UPDATE: Our letter writing policy has changed. You can read more about these changes and share your comments on the Changes to Our Letter-Writing Process blog post.

Letter writing Hi everyone.

I’ve noticed a lot of discussion over the last year in our little blog community about letter writing specifically this idea of a “reciprocal letter system.” Many questions have been raised and few answered. It seems there’s still a lot of confusion about this process.

I work in the International Program Communications department, and my desk is literally a few feet from the employees who actually process the letters. So I recently took it upon myself to do a little research on your behalf, and the other day I went to visit a few of my neighbors in Cubeville. Here’s the lowdown.

I was surprised to learn just how huge this letter-writing undertaking is. I found out that last year alone, we processed 3 1/2 million letters. This coming year, we’re guessing that number will be somewhere around 4 million. So we’re talking about a ginormous quantity of letters.

As with many aspects of our ministry, we have a set of standards for the letter-writing process. When I talk about “standards,” what I mean is certain expectations that we’ve given to every church partner. However, as with anything involving fallible humans, this does not guarantee it will always happen.

One of these standards is that every Compassion-assisted child who is sponsored is supposed to write three letters a year – or one every four months – to his or her sponsor. (Now if only sponsors were held to the same standard. But that’s a post for another day.) :-)

So as a sponsor, whether or not you write to your child, you should hear from your sponsored child at least three times each year. Of course, children are allowed to write more frequently than that if they want to, and many do.

It’s a lot like kids here in the U.S. … some kids like to write more than others. (Apparently, neither of my sponsored children is big on writing. I’ve been to visit both of them and always respond immediately to their letters and I still only get three letters a year. But I digress …)

Anyway, a couple years ago, an idea was floated: What if we encouraged countries to practice “reciprocal letter writing,” meaning every time a child received a letter, the child would immediately write one in response. We liked the idea, so we piloted it in a few countries a couple of years ago and since have added a few more.

Now I know what you might be thinking …

HELLO … You JUST came up with that idea? I thought of that seven years ago. What took you so long?

And that’s a good question. But remember, when you are talking about a quantity like 3 1/2 million letters between 36 different countries, a quick process change isn’t so quick. (Have you ever tried to move a whale? I’ve think it’s kind of like that.)

Also, there are other factors that come into play.

First, realize that you are approaching your sponsorship – a cross-cultural relationship – from a distinctly U.S. perspective, and this idea of “reciprocal” letter writing is a very Western idea.

Many of your sponsored children live in cultures where letter writing is not a common practice and even a little bit odd to them. Sharing personal information is not customary and sometimes may even be considered inappropriate. Therefore, the concept of writing letters at all is foreign one.

Asking them (or basically “forcing” them by making it mandatory) to respond right away to every letter they receive is a little like asking someone raised in the heart of Manhattan to rope a calf. And we do this every four months. It is not something that comes naturally – it must be learned.

Second, as many of you know, one of the unique things about Compassion’s ministry is that we are church-based. We do our work around the world through local evangelical churches.

The advantage of this kind of structure is that we are able to contextualize our ministry to each local environment where it is happening. However, it makes complete uniformity among our nearly 5,000 child development centers challenging.

As I mentioned, we do maintain certain standards that every child development center is expected to follow. (We have this little 106-page document called the Program Field Manual that outlines these standards.) Each church partner, however, is free to meet these standards in the manner than best suits their own particular ministry.

So, while a country may have agreed – at the country office level – to implement this reciprocal letter-writing system, it really depends on each individual church partner in that country to make this a reality. (This may also explain why some of you who have children in a country not “officially” on the reciprocal letter system still get more than three letters per year.)

Last, if you remember these posts (one and two) from last year, the process that a letter goes through is quite complex. So even though your child might respond to your letter right away, it still might be a few months until you receive it.

The letter-writing FAQ on our Web site has a lot more information.

Please know that every single letter that you send is so incredibly important.

Really. We’re not just saying that.

