MANILA, Philippines – Weeks after his death, it's come to light that former US President George H.W. Bush touched the life of one young Filipino. (READ: GEORGE H.W. BUSH (1924-2018): Head of political dynasty, war hero)
A report on CNN published on Wednesday, December 19, said that Bush sponsored a Filipino child for 10 years, and the two even wrote letters to each other regularly.
Bush helped Timothy, then 7 years old, by funding his education, extracurricular activities, and some of his meals through Compassion International, a non-profit organization that helps children in poor communities through local churches.
The former president had first gotten the idea to sponsor a child in 2001, at a Christmas concert in Washington. There, the musicians spoke to the audience about Compassion International and Bush asked for a pamphlet for more information on the non-profit.
An informational sheet about Timothy in the CNN report showed that he was born on September 14, 1993. His father was sometimes employed, while his mom maintained their home. To them help out, Timothy would buy or sell in the market, run errands, and clean.
The report also showed Bush's letters to Timothy, which were signed with the pseudonym George Walker.
Wess Stafford, former president of Compassion International, explained that he had to screen Bush's letters for security reasons – Bush's own security was concerned for Timothy, who might become a target if people knew he was in contact with a former US president.
The first letter was sent in 2002, wherein Bush told Timothy he loved him from the start: "I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already."
Other letters showed how Bush had a hard time keeping his identity a secret, as he shared that he was important enough to be invited to the White House during Christmas and he even shared a photo of his dog Sadie.
"She is a very good dog she was born in England," he wrote about Sadie. "She catches mice and chipmunks, and she runs like the wind."
He also gave Timothy gifts sometimes, like a calculator once, and a booklet from the White House. When he found out how much Timothy loved art, he sent over color pencils, sketch pads, and paint.
On his end, Timothy would send his artwork to Bush. In a letter translated from Filipino, he wrote:
"Dear Mr. & Mrs. Walker,
How are you? I hope you're in good condition.
I would like to thank you for not forgetting me. You're so nice and good.
God is so good to us. He gives us the body & will to get to where we want to go.
Thank you so much for the book, I like it very much."
Timothy learned about who his sponsor was when he graduated at 17 years old, and he was stunned, shared Stafford. That was the last time that Compassion International heard from Timothy despite their efforts to locate him.
Bush was the 41st American president from 1989 to 1993, during which he helped steer the US through the end of the Cold War. Before that, he served as US Vice President, was a former CIA chief, and was a decorated war pilot.