centers but the towns are literally touching. How neat would that be? I am so excited to add him to my compassion family!
Togo is a scary place. It SHOULD scare us. It is a culture overrun by voodoo and forms of idolatry most of us have never had to stand in the face of. Voodoo and witchcraft have impacted my life in a very personal way. It is because of this personal connection that my heart has always been drawn to Haiti and Togo. Both cultures (ironically both settled by the French) uses Christianity to hide voodoo practices. They justify their inhumane actions toward children, animals, and each other by the tenants of voodooism. This breaks my heart. The more I learn of its deep roots and hurtful practices, the more of my heart LONGS to help these children broken in these environments.
Today, the compassion blog is all about a little girl from Togo who comes from a voodoo practicing family in a voodoo enriched town. It talks of how amidst all of the evil she is brought to compassion and now has been transformed. God is redeeming her heart in the same way he redeemed mine. Today, I m praying for this special girl as well as for my sweet Togolese sponsored girl Yayra and correspondent boy Benjamin. May God rescue them completely and create a NEW spirit within them.
Epilepsy Is Not a Curse From the Gods.
I received my first letter from Yayra next. it was an introduction letter telling me about herself. She is ten (and oh so precious!). First she tells me about her favorites. She likes red, corn dough, cats, playing with dolls and an African games called ampee. Her dream is to be a seamstress. This is not only a great dream, but a very realistic one. Togolese women can make a good living as a seamstress because of the value placed on brilliant clothing in Togolese culture. She walks on foot to her project every Saturday. I wonder how far she has to walk? I am going to have to ask her in my reply letter!
Next she send me a wonderfully colorful drawing:
I love how she drew it out in pencil carefully ad then added in the color! She took so much time and care to draw! Isn’t that precious? It means the world to me to know that she cared enough for me to take her time drawing a “just right” picture!
Lastly she writes “May the grace of the Lord be with you. Please pray for me and my mother (what she calls her grandmother who she lives with). How is your area called?” In typically young girl fashion, she doesn’t even sign her name (probably distracted on to something else). CUTE!
I am so excited to get to know this sweetheart who looks like she is crying in her photo. I hope that she finds a sense of love and connection through my letters and through her time at the compassion project.
When I began sponsoring, I reassessed my finances and realized that I had much more to give each month. I began looking at children who needed sponsors. One little girl caught my eye. It looked like she was crying in her picture. It broke my heart.
This is the photo:
I thought about her and prayed for her often and I just knew she was the one. However, there was one small problem. I had never even heard of a place called Togo. Then, I saw on the Compassion Blog a picture of a Togolese voodoo market. I did some research and found that Togo was founded by similar French settlers that settled Haiti and has a similar voodoo influence. I was heartbroken and moved. God had already softened my heart and now I was ready.
I talked it over with a prayer partner and prayed over her for a week. Then, i knew beyond the shadow of a doubt she was my kiddo. I sponsored her. Meet Yayra, a ten year old from near Lome, Togo. She lives with her dad and grandma. Her mother is dead. Her grandma works as a farmer sometimes and she is responsible for selling all the crops in the market (you know, the scary voodoo one pictured in the Compassion blog!) all by herself. How scary! She also cleans, runs errands, and helps in the kitchen. She lives with 5 other kids in her household. She likes jacks, group games, and hide-and-seek. (I’m secretly hoping to turn her into an art fan!). During the months her grandma is able to farm, their family makes about 33 US dollars a month. The rest of the year they have no income. Her community has no safe water, no electricity, a lack of schools and a need for income-generating activities. She lives on the coast which leaves her vulnerable to be exploited. There is a very good chance that the deworming pill Yayra got when she entered the center for the first time was the first day she ate without parasites consuming her food in her entire life. Yayra is only in the equivalent of 3rd grade (at 10!) and she is doing poorly in school. I have sent her activities in hopes to help this as well as heaps of encouragement in her studies.
Since my sponsorship of Yayra, I have fallen head over heels in love with this child. I have only received one letter from her, but it is evident she is warm and loving. She sounds so precious. I wish more than anything I could hug her sweet self. Togo has also become a passion of mine-learning about them, understanding their culture, and wondering how to overcome the spiritual darkness.