Love from the other side of the world

Sponsored child, John Kenneth, experienced the despair supertyphoon Haiyan brought. He couldn't believe the surprise he got when he heard the news his sponsors.

Imagine. You are a mother of three little children – ages six, two and eight months old. Typhoon Haiyan left you homeless and recovering has been a big challenge for your family as your house and livelihood were destroyed in the super storm.

And on the other side of the world, while you are experiencing the massive destruction, there is a couple whom you haven’t meet before, not once, who has deep concern for your family and especially for your six-year-old child.

How would you feel?

Two months after Typhoon Haiyan, families affected by the megastorm admit that they are having a hard time recovering despite all their efforts. They’ve spent all their hard-earned money to build a new house but their family’s source of income is destroyed. 

Elma is one of the many mothers who have been feeling down, just like other mothers impacted by Typhoon Haiyan.

But her feelings became lighter when Canadian sponsors decided to travel to the Philippines to visit and see Elma’s six-year-old son; the couples sponsored child.   

“I forget temporarily our problems, [our] difficult experiences during the typhoon and our worries on how to cope,” Elma says the moment she and her six-year-old child John Kenneth meet Canadians Darcy and Carolyn in World Vision office.

Elma and John Kenneth, along with a community volunteer, sit on a couch waiting excitedly for the visitors to arrive. “John Kenneth is so excited to meet his sponsors. Every morning, after he found out he will meet his sponsors, he keeps on asking me when they [the sponsors] will come,” Elma says.

“And on the day of the visit, he woke up so early at 5:00 in the morning and woke me up early to be ready and be early in World Vision office. That’s why we are very early here,” Elma says. 

The family’s house is nearly two hours bumpy ride from World Vision’s office. They live near the main river of the province, a river that swelled and surged when Haiyan struck, destroying their home.

When the Canadian couple arrive, John Kenneth welcomes them excitedly and gives them a native necklace.  Sponsors Darcy and Carolyn kneel down slightly for John Kenneth to hang the necklaces on the couple’s neck. John Kenneth tightly hugs his sponsors, just as if he was hugging his parents whom he hadn’t met for such a long time.

“I’m so happy to see the smile of John Kenneth in the moment he saw Sir Darcy and Ma’am Carolyn,” Elma says.

John Kenneth is the eldest son of Elma, 27, and Erwen, 32. He is one of the many World Vision sponsored child impacted by Typhoon Haiyan.  John Kenneth has been corresponding with Darcy and Carolyn other through letters course through World Vision but it’s their first time to meet each other.

“It’s not just a picture in our fridge. He is real,” couple Darcy and Carolyn says. The couple has 9 grandchildren and 5 children who live in Canada. 

For few hours, Darcy, Carolyn, John Kenneth and Elma catch up. They make a scrapbook for each other and exchange the scrapbooks.

After exchanging scrapbooks, Darcy and Carolyn gave John Kenneth gifts and gifts for the entire family, including his younger brother Erol.

And after few hours of catching up, they enjoy lunch in one of the famous fastfood joint Jolibee, which has been part of almost every Filipino childhood memories. But for John Kenneth it’s his first time to eat fastfood. His village relies on meals of fish and vegetables and going to a restaurant is a luxury, even in the best of times. John Kenneth is beaming – eating the spaghetti and fried chicken is a dream come true. 

Right after lunch, the group tours a museum where John Kenneth with the community volunteer, her mother and World Vision staffer share the history of the province.

After more than five hours of bonding, John Kenneth, Elma and the community volunteer bid one another goodbye to catch up the last trip to go back home. But before they park ways, they have messages for each other.

“I’m so happy to see my sponsors and I’ll pray for them to have good health,” John Kenneth says in his own dialect.  As they part, John Kenneth cannot stops saying ‘thank you’ to his sponsors. Just like John Kenneth, Elma keeps on thanking Darcy and Carolyn for the visit.

“We are so happy to meet you in person and I’m very thankful that you took time to travel and meet my child especially that we just faced the disaster. Thank you so much for the love you are giving to my child. You just don’t know how you make my family and especially my child happy,” she says on her own dialect.

“Back in our country, we are very materialistic and we can’t imagine how John Kenneth’s family is coping after the disaster. I’ve seen the pain in their eyes but we admire their resiliency. We admire the strength that Elma has. This visit is really a humbling experience for us,” Carolyn says. 

“And we are very glad that you are all safe after the typhoon. We have been thinking of you every day,” Carolyn says to John Kenneth and Elma.

Before they part ways, John Kenneth and Elma leave to catch the last trip going back to their village, everyone became emotional. They exchange wishes and prayers and hugs and kisses.

“We wish and pray for you to have a long, happy and blessed life. We want to see you go to school and be a nice man,” Carolyn says teary-eyed to John Kenneth who is sitting in the middle of the couple.




by Maryann Zamora / Field Communications Specialist