We are trying our hardest to get to the point where every child in our program knows the joy of reading a letter from a sponsor who cares about him or her.

We’re not there yet, but we’re sure going to keep trying!

  • 118 Comments
  • Print This Post Print This Post
  • Add a Comment
  • Tags:
  • Becky writes and works on communications projects for our Marketing and International Program departments.

118 Comments Add a Comment
  1. Apr 29, 2009
    at 3:42 am

    This is really excellent Becky. Now I have an excellent place to direct people that ask me why their child isn’t writing more often, or why they aren’t saying much in their letters! You brought out some really excellent points. Also — yesterday my son received two letters from his child in Peru, one dated Nov. ’08 and one dated Feb ’09. Who knows why this occurred or what the journey of that earlier letter was? I told him “You know, we’re dealing with a foreign country here–also, who knows what kind of crisis may have been in that child’s home town? We just don’t know what the full picture is for that child, family or church.”

  2. Apr 29, 2009
    at 5:40 am

    Thanks for this information. I get very few letters from some of my children and quite a few from others. I have noticed that some do write to me every time I write to them. Since my sponsored children are all over the world, I figured that it was a country or project thing and that some were encouraged to write more.

  3. Apr 29, 2009
    at 5:53 am

    Wow… I try to send a letter to my kids every couple of weeks, I can’t imagine them having to sit down and write back every single time! Is Uganda one of these reciprocal letter writing countries? I’ve noticed no matter how often I write, my kids in D.R., Mexico, and Colombia write 3 times a year. But my Ugandan kids write all the time! I love it but I definitely don’t expect it!

  4. Apr 29, 2009
    at 5:57 am

    Thanx Becky…You answered a lot of my questions!

  5. Mike Stephens
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 7:30 am

    Becky thanks for the info!!! I say your visit counts as a thousand letters!!! So you have gotten quite a few actually!!! One thing I have found is the more I write, the more likely I am to visit, so I try to write a lot b/c eventually I visit.

    I Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for YOU!!!”

  6. Apr 29, 2009
    at 8:23 am

    This is an awesome post. Really, and I’m not just saying that :)

    I write both my sponsored children twice a month. I’ve noticed that my 5 year old child from Uganda writes A LOT…I’ve gotten 8 letters in one year from her. It’s awesome that we actually answer each other’s questions (I asked her was kind of animal she’d like to be..she wrote back a green fish…lol…granted it took about 4-5 months for me to get an answer…but still…it’s awesome!)

    However, my 7 year old child in Kenya has only written once in 7 months. I can understand how each country is different..and I do get a little disappointed when I don’t hear from him. That’s what makes me keep on writing though…because I want to keep encouraging him…I don’t want him to think I’ve forgotten about him.

    Thanks so much for this post!

  7. Apr 29, 2009
    at 8:26 am

    @Prairie Rose – My child in Uganda writes a lot too…I love it!

  8. Apr 29, 2009
    at 8:37 am

    I write to a little girl in Indonisia and have for 4 years now and she seems just like one of our own now. She is so good about writing back. I try and write her once a month. We sure love this little girl even if she is so far away. She was 10 years old when I started writing to her. Our church ladies aid is sponsering her.

  9. Barbara M.
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 9:05 am

    Thank you Becky for this excellent post. It does answer alot of questions. I do think that a child’s personality has alot to do with it as well. Some children are just naturally very verbal and expressive and others go their whole life obviously not that way. I so appreciate this forum to be able to discuss alot of these issues.

  10. Apr 29, 2009
    at 9:07 am

    Becky, thanks for taking the beast by the proverbial horns and providing all this information. I heard in DR, more than two years ago, that they were on the recip’ letter status, but while I receive something close to reciprocal letters from Maria, I still receive only three from Denisse, no matter how often I write. I’m also more likely to get answers to questions from Maria than from Denisse.

