Two friends. 8,397 miles apart.
We couldn’t be more different. I live in a privileged neighborhood in one of the most opportunistic countries in the world, inhabiting a cozy home with my loved ones. She lives in a poverty-stricken community in a third world country.
So how do we know each other?
At a young age, I was taught to help others. When I was seven-years-old, my parents handed me a picture of a girl my age from the Philippines and introduced her as Myrna. They explained how she was our sponsored child; every month we’d send her money to provide financial aid for school, clothes, and other activities. We would write back and forth, sending everything from Christmas cards to just a quick update about what had been going on in our lives.
Even though we were so different, we had some in common. She was a student, as was I. She cared so much for her family and would do anything for them, similar to me. She was passionate about school and learning: determined to get the best possible education she could. She went to social events and danced with friends.
She also experienced the loss of a family member. In a heart-shattering letter, Myrna described to me the accidental murder of her older brother. I sobbed for her from the other side of the world. I knew how it felt. At a young age, my mother had been taken from me too soon. I wrote her and connected with her, assuring her that God would help her through this difficult situation.
The money we were giving her every month helped her a lot, yes, but I also believe she saved me too. When I was seven, I thought I was just doing a good deed to help out a needy person. But we grew up together. We wrote letters. We knew each other. She taught me so much: not only about her culture and family, but about God and her undying faith. To me, that’s pretty amazing.
However, we all know that every story can’t always have a happy ending. Myrna wrote me a letter on June 29th that are now stained with dried tears. She wrote my entire family thanking us for all we’d done for her throughout these past eight or so years, but said with a heavy heart we were no longer able to sponsor her because she couldn’t continue going to school due to financial reasons. Her parents (even with our assistance) couldn’t afford to pay for her education anymore. She made the decision to get a job to support her family. In that instant, I knew the little girl I’d been writing for the past eight years had grown up. Every time I read the passage of the letter directed at me, I miss her more and more.
“To Abbey,” she wrote. “I will be missing you, my dear friend. You are very lucky to have your mom and dad so obey them, love them, and do well in your studies and my dear sponsor, you will always be in my prayers. I’ll continue to pray for your guidance and safety. I hope that there will still be a lot of children that you will be helping through CFCA. On behalf of my parents, thank you for everything that you did for us. I know that God will forever bless you for your goodness. Until here, my dear sponsors. Goodbye and God bless you always.
Your sponsored youth,
Myrna G. Manuel”
And just like that, my friend disappeared from my life.
I obeyed Myrna’s request and recently started sponsoring another girl from the Philippines, but I’ll never forget Myrna. Though I cannot write her anymore, I know that we are still together in our hearts. I hope that someday I’ll have the honor of meeting this wonderful individual who I was lucky enough to call a friend for eight years.
To learn more about saving someone in need (and even yourself) click here to be transferred to the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.