Letter writing The topic of letter-writing always sparks lively discussions. It even seems to spontaneously come up in posts on other topics.

So seeing as we genuinely value your input (and OK … I admit … in an attempt to stimulate a discussion), I hereby pose the following question to you:

Would you rather receive more general letters from your sponsored child more often or more detailed letters on a less frequent basis?

Discuss.

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  1. Lindy
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:19 am

    More detailed letters on a less frequent basis. I love knowing how they are doing, what is on their heart, how I can pray for them, and what is meaningful to them!

  2. Dwight
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:28 am

    I think we should have access to the facebook page for our childs project. Even if we do not have access to the child they could post photos and prayer needs. The project I sponsor at has a facebook account but compassion does not want us to have access. I would like to have more informaiton about the project faster and a few good letters from the child 3 times a year.

  3. Sara Benson
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:38 am

    Wow. Hard one… Can we say both? :)
    Anyway, if I had to pick one or the other, I would say that I would rather receive the less frequent, more meaningfull letters. (Though “meaningfull” really needs to be defined more to make a clear decision.)

    However, if there were a way to get both….

  4. Sara F.
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:50 am

    I think it depends on what you mean by a less frequent basis. If it is less than 3 times a year, even if it is detailed, I think I would be disappointed. That being said, I would prefer more detailed letters, but I think that may be a lot to expect from some kids. Also, if they might “hold” our letters to answer at a time when they can go into more detail, it is likely to be too much for the child if their sponsor writes even 1-2 times a month. I would hate it to be stressful for them to try to answer things. It might also curb the child’s spontaneity as they sit and decide for themselves what is important to them to share. Don’t get me wrong – I love to get answers to questions, but it is great to see a child’s own spark as they choose a subject and go with it.

  5. Amy
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:54 am

    Hmm. I love getting letters from my kiddos, but I think I would choose more detailed letters less frequently. I got a letter from my little girl Susan in Kenya a few months ago that was personal and detailed, and it just made my heart melt. Last winter I had built a snowman and taken a picture to send to my kiddos. In this letter, the tutor who helped her write it told me about how happy Susan was with that picture, and how she had proudly shown it off to all of her friends. :) The details in that letter really helped me to get to know Susan’s personality a little better, and made her more “real” in my mind. So I would love to have more of that kind of letter less frequently, than more frequent “Hi, how are you, I am fine, thanks for sponsoring me, God bless you, bye!” letters.

  6. jennifer
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 9:05 am

    Ooh, that’s a hard one. It’s kind of hard to get more personal letters at intervals b/c you can’t develop a deep relationship, but if you are just getting form letters more often, you aren’t developing much of a relationship, either. Hmm, I guess I would have to say personal letters less often b/c that’s what I’ve been getting from my Mateo in Colombia and even though I don’t hear from him often, I learn a lot when I do. But, I will say, with my new Thai girl, Nid, I hear from her very often and they are personal, heartfelt letters, and they are absolutely the best! :)

  7. Bob
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 9:24 am

    Less frequent that 3 times a year? No thanks.

    What I’d really like to see is more photos… nothing professional… just an amateur snapshot of my sponsored child engaged in project activities with each letter.

  8. Jenny C
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 9:52 am

    I would prefer less frequent with more details.

    However, more frequent with more details is even better. Two of the children I sponsor are teens. They are on the reciprocal system and both write wonderful letters. I hear from them every 1-2 months. I am trying to write monthly but it seems like it is more like 2 months before I take the time. I need to be better about that.

    I would be hesitant to connect with the center using facebook because personal info like you address, phone number, and email address might be on your account depending on what you posted. I am very cautious about data privacy issues. I only friend people I know and would want to get together with.

  9. Cheryl J
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 10:04 am

    I feel more connected to the ones I hear from frequently. I have some that I hear from much less often and those letters tend to be less specific. I don’t think you have to choose. My newest one is from Togo and I hear the most detailed information from her and she writes the most often.

  10. Nov 12, 2009
    at 10:36 am

    I would like to see much more detailed letters and I would be okay with less frequent.

    Is there anyway to redesign the letter forms so there could be some pre-printed prompts for the kids — Some writing prompts that could give them ideas of things to share?

    For example, “My favorite thing about my town is…” “My best quality is…” “What I like most about my Compassion project is…”

    Age-appropriate questions they could answer that would give more of an insight into them as a person.

    I think in child letters we tend to get a lot of — I’m fine. I hope you’re fine. School is fine. My family is fine.

    Kids are such fascinating little people — I’d like to see that come through more in their letters.

    I know the letter-writing process isn’t designed soley to make ME happy — as sponsors it is our job to encourage our sponsored children in their lives.

    But I think letters are a good vehicle for a child to express his or her own unique personality, thoughts, wants, needs — and I think with some prompting we can better help the children express themselves in these letters.

  11. Nov 12, 2009
    at 10:42 am

    I think I would want both! But, since that might not work out, I like the idea of being able to visit a website featuring my sponsored child’s project site so I know what is going on there, while receiving lots of general letters through out the year.

  12. Nov 12, 2009
    at 10:44 am

    I would like them to answer questions in my letters. Sometimes you can’t ever tell they received your letter at all! Others are great at responding. So it’s a project to project thing that needs to be more standardized across the Compassion program.

    I also appreciate letters that respond to gifts we send – BD, family gift, etc. My Tanzania child’s project is fantastic in that they send a photo of what the family got with the gift. I love that!

  13. Caitlin
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:02 am

    I’m with Bob on his last statement. I would love to get a snap shot of any of my kids just living life (If someone could get a shot of Alok playing soccer, I might cry!). And also, less that 3-4 times a year…not appetizing. I have 3 kids in 3 countries. I get roughly 2 letters a year from India with little to no details. 4 a year from Haiti with 6 pages of details. And I just started in Ghana, and have already received a detailed letter. If I got to choose the ideal, I’d choose a reciprocal detailed letter system. But if I have to choose between often and details, then I’d chose details, so long as it does drop below 3-4 a year. Waiting for those letters nearly kills me as it is. It is really hard to have a relationship with my 2 a year kid.(Maybe when he gets older)

  14. Caitlin
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:03 am

    I meant does not drop below 3-4 letters a year, not does!

  15. Sara Benson
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:23 am

    I receive varying number and depth of letters from my sponsored kids. One of my boys in Uganda, only writes me 3 times a year, but he writes in English, and always is so detailed. I love letters from him. I have other kids who write to me every month (reciprical system) and their letters are less detailed but still personal. I also have a couple of kids who only write 3 a year and their letters are more form like.

    With the younger children I feel like the pictures make up for the lack of detail. I enjoy seeing what they pick to draw and watching their art improve over the years. I have to agree with bob that one of the best things to receive in a letter is a photo. While it may not be possible for all churches to take photos for every child, every letter, I would love to receive more photos.

  16. James
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:32 am

    I would be happy with 1 or 2 really personal, “deeper” letters per year in addition to more frequent, “lighter” letters.

    So many factors involved, I know. The age of the child, how much help they need writing their letter, etc. It’s always great to hear how they are doing and it’s very touching as the long-term relationship begins to develop.

  17. Nov 12, 2009
    at 12:32 pm

    Just to clear up any misunderstanding, we are not planning on, nor have we ever considered, sending less than three letters a year from your child.

    Really the intent of this post was to try to get a better understanding of what matters to you.

  18. Sarah Charles
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 12:38 pm

    I love anything I get from my kids. Of course the more detail the better.

    I wonder what our kids would say about what they want in our letters…

  19. Dwight
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 1:17 pm

    Last month I visited 2 of the children and families I sponsor. I was told by the project director that compassion does not allow them to be to honest and detailed in the letters because the truth might look like they are asking for more money. I have friends that would be offended by the truth.
    Unfortunately after my first sponsor tour in 2006 I bought into compassions marketing. In many ways I wish I was still ignorant of the truth. Before that time we like most families wrote 2 or 3 times a year and sent very general letters so we can say that we sent them. Seeing the truth and only being able to do so little is very difficult. As I talked to kids in the project most did not seam very connected to the sponsors. My letters did not start to get detailed until after my first visit. I just was not a real person to them. I am fortunate I work for a Christian ministry and have been blessed with the ability to travel to Asia.

  20. Nov 12, 2009
    at 1:26 pm

    It’s hard to choose. I love the detail in his letters (he’s only 6 so we don’t get much yet!) but it’s kind of hard for my boys to help build the relationship when we only get three letters a year. So for the sake of my kids (who are still young, too: 6, 4, and 2) and their continued commitment to the program, I’d say that more often would be beneficial!

  21. Emmnanuel Nyarko-Tetteh
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 1:49 pm

    I have enjoyed all the comments from you guys and ladies. As the Partner Training and Support Manager in Compassion International Ghana office, your comments are great lessons to guide me in the desingn and training of the Child Development Workers in how to guide the kids to write and communicate compassinate letters to you. I believe the letters should actually engage you and develop relatioship. So we will train the workers to help the children to engage you with their letters. I can tell you that you encouragement and belief in the kids are really making them. SOMETIMES THE LITTLE DIFFICULTY we have is that because most of our children are not native English speakers and in most of the public schools these attend are expected to use the lacal language as meduim instruction and impede their ability to write at the tender age. But all said and done we will do our best because we appreciate the Godly heart and love you are showing our kids.Thank you all out there for what you are doing with the kids. God bless you all.

