We had heard last spring that one of our students in Cambodia, Sovanara, had stopped going to school because her mother was very ill and no longer could sell vegetables in the market. So Sovanara went to work in a factory to support her mother and younger brother.
We alerted her sponsor to the situation, and her sponsor would not let her go. She wanted us to do what we could to convince Sovanara to stay in school and offered to pay her factor salary of $100 a month. Her sponsor had met her on one of our trips a few years ago, and Sovanara told the sponsor that her dream was to go to medical school. Her sponsor hadn’t forgotten that.
So when we were in Cambodia last month we arranged to meet Sovanara and her brother at our hotel to tell her about the offer. Tragically, their mother had just died of AIDS the Thursday before we arrived. That left Sovanara and her brother alone. Maybe 50 years of factory work lay ahead of her because she was only 17 years old.
Our scholarship administrators in Cambodia, Sina and KC, talked with her about the offer to pay her to go to school and talked about how working in the factory would leave her little time to be with her brother. Sovanara agreed to think about it and the next day she decided she would go back to school even though she would be much older than many of her classmates.
In reality, her sponsor couldn’t afford the $100 a month payments in addition to her scholarship payment, because her husband is in school, and she is the only one working. But she was determined to find a way to help Sovanara to have a better life, a life of hope.
It turned out that one of the people in our group who met Sovanara said that she would write a check for her every year…$1,200 to pay her salary. The benefactor could more easily handle that $1,200 payment every year and was more than willing to help.
What do you make of this story? Does it remind you of the Gospel? The one lost sheep?
Sometimes we are able to catch a glimmer of what God’s love and generosity must be like. Those are sacred moments. May we each find them every day.