Welcome back to our blog and podcast series Fueling the Future, where we explore the importance of empowering tomorrow’s leaders by investing in today’s youth. In today’s blog, we have two very special guests – Tom and Karissa Boorsma, HopeChest sponsors who are doing extraordinary things to empower the next generation of leaders in Uganda. Karissa, at just 14 years old, has already made a significant impact by using her own money to sponsor one of her peers through the Nabukalu CarePoint partnership. Her father, Tom, launched this partnership after his visit to Uganda last year that focused on the Uganda Leadership Development Program. In the conversation below, they share their inspiring story of two-way transformation and highlight the crucial importance of investing in our youth. Get ready to be inspired!
Tom, can you share with us how you ended up in Uganda with Children’s HopeChest last summer?
My journey to Uganda with Children’s HopeChest was definitely unexpected. At first, I had no plans of going until a friend convinced me to join him on the trip. I was skeptical at first, but after learning more about the organization and its mission, I was captivated and knew I had to see it for myself. It was a hectic month as I scrambled to get everything in order, but I made it to Uganda. What stood out to me most was the incredible hospitality and warmth of the people. Despite being so far from home, I felt welcomed and at ease very quickly.
What was your experience like? What were some highlights?
My experience in Uganda was truly life-changing. It provided me with the most vivid image of what eternity could look like, especially during our worship sessions. It expanded my global perspective in just one week more than it ever had before. It made me realize that in today’s world, we have a unique opportunity to tangibly help the most vulnerable around the world. And there is nothing greater than the thought of one day arriving in Glory and seeing the impact we made on each other’s lives and the opportunities we have had.
The hospitality and warmth of Uganda is what struck me most. I felt incredibly welcomed, and it didn’t take long to feel at ease and at home in a place so far from my own.
Karissa, what was your reaction when you learned that your father was going to Africa?
It sounded like a really cool experience to go to the other side of the world and meet new people and see how they live! I wish I could have gone, but it was during school. By the way he was talking about it when he came back, it sounded like a life-changing experience.
Tom, can you tell us about your daughter and what makes her unique?
My daughter is very self-disciplined when it comes to the things she’s passionate about. She loves playing different sports and when she’s in-season, she is very disciplined and competitive. Although she can be a bit stubborn at times (like her father), she is also incredibly compassionate and empathetic, with a natural sense of responsibility and a strong desire to make a positive impact on the world around her. As her parent, I’m constantly inspired by her passion, determination, and kind heart.
Karissa, what inspired you to use your own money to sponsor a peer in Uganda?
I was inspired after hearing stories from some of my friends at school who are from Africa or Haiti. Hearing about their experiences made me realize how different life is for some people compared to my own comfortable upbringing. It was a real eye-opener for me and it just clicked that not everyone has access to the same basic necessities that I take for granted, like a warm place to live and a loving family. I felt a calling in my heart to do something to help.
For me, sports are a huge part of my life and bring me so much joy. I want to give other teens the opportunity to pursue their own passions, whatever they may be. I believe that money is a gift from God and that we are meant to use it for good, to make a positive impact in the world. Sponsoring a peer was my way of giving back and using what I have to make a difference in someone else’s life. I may be young, but I believe that every little bit counts and I hope that my small contribution can make a big impact in someone’s life.
Your sponsorship funds go towards paying school fees for your peer. How does that make you feel?
It makes me really happy. It’s humbling to think that my contribution can help another teenager pursue their dreams. The idea that we might be learning the same things oceans away is really cool and makes me feel connected to them! It reminds me that regardless of where we come from, we all have the potential to learn, grow, and make a positive impact. Supporting someone in this way motivates me to continue finding ways to make a positive difference in the world.
Hot Seat Questions
- Karissa, you specifically chose to sponsor someone close to your age. What was the reasoning behind that?
I’ve always wanted a sibling my own age, so having a HopeChest friend who I can talk to and build a relationship with has been really special to me. It’s amazing to be able to connect with someone across the world and share our experiences and interests. Reading her letters makes me so happy and warms my heart, knowing what she’s going through and how I can pray for her. It’s a reminder that even though we may live very different lives, we still have a lot in common as young girls.
- Tom, how did it feel to learn that your daughter wanted to use her own money to sponsor a peer in Uganda?
I’m absolutely thrilled and proud of Karissa’s decision to sponsor a child in need. As a father, it warms my heart to see my daughter’s generosity and compassion towards others. It’s one thing to talk about wanting to make a difference in the world, but it’s another thing entirely to take action and actually do something about it.
What really gets me is that Karissa did this without any prompting from us. We didn’t even know she was considering sponsoring a child until she told us. It’s a testament to her character and her desire to make a positive impact on the world around her. It’s moments like these that make me feel incredibly blessed to be a father and to see my daughter grow into such a kind and compassionate young woman.
- Tom, can you explain why you chose to partner with a CarePoint in Uganda that focuses on older youth, rather than one with younger children? What impact do you hope to make with this partnership?
When we were looking for a CarePoint to partner with, we wanted to make sure that our contribution would make the biggest impact possible. When we heard about Nabukalu and the struggles they were facing, we knew we wanted to help. These older youth are at a critical point in their lives where they need support and guidance to make the right decisions for their future. We wanted to come alongside them and be a positive influence, to show them that they’re not alone in this pivotal time.
It’s also important to us that we empower teens who are often overlooked in the sponsorship process. As they get older, the number of sponsors dwindles, and they may feel forgotten or like their future doesn’t matter. By partnering with Nabukalu, we’re showing them that they are valued and that we believe in their potential to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond. It’s an honor to be able to walk alongside these young adults and support them as they make important decisions about their future.
- Karissa, what are some of your dreams for your future?
I have a passion for baking and dream of becoming a professional baker one day. I would also love to be a professional soccer player one day!
I’ve come to realize that in poverty, people often lose the freedom to dream and hope for a better future. That’s why I believe that HopeChest friendships with older youth are so powerful. By sponsoring someone, we are not only helping them with their immediate needs, but also restoring their hope and dreams for the future.
- Tom, what’s your hope for Karissa?
My greatest hope for Karissa’s future is for her to live a life that is centered around God and His purpose for her. It doesn’t matter what career path she chooses, as long as she uses her skills and talents to glorify God and bless others.
I want her to embrace the truth of Scripture and let it shape every aspect of her life. This means being kind and generous to others, and seeking to make a positive impact in the world around her. I hope that she will be motivated by love, compassion, and a desire to serve others, just like Jesus did.
Ultimately, my prayer is that she will find joy and fulfillment in following God’s plan for her life and be a shining light in a world that desperately needs it.
Find out how you can empower a young adult.