— Georgia Ward about her sponsorship of Paul Zaake (pictured here)
On May 12th, 2006 my friend Herb Levin and I went to a wonderful Philadelphia venue called The Annenberg Center to see a Tour of Light performance. During intermission, we went into the lobby and saw books containing photos and histories of Ugandan children in need of sponsors. We decided it would be a blessing for us and the child to take on this responsibility, so we began looking.
I quietly asked God to guide our choice so that our sponsored child would bond with us even over long distance. I remember turning only a few more pages and getting a warm feeling from Paul Zaake’s picture – a young boy who lost both of his parents to AIDS.
So, our long distance “parenting” began. As time went on we looked forward to receiving Paul’s letters and I (who love to write) got so much joy in responding. I recall after about a year that Paul began referring to me as “Mom” in his letters, which made me feel so good. My friend Herb never married or had children of his own, so he was also delighted with Paul. Together, we even discussed traveling to Uganda to meet him.
Unfortunately, my dear friend Herb died unexpectedly in November of 2006. I decided to alert my friends that I wanted to partner with someone else to continue sponsoring. I did not want to abandon Paul as he had already suffered enough loss in his young life. And so, without hesitation, my friend Rita Roitman lovingly joined my adventure.
Paul graduated secondary school in 2011 and was accepted to Gulu University that following September to pursue a 3 year course in agriculture. Rita and I were so happy for him! Paul informed me that he would be visiting COU’s office in Kampala to finalize his university admittance. The thought occurred to me that I could possibly talk to Paul for the first time, and then on a bright Monday morning I received the best surprise. I had a voicemail message from Pamela Brannon that Paul was with her and to call back ASAP. That phone call, full of smiles and tears, was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
To cover Paul’s university expenses, Rita and I reached out to our network of family, friends and neighbors for support – together, we made it possible! Today, Paul is thriving and he has kept us all informed of his studies and adventures through letters and photos. He recently completed his final university exams and is anticipated to graduate this October, 2014.
I learned at a very young age that when we reach out to those in need, the domino effect is a positive one and those black and white disks create a beautiful design. I believe that God brought the right people together on life’s stage to create this story of love and outreach that has many more chapters to be written. In fact, at the top of my bucket list is still a trip to Uganda to meet my far away adopted son. I know God will provide the means and the way.
Love and Peace to you Paul,
Mom (Georgia Ward)
We help you give a hand UP to Ugandan children and women in need + share the joy.
Each child who is educated, fed and safe is a strong foundation for peace.
Each self-supporting woman makes a community thrive. Each beat of music carries the joy of a nation.