Featured Person: Dorothée Clinton -Brooklyn, NY.
Dorothée is a multi-child sponsor through Children International and is a longtime Aura’s House supporter.
I live in Brooklyn, NY. I’m actually just finishing up pre-requisite classes to go back to school and become a nurse (in an accelerated program for people who already have a BA in something else. I have one in English). Hopefully I will be starting in the Fall and finishing next year. My sponsored children have inspired me in that way- I want to show them that it’s never to late to follow your dream or further your education. I live with my boyfriend and very friendly cat Loki. I sponsor 7 children (and 2 group sponsorships). I actually can’t remember how I stumbled across Aura’s House – it must have been through LiftOne! I sort of feel like it’s always been there. I really love reading about all the projects that you guys have done. I actually go through the archives a lot. It’s amazing how many lives you’ve changed with your site!
It was the summer of 2002, I was 17 years old, and facing one of the toughest choices in my life. College you say? No! That was worked out. I would be leaving soon to begin my college experience. New bedding, notebooks, Ramen noodles, etc. were already put aside in boxes just waiting to be stuffed in the car. No, my tough choice was which child to sponsor through Children International.My mother has always been a huge inspiration in my life. As a single mother, she raised me with love and compassion. It was her early involvement with Children International that let me see what a great organization this is. I would get excited with each annual photo, and more over every word that here children had written her. However, as much as my mother was happy to share with me, I knew that they were really her children, not mine.
Preparing to step out into the world on my own, I realized that so many children would never get the same opportunity. Why not give another child an opportunity that I was so fortunate to have? I decided that part of growing up was not only to take responsibility for myself but also my place in the world – and I think in some way we are all responsible for each other. So I vowed to sponsor a child, and pay for his/her expenses with the money I earned during the summer. It would take some advanced planning but I was confident I could do it.
So there I was browsing the Children International site – yep, even back in 2002 they had photos up! I remember though that there weren’t nearly as many children on the site as there are today. And yet, I browsed for HOURS. I paused on each one and clicked to learn more. I had no criteria; I didn’t know what I was looking for. I was on the verge of just deciding to send in the form and let them pick for me when I saw her. Ella.
She was adorable. I knew the moment I saw her that it was meant to happen. She didn’t have the same grin as some of the other children, instead she had a sort of half-smile where one corner of her mouth was slowly creeping its way up. She had personality, a challenge in her eyes. “Yes, I’m wonderful, but you couldn’t handle how wonderful I am!” She had a glint of mischief, but an overall kind demeanor. I noticed too that she was being raised by her mother – just like I had been. On the other hand, she had 5 sisters while I was an only child. How did her mother do it?!? At the time her family was earning under $50/month. I clicked the sponsor me button and I’ve never once regretted it.
Throughout college she taught me to be grateful for what I had, and taught me the importance of budgeting out my money. And through her letters, I saw what a bright and spirited young girl she was – and what a kind and compassionate woman she has become.
Today Ella is 18 years old. She’s older than the age at which I began sponsoring her. She is wise beyond her years, and has seen more of the world than I probably ever will. Her every letter is beautiful to read. Her writing skills are astounding and she moves me with her honest accounts of her life. She is aware of her situation, and always sweet to me, but I think it is her family that will always keep her moving forward. Hers is a very loving family.
I was happy to finally provide her mother last year with a washer and dryer machine. Her mother has spent the last decade (And probably longer) supporting the family by hand-washing clothing. She still has two daughters even younger than Ella to take care of. Ella said this was her mother’s dream and that I was her guardian angel. I wanted to tell her that instead it was Ella and her determined spirit that guided me throughout college and helped me become who I am today as an adult. I’m always amazed at how reciprocal sponsorship is. Ella has given me at least as much as I have given her.
This last year will be a challenge. She is 18, with a little under a year left in the program. I already dread that day. Of course I am proud of her. She stuck with her studies through high school, and is now working hard to help her family. I would have loved her to go to college but the reality is that sometimes that isn’t possible, even when the funds are there. But she is working in a computer shop which I hope will help her hone her skills and allow her to advance in time. As for me, I will correspond with her as much as possible during these last few months. I hope that she will choose to continue our correspondence after graduation, but no matter what I will always carry her in my heart. Ella my first sponsored child, my inspiration, my heart.
Dorothée is currently working on a personal project to help fund a community water project for another of her sponsored children and her Tabaco, Philippines community! Visit her water project.