All You Need to Know about Writing Letters To Your Sponsored Child
Letter Writing Do’s and Don’ts
DO (to benefit your child)
- Correspond at least once every three months with your sponsored child. Our suggestion is: One letter, One page in length, Once a month.
- Tell them about things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
- Tell them about your job, school and family.
- Share your walk with Christ with them.
- Share your dreams for your future.
- Tell them about your hobbies and interests.
- Tell them about interesting places you have visited.
- Include pictures of your family and about your life.
DON’T (to protect your child and yourself)
- Don’t send gifts. (A birthday and Christmas gift for your child is provided by the monthly sponsorship funds.)
- Don’t promise anything you can’t keep. This includes mentioning that you’d like to visit ‘sometime.’ To a lonely child this means you are coming in the next few weeks.
- Don’t make any type of suggestion that you may want to adopt them or bring them to the US.
- Don’t give personal mailing information or phone numbers for your privacy.
- Don’t share personal financial information with them.
Where do I send my letters?
For handwritten letters, please mail to our U.S. office: Children’s HopeChest – P.O. Box 63842 Colorado Springs, CO 80962-3842
Please include your child’s full name and reference number on all mail (hand written or e-mail). You may also email letters to your child through the sponsorship email addresses.
Ethiopia (ET2XXXXXX): Ethiopia@hopechest.org
You can also send letters and pictures online quite easily though Hopechest’s website.
***No matter which method you use to write to your child, please always include the child’s name, location, and reference number!
Does my child really get my letters?
Brief Explanation of Mail:
We process all mail, both electronically and hard copy. Hard copy mail often takes longer to arrive in country than electronic mail. We fly all hard copy mail in and out of the country with traveling teams or staff members. This is the most effective way to ensure that the mail, although delayed, actually arrives at its destination and is not caught in customs or lost. If, for whatever reason, we do not have a team or staff member traveling for an extended amount of time, we DHL mail to our field staff. Once the letters arrive in country they are translated and delivered. Please keep in mind that translating can take some time.
Sponsors who send electronic letters through our website should receive confirmation that their letter was successfully sent to HopeChest. If confirmation is not received, there is a possibility that the letter did not go through. If a letter does not go through on the site, it is often due to the size of the photo attached. If the photo is too large, the letter will not go through the site. Please keep photos smaller than 1MG. Electronic letters sent through the site will be forwarded by a US HopeChest staff member to our in-country staff within at least two weeks of being received. These letters are then translated and delivered to the CarePoint and distributed to the appropriate children.
Letter received from US sponsor in ET
When letters (whether hard copy or electronic) arrive they are printed (if necessary) and sorted by CarePoint.
Will I ever hear back from my child?
Children Who Write:
It is expected that a child will write three times per year. The dynamics of letter writing can be difficult, and although our field staff strongly encourage children to write, it is not forced. Furthermore, it is difficult when a sponsor has been writing their child and receives a letter they feel indicates that the child does not know them. Yet, because most of the children we work with have experienced significant trauma and upheaval in their lives, we find that it often takes children some time and several letters from sponsors before they begin to really trust them and/or feel comfortable corresponding with them. As you know, letter writing can be a bit complicated on both sides of the world!! Of course, whenever a sponsor receives a letter from their sponsored child, it encourages them to write…just as it encourages the sponsored child to write when they receive a letter from their sponsor.
Letters to US Sponsors from Kids
The field communicates time frames to the CarePoint leadership for when letters are to be written from the children. The children are welcome to write letters any time, but they also have times carved out three times a year dedicated specifically for letter writing. Typically, the CarePoint staff assists the children with the letter writing, however ET Disciplers also help with this process. The field works with the CarePoint staff to ensure they know what to do and understand the importance of letter writing.
- Children are encouraged to answer questions received form the sponsor in previous letters.
- If a child is too young, or unable to write, they will (sort of) dictate their letter to a CarePoint staff or CHC social worker, who will then write it down. There is a place for the child to draw a picture.
- If the child speaks a language other than Amharic and is able to write, the field still encourages the child to write their own letter because they really want the child’s handwriting (Misikir refers to this as their ‘fingerprints’) in the letter. From there, it is usually the CarePoint staff who help with the translation from the dialect to Amharic. (CP leadership speaks both.) So, typically when CHC gets it, the letter is in Amharic and is then translated from Amharic to English.
- Once letters are written, Alex and Fikre gather them up and verify them. They also work with CP leadership/kids with any questions, letters that still need to be written, etc. They typically contract someone to help the staff with the translation, because it is a lengthy project. This takes approximately 2 weeks.
- Once letters are translated – they are double checked to make sure there isn’t anything unclear, the translation is accurate, the child’s name is clear, etc.
Depending on the time frame, they either send them back with a traveling team (preferred method) or will DHL them to our office
**** “Our” and “we” in the above article refers to HopeChest staff. Misikir, Alex, and Fikre are Ethiopians employed by HopeChest who do the majority of the in-country work. I am so excited to meet them when we travel!
Do these letters even matter to the kids?
As a sponsor of kids, I (Alicia), have sometimes wondered if the letters even mean anything to the kids? I recently read the article I am inserting below, and I am inspired to write more letters to our sponsored kids. I want them to know I really do care, that I truly do pray for them, and that I believe they can succeed!
This (below) is written by June Gauss. June has been a sponsor since 2002 and an advocate since 2008. She sponsors three girls (Karla in El Salvador, Jeeva in India and Yenny in the Dominican Republic) and corresponds with one boy (Wander in the Dominican Republic).
“In 2005, I took my first sponsor tour to El Salvador. During that week, I met many wonderful children but two boys stood out. One was sponsored and one was not. Both boys appeared very sad.
It seemed odd to me that the sponsored boy was sad. I learned that he was happy he was sponsored but was also sad because he had not received any letters from his sponsor.
Through a translator, the boy told me that he just wanted to know about his new family, which made me realize how important our letters are to our children really are. I committed to write my child more frequently and not just respond to her letters.
I returned to El Salvador with Compassion in 2008. During the trip, I visited the home of two teenage sisters, Ruth and Flabia.
When I was in their home, the girls showed me their letters. Ruth, all smiles, proudly showed me her stack of letters and pictures. Flabia had a look of sadness on her face. She had only received one letter from her sponsor.
Flabia was thankful for her sponsor and the extra money the sponsor frequently sent, but she really wanted to hear from her sponsor, to know her and have a relationship with her. It was written all over her face how much she wanted this.
Those young ladies had such beautiful spirits about them. I wished I could tell Flabia’s sponsor how beautiful her child is and how she was missing out on a beautiful relationship with this young lady.
I don’t think that many of us (sponsors) grasp how much our letters really mean to our children. I know I didn’t, until I experienced firsthand the sadness that lack of letters creates.”
Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/letter-writing-club/#ixzz2EBq3KaaT
If you ever have questions about letter writing OR anything else in regards to your sponsored child, please feel free to ask! This sponsorship is SO exciting because we will have the opportunity to actually meet our kids! We can form real relationships with them BOTH through letters and through face to face contact. Our first trip to Jemo will happen this May. Please pray about joining our team!