    I’ve concluded that Denisse is one of those who is not fond of writing, and may never be, and that her project staff are not as diligent(?) as Maria’s to prompt Denisse to answer questions. So be it. I’m more concerned that both–make that all–of my girls know, love and follow Jesus Christ.

    Anyway, I’m putting a link to this post on my blog and in our Compassion pages on my church’s website.

  11. Shelly Quigg
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 11:30 am

    Becky,

    Can you list the countries who are “officially” on the reciprical system?

  12. Christine Lewis
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 11:51 am

    We are new to sponsorship this year, and have been given a very young child that we are trying to correspond with. We understand that she can’t write to us and that the SRA will be writing for her. But we would love it if she would simply draw us a picture every once in awhile. We are grandparents of a young child and we love to put her pictures up on our refrigerator to enjoy. This way, we could still feel connected with her until she has learned the skills necessary to be able to write a letter someday. We have written and suggested this idea, but haven’t gotten any response yet. It would be a nice alternative to waitng a few years to get anything from her until she can write herself.

  13. Valerie
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 12:07 pm

    Thanks so much for writing this up, Becky! It answers a LOT of questions.

    I’m sort of new to sponsoring, only having kids since December and some I just started sponsoring at the end of March. So I’m still getting just the introductory letters right now.

    But it does help to realize that letter writing and such is more a Western thing. I knew that some cultures didn’t think sharing personal things was appropriate, but I never knew about letter writing being more a Western thing. That helps!

    I have one little girl who already looks like she’s going to be a writer! She’s one of the first two I sponsored in December, but I’ve already received two letters from her. She’s only 6 too so I’m hoping that as she grows and learns, we’ll get even closer through her letters!

    But I really appreciate the way you broke all that information down and made it easy to understand. :) Knowing all of that makes it a little bit easier to be patient with waiting for letters!

  14. Apr 29, 2009
    at 12:41 pm

    Shelly, good question. I’ll find out and post the answer as soon as I have it.

    Christine, I think it’s great that you suggested a drawing in your letter. Don’t be afraid to suggest it again or even request it. Sometimes it takes several times before the child responds.

  15. A. Marple
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 1:42 pm

    I wrote 2-3, I don’t remember, to my girl in the Dominican Republic. She is young so obviously was helped to write the one letter I received and it asked for the same information I had given her already. Obviously the person who guided her had never read my letters. If the child isn’t hearing what I write, how can I expect her to write back?

  16. Caitlin
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 2:50 pm

    It may have been written before they received your answers. I know that happens occasionally with my girl in Haiti. I’ll get answers to my questions multiple times, and she’ll also ask questions multiple times.

  17. Amy
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for this – I’ve been sponsoring one child in Bolivia since February, and am about to send him my third letter (but have sent three or four emails as well!) I got a letter from him for the first time yesterday, and it was wonderful!

    I remember when I went to camp as a young child, how much it meant for my parents to send letters, simply because it meant they were thinking about me. I think the same rule applies here, on a much larger scope!

  18. margarita
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 4:06 pm

    I just received a letter from my sponsor child and it was such a surprise and delight to hear from him and to see his handwriting and drawings. It felt so good. So I know my letters will mean even more to him. I wish I(we) can do more for all these children. May God continue to bless everyone who sponsors them and their families and workers.

  19. Danielle
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 5:52 pm

    @Christine Lewis

    Something you might consider doing is sending a page or two from a coloring book and then ask that she sends one back. I’ve sent many coloring pages and never thought to ask if they would send one back. Although, when I met my child she brought the pages she colored with her and gave them to me! Just hang in there and keep asking!

  20. Danielle
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 5:57 pm

    @A. Marple

    Like someone else mentioned it may have been written before she got your letter. Another possibility is that since she is young she may have forgotten what you had already told her. I’m sure she is getting your letters, sometimes it just gets confusing with how long it takes to get a response. Hang in there, as she gets older it should get easier.

