Letter writing Letters are the closest connection that a child can have with her or his sponsor. The donation you faithfully give each month provides the financial support for your child’s development, but your letters provide beyond the material — needs such as love, hope and possibilities.

If poverty had a face, in Brazil it would be the face of a child. According to UNICEF, in 2004 more than 50 million Brazilians were living in poverty — without access to basic needs such as potable water, health care, good nutrition, education — and facing high rates of unemployment and violence.

Nearly 30 million of that number were children and adolescents.

In that same year, 800,000 children from 7 to 14 years old living in these conditions were not attending school, most of them from illiterate families who have no way to help their children in their education. Without encouragement, it is easy for them to just abandon school and start working in order to help their families.

It is an endless cycle as these same children one day will grow up and have their own children.

But there is hope, and your sponsored child knows exactly where to find it. Your sponsored child goes to her or his room, gets an old box full of photos and letters from under the bed, and as this child starts reading a new breath of life fills the heart.

“The letters from the sponsors are very important on children’s social and cognitive development,” says Maura, director of Lar Batista de Crianças child development center.

“Through the letters they have access to another culture and language, learn how to communicate well by speaking or writing, and moreover, they learn about affection and respect. To love and be loved.”

For that reason the correspondence monitor at the child development center also talks with the children about geography and history from their sponsor’s countries.

Luiz is 12 years old and loves getting letters from his sponsors, a couple from Australia.

“I feel that I am a very important person when I say at school that I have friends from another country and we send letters to each other. I also like to know that I pray for them, they for me and God listens to us.”

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One of Luiz’s classmates at Lar Batista de Crianças is also sponsored, but the 11-year-old boy has only received one letter in the two years he has been sponsored.

“I feel sad and sometimes frustrated. I’d really like to know about my sponsor’s life, such as: Where does she work? Is she married with kids? What are her hobbies? Does she have a pet? Things that my teachers cannot answer for me.”

According to Maura, children get excited when they receive their letters. “They gather together and tell to one another what their sponsors wrote to them. It is a joyful moment for each one of them.” And such a moment is special not only for the children, but for all the people who make this relationship happen.

Marta has been working as the correspondence monitor at Projeto Vilamar child development center since 2000. She says that her job is full of challenges, but she understands she is playing the role of a bridge between two people who love and care about each other.

“There was a specific letter that touched my heart. A sponsor whose wife had passed away wrote to his child telling about his pain. I started crying and also the child … at that moment I understood that even living so far from one another we can feel and share feelings with a friend we love.”

To most of our child development centers’ staff in Brazil, the improvement children show in their behavior is visible from the moment they get sponsored.

“They have to concentrate to write well, which makes them think about what they are writing. They are automatically compelled to learn how to write and read correctly. Also, the fact that they have somebody concerned about their lives also makes most of them avoid bad company, drugs and youth delinquency. They cannot accept disappointing their sponsors.”

In the spiritual area, children recognize that the same Lord they worship in Brazil is worshiped overseas.

Very shy, 12-year-old Maria loves to talk about Jesus with her sponsors, a couple from the United States.

“We used to write about our dreams and day to day. But what I like most is when they teach me new things about God’s word.”

Vitória thanks God for her sponsor’s life –- an 80-year-old lady who loves the 11-year-old girl as her own granddaughter.

“She asked me to call her grandma, and that is exactly how I feel about her. She is part of my life and family, even though we never spoke personally. I care about her letters so much that I have a special place for them, inside a drawer … for me, love has no borders.”

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  1. Chuck Guth
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 5:02 am

    What a great blog. Having visited Honduras twice I have seen the truth in this. My own sponsored children have shown me the letters and things I have sent. Each and every one of them. My heart breaks when a sponsored child would say to me “Will you tell my sponsor to write?”. (Thank God for the Correspondence program)- when I engage potential sponsors I make sure to tell them it is more than the $38- it is the letters and the relationship. That is what the children need.

  2. Amy Wallace
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 7:19 am

    Thank you for this!!

    Just as our letters bring joy to our children, their letters do the same for us. I love getting letters from my children, and I re-read them over and over again.

  3. Aug 17, 2009
    at 9:33 am

    While I realize the personal and touching nature of a hand-written letter on paper, is there a way to make the system more efficient? Perhaps sponsors can take a picture of their letter and upload it for translators.

  4. Aug 17, 2009
    at 9:54 am

    I agree. I can’t tell you how many times children have come up to me in projects and asked me to look for their sponsor when I get home and ask them to write. Others carried their sponsor letters and photos in their pockets. The letters are so important.

  5. Aug 17, 2009
    at 11:13 am

    Always triggers tears in my eyes, to read about a child whose sponsor does not write. Maybe Compassion needs to send word to all who don’t write at least 3 times a year just to inform them of the correspondent-sponsor option.