  22. Nov 12, 2009
    at 2:29 pm

    I would like more details but I think sometimes the personality of the writer determines what is written. The idea of prompts is a great one! And getting a picture or two a year would be absolutely awesome!

  23. Nov 12, 2009
    at 2:30 pm

    The letters I get almost always say basically the same thing, sometimes with more detail. I love getting the letters because there are always pictures they’ve drawn. I started scrapbooking their letters/pics. So they are in one place. My last child, who is no longer in the program, asked me why I didn’t write to him more. Talk about guilt!!! So, now I try to write more and I get answers back more often. So writing to them is important to them. I can’t tell you how many times we went into a student’s house and the first thing they did was bring out their sponsor’s letters. They SAVE them!! They were so proud and excited that those people were supporting them and praying for them and helping them get through life a little easier. So, those who aren’t writing, start now. Your child will cherish your letters.

  24. Nov 12, 2009
    at 3:35 pm

    Do those have to be the only options?

    My kids in Uganda write much more frequently than my others, and their letters are always more detailed. I’ve had them the least amount of time (not even two years yet) and know more about them, their families, their daily lives, their struggles, their dreams than any of my other kids, who write three times a year like clockwork, even though I’ve had them a number of years.

    That said, I’m always happy to get any letter from my child, no matter how general or detailed, although of course the more details the better I feel I know them, the better I can pray for them, the more I’m naturally inclined to write to them.

    One thing I think would be wonderful in helping us understand our child’s daily life better without putting too much upon the child and without adding a tremendous amount of work or cost for the staff is if each project just had a simple webpage that described their activities. If the projects could post just every now and then, maybe two or three times a year, that in and of itself would be wonderful and would help us connect with our kids and give us more to write about. For example, if someone from the project wrote a simple account of a special holiday celebration they had at the project, what they did, maybe posted a couple pictures from it… or if they just posted “A Day in the Life of Your Compassion Child” specific to their project. “Our preschoolers come every day, and our school-age children come on Saturdays from 8-5. First we sing and have a Bible story, then we do an art project, then we have lunch, etc.” As it is, most of us actually have no idea what our kids are doing at the project, and I’ve never in all these years been able to get a kid to tell me anything above and beyond “we learn about God.”

    Projects could also use the space to post any needs they have, that sponsors could pray about. The privacy of the children and the projects could be preserved by only allowing access through logging in to your account on compassion’s website, and only being allowed to access those projects where you have sponsored children attending.

    I would rather have that — some kind of information from the project staff — than trying to push the kids to write more than they are already able to do.

  25. bethany galeotti
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 3:53 pm

    less frequent (if it must be), more details!

  26. Sara F.
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 4:16 pm

    Wow! I love the idea of more photos! I have only gotten them from one child in response to gifts. It was nice to see what she had purchased, but I would love some candids of all my kids and the projects. (If anyone wants to foot the cost, I’d love to visit projects, take thousands of picture,s and put them on slideshows! ; ) Wishful thinking . . . .) Could projects endeavor to put together video or slideshows to post on ourcompassion? Maybe of Christmas festivities, special traditions, daily activities, or even some kids with messages?

    As it was mentioned above, it is interesting to wonder what the kids honestly think of our letters and what they want to hear. . . . Maybe Emmnanuel Nyarko-Tetteh has some insight for us? I really want to build a relationship with our kids that is honest and caring in both directions.

  27. Dwight
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 5:20 pm

    Sara F.
    I asked this question last month when I was at one of the projects. From what they said Compassion does not want this type of communication. They have a face book page… but Compassion does not want this type of communication. The probem is not the projects its the USA side of compassion.

  28. Judy Martin
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 6:48 pm

    I agree, if possible, an updated photo at least once a year. Not professional, just a snapshot would be great! My adopted son is too young to write on his own so I know time will change this. But when he sent drawings, you can tell an adult did it. I really rather not have it if the child didn’t really do it. I will love them without it! Also agree with the person who mentioned prompts to help us get to know them/their likes, etc. Compassion does a wonderful job!

  29. Sheryl
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 7:48 pm

    Frequent letters, whether general or detailed. Three – 4 times a year is not enough – please don’t take away the reciprocal writing program or at least have the children write 6-8 times a year. I just want to hear from them as often as I can.

  30. Mike Stephens
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:01 pm

    I receive so many letters it doesn’t matter to me. The letters I receive are so encouraging to me b/c I share things I geniunely want to take place in my life and they pray for them to happen. I can’t get much more detailed than that. One time I got a letter that was the first one my sponsor child had written b/c he told me his dad cut his hand and couldn’t write. I don’t want letters I want to go visit and wow them and myself be wowed by meeting them and fulfilling some promises I made. I am 2 for 2 on visiting I just need to get 5 for 5 in the next few years. I tend to think the letters you receive on par with the detail you put in your letters. So if you want more detail from your sponsor child start with your letters and theirs will follow it works for me.

    But back to the question I would like both. Meaning a detailed letter often ;) But I am thankful to get any.

  31. Mike Stephens
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:08 pm

    After reading some of the comments I can see how a visit would be worth a thousand personal letters. And I bet the same is true from their end as well. In a visit you get to see “beliefs”, hopes, personality, character and I think somehow it kind of lights a fire under you to go visit again. You realize what a difference you are making and can make and shoot “Awesome God” is my favorite song and Rich Mullins loved Compassion so I figure I’ll follow in his footsteps a little.

  32. Amy Wallace
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 8:55 pm

    I would want less frequent, more details. But really, I like any letter I get from my children :)

  33. Sarah
    Nov 12, 2009
    at 9:49 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the idea of having the projects post news and information through a secure channel. It would be wonderful (and enlightening!) to learn about the project activities from an adult. Could we even ask questions of the staff? Knowing more about the projects will strengthen ties between the children and the sponsors which in turn will strengthen the ministry of Compassion as a whole. I’ll be praying that this happens!

  34. Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:30 pm

    I am with Prairie Rose. I love getting every letter from my children. They are very important to me.

    I like the idea if there was more information available and pictures of each project. It would be neat if they created some sort of template, where the project could upload pictures and maybe video and us sponsors could be up to date on the project.

    It would also be great if there was a thing like a telegram or something that could get a question answered quickly. Right now, there is field memo that can go out, but I get the feeling that they require quite a bit of work and they also take quite a bit of time to get the answer. For instance one of my children needs an operation. She might have gotten it already. It would be great if there was a way that a one or two questions could be submitted, they could get approved by Compassion and then forwarded to the country office, where they would maybe call or email the project and have an answer back in a week or so.

    But going back to the question about less letters with more details or more letters that are more general. The question itself is a bit general. Maybe the project could do a general letter twice a year that could be included…. I don’t know. When I think of the child sponsorship, I think of discipleship. With the countries where they are on the reciprical system, this discipleship and the relationship with the children is so much deeper and full of meaning than with the children of the countries where it isn’t. There is no comparrison.

    So, when the child gets to write more often, they tend to start writing more specifically. So, they are really directly related. So, if you reduce one, you would reduce the other. That’s why this question is a difficult question for me. Because no matter, which one I pick, I feel like I’m sacrificing both.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  35. Nov 12, 2009
    at 11:37 pm

    @Dwight

    I think Compassion is trying to protect both the sponsor and the child in this process. It’s an important thing, because culturally, there are a lot of differences and there could be a lot of misunderstandings. The project could ask for money from the sponsor or the sponsor could ask for something not appropriate from the child. Basically, you’d open up a huge can of potential problems. Having said that, I think that Compassion is revisiting this whole concept, because the Internet is forcing them to deal with it in another way.

    It is happening more and more frequently that sponsors are getting emails from their sponsored children. The internet is bringing everybody together more and more.

    I’m curious to see how they will solve this, while at the same time keep the security of both the sponsors and the children.

    Kees

  36. Caitlin
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 1:38 am

    lol, Sara F. I had the same thought about just rallying a bunch of sponsors who wanted pictures of their kid in one country, and then going over for like 6 months and finding each kid to take a bunch of pictures for each sponsor. And then I realized…if they were going to fund someone to take pictures, they’d fund someone who had a better camera then my little digital cannon, and maybe had a little photography training…and I can’t really leave the country for 6months at this time in my life anyway… but it was a fun dream. Maybe yours will work out better! (Better yet, maybe I can come on your trip, and carry your camera bag while you take good pictures…I’ll write a 1000 word essay on each kid, and then we’ll ship pictures and essays stateside…sigh the daydreaming begins again!)

