My dad.

I grew up in a very traditional Chinese household, with my dad at the head of the table (well, our dinner table was round – but you get what I mean).  Growing up, my dad’s word was always the final word.  His displeasure with our behavior was to be greatly feared.  Because of this dynamic, I grew up closer to my mom.  I simply didn’t understand my dad very much.  Over time, as I have gotten older, this dynamic has softened of course – but the fear has never been all together removed.

I remember there was a day where I suddenly noticed these magnets on the side of the kitchen refrigerator.  There were a couple young faces on there.  They didn’t look like happy children.  And somehow, I came to ask my dad about it while he was sitting in his regular, daily, solitary spot – the computer chair of his den.  Who were those kids on the fridge?

I was quite surprised when my dad told me they his sponsor children.  World Vision.

Having never been close to my dad, I was surprised to hear that he had such an interest in charity.  My dad is generally someone who never spends more than he has to.  The idea that he would set money aside to help poverty stricken children…I was in awe.  I asked him why, and he simply said he felt it would be good to help someone.  He said there had been so many children to choose from, so many countries with children in the same boat – it had been hard to decide.  In the end, he had chosen the children from our motherland.  It seemed to be a connection that was simple and at the same time, close to the heart.

I was close to tears when I heard this.  I was moved my dad’s kindness.  I think there were three different children’s face on the fridge.  He had sponsored a few.

I always thought that sponsor children were like… adopted kids almost.  That they were a part of the family.  And I wondered if these sad faced girls could be considered my sisters.  But my dad’s relationship to them was purely in the form of monthly financial help.  No emotional connection per say.  So – I guess they aren’t my sisters?  It’s hard to make myself believe it is so when the concept of these girls are so foreign.  They write letters, my dad said.  But they are, for the most part, generic.  And perhaps only sent because this is something they have been told they need to do.

I wonder about these girls halfway across the world.  Do they wonder about us?  My dad?  Does the money help them enough?  What difference does it make to their lives?  $1 a day.  I wonder.

I hope to one day have enough money to sponsor a child too.

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