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Reminiscences of June, a Traveling Grandmother

June and a Little Girl From Africa - (1995 - )

Compassion

In February of 1995, June and I jointly through an organization called"Compassion International", sponsored a young girl from the poor section of Nairobi, Kenya, Africa.

Compassion consistently receives high ratings for financial accountability and integrity. Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator, has awarded Compassion its highest rating — four stars — for 14 consecutive years, placing Compassion in the top 1 percent of all charities.

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Photo -  right below is June in the year 1994 just before her sponsorship in 1995

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June 1994

Compassion International was founded by Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952. (The year that June and I were married.) Compassion began providing Korean war orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training.

Today, Compassion International helps more than 1.5 million (1,500,000) children in 26 countries.(2012)

Compassion is a Christian religious based organization that is presently celebrating their 63rd anniversary (2015) of bringing children up from poverty.

Compassion's motto is "Releasing Children From Poverty in Jesus Name." They are a Charter Member of ECFA. (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability)

June and I first learned of the "Compassion" program through our Redeemer Lutheran Church. Pastor David Glesne the senior Pastor and his wife Mona were and are currently involved in sponsoring a child under this program.

The first little girl that we sponsored was Joyce Wambui. Although June and our monthly contribution was/is a modest amount by American standards, the impact in the Nairobi economy is quite significant.

In Kenya the average per capita yearly income is only $370..

(Below right is photo of Joyce Wambui taken in 2001)

Joyce Wambui, 2001The amount of money contributed monthly provides a nutritional weekly meal, health check-ups and medical care, provides textbooks, school supplies and trained teachers. Certain clothing is also provided. June and I would also send periodic letters of encouragement to Joyce.

June and I also provide birthday and Christmas gifts for our sponsored child.

After 7 + years (1995-2002) of continuous sponsor ship, June and I were advised that Joyce had successfully completed the education program. Joyce, who was in Primary school in 1995, had completed primary school and vocational school and has a trade as a dressmaker. The letters June initially received from Joyce were difficult to read as her English was rather stumbling and disjointed. While her present English is not perfect, it is easily readable.

With the notice of the completion of the sponsorship of Joyce, June and I also received an emotional, thoughtful and touching final letter from Joyce. Some excerpts are:

"This is to thank you …for contributions towards my entire life. I have appreciated your long-term commitment to educate me. I received school uniform; shoes, fees and home clothes through your support…May God bless you for your concern and love to me. Thank you for your uncountable gifts you ever sent to me and letters….There is nothing I can give in return for all you have done to me – only to wish you Gods blessing an protection and the same compassionate heart to remain in you to assist others. God bless you. I will pray for you and I will never forget you. I will miss your sweet letters. We shall have to meet if it is not on this world then the land above. God bless you. – Joyce Wambui"

The sponsorhsip of Joyce covered the years of 1995 to 2002.  (7+ years) This was the period of primary school through vocational school where Joyce graduated as a dressmaker. It was in January of 1998 that June was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. June and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in 2002, the same year that Joyce graduated from the program.

(Below right is photo of Sheila Awuor taken in 2002 - Age 6) 

Sheila Awuor

June and I had already signed on to sponsor another little girl from Kenya. (October 2002) This girls name was Sheila Awuor. Sheila was a little 6-year-old child from the hills of Kibera Slums in Kenya. Her birthday was Monday August 26th, 1996. Sheila is a part of the Kibera Church of God Child Development Center. In February 2006, Sheila was transferred to the PCEA Silanga Church Child Development Center.

"Sheila lives with her father and her mother. She is responsible for carrying water, caring for children and helping in the kitchen. Her father is sometimes employed as a laborer and her mother is sometimes employed as a laborer. there are 4 children in the family. Playing ball games, hide and seek and running are sheila's favorite activities. She regularly attends Sunday School. She is in primary school."

"Sheila lives on the plains of Silanga, home to approximately 340,000 residents. Typical houses are constructed of dirt floors, mud walls and corrugated iron roofs. The most commonly spoken language is Kiswahili. The regional diet consists of maize, beans, bananas, fish,  bread, beef, rice and potatoes. Common health problems in this area include malaria, diarrhea, typhoid fever and AIDS. Most adults in Silanga are unemployed but some work as day laborers and earn the equivalent of $30 per month. This community is said to have needs of improved sanitation, street lights and scholastic materials."