  37. geri
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 4:13 am

    I hear from my children in the Philippines very often and their letters are detailed. Of course, being able to write in English probably influences this. I’d love more letters – I don’t have the patience to wait months on end for a letter and it is very difficult to develop a relationship if we only hear from the kids 3 times a year. What I’d really like is a detailed letter about the project and local community at least once a year.
    Geri

  38. RachTurner
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 8:01 am

    More detailed letters less often would be nice, but I’m happy to get anything from the children we sponsor.

    One thing I would like to see is maybe some example letters from sponsors to children. I struggle with what to say in my letters to our children and would love to see some that others have written that Compassion things are good examples.

  39. Teresa
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 10:37 am

    I find it interesting that most folks want more details, and less frequently. I am of the exact opposite opinion. I think I will have a stronger connection if I just hear from her more often, and if I write to her more often. While I would love to know details about her life, just the simple act of holding the piece of paper in my hand, knowing she was thinking of me, brings about connection, and a stronger bond. I think more frequently is the way to go.

  40. Nov 13, 2009
    at 10:46 am

    I agree, Teresa. While I love every letter we get, it’s difficult to build a relationship (and ask detailed questions that show that I know about his life) when I only get three letters a year. And like I said before, I think more frequent communication would help my boys develop a bond with our sponsored child.

    I would LOVE to visit someday, too.

  41. Barbara M.
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 11:06 am

    I agree with Geri, It is very difficult to develop a relationship when the letters are infrequent AND very form-like. I know from my own reaction that the more I hear from the children and the more details I know the more involved I feel and the more I want to write. Some of the letters that just say, “I am fine. My family is fine. Pray for me, I pray for you…..just leave me feeling a little less than connected to them.

  42. Nov 13, 2009
    at 11:08 am

    Yes, actually as I think about it, I would agree with Teressa, if I had to make a choice. The reason being is that the children will write a lot more details, if they wrote more often.

    I would think that limiting the letters could really hurt the child/sponsor relationship in many ways. Just the fact that these are such lively discussions show the importance of the letters not just for the children, but also for the sponsors.

    It is also the relationship between the sponsor and the child that has also a huge multiplicative affect.

    This is what in many ways causes more people to become advocates, to visit their children to encourage their children. If you listen to the testimony of Michelle Tolentino as an example, you’ll hear how the letters impacted her.

    So, in other words limiting that is really hurting the chicken that lays the golden egg.

    I think of what Dr. Wess Stafford says: “If there is a choice between the letter and the check, send the check.” I always tell new sponsors that it takes three things to sponsor a child and that they are in that order. 1. Prayer, 2. Letter writing, 3. The funding part of $38. Then I always tell people that the order is very important here. In other words, I really don’t want sponsors that just do the funding, unless they are going to request a correspondent.

    So, if the frequency of letters to the sponsor were reduced, this would result in a reduction of the frequency of letters to the child too… This all would also reduce the details in the letters. These details come from the love the child has for the sponsor. So, overall, it would hurt the whole sponsorship program.

    Kees

  43. Barbara M.
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 11:16 am

    Kees, I am curious about your comment about the children getting their sponsors e-mails. How is that happening? I sponsor a child with another organization and at one time had a friend who was visiting the country take a gift. Somehow a relative of this child obtained my e-mail and then I was requested to fund a university education for an older sibling in the family. It put a burden on my heart because, of course, I would like to help but could not. It was extremely uncomfortable. I absolutely understand the strict rules of no personal contact other than through Compassion. I did say I could not and never heard from them again but it was not a comfortable position to be in. Are e-mails being exchanged on sponsor tours? How are the children getting access to them? Thanks

  44. Dwight
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 1:55 pm

    Hi Kees
    I am responding to the post from 11/12
    I understand your perspective on emails. I would not give out my email… but if the project had a blog or a face book account they could post things and not reply directly to anyone. If they want to ask for money…I can say no. I am asked for money all the time by churches in the Philippines. I have been on 3 mission trips to the Philippines and enjoy them. But I start to worry about the policies of compassion and potentially working with a compassion church in the Philippines from the same denomination. I work for a Christian ministry so maybe I’m a little different but I want to comply with compassion but still help missionaries and churches in the Philippines. On my last visit one of the compassion churches I visited, the church asked if I could come on a trip to help the local community. I said maybe…do I drop my child and then help. But that would create a strange situation if I end up still involved with the church. When my kids graduate from compassion I probably will not sponsor more because of this but I do feel an obligation to help them until graduating but I also want to help churches in the Philippines. If they had a public face book account any connections with the project will be public. If it is public it is less likely to be inappropriate.

  45. Nov 13, 2009
    at 2:06 pm

    Hi, Barbara,

    What I meant there is that a child might “google” his or her sponsor and find the contact information of the sponsor. Of course that would depend a lot on the sponsor, how public they are on the Internet.

    One child found my email address and emailed me. I was glad to get the email, but I wrote her back, saying that she was very important to me, but that Compassion doesn’t allow us to write this way, so I didn’t want anything to jeopordize that relationship and that we couldn’t email this way, but that as soon as she graduates from the program that we will email each other all the time! It was a difficult email to write, because these children are so important to me. Having said that, I was sure to really affirm her in the email too.

    Also, during a child visit, the sponsor and the child are not allowed to exchange contact information. That’s one of the guidelines.

    Kees

  46. Barbara M.
    Nov 13, 2009
    at 3:19 pm

    Hi Kees, Thank you for your quick response. I always appreciate that about you! It is most certainly a different age we now live in with all of this internet access. In some ways good, in other ways not so good. I can imagine how difficult it was for you to send that e-mail and yet it was surely the right thing to do. I also appreciate how sensitive you were to the child to let him or her know you were not rejecting them but only following Compassion’s guidelines. Thanks again for writing.

  47. Nov 13, 2009
    at 5:10 pm

    Hey everyone. I want to weigh in on the conversation about our communication polices and guidelines.

    I work on the International Communications team, and I see a different side of the communications process than if I were in your shoes solely. However, I do sponsor two children – one in Haiti and one in Honduras – and I wholeheartedly agree that we have opportunities to improve the communication process with our children. And I can safely say that Compassion as an organization wants that for us too.

    Compassion absolutely wants to provide sponsors an open and swift communication channel with their children. We want sponsors to be able to communicate more directly and more efficiently. And we are committed to finding ways to make this happen.

    However, there’s a lot involved with creating this open channel. It seems pretty straightforward – just make it happen, change the rules, use the technology that’s out there – but it’s so much more than that because there are also child protection issues that have to be considered.

    Compassion is committed to improving the child communication process, but we also are committed to safe sponsor-child interaction and correspondence.

    To help you understand the many issues that we have to grapple with, I plan to write a blog post on the subject soon.

    And just so you know, your comments aren’t getting sucked into a black hole. The “movers and shakers,” the people who can influence the change around here, are reading them.

  48. Nov 13, 2009
    at 11:13 pm

    Last weekend I sat down and read all of my letters from each of our 5 sponsored children. I made notes for each child of what I learned from this accumulated correspondence. It was a very enlightening thing to do as it provided a much better understanding of each child and how they are unique individuals.

    But it also highlighted just how different in content levels the letters from the different projects (countries) are. We have sponsored each of these children for a minimum of 4 years (some as many as 10). Our child from Indonesia has written us a number of times but her letters tell us nothing about her and only once in all of these years have we been told what she received for the birthday, general, family, and Christmas gifts (so that makes once out of 13+ gifts). In letters from our other sponsored children we get the exact breakdown of each penny that they receive and every item they buy and one of our children’s countries always includes a photo. Obviously it is a lot harder to feel a connection when there is so little information provided in the years of correspondence.

    If not for the understanding we have of how our gifts are used from our other children I could see that it would be easy to stop sending gifts as we hardly know that the child in Indonesia even receives them.

    I just returned from visiting our child in El Salvador and one of the things that was frustrating to me as I prepared for this trip is how little I knew about Bernardo. I read all of the letters from 8 years of sponsorship and came away not knowing how many brothers and sisters he has which made it impossible for me to take small gifts for his siblings. Meeting Bernardo has created a strong commitment from me to write all of our sponsored children more frequently and I hope that my increased communication will spark that in my sponsored children as well. The web form on the Compassion web site makes that so easy and is something that should be promoted heavily especially through the various social networking sites that Compassion sponsors use.

  49. Nov 13, 2009
    at 11:46 pm

    Let me correct myself. I just checked again the letters from our child in Indonesia. Over 4 years we have sponsored her she has mentioned 4 of the 13+ gifts that we have given for her and only the most recent one was the amount and what she was going to get with the money mentioned and perhaps this last note is an indication in a change in how this is being handled.

  50. Barbara M.
    Nov 14, 2009
    at 4:58 pm

    Win, I very much agree with your statement, “Obviously it is a lot harder to feel a connection when there is so little information provided in the years of correspondence.” I understand it takes time for all of this, but years later not really knowing that much about our children really makes it a bit difficult. I’m a rather boring person actually and don’t always have alot to write about. When I have little input from them I find myself really struggling to come up with something new month after month. If these were new relationships it would make more sense but after a lot of time has passed……….

