by Donna Vliet

“We saw her picture,” George McDonald said of Singane Ly from Tattaguine, Senegal, Africa. “She had a sad look on her face. She looked like she needed help.”

George and his wife, Mary Jim, learned of the World Vision sponsorships in the early 2000s through a Covenant display on the patio. That’s when they started sponsoring Singane, believing it was something they could do for a child of our world in a very direct way; their experience has brought them a personal connection to this young African girl.

Early in their sponsorship, the World Vision rules stipulated that the couple could not have direct contact with the girl. That changed a few years later and, since then, George and Mary Jim have exchanged letters and even sent monetary donations to Singane and her family. Singane’s family has purchased a goat, bags of grain and other necessities, which George said have affected not just her life but the entire village.

After receiving a special Christmas monetary gift, Singane’s father wrote: “I have received the money that you have given to me and my family. With this money, I have bought one beautiful goat!”

Singane, who speaks French, works with a teacher to correspond with the McDonalds. She wrote, “I have also bought many kinds of shoes and clothes for me and my sister and brother.”

Mary Jim said Singane is still in school and is a good student. “She wants to be a police officer. Every time we write to her, we tell her to stay in school. I hope that has been at least part of the reason she is still in school.”

George added that another benefit of the relationship has been his increased knowledge of that region of the world. “I didn’t know anything about Senegal, but now I’ve read a lot about the country. I have better thoughts about that part of the world.”

Covenant began World Vision Child sponsorships in 2003 and currently sponsors 50 or more children. World Vision’s time commitment is 20 years. Tattaguine is in Phase 3, the final phase of sponsorship. In this phase, the community becomes more self-sufficient, a sustainable plan for the future is determined and finally, World Vision leaves. World Vision will complete its community goals there by 2024. Read more about the community here

Some children in Tattaguine still need sponsors. To learn more about sponsoring a child, go, or contact Melissa Gaskill or World Vision liaison Donna Vliet.

“It has been a neat experience,” Mary Jim said.

“I call her my little girl,” George said with a laugh. “I do really feel close to her.”