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The girl I've never met in Cambodia - [Day 5 of Thankfulness]

currently: listening to 'California' by Grimes

Day 5 - The girl I've never met in Cambodia:
Around July last year I had set a new ambition to complete a year long Happiness Project. A focus on me and doing things that would make me a happier person each morning.

It started well enough. I began thinking about how to treat myself better, thinking and saying more positively, making plans with the money I was saving, and spending more time with people who wanted to spend time with me.

All in all, it seemed like a good start. I noticed a change in myself, and became excited about doing things like going out to eat at fancy places, and going on trips away from Auckland.

It was about a similar time that my church was doing a World Vision pledge. We have one every few months where my church gives an update of what's happening in the community we're sponsoring in Cambodia, what happened on the last mission's trip and so forth. We then say prayers for them, take a missions offering for the community, and then at the end they said if we were interested, we could sponsor a child.

I was a bit curious at the kids they had talked about during the service, but at the time didn't have much intention for sponsoring a kid. I mean I had trips to save for. I had birthdays to buy presents for, for a trip to Wellington I had just paid accommodation for, and a trip to Australia I had yet to book anything for. I needed to save that money for my own problems - I couldn't be much help to them.

As I stared at the faces of these children, with these excuses running about my head, my friend approached us, and he noticed me staring at the World Vision booklets.

"You should sponsor one," he encouraged me.

"Oh...I don't know. I'm just looking at the moment," I said, trying to talk myself out of the subject.

"They say you should think of your money in four parts. One portion of your money to save, one to spend, one for the church and one portion for charity."

At that moment, I thought about the way I had been treating my money. I thought my church donations helped to fulfill charities but I wasn't directly contributing to anyone. In fact, I was pretty selfish. Other than the 10 per cent I give out of my salary to the church each month, I was either spending or saving money for myself, or the people close to me. But giving money to a child's family - that benefits them way more.

I became convinced. I may think I don't have that much money, but it's worth hundreds more to a community who values every cent.

I looked at the children I could choose to sponsor for a long time, feeling guilty I couldn't just give money to all of them. But eventually I decided on a 13-year-old girl from Cambodia. Mainly cause I was worried that being 13, she'd become ineligible to be sponsored for much longer. I knew people often chose younger kids to sponsor cause they're cuter. But I felt drawn to help her. Life is tough at 13 but I know my life here couldn't compare to hers.

I took her photo and put it into a frame which I could put at my desk at work. I didn't actually have any photos on my desk until I put her photo there. I use her photo as a reminder that even when I have a bad day at work, there was a reason why I was there. Someone was counting on me and was appreciating me helping their community, even if I wasn't physically there to do so.

A few months later, I got her letter. She told me about her family, her school and how she loved riding her bike the most. I couldn't help but be really stoked to receive it. I've never met this girl in my life but I just felt like I had taken her into my family, to care for her and to hope she's safe.

Thank you Sreinuon for giving me another good reason to wake up each morning.

[note: this post is in no way endorsed by World Vision or any religious organisation.]

For the month of January 2016, I'm writing 31 personal stories about things in my life I'm thankful for. See all my posts during my month of thankfulness here.

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