  51. Nov 15, 2009
    at 12:39 pm

    I have only received one letter from my sponsored child and it was broken down into facts about her. I found out what her favorite color is, her favorite food, the names and ages of her family members and best friends. She asked me two questions that she wanted answered and told me that she would send a picture of her baby brother in her next letter. I make Michell a card every month and write her via email randomly. I have emailed her from work and told her that I was at work and was thinking about her so I thought I would write. I also write her on my travels so that she knows she is thought of.

  52. Valerie Long
    Nov 17, 2009
    at 6:49 pm

    I love getting the letters from my children no matter how short/long they are because most of my children draw absolutely beautiful pictures that are sent with the letters. Some of my children are VERY talented.

    Would I like more detail in the letters my kids send? Absolutely, I would. But having read about how different cultures perceive the sharing of personal information, I know that writing in more detail might make my children uncomfortable. I’d rather receive more general letters and their beautiful pictures than make them feel uncomfortable about writing.

    Some of my children are voracious writers which I love and their letters get more detailed. I actually find that the more they write, the more detailed they start to become and it’s wonderful. :)

    I, too, would love to see a place where we could access a website/page for the project. Perhaps not a Facebook page as that does open up a lot of safety issues with contact information and such, but perhaps something on the Compassion website itself? Something you could access when logged into your account just like you can access the general information on your sponsored children, maybe the information on the project could be accessed that way. Or something on “Our Compassion” that would be similar. But it would be wonderful to be able to hear news about the projects and perhaps see pictures of the children interacting with each other. :) But only if it can be done in a way that can protect the children’s privacy. While I am concerned with my own privacy online, I have a pretty solid online presence thanks to Facebook and such so I’d be more concerned with the child’s privacy and protecting them.

    Since I have several children I sponsor plus a couple of correspondence children, I get letters pretty regularly so it’s always exciting to go home and see if any came in the mail today. :) I received one just yesterday. :) They make me so happy to receive them. :)

  53. Michelle
    Nov 18, 2009
    at 7:04 pm

    I’m actually having a hard time with this right now… I get the minimum three letters a year, written on approximately the 20th day of January, May, and September. My little girl’s tutor writes for her, but it consists of one paragraph full of information. I love getting the rundown of her school activities and how she did during her doctor’s visit and such…. but on the other hand it is such a letdown because it takes minutes to read the entire paragraph…. when I waited four months between letters to hear from her!

    I blame it on the “official” Honduras child stationary…. where there is a cutoff for what her tutor writes and then space to be translated at the bottom and with the back of the page for coloring. It makes me wonder how much more I’d get to learn about her if it was written on plain white paper….

    But what really bothers me (and which I’ve mentioned in other posts … sorry!) is that I’ve sent monetary gifts and haven’t heard anything back yet. I sent the first $25 back on May 5th and because Ludis didn’t receive it before she wrote on May 20th I had to wait until she wrote in the end of September. I have still not received that letter…. and this makes it going on 7 months. And now I’m actually afraid (after reading some other sponsor posts) that she… or her project… won’t let me know what she got with the money! I think that will kill me…. (only slightly kidding) In addition…. I sent her birthday money and a family gift in September, and I likely will have to wait until Spring to hear about it….

    So my main idea is that when gifts are given, at least, that the three letters a year rule is bent and an extra letter (even if it is really small) be sent to say what was bought. Because I am not only curious, but I wanted to help her and her family out and I’d like to know that they are being helped and how, you know?

    And I hate to sound ungrateful… because I am really happy to get the three letters at least and I’m glad Compassion has let me have the opportunity to be a sponsor….but it is very hard to run to the mailbox every day hoping to hear from her and not get anything.

    I also agree that it would be WONDERFUL to have a project blog or something that we can go to and maybe see candid shots of the kids and get updates from the adults on what all they do during the day and during holidays and such. A digital camera would make posting pics free and easy versus sending more paper photographs. Not Facebook…. but like someone said: a link through Compassion where you log in privately with your username/password.

    Oh, and I vote on the more frequent letters. Definitely. But I bet that was evident…. :)

  54. Carolyn F
    Nov 20, 2009
    at 1:51 pm

    More detailed!!! I have two kids that I sponsor, and two more correspondent kids. For the most part, the letters are very generic.

    I try hard to model to them what I want in return. I try hard to write one detailed letter at least every month about what our family has been up to — details about our vacation to the NC coast, what the kids are doing in school and at church etc. I normally type this one and send it to all four kids. I try to respond to each letter the kids send me individually, and connect with those details, often via email to make it faster.

    I would love love LOVE more pictures. I wonder too if it is cultural that it takes the kids a while to open up in their letters?

  55. Michelle
    Nov 20, 2009
    at 2:49 pm

    I was wondering if it would be alright, since it is hard to get detailed answers ~or even answers!!~ to my questions, if I could type out a list of questions, print them out and send them to my girl for her to answer on that sheet and send back the same sheet to me?

    Questions like they suggest they ask…… but that I don’t get a clear answer to:

    Who all lives with you? (so I can send extra stickers, coloring pages, etc. for sibs)

    Do you have any pets?

    What are you doing in school? (like addition, subtraction, science, etc. so I can send flashcards and supplemental activities)

    Things like that. I wonder if I actually wrote them down in a list and asked her to answer them on the same sheet of paper…. if she would answer at least SOME of them???

    • Elizabeth
      Oct 13, 2011
      at 7:09 am

      I have given up on asking my child questions. They are never answered. He is good to send us letters. But, they are very generic. It is hard for me to continue this very shallow correspondence. However, I do love him & pray for him. I think that is mutual.

  56. Kristann
    Nov 21, 2009
    at 4:20 am

    This is such a tough question to answer. I am like you…I LOVE LOVE getting letters from my little girl I sponsor in Uganda. In fact, I just got one on my Birthday and it made my day! :) Since she is only 5 it is the typical form letter with a tutor helping her but this one was different. This last letter actually took the time to answer some of my questions and acknowledge my family. That meant the world to me. The center staff always tells me what her gift money is spent on and I appreciate that as well. I would love more details and I am sure I will get more as she gets older.

    I am getting better about writing her this year (I have sponsored her for almost 2 years) as I find myself thinking more and more about her. I am happy to hear when she gets all my stickers and color pages and the likes. But I would love more details even for the little ones…the prompts are a good idea!

    And of course…we would ALL love more photos. I carry mine around with me all the time…it is a good conversation starter about Compassion. It has gotten a couple of co-workers to sponsor children. Two of us just went on a trip and the entire time looked for things we could send our little girls in our next letters.

    Can’t wait to get another envelope in my mail that says a letter from your sponsored child!!! I run into my house and curl up to read them right away!!

  57. Caitlin
    Nov 23, 2009
    at 3:49 pm

    I posted this on OC, and I thought it was appropriate to share here. I sponsor a 6 year old in EI(who needs help writing), and an 11 year old in Haiti (Who writes for herself), and I also sponsor an 8 year old in ghana who also needs help writing. The letters I get from my 6 yo in India are written on regular stationary, and often tend to be very vague and never acknowledge the letters/gifts I sent him, so I was surprised when I started sponsoring in Ghana and got this form letter that really does a good job of guiding the person writing the letter for a younger child.
    I just received another letter from my 8 year old Abigail in Ghana (223). It’s on a form called “Response letter” Which is really nicely set up for younger kids, and I like the results I’ve gotten as a sponsor through it. It starts with a check box. ‘Thank you for your: [] Letter, []Picture(s), []words of encouragement, []Others” Then it moves onto to paragraph sections: “Response to sponsor’s questions” “questions from child to sponsor” “I would like to know more about” “Child’s prayer for sponsor” “child’s prayer request” “memory verse” and then there’s a blank box for the child to draw in. I think that this letter is one of the best form letters I’ve seen. It’s broken down so the person helping the child has a good direction to follow, it addresses the letter the child received from me and the questions I asked, it encourages the child to ask questions as well as delve into things that may have interested her from my letter, and makes sure the child puts something I can pray for her about. It looks very efficient for someone who may have to help 10 children fill out the same form to 10 different sponsors, and still have the letter be quite personal. Just thought I’d share, good job gh223.

    It also looks like it’s good in helping the child learn to structure their own letters, and it makes this sponsor very satisfied in the information she received (Like we’re actually gaining a relationship). Plus, my Abigail draws such cute pictures!

  58. Kathy Olson
    Nov 25, 2009
    at 11:09 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    If you are still waiting to hear if a family gift was received and it has been over 7 months you can contact Compassion and they will check with the field office and find out. I have done this a few times and had a response. I am still waiting on a family gift I sent on February 1st to Kenya. I hope to hear back soon. It’s so hard to wait. I always give it about 7 months, after that I contact Compassion.

  59. Michelle
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 10:09 am

    Kathy… Since FEBRUARY!?!? That is just awful…. What can the excuse for that be, I wonder?

