My Sponsored Child Gave Me a Name

11/14/13

I sit here on the porch, smiling and praising God as I watch the African sun go down over the rolling hills in the west. The clouds shift, constantly changing from striking golds to deep purples. 

 
As the light grows softer and darkness creeps in, I become aware of the deafening roar from the harping birds and chirping crickets hiding in the green brush surrounding the guest house. It is our first day here at COTN–Sierra Leone and also my nineteenth birthday, and I have decided that there is absolutely no better way that I could be spending my day.
 
Allegra with a new friend from Sierra Leone
                                                           Allegra with a new friend in Sierra Leone. 
 
After at least six hours of speeding down rust-colored dirt roads, swerving around chickens, goats, and potholes, we finally arrived at the COTN property. I stiffly climbed out of the car and was immediately greeted by dozens of grinning, chattering children, all competing to be the special one to hold my hands or carry my things. 
 
The children we met on our Venture Trip were always eager to hold our hands
                The children we met on our Venture Trip were always eager to hold our hands or carry our things.
 
My heart is overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction at finally being here, but today is a special day in more than a few ways. Today I had the pleasure of meeting my sponsored child (I consider her more my sister), Janet, who is just a few months younger than me. In her humble smile I received a glimpse of how much a sponsorship really means to a child in need. 
 
Allegra considers Janet her sponsored sister
                                                      Allegra considers Janet her sponsored sister.
 
In return for what I have offered her, my Janet blessed me more than she could know—at the welcome ceremony, she gave me my “African name," Nyanda, which is Mende for “my own.” Nyanda means that I have been made part of her family, her tribe. To me, the name speaks to everything I have experienced so far. It’s not even been twenty-four hours, but Sierra Leone and its beautiful people have already taken a piece of my heart.
 
You can change a life through child sponsorship. See photos of children like Janet who are waiting for sponsors!