Sam, Pastor Will, and Rob made a special trip to Valbrune to oversee completion of our Secure Perimeter project. Ahead of the trip, we raised funds and sent the money to buy the materials necessary to pour 170 concrete posts. Counting on the help of several men in the local communities, holes were dug around the perimeter for each post. Next, the men stood each post up and then filled the holes with stones the women and children had gathered earlier that day and then finished securing them with concrete. We also fed the entire community of workers and their families for lunch. It was a great experience to see all the smiling faces from the satisfaction of hard work and a well-deserved meal. The concrete was left to cure overnight, and the next day, our local construction team set to work running barbed wire around the entire perimeter. A couple of gates were built, as well, for access to the property. After the work was completed, the construction team was payed for their work. Many were overcome with gratitude telling us what a difference this income would make for their families.
During the trip, we took the 2 hour, arduous hike up to Chatry for church. A few families from Valbrune went with us, and Kardonel came down with his donkey to carry our bags and water to make the climb a little easier. It was a wonderful service with beautiful singing from the children of Chatry, and Pastor Will gave the sermon. Following the service, Pastor Silne invited us to his home for lunch, and we were able to bless him with a love offering for all that he does for the people of Chatry.
On the way back down from Chatry, we stopped at the homes of several of our sponsored children to meet with them and their families to share pictures of their sponsor. We took video of this and gave them an opportunity to thank their sponsor. Many times we were moved to tears hearing them give such heartfelt gratitude.
Another enjoyable experience of the trip was getting to take several of our sponsored children and everyone in their family to a restaurant for dinner. Many had never been in a restaurant and became cold very quickly from the air conditioning, something they’d never experienced. Everyone got a huge plate of food, drinks, and ice cream. The table was full of happy faces and kids dancing in their chairs while they ate. We left with full stomachs and full hearts.
Near the end of the trip, we came across two teenaged cousins who were not in school on a school day. After a conversation with them, we learned that both of their fathers were deceased and their mothers could not afford to send them to school. Subseqently, they spend their days in their garden planting vegetables. We spent a while with them gathering video in order to make a short film about their situation in hopes that we could find them a sponsor.