    My husband is convinced that the money/gifts don’t actually make it to the children. I’m wondering as well… Of the items I’ve sent, my little girl has only commented on one. It was from the very first letter I sent her. Nothing else has been commented on, and on the bottom of each letter I receive from her is an area to check what she has received. Nothing is checked on any of the letters! So I am wondering if she has gotten the books and things….and the money.

    Actually, I was wondering what happened when your child is not on a reciprocal system and they only write three times a year…. and they happen to be absent on the day that the writing takes place? The letter I just received was written in the end of September. It was the one I had had high hopes of…. the one I had thought Ludis would mention the gift money in. Instead, not only was the $25 not mentioned (or any other physical gift I sent) but it was a totally basic letter that did NOT sound like Ludis at all. In her five previous letters she stuffed in all sorts of information about herself and what she was doing in the one paragraph. It was short, but at least it was informative!

    This last letter seemed to be written by someone other than Ludis. In fact, I suspect that the tutor wrote it! Maybe I’m just being paraniod, but the tutor even wrote her age wrong… by TWO years!?!

    I actually cried when I got the letter. I ended up thinking about my reaction, and wondering what had changed from the first year that I had sponsored Ludis.

    That first year I didn’t know about this blog. I thought we were just supposed to send one or two letters (maybe three) a year and that would be sufficient.

    I found this blog in June, a year after I’d sponsored Ludis and learned how important it was to correspond. And how needed the extra gift money was…

    So I sent money. I sent letters and fun items. I emailed letters. I apologized to Ludis for not writing more, explained about the health problems that had made it hard for me to write, and told her I’d do better. (I actually hit the limit on the characters allowed on the email form.) I bonded emotionally through the writing and ended up looking forward to her letters and anticipating each one…. hoping she’d answer some of my questions and wanting to learn how she was.

    So before I didn’t invest much and therefore didn’t care as much. With the extra effort I am now spending, I am now involved.

    It actually hurts when I don’t hear….. about the money. About the fun items. About questions I ask and get no reply to.

    It makes me wonder how many other sponsors are out there that tried to write and then gave up when they didn’t get much of a response. Because why spend your time and money when it doesn’t seem appreciated?

    NOT that I am going to back off corresponding with Ludis or sending her money and things like books, stickers, and other fun trinkets. But there have been posts on this blog asking for ideas on how to get sponsors more involved in the correspondence…. and this particular blog post asking about frequency of letters…. and it makes me wonder if at least SOME of the lack of sponsor engagement is due to feeling alienated because of the lack of interaction or response from the children?

    I’m just wondering… I’ll call next week to see if there is any information. It will be a little over 7 months then…

    • Vicki
      Apr 25, 2011
      at 10:14 am

      I have only been sponsoring my little girl less than a year. I sent money for a Christmas gift and she thanked me for the shoes she got for Christmas. I wonder if the children just get practical items or do they sometimes/also get toys?

    • Linda
      Jun 29, 2011
      at 2:07 am

      I am new to this whole experience and would “GREATLY” appreciate any and all advice, opinion, comments etc on how this system works and what to expect. I am discouraged by reading some of the blogs here. Our girl is in Central Mexico and I pray things go smoothly. Again, please any information you all can supply will bw very welcomed. In Christ, Linda

  60. Nov 30, 2009
    at 11:52 am

    Hi, Michelle,

    I have done over 50 childvisits and I can assure you that the gifts do make it to the children. I’ve seen the things that they have bought with it. Having said so, I think it would be really good, if you could contact Compassion at the call center at 1-800-336-7676. They can create a fieldmemo about your gift and you will get a reply back in about 3 or 4 months or so. They will investigate what happened with your gift.

    I think that some things get lost in the translation too. I’ve received close to 800 letters from the children. Most of them are in Spanish, since I focus on Bolivia, so, I’ve been learning Spanish for the last 3 years. I can almost read the letters now in the original. The vast majority of it is translated correctly, but sometimes, there are things in there that aren’t translated correctly at all. It could be a ‘mis reading’ of the translator. For instance, I could see that a ’6′ and an ’8′ could look alike in writing. I don’t know, without seeing the specific, but I would definitely check up on it with Compassion. They like to be made aware of this, because Integrity is paramount at Compassion. Therefore, this really matters to Compassion.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  61. Dwight
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 12:59 pm

    Hi Michelle
    In my case I do think the gifts get through, sometimes they list specifically what they purchased, IE a fan, an outfit, food…other times they just say thank you. The specific letters depend on the age of the child and the commitment of the family and project workers. The letter writing process is only as good as the church case worker and family. In the Philippines the church workers are very good and they can read English so the letters are fairly good. My brother and sister-in-law sponsored in a different country and the letters often seamed staged; (they ended up canceling the sponsorship). I assume the letters are basically form letters that the children copied. I have visited many projects in the Philippines and have been told that most sponsors don’t write that much…your family like my family has really wanted to help connect with the sponsored child and family so we write often. It is frustrating when we don’t receive the same type of reply. I have been on many mission trips to the Philippines and have found…like any place in the world every family and Church is different, just like every sponsor is different. Some families and Churches are not that connected. You might be the only sponsor at the project that wants that level of detail. You might put in the letter something for the case worker. Ask them to read the letter and see if they will spend time helping the child reply. I have worked hard to build a friendship with the case worker and this has made the letter more detailed.

  62. Michelle
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 1:56 pm

    Hey Kees… 800 letters? Wow. How long have you been doing this? I’d love to have more children to sponsor, and that way I’d get more letters even if from different children…. but I just can’t afford it right now.

    I think it is great that you are learning Spanish! I’ve actually thought of doing the same thing…. I know I have to find which dialect or type of Spanish though before I invest in a program. :o) But I figure if I ever get lucky enough to visit Ludis, then it would be lovely if I could actually speak with her…..

    I wondered about the translation too. But in the case of her age that was written in the last letter, they wrote 8 years old instead of 10. (Although she won’t be 10 until Dec. 8th.) I just found it odd because all of the other letters had it right, and this was written on the letter that seemed like it was from someone else…..

    I think I will call Compassion. Do I have to wait exactly 7 months, or do you think I can call a week shy of that date?

    Thanks for writing back to me so quickly. You are like one of Compassion’s gurus in terms of sponsorship… and advice from you (and others like Dwight) who have been around for awhile means a lot to me. :o)

  63. Michelle
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 2:07 pm

    Hi Dwight. You gave an example of just what I was worried about: sponsors canceling their sponsorship because of a feeling of not being connected. That is why I’ve been writing so much on this blog and trying to convey how I’m feeling…. not to grumble and complain (well, not really! lol) but to maybe help find a way to make the correspondence flow better. Which is why I believe more letters more often is better. It keeps the kids in the sponsors’ minds and more one paragraph letters more frequently is better than three one paragraph letters in an entire year.

    I like the idea of getting in touch with the case worker… but how do I go about doing that? A “tutor” writes the letters for Ludis, and in the past year and 1/2 she has gone through four “tutors”…. Are the tutors the same as case workers? Or are the tutors workers at the church or teachers? If they are teachers, are they the teachers at her school or the church center? (I don’t even know if she goes to a separate school or just learns at the center… or maybe has a tutor at home which is why her tutors write???) There is so much I don’t know about my little girl and haven’t gotten answers to!

    But I appreciate the feedback. I can tell you guys care and it helps. :o)

  64. Barbara M.
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 4:51 pm

    Michelle, I can relate alot to what you have written about. I have several children and I can say that they all write different letters. Some are quite disappointing to be honest. After a year I still get basically “fill in the blank” letters and don’t feel a real connection no matter how much I write or send. I sometimes feel like if they did not hear from me it would not matter. It is hard to stay motivated to write and send things if you feel like they really don’t care one way or the other. Then, I have other children that seem to really respond to everything I say or give. A lot depends, I believe, on the child, the project and the person helping or encouraging them. I do understand why some people give up. I know this is not “about us” but sometimes it is nice to know that all our efforts are appreciated. We always read here how important our letters are to the children and yet sometimes I find myself asking “Really?” I try not to get discouraged and just keep writing hoping that someday their letters will show a tad bit more interest in correspondence.

  65. Nov 30, 2009
    at 4:59 pm

    Hi, Michelle,

    I got most of my letters from my 18 Bolivian children. I write each of them at least twice a month. I’ve sponsored most of them between 2 and 3 years. They generally write a letter back for every letter that I’ve written. So, that’s how I got so many letters. Each of the letters is special to me though.

    I haven’t gotten that good yet with my Spanish that I am having to decide which dialect to choose. It still all looks the same to me. I can read about 80% of the letters though. Just not enough, that each sentence seems to have a word or two that I don’t know. The words I don’t know are normally the important words like the verb or so. So, I know enough to get an idea, but not enough to really understand it.

    The staff of a project might be about 10-20 people. They remind me a little bit of what Christian schools look like. They normally have a big playground and it is connected with a Church building. You’ll see Bible verses and various cartoon characters painted on the walls of many Compassion projects and there are children all over the place. Then there is a big kitchen and dining area where the children get the meals. Then you’ll see children do the dishes. Overall, it’s very lively. I’ve seen some of my children actually get my letters when I’m there and then they also get a piece of stationary to answer the letter on.

