A Sponsor's Journey, Part 4: Over the River and Through the Jungle

08/06/13

My journey to my sponsored child Alfred's home in Mokpangumba, Sierra Leone, was an adventure I will never forget. Not many people I know can say they have trekked through the jungle of Africa. It was raining on my way there so I would definitely describe the one-hour walk as wet. Not to mention the fact that we crossed two rivers by foot and one larger river by canoe. And by “canoe” I mean a giant carved-out log. It took less than ten minutes to cross but it was ten minutes of a great leg workout, as we squatted the whole way. 

 
Alicia crosses a river in a dugout canoe, en route to Mokpangumba Alicia's journey to Mokpangumba involved an hour-long trek through the jungle and a river crossing in a dugout canoe. 
 
When we entered the village of Mokpangumba, I was greeted by the local residents and taken to the Children of the Nations school—a tiny mud building housing about 80 students. As I stood in front of the school children, they sang me a welcome song and recited Bible verses. The teacher asked for the purpose of our visit and we explained that I was there to meet my sponsored child, Alfred. The teacher asked Alfred to stand and I immediately recognized the cute face of the little boy I had been writing letters to and sponsoring for the last two years. 
 
When the teacher asked Alfred to stand up, Alicia recognized him right away
                                When the teacher asked Alfred to stand up, Alicia recognized him right away. 
 
I would like to say that we had a magical moment the instant we locked eyes and that he ran to my arms for a hug and that we sang, danced, and played for the rest of my visit—but that's not what happened. It could have been that he was so overwhelmed with joy and was so in shock to finally see me, or that he was the most shy and reserved child in all of Sierra Leone. Either way, I loved being with him and I could tell, after a while, that he was happy to be with me too. 
 
Alfred led Alicia down the path to his home in Mokpangumba                                            Alfred led Alicia down the path to his home in Mokpangumba. 
 
When we walked to his house, he held my hand and I smiled at him. He knew some English but was so quiet that I mainly just smiled and every once in a while he smiled back. 
 
Alicia walked beside Alfred and smiled. Occasionally, he would smile back
                  Alicia walked beside Alfred and smiled. Occasionally, he would catch her eyes and smile back.
 
Alfred led me to his home—a mud hut with a thatched roof. Alfred lives with his parents, older sister, and two younger brothers. They all stay in one room about the size of my bathroom. A full-sized bed takes up half the room and the other half is dirt floor where they put their shoes, clothes, and other belongings. 
 
Alfred lives in a typical home made of mud, with a thatched roof
                                          Alfred lives in a typical home made of mud, with a thatched roof.
 
Alicia brought a shirt as a gift for Alfred
                                                           Alicia brought a shirt as a gift for Alfred. 
 
Unfortunately, I was not able to meet Alfred’s parents because they were working on their farm, but I did get to meet his grandmother. She was sweet and seemed very grateful as the teachers explained that I was Alfred’s sponsor. After asking some questions about Alfred, I was informed that he had a baby brother who passed away in June. My heart hurt for his family because I’m sure they were still grieving. 
 
Alfred's older sister (right) also attends COTN's school
              Alfred's older sister (right) also attends COTN's school. Their younger siblings are not yet old enough. 
 
At the end of my visit, Alfred got a drum and some of his friends came over to play and sing some worship songs. Watching and listening to them filled my heart with joy, especially because it was the first time Alfred looked comfortable and it was when he was praising the Lord! 
 
Alfred began to feel more comfortable when he started playing the drum
Alfred began to feel more comfortable when he started playing the drum and singing worship songs with his friends. 
 
We said our goodbye with a handshake and a smile and I made my way back to COTN's ministry base in Banta. I hope I can go back again soon, but if not, that memory will live in my heart forever. 
 
Will you change a child's life? 500 children like Alfred need sponsors by September 1st. Join the movement and Be One! Sponsor a child today.