Friday, 16 January 2015

From Oklahoma to Rwanda: Part 2

Here is Part Two of my interview with Sharon Banning. Sharon traveled to Rwanda with Shelter Them in November of 2014 to meet her sponsored child, Jean D’Amour. If you missed Part One of her story, you can read it here: Part One

Hannah: Out of all the things Jean D’Amour said to you, what impacted you the most?

Sharon: There were two things that Jean D'Amour said that impacted me tremendously. The first was when he told me how grateful he was that I had sponsored him. He said he understood that his Mama was not able to take care of him (she suffered a traumatic brain injury caused by a machete during the Rwandan genocide and did not even recognize her own children) but now he had another Mama who would love him and take care of him and his future was bright. How blessed I felt to be able to offer this amazing child hope for the future!
The second thing he said left me totally speechless. We were having a conversation about his dreams and plans for the future. My sister Sherry's sponsored boy, Jean Claude, was translating as Jean D'Amour's English is not great yet. When I asked him what he wanted to do when he finished school he quietly and confidently replied, "I want to be the Minister of Youth and Fitness." Wow! What a goal he has set for himself. And I know, with our help and encouragement, he will achieve that goal. I feel in my heart he is special and is destined for greatness.

Hannah: Out of all the time you spent together, what was your favorite moment?

Sharon: Every moment I spent with Jean D'Amour was special so I can't really say there is one particularly special time. But let me list a few. The first time I met him was extra special, especially listening to him offer his thanks to us all. The chats we had at the Shelter them office were lovely. I especially liked watching him dance with the other boys in our Shelter Them family. He was so focused on the task at hand and you could see how important it was to him to get his steps right. I also thoroughly enjoyed bringing him shoe shopping and getting him new football shoes and socks. Football is a passion of his and he practices every afternoon to hone his skills. It made me feel good to be able to provide him with the proper equipment to play. The day we spent at Akagera National Park seeing the big animals was unforgettable. His favourite animal was the giraffe. That trip will give him memories to treasure for a lifetime. Then our last day together I got to interview him with Jules interpreting and Lee videotaping it so I could give my husband a glimpse of our boy. He told me a little of his story before coming to join our family two years ago and again expressed his gratitude for all we had done for him. He went on to talk a little about his future goals. He wanted to go visit his Mama and I was able to provide him with the resources to get there. I constantly joked with him and teased him about being so SERIOUS. Sherry's Jean Claude patiently explained to me that he had a very difficult life before coming to Shelter Them and he was not even talkative when he was in the company of his brothers at home. I told him he had to practice his smile and charged Jean Claude with the task of teaching my boy how to smile by my next visit. AND I WILL GO BACK AGAIN!

Hannah: Before you met Jean D'Amour, did you have any communication with him? (i.e. letters, Facebook, etc.)

Sharon: I had received two letters from Jean D'Amour over the past year. But they were very impersonal. I did not reply to either of the letters. I'm not sure why but I do know I will keep in close contact until I am able to visit him again. I am very anxious to keep up with his progress and want to offer praise and encouragement to help him achieve his goals. I need my boy to know he has someone who cares very deeply for him and who will always be there for him. He promised to send me a report on his visit with his Mama. So I am anxiously awaiting that communication. I pray the visit went well. It was scheduled for the end of November while he is still on school break.

Hannah: What would you say to anyone wondering whether to sponsor a child?

Sharon: What would I say to anyone wondering whether to sponsor a child? I would tell them not to hesitate. Sponsorship will offer hope to those precious children who have no hope and the blessings will be returned to you many times over. Think of how you would feel to know you were responsible for giving these children a future filled with love and promise. And that is exactly what Shelter Them provides for their children, with your help. They give them a loving home, health care, food, education, clothing, and the security to know that their future will be bright. A donation of $40 per month will provide all that. A small financial sacrifice will offer hope to a child in Rwanda who now has no hope. James 1:27 look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. I challenge you to obey His word and to help look after these orphans in Rwanda. I know it will change your life as it has changed mine.

Hannah: Would you encourage an existing sponsor to write to/visit their children?

Sharon: I know for some, just sponsoring a child will be a financial sacrifice and visiting a sponsored child is just not possible. But, I also know the blessings I received from getting the opportunity to do a mission trip to Rwanda and to see my sponsored child. So...would I encourage an existing sponsor to visit their child/children? Absolutely! Our 2014 mission trip consisted of people from many walks of life. For some, it was a huge financial sacrifice to make this trip. They saved for two years and did without a lot to be able to do this. But I know for certain that everyone there was blessed more than I can say.  I am a better person just by having the opportunity to be in the company of these amazing people. Yes. I would definitely encourage sponsors to do a mission trip but if you can't, you should certainly write and communicate with your sponsored child. They are treasures and we need to get to know them, help them, encourage them and love them. It will change their lives and also change yours.

Sharon, thank you so much for allowing me the privilege to share your amazing story. To see how you have been radically transformed by this trip and how you have become so passionate about helping other in need really touched my heart. 

To learn more about Shelter Them and our kids in Rwanda, please visit 

1 comment:

  1. Jean sounds like an incredible young man. What a precious time was spent with sponsor mother and son.