Matsiko in Africa means Hope. And that's just what these kids brought to our sleepy little Village by the Sea.
The Matsiko World Orphan Choir rolled into San Clemente on Thursday afternoon April 25th. Their two day stay was brief but also powerful and life changing.
Our family opened our home and hearts to three girls. One from Liberia Africa and two from Peru: Veronica (12 yrs.), Mariella (8yrs.) and Lady (11yrs).
Every year hundreds of families and kids from orphanages walk for miles to try out to join the Matsiko Choir. The organization is called The International Children's Network. They take these kids on a year long tour of the U.S. performing. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for these kids. The goal is to empower these children and show them what their potential in life can be. After the tour is over they return to their homes or orphanage with a higher awareness of who they are and what they can become. With sponsorship they've obtained they often go up to the university level eventually becoming doctors,engineers or have a valuable and marketable skill.
If all of the forgotten orphans and at risk children held hands they could circle the globe 13 times. That statistic staggered me. All the organizations like the ICN and world vision that dedicate themselves to helping these children only are able to affect less than 1%.
My knees went weak when I learned this. As I stared across my dinning room table at these three precious girls I suddenly felt so helpless and insignificant.When I signed up for my family to host I patted myself on the back. Little did I know that was just the tip of the iceberg. Now my brain was split wide open with this knew awareness and understanding. I became obsessed with thoughts of, "What more can we as a family do?!"
My first thought was, let's adopt one! Isn't that what we do in this country? We blaze our way into these third world countries and rescue these poor waifs and bring them back to our Land of Plenty. Thinking we've done our part for humanity. Our hearts are in the right place. I've learned another valuable way to help.
I was enlightened by David, one of the amazing men working for the organization as a chaperon. He explained to me that we empower these children through the experience of touring with the choir and sponsorship they can then go back to their country of origin as a beacon of light and hope for other children. They will have an understanding of what it means to work and study hard to succeed and prosper in life. Becoming an inspiration to their peers. Breaking the cycle of poverty. In Essence, teaching them to fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime, as the old saying goes.
Great!! We will sponsor one of our three girls. How do you go about the agonizing process of choosing just one? When we inquired about this we were informed which one needed it the most. Still, we didn't want to hurt the other girl's feelings. We were assured they are taught to be happy for one another and that there is enough to go around. How Science of Mind!
The sponsored one would be Lady, the 11 yr. old Peruvian girl.When the chaperon shared the news with Lady that we would be her sponsor family she ran to me and flung her arms around my waist nearly knocking me off my feet. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and thanked me over and over again. She did the same with my husband. I now think I know what it would feel like to win the lottery. Although I bet this is a little sweeter. My heart was absolutely bursting with love for this child.
Other touching moments was watching my own girls playing and interacting with all of the kids in the choir. Noticing with joy their new awareness of the whole situation. How they helped take care of our three girls we hosted. Listening as my girls conversed in Spanish with the Peruvians and playing with abandon on the beach with these beautiful beings. I don't know who received more gifts of the heart, The Matsiko children or all of the host families.
As they left town early Saturday morning in a wake of tears our family walked away changed. We now have better awareness and the knowledge that we can make a difference in the world one child at a time.
The Matsiko Choir and all the people involved promised to return to San Clemente next year and stay longer. I passionately urge everyone to open your hearts and homes to these amazing children. One caution though, prepare to fall head over heels in love!!