    If the child is young, a parent might help with writing the letter or a tutor/staff worker will help with it. I’ve heard of projects, where the parents will all have shores too. That’s part of the agreement that they make with the project when they register their children. Some of these might be helping their child write letters.

    I wouldn’t think that you’d have to wait for 7 months to the day or so. Generally, I found it takes about 2-3 months for a letter to get there and 2-3 months for the reply. That’s good to keep in mind. Compassion is eager to help you with this.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  66. Dwight
    Nov 30, 2009
    at 5:21 pm

    Hi Michelle
    My sister-in-law started sponsoring about 20 years ago when she was in high school. She used her baby sitting money… to pay for it. The main reason they dropped was that the children kept leaving the project for one reason or another. Some of the children/ families are not as connected as others. Every project is different so it is hard to say who the tutors are. In the Philippines the projects I have visited employ a case worker for about every 25 kids. They get paid to keep track of the kids. The kids also have teachers that come from the church that teach them when the project is open. But the Philippines sound’s very different from other countries. This is due to the maturity of the Church in general and 30% of the people live very well like we do in America. They have large malls and McDonalds…. Check out the Philippine page on our compassion. I had a child that dropped from the program at age 19 when she was in Collage. I put a lot of time and effort into the sponsorship and to get a letter 3 months after the fact was difficult. I think if I could have talked to her before she left she would have stayed in the program. I visited her project 2 different times… her father left when she was small I become like her father figure…. It might not be possible for compassion to speed up the process. But they have sown me the needs around the world. As a person that wants to do more I am moving to more directly work with churches. I have been on many missions trips so this affords me that luxury. Most people who sponsor through compassion…fund and forget… they just want to send money and get 2 letters a year but they don’t have the time to put much into it. God can still work through this. The people who really care will get more connected with missionaries they support… and that is also good and God can work through this.

  67. Dec 1, 2009
    at 12:03 pm

    I’d like to share my experience as a sponsor. Hopefully it will encourage those of you who are frustrated or discouraged.

    I have sponsored my little guy, Youvens for 7 years. For years, I got “form” letters written by a sponsor or project worker. They said the same thing in basically every letter. I would ask questions and never get a response. I went to visit him a couple years into the sponsorship. In his letters following my trip, he never even mentioned the visit! I consistently sent money for birthday and Christmas gifts and rarely got an acknowledgment of the gifts. Despite having met him in person, I felt like my sponsorship was pointless.

    Then, after FIVE years of this, and for no reason that I knew of, things completely changed. The letters suddenly got more personal. He started answering my questions. The next sponsorship picture I got, he was smiling. For the first time. I sent a birthday gift with a friend going to Haiti, and shortly after, I got a letter and picture of him holding the gift. A couple months ago I sent a Bible with another friend, and a couple weeks later, I got a thank you letter and picture of him holding the Bible!

    The past two years of my sponsorship have been a totally different experience than the previous five.

    Why the sudden change? I honestly have no idea. I don’t know what changed or why. But finally I am seeing the effect of my sponsorship, and it has made the first five years when it didn’t seem like it was making a difference totally worth it.

    Don’t give up on your child. If we truly are doing something so close to God’s heart, we’re making Satan very angry. And he’s going to do whatever he can, including making you feel like you’re not making any difference, to get you to stop.

    I can guarantee you, you’re making more of a difference than you know.

  68. Dec 2, 2009
    at 8:31 am

    Wow. Here is what we get:

    From Uwizera: three or four letters a year, with great detail about any gifts and some personal detail about other things.

    From Tausi: used to be reciprocal or even more from her, personal and usually with detail. I have written 6 letters since the middle of July and received one.

    From Maria: Close to reciprocal, very personal and warm.

    From Denisse: Three, maybe four letters a year, mostly “canned,” having nothing to do with anything I’ve written, asked or told her. She’s very expressive in person, but apparently does not like to write letters!

    From Amanueal: Form letters with very brief answers to the prompts. He is our newest child and not doing well in school, so I don’t expect chatty letters!

    What would I like? More personal letters from the laconic, four to six times a year. They need not be long, but since we no longer receive updates other than the photos, I would like to know how they are doing in school and at the project (yearly); whether they are developing spiritually (yearly); what their particular challenges are; anything else that would give me a glimpse into their particular lives. Do they have a “best friend”? What do they think about their community?

    I know some of those questions are geared more for older children. But I long to have a better idea of what their lives are really like. I can’t live with them, I’m not likely to meet all of them until we are all with Jesus, and Compassion can’t do videos of every child, or even every project, to send to sponsors.

  69. Michelle
    Dec 2, 2009
    at 4:11 pm

    I just spoke with a Compassion phone person, and she told me to write to Ludis and highlight the questions I really wanted answered. (Like what was bought with the $350.) She said if it is highlighted, then I am more likely to get a response to those questions. I asked about writing via the email, and she said to just number the questions.

    I’m not sure how to feel about this as Ludis won’t write back to me until January 10th…. So I will still have to wait until Spring to find out what all she got….

    *********Definitely this is an example of why more letters more often, even if they are short, could be oh so very important to a sponsor.***********

    Even if you only get one fact per mailing, that could still add up over the year info-wise versus three paragraphs a year….

    It is heartening to know that even if no response is really received from a child, that the child is still subliminally getting the idea that he/she matters… and I am hoping that once Ludis is old enough to write her own letters that she’ll say more. :o)

  70. Michelle
    Dec 2, 2009
    at 4:13 pm

    Dwight, I’m so sorry about your 19 year old dropping out of the program… That would be a real heart achey blow. :o( I’m glad you kept sponsoring and doing mission trips though. I can’t do mission trips, but I am thinking of getting more involved with children in our neighboring community…..

  71. Dec 5, 2009
    at 1:18 pm

    I would prefer to get more detailed letters on a less frequent basis, but I would prefer if the letters could be sent 4x/year instead of 3x/year if that was something possible. After reviewing many of these comments, I have been quite fortunate that the children I have sponsored over the years (goodness that makes me sound old and I'm still in grad school!) have always written detailed letters. While they have not always answered my questions, I understand that when I put 1-2 questions in a letter and I write about once a month, that is quite a few questions to try to answer! Some of the ideas mentioned of a 'question database' for each child at the center of questions the sponsor asked (or even just questions from their most recent letter) would be nice to make an attempt to answer them when they write. Also, the fill in the blank letters would be nice at times. I think they would help the children for Compassion wide activities, ie, a fill in the blank letter about what we did to celebrate Christmas with prompts. For instance, asking 'we ate', 'we sang', 'we played', 'we received', 'the most fun was', etc. Perhaps 3x letters written by the children but move the times around so that at Christmas a form letter is sent with space for children to write more if desired.

    I'm glad you chose to ask people to figure out what they would prefer in an informal survey on the blog.

  72. Dyan
    Jan 3, 2010
    at 9:12 pm

    I love getting letters from my kids. I do not expect them, however. I am doing this out of love and to help them out. I do receive different types of letters from my kids. Ravijone, writes all of the time, I’ve gotten up to 2 letters in a month from him. Khushbu has written twice, but detailed everything she bought with the money I sent her. She was very grateful. Yeser, doesn’t do well in school but still is a joy and tells me how handsome he is. I’ve only heard from Jessica once, but she thanked me repeatedly for sponsoring her..telling me she went to a kite festival and it was thanks to my sponsorship that she could go. I think it takes time for them to get into the swing of things.

  73. Jan 4, 2010
    at 9:10 am

    Dyan, you should be receiving no fewer than 3 letters per year from each child. I don’t know how long you have sponsored Khushbu and Jessica, but if it’s been long enough that you should have had more letters, you might consider calling 800-336-7676. Three letters per year are the minimum standard established by Compassion.

    I understand your just being grateful to hear from them, whenever, and yes, it takes time for many of them to get into the routine. But the projects are responsible for meeting certain standards, so if you’re not receiving at least one letter every 4 months, or so–okay, stretch it to 6 months, if you want–Compassion might want to find out if there’s a reason.

    Besides…Compassion is a very relational ministry and puts much more emphasis on building the relationships between sponsors and children than any other organization. If you aren’t hearing from yours as much as you are supposed to, it’s hard to build a relationship.

    Of course, that works both ways, and sadly, too many sponsors don’t write, or write very seldom. You do not sound like that kind of sponsor, tho’!

  74. Jennifer Fisher
    Jan 21, 2011
    at 11:42 am

    In an effort to keep it simple, I would like more detail. Given mailing times that can be 2-3 months both ways, 4x a year would be great. Assuming someone is usually helping the child write, I really want any questions answered, as that is the only way we have of really getting to know someone. I actually like the little forms with the different sections on them, especially in the beginning or with younger kids: likes, dislikes, names and ages of family, prayer requests,etc. I have never had any concerns about the $$. I just don’t. I recieve thank yous and lists sometimes and sometimes I don’t. If I send a family gift though( which I have not been able to do, but plan to this year). I DEFIINITELY want to know how it was used, because I see those as for items that could provide some longer term impact in some way. It sounds like we as sponsors are forgetting to call Compassion with questions and just worrying instead. We have every right and a responsiblity to the kids to hold Compassion accountable, but that being said, they have given me no cause to doubt them, and I have been with them for 8 years. For myself, as was suggested, I’ll try numbering and highlighting questions to get answers and see how that goes.

