I have a son.
Now, sure, some might say he's not a "blood relation," that he "lives in Zambia," or that he's "my sponsor child."
But those are just words, really.
As far as I'm concerned, Davison has always been my son. I even have his photo on my fridge, a space I normally reserve for Dominos, Post-it notes and Post-it notes reminding me how much I eat pizza so I feel guilty.* (* Not true. You can never eat too much pizza).
Davison is 9. He lives with his parents and three siblings in a concrete block house probably the size of my bedroom, without electricity or indoor plumbing or Tivo. He's from Zambia, which I'd point out to you on a map of Africa if ninth-grade geography and years of American ethnocentrism hadn't screwed me.
His family monthly income is $46, which is about how much I spent at Olive Garden last weekend.**
And here's the thing: I can't see a possible scenario in which I can stop sponsoring Davison.
Now, it's not like I need or want to cut him off right this second. But there have been many times in the four or so years I've been sponsoring D-dawg that I thought,"Good God, I can't afford a freakin' snack cake, and yet I'm sending $22 a month to a boy on the other side of the world."
As some of you might have experienced, it's like when they ask for donations at church, and you wonder when they will set up a charity in your honor.
Four years worth of $22 a month works out to be about $1,000. Being that I'm a journalist, $1,000 is the equivalent of about 10 years' worth of salary*** (*** Exaggerated for effect.)
But, in Zambia, that's enough each month to help feed a family, to help ol' D go to school, get medication, update his Facebook status, and to get clothing, although hopefully nothing that was soooo last fall.
No matter how hard it may be here from time to time, it's much tougher there. I don't even need a Sarah McLachlan song to play for me to know that.
And that, my friends, is how I'll likely end up Davison's sponsor until he's an adult. Or has become a dad. Or has moved to America to be on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
Really, there's no way out, and I think Children International knows it. It's quite the racket: Once you start sponsoring a kid, you can't ever stop.
It's not like you can write them a letter saying, "Hey, I know you were counting on my money to help you eat and all, but dang it if Verizon didn't offer me an Internet upgrade for my cell. Now I can Google 'Megan Fox' while watching a movie with Megan Fox! C'mon, Davison, it's Megan Fox! Transformers! You know! Wait, you don't know? ... You don't have a movie theater around you? ... There's not a flat screen to be found? ... Well, surely you just jump on Firefox and... not that either? How do all the teenage boys spend their time, then, if they can't sneakily look up dirty photos? ... They what?!?"
So, Davison, I guess we're in this for the long haul. I pray that although Children International says you are 4-foot-2, you are actually 6-foot-11 and a basketball prodigy who will remember your pops when you sign your first pro contract.
But if you don't, I guess I'll be satisfied knowing I helped keep you healthy all these years. I am keeping you healthy, right? You're not just stuffing this money under your sleeping mat so you can save up for rims, are you?
If you do, I won't blame you. Just e-mail me the pho ... I mean, just keep sending those crayon-colored drawings. They look nice on my fridge.
** That was for a one-year anniversary dinner with Capricorn. Happy anniversary, babe. It's been one year since this happened. Thank you for not ending up like this girl and instead becoming the love of my life.
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