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Sponsored Kids – Meet Jean Francois Ngorkhanuel

Happy #sponsoredkids Friday, everyone!  Let’s jump right in and meet this week’s kiddo, Jean Francois Ngorkhanuel!  JFN was born on Oct 12, so he will turn 8 tomorrow!  He’s from Niakhar, Senegal, where he lives with his grandparents.  He loves to play soccer and his favorite subject in school is singing (a kid after my own heart).  Happy Almost-Birthday, JFN!  


While I’m tempted to dive into some of the challenges that face our new little friend, today I’m going in a bit of a different direction.  If any of you have ever gone through a rough season in your life (i.e., grief), you’ll know that after a while, you just want people to stop viewing you as your problems.  You want things to go back to normal and, part of that, for most people, is having other people see and talk about YOU and not your struggles.  As I’ve researched things for each of these posts, I’ve come across equal amounts of beautiful and difficult information.  The existence of each of these kids is not defined by the struggles their country has faced.  For them, their lives are simply being lived, and within any life lies as many wonderful things as there lie difficult things.

So this week, I’d like to talk about 1 beautiful or fun thing I’ve learned about each of the countries in which we sponsor children.  Ready?

Mali – Have you ever heard the phrase “from here to Timbuktu”?  Timbuktu is a place long-painted as the end of the world, somewhere exotic and far away, where one could happily disappear forever.  Well, in case you didn’t know, Timbuktu is a real place and it’s located in Mali!  For centuries, the city was primarily used as an outpost for trading valuable items & a center for learning, connecting the Middle East and Europe, and so became the stuff of legend.   And thanks to planes, it now takes less than 2 days of travel to get to the “end of the earth”.

Senegal – Did you know that Dakar, Senegal is considered a surfer’s paradise?  The beaches of Senegal are not overrun by tourists and have some of the most exciting waves found worldwide.  Senegal has produced world-renown surfers and has a highly competitive national team.  Who knew?  

Niger – One of the most famous groups of people from Niger are the Tuareg nomads.  In a part of the world where women’s rights are often scarce, something I loved learning is that the Tuaregs are a matrilineal society.  This means that family history is traced through the woman’s side.  Many of their famous poetry and music is written about/for women and so they are highly regarded in this ancient culture.  

Ghana – Ghana has 3 different ecosystems, one of which is a forest zone made up of semi-deciduous and evergreen trees (unexpected, huh?).  In that region lives the Kakum National Park, which is a reserve for endangered wildlife and flora.  One of those endangered species is the African Forest Elephant, which is being saved in part because of this beautiful place!  

Mozambique – Did you know Mozambique is known worldwide as home to some of Earth’s most pristine dive sites?  Archipelago-heaven, some of these dive sites are said to have coral reefs as thick as rainforests!  Many rare species live in Mozambique’s waters, including dudong, which are precious little marine mammals similar to manatees!  

Challenge: This week, when you face something negative, consider its positive counterpart. Know that both can exist simultaneously and that you, nor anyone else, is defined by the darkest parts of their story.

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