When we visit our sponsored kids, especially when it's a first-time visit, Ward and I always ask to visit their homes if possible. In my experience, there's no better way to get a picture of what their actual, day-to-day lives look like than to see where they live, starting with the neighborhood as a whole, then their street, then realizing you're on their block, and then seeing the house itself, and if you're really being taken into the fold, maybe even their room (I'd say maybe about a third of our girls have shown me their rooms).
When we visited Karen in Barranquilla earlier this year, we were especially excited to see her house. A few months before our visit, we had sent the funds to get her a new bed and a wardrobe to store her clothes, so we were looking forward to seeing the actual items from the pictures. As we got our tour of the home, though, there was something else that really stuck in both of our minds.
First, let me say something that's going to seem really obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway - it's hot in Colombia. Really, really hot. We went out into the family's back yard, which was mainly dirt, and Karen's mom, Yolanda, pointed at a small pile of sticks. Laughing, she said, "And this is our kitchen!" She explained that they cook over an open fire in the back yard, but that they were hoping to build an actual kitchen onto the house at some point.
We then went on to have an amazing day with Karen and Yolanda, which you can read about here https://www.our-ci-adventures.com/blog/our-visit-with-karen if you missed it back in April, but in the back of my mind, there were wheels turning, thinking about Yolanda cooking outside over an open fire every day. Did I mention that it's hot in Colombia? Like, really, really hot? So Ward and I talked it over, and then we talked it over with CI, and then we got some help from a few generous friends and family members, and guess what, guys - WE BUILT KAREN'S FAMILY A KITCHEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
At long last, we have received the final report, a letter from Karen and pictures of her shiny new kitchen! The report reads:
Karen and her mother, Yolanda, are very glad because they now are able to enjoy a new kitchen.
Before this construction work, Yolanda had to cook outdoors and the heat in the backyard area was really unbearable and even dangerous for the lady's health, who kept exposed to sunbeam while [she] cooked.
The family sent Ms. Crockett a world of gratitude and thanks for thinking about their well-being.
Karen's thank you letter reads:
Dear Jessica Crockett,
I don't get tired of thanking you for this great heart of yours, for allowing me to improve my family environment because now my mom can cook in a good space because she deserves it, because she has striven a lot for me and my siblings, I want to tell you on behalf of all my family that the kitchen is very beautiful, now I feel like cooking. I would like to prepare a delicious special meal for you the next time you come back, a typical dish of my region. Few people reach out to help somebody you don't know, but I was blessed that you were in my path. God has something special prepared for you.
Goodbye with much love,
We are in the process of making arrangements to go back to Barranquilla early next year, since Karen will turn 19 on Valentine's day and will graduate from CI's program shortly thereafter - we will definitely be asking to visit her home a second time so we can see the new kitchen.