|On the tenth anniversary of the passing of SHARE’s founder, Dr. Martha “Bobby” MacGuffie, we wanted to pass along to our friends and supporters the following note we received from her nephew, Cam King, that we feel captures the essence of SHARE’s mission.
March 7, 2021
|“My Aunt Bobby MacGuffie’s sisters married the pilot and co-pilot of an Eighth Air Force B-17 bomber that was shot down over Germany in May of 1944. My dad, Frank King, married Ann, the youngest sister. His copilot, my Uncle Jim, married Jane.
The three MacGuffie Sisters
Frank and Ann began their family in New Mexico, where I was raised with my three older brothers. Having the MacGuffies as family insured that my horizons would not be limited to the admittedly spectacular vistas of my native Southwest. Being a MacGuffie meant being part of a special clan. Having the MacGuffie side of the family on the east coast and the monthly New Yorker on the coffee table made my world bigger and more exciting.
The three MacGuffie sisters remained close throughout their entire lives. I never once heard of a spat or disagreement in all the years they were together. They shared their experiences in letters and photographs, and we all lived vicariously through these communications, or from the MacGuffie sisters themselves during the occasional visits, which were always very special events. Bobby’s work was something we all were very proud of, and her founding of SHARE Africa seemed to me the culmination of a life’s work, as well a a new adventure.
As cousins who live on opposite sides of the continent, we MacGuffies have not had the luxury of each others’ constant physical presence, but our family ties are strong, we stay in touch, and we are always glad to get together.
When Mom first sponsored Hillary Odhiambo, my response was a mixture of pride and apprehension. I was proud that she would make the commitment to help a young man through her sister Bobby’s organization, and yet apprehensive about what her obligations could become. Could she be exploited at some point? Would she face increasing pressures to make greater donations? But when she showed me Hillary’s first letters to her, I knew I was witnessing the profound importance of her sponsorship. Here was a young mind, facing indescribable adversity, demonstrating a strong will to survive and striving to make a future. There was nothing in Hillary’s letters that hinted of youthful sadness or hopelessness or rage, only a bright optimism and dogged determination, which was quite evident in his excellent grades in school. And it was being done with the humblest of funds from my mother.
The real star of this story is Hillary. When Mom passed away in 2014, Hillary kind of got lost in the shuffle of events. But going through Mom’s papers, I found the Hillary folder and my conscience started nagging at me. Had Mom’s death meant the end of any help for him? How had he fared in the space of ten years?
The same apprehension I originally felt about Mom undertaking Hillary’s sponsorship again nagged at me when I contacted SHARE to inquire about Hillary. Was he okay? Had he been abandoned?
Again, all negativity was for naught. Hillary was married with three children and supporting his family with his skills as an auto technician. Living proof that SHARE Africa not only saved the life of an AIDS orphan, but put him on the path to a productive, happy and fulfilling life.
Hillary never asked me for anything. When he told me he wanted to start his own business and I asked him what he needed, he was very clear–an essential piece of diagnostic gear that could make his dream possible was just beyond his reach. In that moment, I realized that Hillary had given me the opportunity to do what Mom would have done. He was going to get that gear, and I would get as much family as I could involved. Again, the MacGuffies came together and made Hillary’s needs their personal mission in life. And we all see how it turned out. This story is not only about Hillary, but also his wife and three children. The sponsorship my mother started in 2005 has blossomed far beyond one individual. If one sponsorship can provide such benefits, imagine how many lives would be saved and nurtured by many sponsorships. And to me, being a sponsor isn’t just about sending a few bucks each month in order to get a nice letter or two. It’s about caring for a single person and helping them through the important formative years that we were lucky enough to survive by the grace and good luck of having parents. And that one rescued life affects so many others.
I am very grateful for my Aunt Bobby, her family, her work, and the opportunities it has given–and continues to give–not only to the children it sponsors, but to those who sponsor them. It’s by far the cheapest way to get angel wings that I have ever seen.”
Hillary Odhiambo and his family. Wife Irene, daughter Betsy Gretel
and sons Christian Hannigan and Meek Fervent