  21. alyson
    Apr 29, 2009
    at 6:45 pm

    My precious little girl from Ghana, 5 year old Manuella, writes me so many letters! I started sponsoring her in December. I have received 5 letters, drawings, and an adorable photo from her. So far, she is replying to all of my letters. Her letters are so full of love and thanks. One of her letters said “Manuella cannot express her thanks for the love you have for her” and another said “Your letter has shown her there is a God who cares.” I am so blessed to be able to sponsor her and I thank God for her so much.

  22. Jacqueline
    Apr 30, 2009
    at 1:02 am

    Personally I didn’t sign up with Compassion with the expectation that I’d be corresponding back and forth…sure it was a hope, however I signed up to sponsor and help out a child regardless of whether or not there was contact. What a great surprise it’s been to get letters from each of the children I sponsor. Also, one of my children is so young she doesn’t know how to write yet — so her teacher wrote for her…however I did receive hand drawn and colored pictures from each of them. Now that’s alot to me…their hands actually drew and colored those pictures. So, all this to say, I am pleasantly surprised and grateful over the ability to send and receive any correspondance.

  23. Dwight
    Apr 30, 2009
    at 12:13 pm

    In 1990 as a student I sponsored my first child. Back then paper letter writing and time to have it delivered seamed normal. Today everything is instant. The idea of waiting 3 months for a letter is beyond belief. Why don’t they have a blog…or my space… HA… our children are so different. 

    To be honest I would prefer 3 or 4 good letters a year and a monthly project letter with some pictures. Have the project director write one good project form letter every month. Talk about the staff the church, the community…; give me a story and a picture of one family. When I write I get a reply project letter. They save my letters and when they write the child letters 3 or 4 times a year… the project worker helps them reply to all my questions…. I would prefer quality over quantity and a few pictures… the annual mug shot is a little boring. If the project workers spend a little time each week helping one child we would get better letters 3 or 4 times a year.

    In one project the case worker interviews and writes the letter for the child I sponsor. I get good information from her! (Thank you Mrs. Cholly…case worker PH809) Sometimes I have a hard time understanding her English grammar but the letters are great. To be honest I have thought about dropping a child in a different project so I can add a new child in this project. She does not send me generic project letters but it helps that the project case worker is so good at helping the smaller kids. I feel like I am partnering with the church project…I hope they see us a part of the same team…not just the source of money.

  24. Caitlin
    Apr 30, 2009
    at 2:21 pm

    I somehow doubt these children realize how little it takes to please us sponsors. For example, like Jaqueline said: a drawing. I would dance around if I found a drawing in my envelope. I just recieved a letter from a little girl I’ve been calling Magarette, because that’s what I was told was her name, and she wrote, “I am glad to be able to tell you that my friends call me Linlin.” I felt so special that she would share that with me. I had a smile stuck on my face all day for that one!

  25. Bob
    May 2, 2009
    at 1:37 pm

    Becky… How about a reciprocal letter writing program for SPONSORS…

    Some projects I visited reported that up to 40-percent of their sponsored children had not received a letter from their sponsor…

    How heartbreaking is that!

    While their classmates receive letters, they wait heartbroken for their first letter…

    One child told her sponsor that her previous sponsor never wrote her. That child’s father, who abused her regularly throughout her life, held that against her saying… “see, you are worthless, even your sponsor won’t write you”.

  26. May 4, 2009
    at 4:02 pm

    What a heartbreaking story, Bob. I think your idea is fantastic!

    In reality, though, the only we can do is encourage sponsors to write to their children by trying to convey the impact their letters have.

    So that’s what we’re doing!

  27. Shelly Quigg
    May 4, 2009
    at 5:41 pm

    Becky,

    Have you found out which countries are supposed to be on the reciprical sysytem yet? If I add another child I would probably lean towards one of them, although I know it doesn’t guarantee more letters.

