I am nobody. My mama didn’t want to have a baby. After she gave birth to me, mama tried to leave me in trash heaps on the outskirts of the slum. Only, I cried too loudly and a Ugandan police officer found me as mama was hurrying away. He made her keep me. Mama tells me every day how much she hates me. She tells me I’m stupid and an ugly girl. I try to block out her mean words. It doesn’t work.
Ugly. Stupid. Nobody.
I wake up, sweating. Sometimes I try to dream good dreams. I pretend my mama loves me. But then I wake up.
I get up from my straw pallet, trying not to wake mama. My bare feet touch the dirt floor and my head hits the straw roof. I bend down to pick up the yellow water container that sits by our door. I leave our mud hut and start the two mile walk to the pond to fetch water. I reach the pond just as the sun begins to rise. Trying not to scoop up floating bugs and animal dung, I dunk my water container into the dirty water. I lift the heavy container and sit it on top of my head.
When I make it back to our house, I see a woman talking to mama. The woman greets me with a smile as I set down the filled water container.
“I was just telling your mother about a program at the local church called Compassion.” The woman says to me.
I look at the ground.
“Don’t mind her. She’s stupid.” Mama says to the woman.
“I think she’s very bright,” the woman tells mama. Then she turns to me, “and you are such a lovely young lady too. I think you would do well in our program. How would you like to come with me this morning to the church and sign you up to become a Compassion sponsored child? You will receive homework help, have a warm meal every time you come, and get to enjoy singing and dancing with other kids your age.”
I lift my head and stare at the woman.
She thinks I’m bright? She thinks I’m lovely?
“How much do I have to pay?” Mama asks, putting her hands on her hips.
“Nothing. Your daughter will receive these benefits and more with no cost to you. She will be sponsored by someone in another country who pays for her program expenses.”
“Fine.” Mama says shortly.
“If you come with us, you can help fill out the required forms for you daughter.”
“I have to work.”
“I understand. Then you will need to sign this form.” The woman says, handing mama a piece of paper and pen. Mama quickly signs it then pushes me toward the woman.
“Stay as long as you want. Less time I have to deal with you.”
The woman leads me up the dirt path, away from mama and our mud hut. She reaches her hand toward me. I flinch. But she only pats my shoulder nicely.
“My name is Grace, but you can call me Auntie Grace. And what is your name, sweetheart?”
“Princess.” I murmur to the ground, ashamed of my name. When mama tried to get rid of me like the worthless baby I was, the police officer told her to ‘cherish this Princess you were given’. Mama named me Princess to mock me and make me regret being a burden to her.
“What a beautiful name for a beautiful girl! You are indeed a Princess. After all, your father is the King isn’t he?”
My father? A King? I don’t even know my father. I shake my head no.
“But of course. Your Heavenly Father is King of all nations. And you, his daughter, are a Princess.”
We walk in silence the rest of the way to church. I keep thinking about what she said. This woman I just met, Grace, has said nicer things to me than mama has my whole nine years of living.
When we arrive at the church, many people are waiting in line outside. I stand in line with Auntie Grace as she tells me more about Compassion. Every time she says the word, my heart tingles and I smile a little. This program, this Compassion, sounds like an answer to my prayers. But could it possibly be that good? Would people be nice and helpful instead of mean and hurtful? Could this Compassion want a nobody in their special program?
Auntie Grace helps me fill out my information sheet. I easily tell her my family, where I go to school and what grade I am in. But then, Auntie Grace asks me what I’m good at. She asks what my favorite school subject is. I don’t have any answers. I know I’m not good at anything, I’m a nobody. I used to have favorite subjects in school, but when I told mama about them, she reminded me that I was stupid and didn’t know anything.
“I’m… uh… not good, I can’t do anything.” I am close to tears. I realize that Compassion will never allow me to be in their program, I am no one special.
“You must like something. Everyone enjoys learning something.”
I take a deep breath and tell Auntie Grace what I like to do, even though I know I’m no good at it.
“I like to read books.”
I was accepted into the Compassion program! Soon after that Saturday morning, I began attending the activities held at the church. I even got a sponsor; a family from the United States who chose to sponsor me. At the church, I learned proper hygiene, was helped with school work, given medical checkup and best of all, I learned about Jesus! Mama always told me Jesus didn’t die for ugly, unwanted girls like me. But at Compassion, they told me Jesus died especially for ME! At first I didn’t believe them. Then I got my first letter from my new sponsors:
I am so pleased to be your sponsor! My name is Matthew and my wife, Janet, and I chose to sponsor you because of your name. We have never been able to have children, so when we saw you, a lovely Princess of God, we knew you were the one. The other reason we chose to sponsor you was because we saw that you love to read. What a talent! Not everyone enjoys reading. You are a smart girl! Princess, we will write to you often. Please write to us because we care about you and want to be a part of your life.
We want you to know that Jesus loves you! Even when you feel you don’t deserve His love, you do. Jesus will always love you! Janet and I love you too, Princess. We look forward to learning more about you through letters.
With love always,
Matthew and Janet
The story of Princess is fictional, but not so unlike the story of many girls around the world that are told they don’t matter. Compassion can help change their self-image and show them they are precious in the eyes of Jesus. But Compassion can’t do it all. Please consider sponsoring a child, your letter may be the very thing she needs to hear.
Give hope to the Princesses of our King.