  75. Feb 21, 2011
    at 7:37 am

    Michelle, I am sponsoring an 8 year old girl from Tanzania. She lives with her Grandmother and other children, sister and cousins. I often send a gift to her and sometimes specify what I would like for it to be spent for. I always receive a picture of her wearing the clothes, shoes, etc. and even leading her goat, which was bought with birthday money. I sent a small package with a group who went to Tanzania and the picture I received included her Grandmother, wearing the scarf I sent her and my darling child wearing all her clothes. Her center is very conscientious about her writing letters and although her letter is written by the translator (or someone else) it answers my questions including information about their water supply system when there was a cholera epidemic. Once when my child was in the hospital I was able to contact the office to find out how she was getting along. I know that the children do receive the money and it buys an amazing amount of things for her and her family. Compassion is wonderful. How lucky we are to be able to help someone when we have so much. Sallie Estes

  76. Crystal Shaw
    Feb 28, 2011
    at 2:31 pm

    I would really like more frequent letters also. The minimum three letters that I have been getting over the last two years have been very, very basic already, so more details would of course be good too. It’s hard to choose between the detail and frequency. I would prefer more of both:)

  77. Jan
    Apr 6, 2011
    at 10:52 am

    I truly will go for the FREQUENCY (as in uniform reciprocity)!!! I believe that if they write more often, it is reminding them more often that there is a person on the other side of the world that cares for them and is eager for a letter. Also, it will help them with their writing skills which will help them in school, which is extraordinarily important! Perhaps make it mandatory that each child write at least 3 times/year, but allow those whose sponsors are writing more often to go ahead and answer each letter immediately.
    And not all of them will go down in detail when they increase frequency – and relationships will grow stronger. I have become extremely close to my children in Bangladesh and Bolivia and Ghana, all writing reciprocal letters and all doing wonderful jobs with detail. Their detail has definitely not suffered from an increase in frequency!
    I feel very sad that I will probably never have such a relationship with my children in Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, and El Salvador, who send rare letters. I am sure they are equally deserving of such a relationship and that they have very precious personalities that I will never know in depth.

  78. Jamie
    Apr 18, 2011
    at 1:31 pm

    I would like more letters more frequently. When I write one, would love to have one in return to keep in contact with child sponsoring. Children’s lives change daily and sponsoring a child that is not with you o where you can know how they are can be stessful.

  79. Vicki
    Apr 25, 2011
    at 10:54 am

    Of course more letters would be great, but if I had to choose I’d prefer more detailed ones. What’s frustrating for me is that my questions rarely get answered. In fact, I often wonder if my letters are avaible to the person who is helping my child to write hers. I can’t wait until she is old enough to write for herself.
    I’m very lucky that my daughter, who was a language major in college (with Spanish as her main language) and spent a semester in Equador as well as some time in Spain) reads my letters. She will explain what a certian phrase/idiom means, just to make some things clearer for me.
    Perhaps others could find someone to translate for them. A high school or college may be a good place to start. I do realize though that many languages are not studied here in the U.S and it would be very hard to find someone. I did just had an idea (probaly because I live in the DC area). Perhaps the child’s country”s embassy in DC could help out. Just a thought.
    I can’t wait until I am able to meet her. She is from El Salvador and so is my son-in-law! He said that she is not too far form where he grew up and still has relatives.. Does anyone know off hand (and I can always check with Compassion) if we can visit our spnosored child on our own instead of with a sponsored trip via Compassion?

    • Apr 25, 2011
      at 4:19 pm

      Hi, Vicki,

      To start with the last part of your post…. yes, you can visit the children on your own. It’s called an individual visit. You’d have to line up your own flight to the country and you can talk the details with the “Experience Compassion team.” They are always very helpful with this. It generally saves a lot of money and you can probably visit the child’s home and student center. The key word there is: “probably.” Some parts of El Salvador are very dangerous because of gangs. But your child should be so happy. Most children if you ask them what their biggest dream in life is, it would be to meet their sponsor. Even the LDP students feel that way and many formerly sponsored children are still really wanting to meet their sponsor or have contact with them. If you know what you’re doing, that can be great, but I don’t know if I would suggest that with everyone… When you’re not working with an organization like Compassion in the midst, you could have difficulties all of a sudden.

      As far as contacting the local embassy….. I would caution about that… I could see that creating problems in some countries…. There are people that might view sponsorship as imperialism. I know that’s not the case…. but some don’t want outside help and it might create a problem. However if you have a University close by, you might be able to get help from a club or something of International students. It is important to be aware that most international students are not allowed to make money in the USA. So, be careful about offering payment for financial services. But you can at the same time have a ministry among these students. Then when they graduate, they can go back and serve Christ in their country. I know of a group of churches that does this regularly and they try to coordinate it, so that when the students go back, they’ll plug in together and start a church in their country. Several very successful churches have been planted that way.

      I would

    • Feb 4, 2013
      at 11:24 am

      “Of course more letters would be great, but if I had to choose I’d prefer more detailed ones. What’s frustrating for me is that my questions rarely get answered. In fact, I often wonder if my letters are avaible to the person who is helping my child to write hers. I can’t wait until she is old enough to write for herself.”

      Courtesy of Compassion International: http://blog.compassion.com/letter-writing-frequency/#ixzz2JxKwbuaR

      I agree. I have sponsored a child through another charity for 10 years & still really don’t know that much about her. I wish I had the opportunity to see more fully into her life, her goals, desires, & dreams for the future. I have also been discouraged from writing to her after she graduates from the program, as others in need of help may begin to write to my personal address, asking for monetary support.

      • Feb 4, 2013
        at 1:12 pm

        Grace,

        You might want to number and underline your questions. Also, I wouldn’t ask too many questions. You might get an answer to a question and not know which question this is about. Like a statement like: “to answer your question. YES.” Remember they are just children.

        If you really feel that the question should be answered, you might even ask to share the question with their tutor. Different centers work differently with the letters.

        Yes, it can very easily happen that once the child graduates that the child or others see you as someone, who has a lot of money and wouldn’t mind helping them. In some countries, this is much more expected than in others. The USA is much more individualistically oriented, so it might come across to strong.

        I can tell you this, that whenever you deal with another culture, you’ve got to give a lot of “grace” to the conversation. In other words, really give others the benefit of the doubt. Things can be very different in other countries. I never forget speaking a church in Bolivia and afterwards a pastor came up and said: “It’s nice to have a big fat guy talking to us.” BTW, I’m not fat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But this just illustrates how different people are in communication and in culture. So, you might find it difficult to communicate closely with your child, who then will be an adult.

  80. Apr 25, 2011
    at 4:20 pm

    Hi, Vicki,

    To start with the last part of your post…. yes, you can visit the children on your own. It’s called an individual visit. You’d have to line up your own flight to the country and you can talk the details with the “Experience Compassion team.” They are always very helpful with this. It generally saves a lot of money and you can probably visit the child’s home and student center. The key word there is: “probably.” Some parts of El Salvador are very dangerous because of gangs. But your child should be so happy. Most children if you ask them what their biggest dream in life is, it would be to meet their sponsor. Even the LDP students feel that way and many formerly sponsored children are still really wanting to meet their sponsor or have contact with them. If you know what you’re doing, that can be great, but I don’t know if I would suggest that with everyone… When you’re not working with an organization like Compassion in the midst, you could have difficulties all of a sudden.

    As far as contacting the local embassy….. I would caution about that… I could see that creating problems in some countries…. There are people that might view sponsorship as imperialism. I know that’s not the case…. but some don’t want outside help and it might create a problem. However if you have a University close by, you might be able to get help from a club or something of International students. It is important to be aware that most international students are not allowed to make money in the USA. So, be careful about offering payment for financial services. But you can at the same time have a ministry among these students. Then when they graduate, they can go back and serve Christ in their country. I know of a group of churches that does this regularly and they try to coordinate it, so that when the students go back, they’ll plug in together and start a church in their country. Several very successful churches have been planted that way.

  81. Diane Nichols
    Jun 20, 2011
    at 9:38 am

    We have sponsored for about 2 years and I have learned one thing, sometimes different people write the letters for the kids so the one currently writing may not know that the child received a gift, some of my kids have a family member write so the questions get answered, yes I think a list of questions would be helpful, I got a 3 page letter from the translator for the girl we sponsor in Thailand answering all my questions, I think it helps that in this case the same translator writes for this girl. I guess we are really blessed with our kids because whenever we send them a gift they or the translator tell us what they bought and if it is clothes some of the kids send pictures of them wearing the new clothes or holding the items they bought and a lot of times their whole family is in the picture as is the case with our girl in Thailand, yes the letters take a while and sometimes you have to ask 2 or 3 times what they bought. As I said before sometimes the kids have different translators doing their letters each time and sometimes things get lost in translation.