 (Below right is photo of Sheila Awuor taken in 2012 - Age 16)

Sheila Awuor 2012Sheila is in primary school where she continues under June's and my sponsorship to the present date. June and I started sponsoring Sheila after Joyce's graduation in 2002. In the years 2003-2004, Alzheimer's starting taking over more and more of June's life. It was early in the year 2005 that June required the full time care of a facility that specialized in caring for Alzheimer's residents. I started to graudually assume the full duties of the sponsorship for Joyce in the year 2002 as June traveled more deeply into the shadows of this terrible disease.

Note: On October 23rd, 2008 June passed away from complications of Alzheimer's while a resident in the Alzheimer's wing (Villa) of the Benedictine Health Care Center at Innsbruck, New Brighton, Minnesota. After almost 12 weary and exhausting years of battling Alzheimer's, God finally took June home. When June left this world, I lost the love and light of my life.

I have continued the sponsorship of Sheila in June's name and in June's behalf as a joint sponsorship in June's memory.  

I receive regular letters from Sheila to which I try to make an immediate response. I enclose an occasional picture of June and myself. I have tried to explain what has happened to June, while at the same time giving an assurance that our sponsorship will continue.

I also try to encourage her in her school work. I have noticed that Sheila's command of the English language has also taken great strides with much improvement over the past few years. 

June and I are now working on our 21st year of sponsorship in the "Compassion" program. (2015)                          

 Map of Kenya, Africa

 

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For those who are interested, you can visit the Compassion International web site by clicking on the below linK:

Compassion International

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Reader's Comments

Pam O'Halloran - Sedona, Arizona - (23 July 2012):  "Loved the story, Stan. I sponsored children from India for years. Still have all of their letters. It was always wonderful to learn of their success. Thanks for sharing!"

Janice Kennedy - Coon Rapids, Minnesota - (23 July 2012):  "Tom and I sponsor a little boy from Kenya and a little girl from India thru C.I. It's a wonderful organization!"

Christine Wilhelmy Noland - Little Canada, Minnesota - (23 July 2012): "I sponsor 3 girls overseas via Compassion Int. 1 in Bangladesh (she's 9 now). 1 in Kenya (14) and one in Uganda (19). I started 8 years ago and I enjoy every letter I receive and enjoy writing them. I know people that have gone thru other agencies, and they cannot come CLOSE to my awesome experience with Compassion. I get 1-2 letters a month from Rina in Bangladesh."

Connie L. Malm Anderson - Trego, Wisconsin - (24 July 2012) : "WOW. Wish we had the funds to do this..Stan you certainly are a...A cople of years ago I found information on NANCY'S NOTIONS web site about making little dress's for the girls in Africa...I share this info with a sewing buddy of mine..she really went to town and made several of these dresses and sent along...I was only able to made a few at the time, but this posting of yours has inspired me to make more..I also found info and pattern to make shorts for the young men. I would like to gather some friends from church and get them sewing also...as always prayers are with you...and with your Sheila...."

Robin Stewart Stone - Charlotte, North Carolina - (24 July 2012): "Love the letters, Stan! So glad they finally got rain, but hate to hear about the terrorists. Is sad reading about the children over there....wish we could help them all...Sounds like they're doing good! If only there were more jobs or the family could move where work is. Thanks for sharing!"

Heaven Raja Heaven - Tunis, Tunisia - (27 July 2012):"Good work what are you doing for children, it's wonderful, God help you..."
 
Adrienne Francoise Miller  - Alexandria, Virginia - (2 October 2012): "Thanks for posting this, Stan. People often aren't aware how hard life is in other parts of the world, and that we should all do what we can to help them. I hope Sheila is alright."
 
Jennifer Dabney  - Pomona, California  - (29 May 2013): "It's wonderful to see what an influence you and June have across the world. Thank you for sharing the girls' lives with us..."
 
