When I sat writing my first book, in hours snatched here and there from caring for my toddler and baby, I never imagined some of the surprising events that would result. One that continues to unfold is the generosity of a Scottish old age pensioner.
Jean (as we shall call her) read about Guinea Pig For Breakfast in the Church of Scotland magazine, and promptly obtained a copy. Inspired by the stories she read, she got in touch asking to be the sponsor of a child in Ecuador. We happily sent her details of a five year old girl, Laura, who has seven siblings and lives with her mother and grandmother in a house lent to them by a family member. The only income for the family is the few dollars a day the mother earns washing clothes by hand for other families.
Laura and her mother were delighted to learn that Laura had a sponsor and to receive financial help so that Laura could attend school. Jean did not stop there. Soon we had a message informing us that she had made provision in her will to continue supporting Laura until she finishes school and that she was planning a visit to meet Laura and her family.
Already over 70 years old, Jean was not deterred by the long journey. A single, retired primary school teacher, she was free to travel and was determined to do so. Despite dire warnings from the Ecuadorean Embassy staff in London of the treacherous road to Santo Domingo, Jean booked her flight, bus rides and hotels and refused to be collected from the airport in Quito. She was truly a brave adventurer, who was determined to be independent and not to give us extra work, despite her lack of Spanish.
We were delighted to take Jean to meet Laura and her family. The warm welcome from the family and the shy smiles of Laura and her younger sister touched Jean´s heart. She even coped well with being presented with a live chicken as a thank you gift. She was moved to want to provide the family with a house of their own.
The only problem was that the family did not have any land to build on. Jean´s savings went on a plot of land, and now we are building a house for the family. The rural piece of land will allow them to keep some chickens and pigs and to grow a few bananas to supplement their meager income.
What a blessing Jean is being to Laura and her family! We look forward to her next visit, when she comes to see the new house, and to making friends with other readers of my books.