Growing up, I’d always wanted a twin sister. As I got older, I understood that what I yearned for wasn’t so much a twin but simply a sister around my age.
I had the privilege of finally meeting such a person four years ago. Our encounter came in the form of a letter and drawing from Guadalajara, Mexico. More than 16 letters and seven photos later, both of us are all grown up and have become close friends, if not sisters.
Tania is the youngest of five. She was my first sponsored child. I knew we’d get along the moment I read how she signed her letter to me as “Thania.” (My favorite book character, Anne, from “Anne of Green Gables,” also added an extra letter to her name to add elegance!)
Through our letters, I learned we are only two years apart. I’ve also learned her favorite hobbies, books and bands. She’s a great artist but hopes to become a doctor one day. And I’ve realized our mutual love of smiley emojis in our correspondence.
The more we’ve gotten to know each other, the more Tania has become an important part of my life. I feel as though she’s right beside me when I read her letters. She’s hardworking, determined and displays perseverance — qualities that will get her far!
I’m so proud of her for seeking a career that will allow her to help others and save lives. I admire her selflessness and her big heart. For instance, a first-aid class in high school introduced her to other health workshops. She also visited nursing homes and orphanages, where, she said, “We talked, played, drew. I even dressed myself as a clown to make the children laugh!”
Never underestimate the joy that comes with writing your sponsored child.
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Tania’s victories are my victories, and I truly believe in her.
It isn’t easy juggling school, work, extracurricular activities, volunteering and an active social life, and all the more so in a poor and violent neighborhood. But, like so many CI kids, Tania doesn’t use this as an excuse.
Rather, she is becoming the change she wants to see in the world by charging forward with the same optimism and hope that I’ve come to love about her. Just like my supporting her through sponsorship fills me with joy, giving to others has the same effect on her!
No obstacle is impossible to overcome with the right mindset! Tania’s victories are my victories, and I truly believe in her. Shoot for the stars, girl. I know you can!
Tania doesn’t hold back from expressing her gratitude and appreciation. When someone helps her, she is sincerely grateful.
“Thank you so much for your support and for always helping me,” she wrote to me, after receiving extra gifts. “My family is really thankful to you, and we love you and wish you the best.”
My heart skipped a beat when I read that! It’s the first time I read that she and her family love me! (I love you, too, Tania!)
One thing I can stress is this: Never underestimate the joy that comes with writing your sponsored child. Looking back at everything we’ve shared, I am grateful Children International brought us together.
Exchanging letters makes it a 3-D experience! Our correspondence helped Tania and I cultivate a friendship that we both will remember for years to come.
Tania turned 19 a couple months ago and graduated from the CI program. She has come so far and has become a true ray of sunshine that brightens the lives of those she meets, especially mine. It was a bittersweet moment with tears of joy and flashbacks of fond memories. Hopefully, though, it won’t be goodbye — but, until we meet again.