  28. May 5, 2009
    at 5:53 am

    @Jacqueline – “Personally I didn’t sign up with Compassion with the expectation that I’d be corresponding back and forth…sure it was a hope, however I signed up to sponsor and help out a child regardless of whether or not there was contact.”

    THIS made me smile…you go!

  29. May 8, 2009
    at 11:56 am

    Shelly-

    I haven’t forgotten you!

    We are contacting our country offices so we can get you an accurate list, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

    Hang tight! I’ll hopefully have an answer for your shortly.

    Becky

  30. Terese
    May 9, 2009
    at 10:15 am

    This is a little off-topic, but I could not figure out where else to ask.

    I am considering sending a family gift to my boy in Uganda. Does anyone know how quickly the money gets to the center in Uganda? Has anyone had any experience/feedback from sending family gifts?

    Thanks so much for all the sharing and good ideas.

  31. May 18, 2009
    at 10:37 am

    Shelly, good news!

    I finally have an answer to your question. This is the latest information – directly from our field countries – about which ones are on the reciprocal letter system.

    Please keep in mind that many of these countries have implemented the system as of this year, meaning they have through June 2009 to make the transition.

    Bangladesh
    Ecuador
    East India
    India
    Indonesia
    Peru
    Philippines
    Thailand
    Togo
    Tanzania
    Uganda

    The countries on deck for implementation next year are:

    Dominican Republic
    Ethiopia
    Mexico
    Rwanda

    Thanks for your patience while we tracked down the answer!

  32. May 20, 2009
    at 4:52 pm

    Hi Terese,

    In answer to your question … generally speaking, a family gift will take about two months to reach the family. The time frame for your specific gift, though, is somewhat dependent on when during the month you donate, as gifts are sent the last week of each month.

    I hope this helps!
    Becky

  33. Caitlin
    May 20, 2009
    at 5:35 pm

    Originally Posted By Becky
    The countries on deck for implementation next year are:

    Dominican Republic
    Ethiopia
    Mexico
    Rwanda

    Yay for East India! But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was really, really, really hoping Haiti was on the “coming soon” list! However, I’m sure people with kids in those countries are rejoicing, yay for them!

  34. Rachel
    May 29, 2009
    at 2:19 pm

    @Britt

    Dear Britt,
    What is the project number of your girl in Uganda, and how old is she? My family sponsors a 12-year-old girl named Janet who lives in Uganda and a 9-year-old boy named Jodson who lives in Haiti. I sponsor a 19-year-old girl named Pamela. Here are their project numbers:

    UG121-Pamela
    UG715-Janet
    HA684-Joseph

    Do you have any sponsored children that are in or around these projects? Thank you so much!

    Sincerely,
    Rachel

  35. Caitlin
    May 30, 2009
    at 6:34 pm

    @Rachel – Lol, that Ana Victoria is a character, it’s so easy to tell by her picture!

  36. jeff and sandy
    Jun 8, 2009
    at 3:26 am

    i didn’t read all these comments, but want to put my two cents in about writing….since the sponsors who don’t write their child, can only turn their child over to correspondence if they call into the office,,i think that when they get their monthly reciept,,it should say that if you don’t want to write, please call or even have a form at the bottom for them to mail in giving permission for a correspondant….because alot of folks don’t get on the computer like we do…my daughter is 23 and she has a child but no comp..she mails her pmts, and she’s not a great letter writer like i am, but i have to coax her always,,i even buy small things, put it in an envelope, add the postage and give it to her and say ” now add a small note and mail this tomorrow….if not for me, her girl would only get a letter 3 times a year, as an answer..all of us are diffenent, but i don’t think those folks realize or even think of the upset they are causing to the child by not responding…some i read just feel they’ve done enough with the $$..
    I WOULD LIKE FOR ALL OF US TO CALL THE OFFICE AND SUGGEST THAT THEY MAKE THE LETTER WRITING ISSUES A PRIORTY ON ALL MAIL TO SPONSORS..AND PRAY THAT THEY WILL CALL THE OFFICE AND GET A CORRESPONDANT OR EVEN WRITE THEMSELVES….THANKS

  37. Terese
    Jun 9, 2009
    at 8:22 pm

    Becky – thanks for the response regarding the time frame it takes for a family gift to arrive.

