ACE has been sponsoring students for almost eight years now. We started with a few kids in the neighborhood that really needed help with food, clothing, books, taxi and shoes. Speeding forward, we now have close to 250 elementary and kindergarten students coming out of our communities of Hampstead, Galina, Water Valley, Mason Hall, and Heywood Hall.
The one-year commitment we originally made has quickly turned into a lifetime of learning and relationships between Jamaican families and their American sponsors. Even Allen and I have developed a special relationship with the families of our sponsored children, especially one in particular. Tahjebe, son of ACE’s own Lorna from Green Life Farms, is now on his way to the Caribbean Maritime University, a prestigious college in Kingston that has a 100% placement rate. Watching Tahj grow from a skinny little boy in Primary school to a skinny college man (smile) is a great marker to how this program prepares our students for future academic success.
This is Tahj’s last summer with ACE as he is preparing to enter the University and live on campus next month. Lorna, Tahj, and I were sitting around the kitchen table a few nights ago, reminiscing about Tahj as a child and how proud we are to be part of his life. Of course, his mother started crying and then Tahj got embarrassed – a typical mother/son relationship. She has always had big dreams for him, and now he is ready to find them for himself. Tahj wants to be a Ship Captain, which seems very achievable to me.
For those of you who sponsor students with ACE, we’d love to know the stories behind your child and how your stories have impacted your lives. Allen and I, while we don’t have children of our own, truly feel like we have a whole bunch of kids around us growing up fast. We are all making a difference in young lives, some here at home and some right next door.
What’s your story?? We would love to know!
~ Blessings, Marla & Allen
Many times I come across skeptics when they are visiting ACE in Jamaica who share with me the reason they “don’t” sponsor children “anywhere” in the world.
Where does “my” money go?
Is the child getting my letters?
If I come “there”, can I see them?
All I can say is yes, yes and all of the money goes towards the child!
That sounds incredible doesn’t it? It’s true, just ask any of our 200 sponsors who regularly write letters, send monthly support and visit their wonderful child in their homes.
Now, there are some risks involved in sponsoring an ACE child.
Risk #1 – You might fall in love with him or her.
Risk #2 – You might spend more money than you anticipated as the child grows into a better place of literacy, and living
Risk #3 – You might get a phone call after some time that your child’s parent is not fulfilling their commitment to keep your child eligible for sponsorship and is being dropped from the program or for some other reason that just doesn’t make sense to us in middle class America.
Risk number three is a hard one. We feel that our children are as special as the many friends and families that support them. We also have a commitment that our sponsors are as valued as our children. We have to be honest even when the story stinks. If you are some of the sponsors that have been through this, we understand and appreciate what you are doing to make a difference in Jamaica and for sticking with us even through the bumps in the road.
Some of you have been blessed to sponsor the same child for years and can see the changes and the smiles and the growth. We would love to share your stories and pictures on Facebook with the others that are still thinking about the risks.
Living on the edge is a good thing, and more often than not, the results are life-changing.