Meet RSM Pursue Your Passion Winner: Joshua Sweeting
Audit Manager | Denver, CO
Meet Ruben. Ruben is 19 years old and lives in Viacha, Bolivia. He lives in a one-room cement home with his mother and two brothers. Diligent in his studies, Ruben is passionate about math and hopes to attend college and obtain a degree in electrical engineering. When he’s not studying, Ruben helps his mother with chores, loves to play soccer with his friends, and enjoys competing in chess.
Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of getting to befriend and correspond with Ruben via “snail mail,” and provide a school sponsorship for Ruben through Compassion International, a humanitarian aid and sponsorship organization dedicated to the long-term development of children living in poverty around the world.
Through dozens of letters, I have developed a special friendship with Ruben, celebrating birthdays and holidays, being an outlet and support through poverty and family health battles, and sharing stories, challenges and dreams.
Since starting the sponsorship, it has been a dream of mine to meet Ruben one day in person—give him a hug, let him know he is loved and that there are people out there in this big world who care for him and are cheering for him. For the past several years, I have tried to think of ways to make this dream a reality but due to the remote location, language barrier, and travel costs, there has never been a feasible way to meet Ruben. Last year, I discovered that Compassion offers a special program enabling sponsors to meet their children for the first time while also receiving training on the challenges of living in Bolivia and volunteering at a local school. I was so excited to hear about the opportunity and the chance to meet Ruben. However, there was one roadblock: time. I only have a one-year window remaining to meet Ruben.
Because Ruben is nineteen, he is about to enter his final year of eligibility under the sponsorship program that Compassion offers. Once the sponsorship is over, Ruben hopes to attend college and pursue his passion for engineering. Due to financial limitations, Ruben will likely have to work as a bricklayer, the primary occupation in Viacha, earning the equivalent of $129 a month to save money for college. With this being the last year of Ruben’s sponsorship, I would like to participate in Compassion’s trip to Bolivia in June of 2020 to meet Ruben, encourage him as he steps into this new phase of life, and maybe even play him in a game of chess.
Pursuing my passion in sponsorship of Ruben has been a journey which is hard to sum up in words without pouring through the dozens of letters we have sent each other over the years. I want to finish this sponsorship by visiting Ruben with the hope of continuing and renewing our friendship, and inspiring camaraderie. I have an opportunity to be a steward of the resources given to me to help someone rise out of poverty and attend college, get a degree, and provide for his family. Being selected as a winner in the RSM’s Pursue Your Passion program will enable me to work with a team already connected on-the-ground in Viacha, helping Ruben and many children like him. I know that visiting Ruben and the city of Viacha will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from the people of Bolivia, develop a greater respect and appreciation for a different culture, and have a lasting impact on a dear friend.
The $10,000 and nine extra days of PTO will help make this trip possible. I will use the nine days to participate in the two-week trip and steward the $10,000 in several exciting ways. Approximately half of the funds will be directed to meeting trip costs including travel, lodging, transportation, food, and a translator, all facilitated by Compassion. I will use the additional funds in two ways. Seeing the impact my sponsorship has had on Ruben has inspired me to sponsor a second child in Viacha—someone who is just entering the Compassion program. There are many children in the eight- 10-year-old age range awaiting sponsorship who each have a need that I know I can meet. I will use a portion of the remaining funds to initiate the sponsorship of a second child prior to the June trip to allow me to then meet that child from the onset of the sponsorship while also meeting Ruben. Having communicated with Ruben for the past seven years despite having never met him, I know that getting to meet a child at the beginning of a sponsorship will create a meaningful bond for many years to come. Lastly, I will use the remaining funds to provide a one-time college scholarship to Ruben to enable him to get a head start in attending college and pursuing his passion for engineering. I know that under his own determination, Ruben will attend college but it will likely take him many years as he saves money for tuition. I know that Ruben is a man of integrity and will rise to the challenge and excel in his studies if given the means to attend college. The Pursue Your passion program will make Ruben’s dream become a reality.
I am so excited for this timely opportunity to finally realize a seven-year long dream to meet Ruben and strengthen the bonds of friendship, both old and new. Join me in the development and encouragement of those less fortunate than ourselves as I seek to build relationships across borders and cultures, one child at a time.