Caline is an 11-year-old young girl residing in Rwanda, specifically staying at the Star School during the school year. She is full of life and is described by her teacher to be very playful and silly. Caline was orphaned at a young age, but she still has family members that live relatively close who she visits on school breaks. Living in Rwanda, her family knew firsthand the tragedy of the genocide 20 years ago. They knew all too well the pain, suffering, and sorrow, and yet are seeing hope restored in communities throughout their country.
Star School has provided a better life for Caline that she never before thought she could have. She is receiving a quality education, empowering her to dream big and pursue a bright future. With great ambition, she dreams of one day becoming the president so she can make a difference in her country.
Taylor LaBarbera sponsors Caline and first chose to sponsor in Rwanda because she planned on visiting there and hoped to meet her one day. Because of Caline’s tragic experiences, Taylor hoped to develop a friendship and become a source of encouragement to this young girl.
“Working as a volunteer biography writer for World Help exposed me to hundreds of children in need of support. I had known about child sponsorship my whole life, but I never believed that it actually made a difference for the children,” Taylor said. “After reading biography after biography, I was convinced there was a real need in the world, and I could make a difference for at least one of these children.”
Since beginning her sponsorship journey, Taylor has had the incredible opportunity to build a relationship with Caline through regular correspondence, participating in World Help’s birthday campaign, as well as visiting Rwanda on a mission trip. Although she was unable to meet Caline on this trip, she took a picture of herself while there and sent it to Caline telling her she would be praying for her.
Taylor mentioned that it was a life-altering trip and made her even more aware of the importance of sponsorship. “I realized that it wasn’t just $35 going to an organization, but it was $35 going toward a life, Taylor said. “This little girl who I had known on a poster card became real to me. I realized she was not a distant, foreign, and unreachable child . . . she was very much alive and needed my sponsorship.”
While in Rwanda, Taylor was able to see the reality of this country today and the incredible hope that is so evident in a place that went through so much unthinkable violence and tragedy. She described Rwanda as very confusing at first but yet so beautiful. Each person carries the weight of the genocide in some way, but the remarkable reality is that they are “modeling Christ’s forgiveness in ways that are only imaginary to most people,” Taylor said. They are each working together, whether victim or perpetrator, to rebuild their country and restore Rwanda.
Taylor’s sponsorship story and unique experience to visit her sponsored child’s home country is such a true example of what sponsorship is and what sponsorship looks like. It is investing in a life and impacting a future. It goes far beyond $35 per month and is impactful for both the sponsored child and the sponsor. By building relationships with these children, we have the unique opportunity to build futures and invest in lives. We can provide encouragement and let them know how much we value and love them even though we may have never met. Each life holds such incredible value, and we as sponsors have the opportunity to make a difference.