Entries in success stories (1)
At first glance, Genn blends right in with her students. A slight young woman, you’d easily think she was only 12 or 13. Sweet and shy, Genn has undergone tremendous transformation.
Ten years ago, life was tenuous. Genn, one of five children, knew that her widowed mother, Francine, was struggling to support Genn and her siblings as well as their grandmother. They lived in a three-sided hut (often called a squatter’s hut) made out of scavenged materials; the entire family slept on the floor. They cooked meals over a fire outside and had no bathroom.
Every day was a struggle for Genn’s family. Genn and her siblings should have been in elementary school, but often her mother needed them to help take vegetables into the city to sell. On the days they were able to attend, many times they only made it a half day – the children were so malnourished and weak that they were often ill.
At age nine, Genn and three of her siblings were enrolled at Happy Horizons Academy, a One Child Matters program. The project found work for Genn’s mother in the kitchen. With more stable income, the children were able to stay in school, and the health of the entire family improved.
Genn began to enjoy school and never missed the Saturday and Sunday group activities where they learned about God’s love and how to be healthier and happier citizens of the world. The faithfulness of her childrens’ sponsors made an impact on Francine, who often remarked that she learned about God and how He took care of them through the love and kindness of the others.
As she grew older, Genn wanted to find a way to reinvest what was given to her – the project had restored her and her family to health, they had nurtured them with love, and they had given her hope for the future. She announced she wanted to go to college and become a teacher.
Genn excelled in her first few semesters at the college, and her siblings continued to do well at the project. Her mother, now a full-time cook at Happy Horizons, was providing for the family. But then Francine fell ill with a fever and was taken to the hospital. Within a few days, Francine died.
The family was devastated. Three of Genn’s siblings were still at home with their elderly grandmother. Without an income, they could not pay for her mother’s funeral expenses, and Genn could not pay to finish college.
And yet, God continued to be faithful. The sponsors stood by the children, and the project pooled resources to pay for the funeral for their friend and fellow coworker. Genn qualified for an extra scholarship and returned to school.
Earlier this year, she graduated and fulfilled a dream: she was hired to teach at the Happy Horizons Academy. Now Genn is providing for her siblings while investing in children in her community.
Genn looks back on her time at the project as absolutely formative, and as she graduated, she sent a letter to her sponsor:
"No words can express how grateful I am to have a sponsor like you. Thanks to God so much for that. After four years in college, now I am soon to graduate and it would not be possible without your kind heart and support. Thank you so much for leading me towards this achievements. You are a great part of my success. Thank you. Thank you so much! I know God will bless you more and more and give you strength always. May you help and change more lives. May God take care of you always. I love you dear sponsor."
Genn’s sponsor shared this with us and provided her own acknowledgement:
The thing is, I think of Genn as so much more than a "sponsor child".... she is like my own daughter. It is I who has been blessed by God to have her in my life. I thank God for HIS faithfulness when it came to being able to help support Genn through the years. Genn, I am so proud of how hard you have worked in spite of all the challenges you have faced... you are beautifully and wonderfully made! God truly is amazing that He brought you into my life!