Claire and her friend Lara had dreams of traveling the world after college. They headed to Africa to participate in a running event. Along the way, they found an orphanage that allowed people to stay in their guest room. Once there, they became fond of a boy named Samuel.
The girls stayed a year which was a big deal because the children were used to visitors passing through to take photos and then leaving. While there, the girls started a running club with hopes of training them to participate in races where they could have exposure and opportunity. They did shoe and clothing drives and contacted people through social media to get involved.
At a friend’s wedding reception dinner in 2009, Lara was seated next to the financial aid director of a high school in Maine. She got Claire’s attention and said this was someone she should meet. Claire was able to become the legal guardian of Samuel so he could begin attending during his sophomore year. He received a full scholarship.
Samuel spent a year in Ecuador with a service organization after high school. At first, he didn’t like the mother of the host family he was staying with because he thought she was mean. After speaking with the mother, Claire and Lara helped Samuel get a new perspective. They explained that she was just a mom doing the best with what she had and he could be of service to her by offering to help instead of waiting to be asked.
That shift helped him mature into an adult. As he changed, the host mother softened as well.
The book ends with Samuel returning home to Africa in 2014. His hopes were to attend college and reconnect with biological family members. The journey of Claire and Lara brought the world to him. He had so many good people helping him along the way. The experiences he gained developed him into someone who has so much to offer back to the world.
This was a heart-warming memoir. Stories become dear to us when we meet others who come into our lives. My daughter-in-law is from Sudan. I mentored a young man from Sudan when my children were in middle school. Today, he is a dear friend with a family of his own and has come a long way. I’m sure God knew that one day my son would marry a girl from Sudan.
Stories don’t with the closing of a book. That is when they are just beginning.