Late US President George H.W. Bush secretly sponsored a Pilipino child for 10 years
Every US president has their secrets - and it seems George H.W. Bush had a heartwarming one that he kept under wraps for more than a decade.
Almost a month after his death, it's been revealed that the American leader secretly sponsored a Pilipino child named Timothy for 10 years.
According to a report from CNN, the 41st POTUS' friendship with the young boy started after he attended a Christmas concert in Washington.
When a musician performing asked the audience if they would like to sponsor a child, "all of the sudden, Mr. Bush, who was sitting only a few rows back and surrounded by security, raised his hand and asked for a pamphlet."
The move alarmed Bush's security team, as they worried about the pamphlet's authenticity, as well as if it had been screened. However, the president was adamant that he wanted to get involved, and began writing to seven-year-old Timothy under the name 'George Walker' in January 2002.
His first letter shows his dedication to the cause, with the president stating that he loved Timothy from the beginning:
"Dear Timothy, I want to be your new pen pal. I am an old man, 77 years old, but I love kids; and though we have not met I love you already. I live in Texas - I will write you from time to time - Good Luck. G. Walker"
However, Wess Stafford, the former president of Compassion International, explained to CNN that the covert operation wasn't always easy.
Due to concerns for Timothy's safety, Stafford was put in charge of screening each letter, but Bush made things difficult when he began providing more information than he was supposed to.
Attached to one letter was a picture of his dog, Sadie, who he claimed had "met a lot of famous people". Next, the president mentioned he had been invited to the White House for Christmas:
"Dear Timothy, I love that picture of you holding that 'World Time' gadget," the late president wrote. "I also have learned that you play the guitar - terrific! Timothy, have you ever heard of the White House? That's where the president of the USA lives. I got to go to the White House at Christmas time. Here is a little booklet that I got at the White House in Washington."
In addition, although including gifts was banned, Bush would still send them - especially when he discovered that Timothy loved art.
"His letters were the most sweet, spirited letters I have read from any sponsor, but he kept giving hints as to who he could be," Stafford said. "He was really pushing the envelope."
Fortunately, in their time writing to each other, Timothy never figured out who exactly 'George Walker' was. In one letter, he even thanked the Walker couple for not forgetting him:
"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."
When the Pilipino teen graduated from the program, he was told who his sponsor really was. According to Stafford, he was "stunned" and claimed the news was "life-changing".
Compassion International hasn't heard from Timothy since and are unaware of what he is doing now, but Stafford claims he knows he is "living a successful life".
"Sponsoring a child, even if they are still in the womb, can encourage them and guide them to become great human beings," he says.
If you'd like to give a child the chance for a better life, you can visit the Compassion International website here.