For Compassion-sponsored children in Bolivia, one of the most special days at the child development center is Letter Day. While not every development center in Bolivia designates a specific day for children to write letters, each center decides how letters are written and has two weeks to get them done and returned to the country office.
The Pucara Grande Student Center has a Letter Day when the children get together to write thank-you letters after they receive something from their sponsor.
“The process of how we respond to letters depends of the type of letters the children are writing. If they are letters that every child needs to write, then we distribute them to all of the classes. Tutors help the children by checking the letters and passing them on to me. I check the letters again, organize them by sponsor countries, and send them to the main Compassion office.
“When the children have a new sponsor and they have to write their first letter, an email letter or a thank-you letter, they write them with me. I take the children who receive letters out of the class quietly because if I read the list out loud, other children get very sad because they have not received a letter,” explains Delicia, one of the staff at Pucara Grande.
However, it doesn’t matter how the letter-writing process takes place. Whatever the sponsor sends paints a giant smile on our children’s faces. Receiving a letter makes the children feel cared for and reminds them they have a person in another country who loves them. Our children like to share how much their sponsor letters mean to them.
“My sponsor is Nancy. She writes to me often, she sends me stickers and letters, and I feel very happy when she writes to me. She tells me that she loves me as a son and I tell her that she is like my second family.” — David
“My sponsor is from Washington. He writes to me often. When I write to him I tell him everything that happens to me and I feel happy. It is special for me that he writes to me because I also get to know about him and what he does. He encourages me to keep studying and he advises me.” — Laura
“My sponsor is Cristina and she writes to me often. I feel happy because my sponsor writes to me. Some children don’t even have a sponsor and I feel happy to have one. I thank God for that. When I write to Cristina I tell her about school, church, my family, the development center and about my friends.” — Reina
Children love to write back and tell the sponsors about themselves, their families, their schools and friends, their house duties, their activities, and everything they consider important about their lives.
“My sponsor is Elmer. He is from the U.S. and he writes to me often. He asks me how I am, how I am doing at school and when it’s my birthday he asks me about that. I like it when Elmer writes to me and I love to write to him. I tell him that I am doing well at school, what I did for my birthday and about when I lost a tooth. But I have many mates that never receive letters and they feel sad.” — Lorena
“My sponsors write to me often. I feel happy to receive letters and I like to write to them. I ask them how they are; I tell them that I am fine here.” — Josue
“My sponsors write to me only occasionally. Sometimes I feel bad because I see how my mates receive letters. However there are some children that never receive letters and they also feel bad. I like to write my sponsors and tell them how I am regarding my health, about my school and the things I did, how my family is, or about the activities I do at the development center.” — Leidy
If the child who receives a letter is young and can’t write back on his/her own, a relative will come to the development center to write the reply letter. If the parent can’t write, a sibling or a cousin can do it; however, if that’s not possible one of the tutors at the center will write it. If the tutor writes the letter, the family member and child have to be present and the child will draw a picture on the letter.
“Alejandra receives letters often; her sponsor is from the USA. I feel happy that my daughter receives letters. We are praying for her sponsor and she is also praying for my daughter. She sends us pictures and now we know her by her picture and what she looks like.” –Julia, mother of Alejandra
“I write letters for my sister and I like to write them. I am telling Nayelly’s sponsor that she likes to play, who her best friends are and that she likes to play with my cat.” — Janeth, sister of Nayelly
However, as mentioned earlier, it is very sad for the children when they don’t receive letters from their sponsors because they would love to be part of the special Letter Day.
“My sponsors don’t write to me and I feel sad. I would like to receive letters so I could answer.” — Jazmin
“My sponsor is Jack. When he writes to me I feel happy because he is my only sponsor. When my friends don’t receive letters they feel sad.” — Jose
“My sponsor doesn’t write to me very much. Sometimes I feel sad when I don’t receive a letter, but I feel very happy when he writes to me. I would like him to write to me more. I want to tell him about my family, how I am doing at the development center and how I am doing at school.” — Carla
There are some children at the Pucara Grande Student Center who don’t have a sponsor yet so they don’t get the opportunity to write letters. They are constantly asking if they have a sponsor because they would love to write to them.
One boy often asks if he has received a letter. We tell him that he should pray about getting a letter, but this child feels that God doesn’t listen to him because he doesn’t receive letters. This case is sad for us.
There is another boy who doesn’t want to come to the development center because he has never received a letter and he feels that his sponsor doesn’t love him. This boy writes letters and asks his sponsor questions but he has never received an answer.
Sadly, he is not the only one; there are many.
For the children who don’t usually have the opportunity to tell someone how they are doing or about their personal lives, Letter Day gives them the chance to share and express what they are feeling.
Some of these children have never had anyone tell them that they are special, loved and being prayed for. So receiving a wonderful treasure, a letter from their sponsor, is what makes Letter Day so special.