Lisa Porter Power  - Imperial Beach, California - (29 May 2013):"I enjoyed reading this link on your website. We have so much to be thankful for here. It pains me to read that she lives in fear, and humbles me to read of her courage."
 
Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inc. - Canada - (3 June 2013): "Always nice to work towards a meaningful cause! Congratulations to you for your hard work.  -Amelia White, Events Coordinator"
 
Judith Brownstein  - Youngstown, Ohio - (26 July 2014): "I love June more and more."
 
Karen Briemeister  - Fridley, Minnesota - (26 July 2014): "Thank you for the update on Sheila.  I still picture her as the six year old she was in the photo you distributed at GriefShare, so it was a surprise to see that she's now a 16 year old young woman.  What a blessing it's been for her that you and June demonstrated God's love by helping her to get an education.  I will pray for protection over her. 
Karen."
 
 
 
 
Susu Ibie  - London, United Kingdom - (6 February 2015): "That's very kind and thoughtful . As an African I am very grateful for your kindness. Thank you so much to you and beloved June...Very touching. Apparently lots of Americans reach out to people in Third World nations, judging from the comments. I thank you all. Twenty years is a long time, and may God give you more years to live and be a blessing to others."
 


Lyn Young - Elgin, Moray, United Kingdom - (6 February 2015): "God bless you June and family and friends and Sheila as well! Take care." 
 
Humberto Ruiz  - North Salem, New York - (6 February 2015): "Praying for you, June and Sheila!"
 
Linda Blanchard  -Torquay, United Kingdom - (7 February 2015): "You & june are one in a million thoughtful caring & kind thinkg of others worse off than yourselves Sheila has been very lucky to be sponsored by you both prayers to you all June is a shining light both in your life & others."
 
William Wilson  - Rhyl, United Kingdom - (7 February 2015): "HI Stan Hope you are well . Wonderful. You are a writer an author to be able to put such lovey words together and... helping others that need your support . June must be very proud of you .Best Wishes . Cheerio Bil."
 
Jackie Irving  - Liverpool, United Kingdom - (25 September 2015): "It's lovely that you help and sponsor these young lady's Stan....we could do with more people in this world like you and June ......how good that would be ...its a lovely picture of June with the same lovely smile she always has...take care Stan my good friend..."
 
Norma Alice Coleman  - (25 September 2015): "I  am inspired by this post thank you I to will be sponsoring a child...This is a beautiful photograph of your wife June you are both very kind people the world needs more June and Stanton's !!!!"
 
 
 
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Reader's are encouraged to read/review other chapter's (30 chapters) in this story of June K. Berg's life. (Reminiscences of a Traveling Grandmother) Each chapter is intended to be a capsule view of a small segment of June's life and travels'. It is also intended to be a small segment of history from a time period of World War II and the periods both pre and post World War II. You will find the history is accurate and continues to be updated as new records and photographs become available.

June, a very humble person would never consider her life worthy of a story. To me June has been a lady for "All Seasons". A very unique, bright and highly principled Christian lady. While June like everyone, has likes and dislikes, I have never found her to be uninterested or bored with any thing that life has presented her. June was well traveled. She traveled to Europe eleven (11) times and made at least 100 trips in and around the United States. June would be included in Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation."
 

It
has taken the horror of Alzheimer's to awaken me to finally  plumb the depths and scope of June's Character, Spirit and Being. After battling Alzheimer's for almost 12 years, an exhausted June was finally called home by God on October 23rd, 2008. Her funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008.  

 

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June's Passing

June 1994

After an almost 12 year journey into the shadows of Alzheimer's, early one morning in late October 2008, an exhausted June felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words: "Come Home June!" As June lay like a wounded soldier on a battlefield, it was God's Angels that ushered June into a Heavenly Kingdom to the sound of a chorus of Angels...and into June's new home, a "Mansion on the Hilltop", where there is no pain, nor illness nor tears...June's funeral notice as published in the Minneapolis Star in October 2008 can be seen on this website in the drop down menu under the "In Memoriam" label - just Click on:

 

"June K. (Rolstad) Berg - In Memoriam"