When MaryAnne first looked at the sea of children in a Chalice sponsorship booklet, Eunice’s eyes stood out.
Compared to all the other children, she looked “so sad,” MaryAnne shared in an interview.
At the time, MaryAnne worked as Chalice’s International Operations Manager for Latin America. She already sponsored one child, and wanted to take on another. She and her family chose Eunice, a young girl from Kenya nearing her teenage years.
Like many sponsors, MaryAnne and her family wrote to Eunice. Through their correspondence, Eunice received valuable support from MaryAnne, as well as the prayers of her family.
But soon, the situation changed.
The boarding school Eunice attended ended its relationship with Chalice, and the site closed. Many of the students simply went home. For Eunice, whose mother passed away years before and whose father wasn’t in her life, home wasn’t an option.
MaryAnne, on the other side of the world, was heartbroken.
She wrote her a letter, letting Eunice know she was on her mind and heart, and in her prayers.
“That was it. It was closed, and we had no more contact with her,” she said.
In the intervening four years, MaryAnne thought about Eunice often. But with no way to contact her, she had no way of finding out what had happened to her. She didn’t know Eunice prayed regularly, in the hopes she would meet MaryAnne again.
MaryAnne was eventually promoted to Senior International Manager at Chalice, a role she still serves in today. The opportunity to visit Kenya soon came up.
It was a longshot, but she knew she wanted to try and find Eunice. Just in case.
If there’s one thing that can be said about our site staff in Kenya, it’s that they’re miracle workers. They managed to trace Eunice to a Christian boarding school, where she had, against all odds, studied hard and earned admission on merit.
This was all news to MaryAnne. She was prepared for any possibility, but amazed when she discovered Eunice doing so well.
The only thing left was to reconnect.
The deputy principal of the school told Eunice someone was there to meet her. But Eunice had no idea who that someone was.
To her surprise, Eunice shared in the interview, the first face she saw was MaryAnne’s.
“It was like, ‘God has answered my prayer’,” Eunice said.
At that moment, all they could do was hug each other and cry.
Up to that point, Eunice was working whenever she could to pay for school. MaryAnne asked Eunice if she’d like to be sponsored again, and naturally, Eunice accepted. With the help of sponsorship, Eunice’s expenses and fees were covered, so she could focus on her studies.
That wasn’t the end of Eunice’s struggles, but it was the beginning of renewed hope.
When MaryAnne visited Nairobi again, she helped Eunice apply for university. It was then Eunice asked if she could call her “Mom”.
Of course, MaryAnne said yes.
Around the same time, Eunice was introduced to Martha, Chalice’s East Africa coordinator.
Despite all the support from MaryAnne and her family in Canada, Eunice was missing something important: a place to truly call home. She needed somewhere to go when not in school, that could give her support on the ground.
In that moment, with a loving and generous heart, Martha stepped in.
She offered Eunice the chance to come live with her and her family, giving her a soft place to land. They grew close, and today, when Eunice thinks “family”, she thinks “Martha and MaryAnne”.
She’s now completed studies in special education, and is doing an internship at Chalice’s Konta site, formerly called the School for the Deaf. There, she works with children who are deaf or hard of hearing, her true passion.
“When I talk to them, we interact, I am able to make them feel they are accepted in the society,” Eunice said.
She dreams of pursuing a master’s degree, and prays that one day, she can help a child the way MaryAnne helped her
In fact, Eunice said, MaryAnne returned to her life at just the right moment.
“She’s more than a mother to me,” Eunice said.