When Trina met Vincent at the airport, she burst into tears.
It was an emotional reunion, fit for friends after years apart. And in a way, that was exactly their situation. Though they’d never met in person, Trina and Vincent had known each other for years.
She sponsored him through Chalice when he was still a young man growing up in Kenya. So when they finally met, it was like a friend coming home.
The journey to the airport that day, though, was a long one.
Trina heard about Chalice at her church in Stratford, Ontario, where a Chalice Champion was giving a talk about sponsorship. She was going through a hard time in her life, and the idea of connecting with and supporting someone in need appealed to her.
After Mass, she waited to approach the table at the back, where sponsorship booklets were spread out.
After everyone else had chosen, there were only two people left: an elderly gentleman, and Vincent, who was in his early teen years and based out of the Starehe Boys site. Starehe later became the Nairobi site.
“He looked really scrawny,” Trina remembered, fondly, in an interview with Chalice.
Trina chose to sponsor Vincent, and what ensued was an epic pen pal relationship that would span many years, letters, and eventually, a trip across the ocean.
Trina was thrilled that, as a Chalice sponsor, she could write letters to Vincent. He wrote her back immediately. She sent him tiny gifts – only things that could fit in an envelope – and he would thank her profusely every time.
Vincent was a bright child, and Trina’s support helped him throughout his education.
“He was one of the top kids in his grade school,” she said.
As an adult, Vincent retired from the sponsorship program, which would normally bring their correspondence to a close. But the two had developed a tight bond, and with Vincent’s consent, stayed in touch through email.
Vincent went to university, initially studying engineering. It wasn’t really for him, though, and one day, he spotted a sign advertising jobs with one of Kenya’s biggest airlines. It was then he knew what he wanted: to become a pilot.
Over the next several years, Trina and her husband David kept up with Vincent’s life, while he tried to earn enough flying hours to become a full-time pilot, a task that proved challenging at times.
At one point, he was on the verge of accepting a job that could have proved dangerous. Vincent never once asked her for money, but Trina offered to help. She sent him some money he could use to pay for time flying a plane, which would help him get his hours without taking the other job.
From there, Vincent met a man who was flying tourists in and out of resorts, and he found another job through that connection. Eventually, he landed a permanent position with the very airline whose poster he’d first seen at school.
It was this job, then, that took him to Toronto.
Funny enough, at that point, Trina and David were planning a trip to Hawaii with friends. But as soon as she got the call from Vincent, Trina told her husband, and they both knew: whatever it took, they would see Vincent.
As soon as they got back from Hawaii, they turned around and picked up Vincent, so he could stay at their house a couple hours from Toronto for a few days.
Vincent had a few goals while in Canada: help David on their farm (mission accomplished), play chess (check!), and go tobogganing (unfortunately, it wasn’t cold enough).
While there, he got to know Trina’s family, who welcomed him with open arms. Vincent even gave her a special gift from his corner of the world: a beautiful tiara and necklace that his own mother gave to him to give to Trina.
“He has been an absolute joy to have in my life,” Trina said.
At one point, Vincent shared with her that had Trina never sponsored him, he would never have had the money to go to school and achieve his dreams.
He’s since gotten married. Last August, when his first daughter was born, he named her Trina.
For Trina, her relationship with Vincent has meant the world.
“I love him to death, I really do,” she said.