  82. Leah
    Nov 13, 2011
    at 3:10 pm

    I would love to receive more detailed letters less often so I could get more a sense of my child’s personality. I love receiving any letters no matter how short they are.

  83. Amber
    Dec 7, 2011
    at 9:09 am

    I just wanted to add that all kids are different. Many kids, no matter where they are from, are not good at letter writing. My own all-american 9 yr old has a really difficult time with letter writing, though I have made it a point to practice with him since before he could write. He resists it because it is tough for him to think of words and to emotionally connect. He is a relatively low-key, unemotional kid who LOVES to get letters, but doesn’t necessary show it and without great prodding, will not reciprocate. If he were someone’s sponsored kid, his letters would be few and disappointing. With that said, my son is an amazing boy with a heart for God – should I stop encouraging him in the faith because he writes poor letters? Please – please continue to write, pray and have faith that God is working through your letters and gifts though you are not “getting” in return.

    • Dec 7, 2011
      at 11:07 am

      If this were a Facebook page, I would “like” this post. I agree Amber. The thing is that most of the sponsors and the children, the only thing that the relationship is through is with the letters. Unless you go visit the child, that’s pretty much it. Even the children are like that too. When you go visit the child, the first thing the child will show you is the stack of letters that they get. So, it is understandable that some sponsors feel that way.

      But it is also important to realize how most of the children grow up. They spend considerable amount of time without parents there. The parents might be working 12 hours a day. Most of them never hear: “I love you” from their parents. (in Bolivia at least) They might have a little junky television in the shack that they see all kinds of garbage on all the time. Their neighbourhoods many times are filled with people that aren’t very good influence on them….. drunks and gangs and in this environment the child grows up. You can imagine the situation those children are in and that some of them aren’t very good in expressing themselves in a letter. The church staff at the projects will help them with it, but especially with the programletters (The 3 or 2 letters a year that every sponsored child sends out) that can be difficult. Imagine having to work and read through 400 program letters with a deadline that they have to be at the country office by….. (Then imagine the country office staff having to work through all of those stacks and translate them (50,000 of them) This can be a busy time….

      So, keep writing the letters, because you know not only do the children like them, but the country office staff likes them, the people in the projects like them, their families like them. It’s a big honor and joy for everyone to receive those letters. I loved working with the letters. I would be very close to being in tears with all the letters. Sent pictures too. Those are really valued by the children. Just imagine how you value it when you get a photograph of your child.

      Anyways, great post Amber!!!

  84. Dec 7, 2011
    at 1:20 pm

    should I stop encouraging him in the faith because he writes poor letters? Please – please continue to write, pray and have faith that God is working through your letters and gifts though you are not “getting” in return.

    Oh, I wish I could “Love!!” this comment! Your question, Amber struck me with such force that I literally sat up straighter and jerked my head back!

    I wish I could send that question to some of the sponsors I have talked to. There was a couple on my second sponsor tour. They were meeting their sponsored child for the first time, but they weren’t very excited about it, at all. They didn’t feel they were “getting anything” from the sponsorship.

    The morning after child-visit day, I shared a breakfast table with them. I asked them how the visit had gone, and how they felt about their sponsorship. They answered that the visit had gone “okay,” and they guessed they would start writing more often to their sponsored child. (I think I could preach a sermon, here!)

    Thank you for making a strong point with such clarity and perspective! And Merry Christmas!

  85. Paula
    Jan 24, 2012
    at 8:18 am

    I would love to receive more letters in a year from my sponsor children. I must admit that I also would love to, and purpose to, write them more often, as well.
    I am very thankful for the opportunity to know and write to and to hear from the children.
    Thank you, Compassion for all that you do for these children and for letting us in on the blessing!

  86. Alissa
    Apr 13, 2012
    at 9:06 am

    I prefer more detailed letters. I have one sponsored child in Tanzania and one correspondence sponsorship in India. My girl in Tanzania writes quite often, but she says pretty much the same thing each time, never really giving any details. And though she usually answers questions, the answer is usually as short as possible.
    My boy in India used to write fairly often when he had to have help and the translator helping him was great in that she explained things for me and all. Now that he has learned to write them himself, they are not only rare, but very undetailed and my questions rarely get answered. I miss the details….
    Anyway, that’s my take. :-)

  87. Elizabeth
    Apr 13, 2012
    at 10:27 am

    Our sponsored child really doesn’t answer our questions. Because of the delay in the correspondence, it’s confusing as to what he got before he even wrote the last letter. It has been very hard for us to imagine the reality of his life. I had hoped to have more of a dialogue with him. However, what he writes and what we write appear to be unrelated.

  88. Apr 13, 2012
    at 6:17 pm

    all done

  89. Diane Nichols
    Apr 25, 2012
    at 11:22 am

    I would rather receive fewer letters and more information to really get to know the child(ren), I am fortunate in that one of the girls I sponsor writes frequently(I received the average of one letter every month or so from her and if I ask questions in my letter, the person that writes for her numbers the questions I asked with the answer following. It really makes me feel closer to her and she says that by my asking questions, it shows her I really care about her and that I am interested in her life.

  90. Linda
    May 9, 2012
    at 10:32 pm

    Both!

  91. May 31, 2012
    at 4:26 am

    I would like to receive as many letters as my sponsor children would like to send! I would love to see the process of letter writing/sending/receiving updated to the digital age. For instance, one of our sponsor children has access to a computer and speaks and writes English well. I hope that Compassion will allow her to submit letters online and would then transmit them to us online to save weeks of transport time. Since we write our letters (mostly) online, it would cut the cost of shipping and printing stationary on both ends. In addition, our other sponsor child though he does not write in English, the translated letter could be sent electronically (scanned) and then sent to us by email – again cutting down the cost & time involved in sending the letter.
    The ultimate would be a “facebook” type setup on the compassion site with a monitoring system by Compassion to check the content – this could cut down significantly the 8 week lag time between a letter being written and received. Thank you!

  92. Alice
    Jun 12, 2012
    at 8:28 am

    I want more details! When I get a letter (which is maybe every 4-5 months) it has maybe 5-15 words on it. I really know very little about my sponsored child. She is only 6 so I don’t expect tons of info but certainly just knowing she likes cats, to clean, likes soccer, and loves her school is not enough. I do think (and hope) the letters will be better when she is older.
    But again, in answer to the question, I would rather more details and a pic maybe once a year would be nice too!

  93. Jun 12, 2012
    at 11:21 am

    I would like more details. My Ugandan child has only written twice, and not many details. She does not answer questions, so I am assuming she doesn’t have my letters with her when she does write. I don’t know what she has received from me. Not that I want a thank you, but just to know she is receiving it.

  94. Jean
    Jul 16, 2012
    at 1:22 pm

    I would choose details, I know very little about my little girl I have sponsored for 2 years, of course she was 6 when I first got her, but I love to pray for her and her family and send her stickers, paper dolls, note cards, paper, construction paper, etc every Monday, but I love to hear from her and its too few and far between, I did receive pictures of the food they bought with the money I have sent, and her clothes and shoes and Dora backpack she bought with the money I sent her. Love sponsoring!!!

  95. Shane
    Jul 30, 2012
    at 8:36 pm

    Both!

  96. Kalah
    Aug 9, 2012
    at 12:19 am

    I would say more details in the letters. When I read more details in the my child’s letter, I get to know her better by building a good relationship personally. While I am waiting for her next letter, God reminds me to pray for my sponsor child. When my child tells me what she bought with any gift, sometimes I don’t understand the translating. One time I asked her what do that word mean? She said she was sorry that she did not explain it to me. I got a letter in the mail and she drawed a picture of it. It was a skirt and a shirt. I was so surprise that my qustion got answered! Sponsor children are God’s little angels I love them!!

  97. Aug 12, 2012
    at 2:42 pm

    I would like to receive letters more often, even if very general in content

  98. Lisa Weaver
    Sep 13, 2012
    at 3:08 pm

    Well, I’d honestly prefer detail. I write them a lot and I think if writing were a rare expereince, and they had more of the letters from me when they wrote, the letters might be more inclusive and detailed. Also this would be a good way to learn how to write throughly or correctly; or it might be. Perhaps I am being totally naive here, but it’s an opinion poll.

  99. Sandra Perry
    Jan 11, 2013
    at 8:33 am

    I would rather have more detailed letters less frequently. I want to know what is going on in my sponsored child’s life.

  100. Jan 13, 2013
    at 2:58 pm

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  101. Lisa Weaver
    Feb 4, 2013
    at 1:12 pm

    I would much prefer more detailed letters. One of my sponsored children writes pretty much all the time but never says very much about herself or her ‘world’. I got a very detailed letter from the other that is only like my second or third letter from her at all. So believe me when I say, I understand this diliema.

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