On July 9, 2015, I stood in front of a Compassion International table booth gazing at the dozens of postcards with the faces of children who were in need of a sponsor. Many were labeled high priority which meant the child’s living conditions were extremely poor and a sponsor was needed immediately .
This was day I found Daudy, a child from Indonesia who captured my heart and has indefinitely affected my life.
The summer before my senior year of high school, my church sent its youth group to Chicago for a Christian youth convention, and while there were many high points in the convention, it was a young woman from Kenya who had been part of the Compassion program – an organization in which the goal is to take children out of poverty in the name of Jesus – that spoke at the convention and inspired me to reach out to a child in need of faith and support.
This young woman, who had lived in extreme poverty, was sponsored by a family in the U.S. They wrote back-and-forth to each other, and with a monthly fee going towards this woman’s health, family and other needs, she was able to attend school and worked her way to the US and received a bachelor’s degree. At the time of the convention, she was working on her master’s.
Daudy Reinhard Sondakh, born Aug. 27, 2009, was marked high priority and out of all the children I continued to go back to his postcard. When it came down to it his big brown eyes, sorrowful expression and the Mickey Mouse patch on his pants led me to make the decision to become his sponsor.
I was 17 when I began sponsoring Daudy. That was during the time when I worked as lifeguard at the local pool so $38 seemed like a tiny amount to be taken out of my bank account every month.
Having said that, a year down the road when I was eating ramen noodles in my college dorm, there were many months where I almost ended my sponsorship with Daudy. Thirty-eight dollars was no longer a little expense. As I watched my friends go on shopping sprees and spend spring break on a sandy beach in Havasu, Arizona, with jealousy and selfishness, I wondered if sponsoring Daudy was worth the monthly obligation.
When it came down to me simply clicking a button on my mouse to end my sponsorship, the picture of Daudy on the computer screen and letters hanging on my walls stopped me in my tracks. Giving up Wednesday bowling and taking a few shifts at Chipotle taught me that giving up some of the finer things in life were worth giving up for a good cause.
Looking back on the past couple years with my sponsorship, I realized it was not the Mickey Mouse patch or heart-rending look on his face that led me to choose his sponsorship: Instead, it was work of God.
Now, I understand and respect that there are people who will disagree with this logic and judge this situation as a matter of chance and not the work of a higher power. Bottom line, whether you have faith or not, thousands of miles away there is boy who is getting a second chance at life from my monthly payments and continuous letters of support.
Every four to six months I wait anxiously for his letters that have a short paragraph of his recent accomplishments in school and updates on his health. Daudy also draws pictures on every letter and tells me about his interests in music and how one day he dreams of being a police officer.
It is organizations such as Compassion that prove there is still hope for children in the worst parts of the world. Children like Daudy, who lives Sukur, Indonesia, face diseases in their community and have homes made up wooden walls and cemented floors. Adults make on average $78 a month in this area. In the United States, their monthly salaries could equal one electric bill or a tank of diesel fuel.
Daudy has changed me as a person in more ways than one and has shown me the outcome of selflessness. Not to mention, he is the leading inspiration in my future career as a journalist.
He is the driving force that keeps me pushing to become a better writer and storyteller in hopes that one day a publication will allow me to go to Indonesia and meet Daudy face-to-face and write an article on the Compassion foundation and express the power and impact of helping a stranger get through the hardships of life.