    To take that a step further, IMO, they ought to consider sending a notice to sponsors who don’t write even once a year, to let them know that a correspondent sponsor will be assigned to their sponsored child unless they indicate their intent to begin writing, and then follow up within 30 days.

    I know that sounds harsh, and appropriate explanations could be given along with compassion for those who really are too busy. But the children are our focus, right? And if a sponsor pulls his/her financial support in a huff, another sponsor who would write might be found for the child.

    Can’t tell you how often I bite my tongue to keep from telling a new sponsor to “raise your right hand…do you solemnly promise to write to your sponsored child a minimum of three times a year? Will you commit to writing more often, if at all possible? And if you find that you cannot write to a child at least three times a year, will you request that Compassion find a correspondent sponsor for your child?”

    I’ve never done it, but–gosh!–it’s close, sometimes!

  6. Ken M.
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 12:13 pm

    I really love this post. I have to admit that all of my children are from Brazil. Any post featuring Brazil always captures my attention. One of my children’s project was featured, too.
    I wish that every sponsor knew the importance of writing to their child. Money helps in getting material things but it doesn’t replace the feeling that comes from knowing you are loved and appreciated.
    One of my children has thanked me for everything but “mostly for the letters and photos”.
    I love receiving letters from my children, too. I told them that I save every letter that they send. I probably have the same joy as my children when receiving a letter. My face lights up when I see the tan envelope in my mailbox with the phrase, “Message from your sponsored child”. I re-read them, too. After writing this I will not only re-read the letters but pull out their pictures, too.

  7. Barbara M.
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 4:46 pm

    @Vicki Small – Vicki, I absolutely agree with you! I have been waiting several months for two more correspondence children. My pen and paper are ready. I so love doing this and wish that sponsors who can’t or don’t want to write would just kindly step aside and let those of us who want to write their children have the opportunity to do so. I truly wish there was a way to impress upon sponsors how terribly important these letters are.

  8. Dana
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 4:52 pm

    What a good reminder of the importance of writing to our children. It breaks my heart to think of children whose sponsors don’t write to them. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it must be for the child who never receives a letter. each letter I receive from my children is so very precious and is treasured.

    Vicki – I so no what you meant! I wish we could help sponsors understand how important it is to write to your child. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a child who eagerly awaits letter day, month after month, watching friends and other children get letters, but getting none him or herself. Compassion is so much more than the financial contributions we make each month.

  9. geri
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 5:13 pm

    I love reading stories like this. I really wish people knew how important letters are. I imagine that all of us who read this blog already know this. The issue is how do you encourage those who care enough to sponsor yet don’t write? I have a friend like this (she doesn’t sponsor with Compassion). She has not written once in 5 years and no matter what I say she doesn’t seem to get it. Geri

  10. Mary P.
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 6:20 pm

    I love to write and receive letters from all of my children. I aim for once a month letter, but do fall behind in my own expectations. It is vital to build the relationship through letters.
    I called Compassion to find out why my correspondence child’s sponsor is unable to write. Without breaking confidentiality she told me the woman is a doctor who has 101 childeren she sponsors.
    Each individual sponsor is different and I used to get mad when sponsors do not write. Yes, it is sad and unfortunate, but it is their choice.

  11. Cheryl J
    Aug 17, 2009
    at 8:47 pm

    David, are you aware of the ability to write your children on-line on Compassion’s website? That saves time because it is sent directly to the country office and skips Colorado Springs. I can write to all of my kids in the space of one hour by copying and pasting the bulk of my letter and then just personalizing each one a little. That allows me to write every 3 weeks or so. I hand-write letters when I send pictures, stickers, etc.

  12. Stephanie Green
    Aug 18, 2009
    at 9:00 am

    I understand what Vicki is saying, too. As a sponsor and correspondent, I adore having the privilege (and I do believe it’s a privilege)of being an encouragement in the lives of more children. I know so many others feel the same way. I understand the desire for the relationship to be between the child and his actual sponsor, but there are many sponsors willing to correspond with other children and it’s heartbreaking to think of any child telling a visitor to their project to please “find my sponsor and ask him/her to write to me”.

    I hope that eventually more children will be “permitted” to have correspondents assigned to them so they can experience the love, joy and encouragement that comes from steady correspondence without having to endure the waiting and wondering.These children have enough to endure as it is.

    I”m grateful for all the sponsors who DO write and all those correspondents who pour their love into so many children in need of reassurance!

  13. Aug 18, 2009
    at 9:33 am

    @Vicki Small

    Hi, Vicki,

    I agree. I always tell new sponsors that sponsorship involves 3 things:

    1. Prayer
    2. Writing a letter from time to time.
    3. the $38

    Then I tell them that the order is on purpose and that each of these ingredients are like ingredients in an applepie, e.e. one is missing the whole pie tastes bad.

