Published: 00:01, 18 July 2017
A Medway supermum and her daughter have returned from a mercy mission to poverty-stricken Uganda where they met the girl they befriended 10 years ago for the first time.
In an emotional meeting, mum-of-13 Tania Sullivan and Caitlin, 17, were introduced to orphan Opisia Doreen, who the family have “adopted”.
Opisia is one of four youngsters from all over the world who are being supported with health care and education by the Sullivan family, from Hoo.
Their trip had to be postponed twice at the last minute after Tania, 42, lost her father and brother to cancer within months of each other.
After keeping in touch with Opisia by post over the years she recalled the moment they met.
She said: “She was dancing and singing and so very affectionate. I don’t think I will ever forget her sincere gratitude.
“I asked what being sponsored had done for her.
"‘It has given me a bright, bright future’, she answered. I felt extremely humbled.”
Tania became involved with Compassion, a global child care charity, after being told she was showing signs of a miscarriage with her sixth child, Oliver, now aged six.
As Tania and husband Mike, a 44-year-old joiner feared the worst, she started to research the charity’s work.
She said: “I was going through an emotional time. I felt I was losing my baby and wanted to replace it with another one.”
Within a week they had sponsored Opisia, and Hilario, a 10-year-old from Honduras.
Tania’s pregnancy with Oliver ended happily and he shares a birthday with Hilario.
The Sullivans, who live in Aveling Close, Rochester, also sponsor Wajeeda, 15, from Sudan and nine-year-old Richecarde, paying £25 a month for each of them to improve their way of life.
The mother and daughter also saw first-hand some of the projects Compassion has overseen in the African country during their week-long stay.
She said: “It is difficult not to feel a gratitude for what I have, but I also feel a strong determination to do more – to speak out more and to spread the word about the value of child sponsorship.
“It takes a single person to make a small change, just one person.
"That small change creates a ripple effect, so the small change we think is affecting just one child actually filters through to whole families, to communities and further and further.
“That change you have created, that life you have impacted, the effects continue infinitely through so many veins.
"I have seen that in action and I wasn’t prepared for that realisation – it blind-sided me.
“Together, we can change the future for so many. Eventually, this will change the world. I am determined to be a part of that change.”
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