George HW Bush secretly sponsored a Filipino boy under a different name, letters reveal
A charity has revealed former US president George HW Bush secretly sponsored a young boy in the Philippines for years under a different name.
His handwritten letters, which have been released by Compassion International, show he wrote to the child using the pseudonym George Walker — his first and middle name.
Their correspondence began in 2002, after Bush picked out seven-year-old Timothy’s packet at a Christmas concert held by the charity.
His son, George W Bush, was president at the time.
“His security were surprised and freaked out,” Compassion’s former president Wess Stafford recalled on Facebook.
He said he agreed Bush’s identity would have to be kept secret, in case Timothy was targeted.
“For his own security, this little boy must not know that his sponsor was the [former] president of the United States. We had to use a secret name for president Bush to protect them both,” he said.
For years, Timothy knew his sponsors only as ‘The Walkers’
In Bush’s first letter to Timothy, he introduced himself as an “old man” who lived in Texas and loved kids.
Bush told Timothy he loved him, even though they hadn’t met. (Supplied: Compassion International)
“I want to be your new pen pal. I will write you from time to time,” he said.
Then for 10 years, he supported Timothy’s education and extra-curricular activities.
Timothy kept Bush up-to-date on what he was doing in school. (Supplied: Compassion International)
“He was so sweet, warm and encouraging in his letters,” Mr Stafford said.
“He praised his boy’s cute little hand-drawn pictures and progress in school. He drew pictures of his own. He encouraged him to do his best and always love and respect the people around him.”
But Bush liked to drop random hints
From time to time, the former leader would include subtle references to his real life.
“Timothy, have you ever heard of the White House? That’s where the president of the USA lives,” he once asked.
Bush once sent Timothy a “little booklet” from the White House. (Supplied: Compassion International)
In another “encrypted message”, Mr Stafford remembered Bush writing: “This year for Christmas we are going to celebrate with my son, at his house … he lives in a big White House!”
Bush told Timothy he knew the President of the United States loved the Philippines “for sure”. (Supplied: Compassion International)
Then years later, Timothy learned the truth
When Timothy turned 17 and graduated from the program, Mr Stafford said his executive assistant flew to the Philippines to meet him and reveal the true identity of his sponsor.
He told CNN Timothy had no idea and was stunned.
But that was the last time the charity heard from Timothy.
“We may not know where Timothy is, but we know he’s now living a successful life,” Mr Stafford told CNN.
Bush died at the age of 94 earlier this month.