    I think it should be on the acceptance form in the child packet. I’ve had one sponsor telling me that he didn’t sign up for letter writing, but for a local church in that community to take care of everything.

    A lot is related to how Compassion is presented. In a Western audience, when poverty is presented, it is translated to a lack of money, thus the sponsor will think that the money alone solves the problem. But the poverty is much more than just a lack of money. It is a lack of hope, a lack of the Gospel.

    Thus the letter writing is extremely important and it should always be emphasized in a presentation.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  14. Brianne Mullins
    Aug 18, 2009
    at 1:11 pm

    @Vicki Small – Your understanding and passion for children to receive letters from their sponsors is so wonderful! And I think what you are doing is exactly what needs to be done – to educate sponsors on the importance of letter writing. I see the significance firsthand everyday here at Compassion but to be honest I did not really understand the immense impact a letter made until I was actually told (before working at Compassion). Now I make it my goal to tell all sponsors because I know it is not that most of them don’t care – it usually is because they just don’t realize.

    Also, to reassure you, we do have ways to communicate to sponsors who haven’t written their child. For those sponsors who have not written in the past six months, we do two things:

    1. We send a letter reminding them the importance of writing their child and with the letter we send a postcard to make it easy for them to write a note to send their child. In this letter we emphasize the importance of letter writing

    2.We send them an alert in My Account letting them know it has been over 6 months since their child has received a letter and we link them to the email form for them to contact their child.

    It is extremely encouraging to see you all so passionate about the letter writing process and the importance of encouraging your sponsored child! Keep up the good work!

  15. Josh Valley
    Aug 18, 2009
    at 1:21 pm

    Kees,

    I like how you put that…and I fully agree with you. Prayer is so important, and our children have to know we are thinking about them, care about who they are and that we want to share our lives with them. This is why letter writing is so important and crucial. “Compati” is about “suffering with” our children, not just throwing them money and feeling good about our good deeds.

    Thanks for the tip. I will ensure to emphasize the importance of letter writing more in my presentations.

    Josh.

  16. Barbara M.
    Aug 19, 2009
    at 10:20 am

    I would really like to see Compassion continue to offer to sponsors who don’t write the option of letting someone write for them. Writing my correspondence children it a great blessing to me and I would love to take on others. I can only imagine how heartbreaking it is to be in one of these projects and see those around you receive letters on letter day and you just stand there empty handed. How heart breaking!

  17. Tamm
    Aug 27, 2009
    at 11:07 am

    I just received my 2nd letter from my little girl, Gorreth in Uganda! Both letters are so precious! She just started going to school so she doesn’t write herself yet. The translator writes the letter, but she drew little pictures on both letters. The first letter was an introduction that told me all about her and this letter was a thank you letter for her birthday gift and pictures I sent her. Both of her parents are gone and she said in her letter that she is glad to have someone that loves her now. I write to both of my sponsor children every week. I know it takes a while to get to them, but I want them to both know that they are loved and that I am praying continuously for them. I believe this is just as important as the money, if not more so.

  18. Innocent Ders
    Sep 16, 2009
    at 8:44 am

    I would like to know if Claude careened is the representative of your organization in Africa

  19. Maggie Cooper
    Sep 25, 2009
    at 3:47 pm

    My two children that I have sponsored in Haiti for the last 13 years are timing out of the system this winter. I am sick at the thought of never hearing from them again and wondering if they are able to make it in a country with 80% unemployment and the most extreme poverty. We visited them in 2004 just before the coup and have not been able to return since. My last letter from one of them was asking me to continue to support him but there is not a way to facilitate that once he times out this January. Has anyone else found a solution to this deliemma? I should have known this day would come but I am totally emotionally unprepared.

  20. Sep 25, 2009
    at 5:13 pm

    Maggie,

    Since you’ve sponsored the children for over 2 years now, you can request Compassion that your contact information will be sent to them once they graduate from the program. You’ll have to sign a release form and you also need to know that there are some things that you would need to be aware of. For one, your letters won’t be translated anymore of course. You might get a letter requesting money, while you don’t know if this is from them or if this is from someone, who poses like them. So, there are some “risks” involved.

    Kees

  21. Myno Van Dyke
    Oct 9, 2009
    at 10:39 am

    We have been sponsoring a boy in India for the past 5 years. What a wonderful surprise we received this year when all of his letters were written to us in English. At first they were a bit difficult to read but lately they have been excellent. It is obvious that he has made some great strides with his education. This is a boy who lives in a very poor part of rural India. Now, it seems he has a future. Its a wonderful feeling. God Bless Compassion Child and their work. All the best, Myno.

  22. [...] letter writing is not as important as it seems? Think again! Read “Letter Writing: Love Has No Borders” from the Compassion [...]

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