As our car drove down the street, I instantly saw his beautiful face looking at us from the school steps. He was wearing his school uniform: off-kilter maroon tie, white shirt fitting snugly over his chubby belly, and maroon shorts. A smile was spread broad on his face as he waved to our car. I wanted to give him a squishy hug right away.
My Sponsor Child
Tude is my Bali sponsor child. For $130 per year he is able to attend primary school and receives all the necessary books, stationery, uniforms and vaccinations. As we get out of the car, I make my way over to him and his dad and sister. His dad speaks quite good English and heartbreakingly tells my dad and I that Tude had leukaemia three years ago, when he was five years old. He is thankfully in remission now. But his fragile, young frame also has epilepsy. He takes daily medication to prevent any attacks, but this costs a lot of money. Like a quarter of his father’s monthly wage he receives as a bus driver.
But you wouldn’t realise that after spending time with the family. They were so happy and thankful for the relatively small contribution I was making. I gave Tude a bag that had “I Love Australia” written across it. Inside was a t-shirt and notebook and pen. In return he presented me a handmade fan, which I have sitting on my desk at home.
As we were talking to his father he reached his chubby hand into his front pocket and pulled out the letter I had written him a few months earlier. For such a small child to hold onto something like that made me feel very special. He eagerly showed my mum and I his classroom and his desk. When it was time to take photos for me to treasure, he wouldn’t give me a smile. So I leant down and pulled his cheeks into one, which made him chuckle. I did get a keeper with him and my mum’s sponsor child.
We were only at the school for about 30 minutes but it is such a worthwhile experience to see where your money goes and how it helps the Sobongan villagers in inland Bali. Once the students finish primary school, they have the opportunity to go to high school but we do not keep sponsoring them. Instead we begin again with some fresh youngsters. Noel Allen, the organiser of the Bali School Kids Sponsorship Program, says this is because it is more important to give the local children a primary education then continue to sponsor them through high school. The more local children we can give an education the better.
I previously sponsored a girl named Mia, who I also got a chance to visit on two previous visits to Bali. I am determined to visit Tude again en-route to Australia in a year’s time.
As we went back to our car, Tude gave me a high five and waved as he joyfully walked to his house around the corner. His new bag was swinging on his shoulder. He called out “goodbye, goodbye” as I hopped into the back seat. I turned to soak in as much of him as I could before we turned and drove away. It is always moments like this that teach you to appreciate your life. Tude and his family have little compared to my comfortable life in Australia, yet they were so content and thankful. I am so grateful for Tude and the lessons these children teach me each time I visit.