    I LOVE corresponding with my new sponsored and correspondence children. Thanks to everybody for the motivation and great ideas!

  38. alyson
    Jun 17, 2009
    at 1:33 pm

    Originally Posted By BeckyShelly, good news!

    I finally have an answer to your question. This is the latest information – directly from our field countries – about which ones are on the reciprocal letter system.

    Please keep in mind that many of these countries have implemented the system as of this year, meaning they have through June 2009 to make the transition.

    Bangladesh
    Ecuador
    East India
    India
    Indonesia
    Peru
    Philippines
    Thailand
    Togo
    Tanzania
    Uganda

    The countries on deck for implementation next year are:

    Dominican Republic
    Ethiopia
    Mexico
    Rwanda

    Thanks for your patience while we tracked down the answer!

    Hi Becky – I have a quick question. On the blog post about letter writing in Ghana, a list of the reciprocal letter countries were given in one of the comments by a Compassion employee. It was put up there only a little while before the list on here came out. Nicaragua was on the other list, but not on this one. A couple of phone reps at Compassion verified for me that Nicaragua had started the system a few months ago, so I was surprised that Nicaragua wasn’t on this list. And they also told me that Ethiopia started reciprocal letter system March 2009. I am confused. Can you help me out a little bit?

  39. Amy
    Jun 17, 2009
    at 1:56 pm

    Wow, I didn’t realize India was on the list! I write to my kids (one in India) just about once a week… will he really write that often?

  40. Jun 17, 2009
    at 2:17 pm

    Hi Alyson-

    I can understand your confusion! The first list that was posted was based on older information. This list is the most current.

    Regarding your question about specific countries …

    The current status of Nicaragua is “partially implemented,” meaning that while reciprocal letter writing has begun, the Nicaragua Compassion office is still in the process of installing the new correspondence tracking technology. Once this is complete, they will be able to fully implement the program throughout the country.

    Even though Ethiopia may already have begun the process a few months ago, they are scheduled to be fully implemented by FY10, which ends June 30, 2010.

    I hope this helps.
    Becky

  41. alyson
    Jun 18, 2009
    at 9:07 am

    Becky – thank you so much. I really appreciate that you are always ready and willing to help!

  42. Sara F.
    Jun 23, 2009
    at 8:57 pm

    Thank you for all the info!

    Not sure this is the right place to ask, but I was recently at ourcompassion and someone said that letters from sponsors are “stored” until there are enough to send to a country. As a result, a letter written in June may not leave for its destination until much later, even months. I didn’t see anything in the letter writing process links to suggest this, but it did make me curious. There is often a lot of variation in time with the letters I receive, but I assumed that my letters were being sent on to the specific countries quite regularly.

    Thanks!

    Sara

  43. Jun 24, 2009
    at 9:49 am

    Hi Sara F.-

    What you heard is not really accurate. I just spoke with someone from our sponsor correspondence team and here is what she told me.

    (Please keep in mind that this is true for US sponsors. Other partner countries have smaller offices and likely have a different time frame.)

    We send mail in bulk to each field office once a week. This includes any sponsor letters that we processed that week.

    Right now we have a 13 day turn time for processing sponsor letters. This means that from the day we receive your letter, it will be be sent to the field office within 13 days.

    Once it leaves here, it gets to the field office in about 3 to 5 days.

    When a field office receives your letter, they have 30 days to get it translated and delivered to your child.

    Of course, due to the wide variety of countries and cultures we are working in, there are sometimes exceptions. But we do our best to meet this time frame whenever possible.

    Becky

  44. Sara F.
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 3:17 pm

    Thank you so much for the info! I will pass it on with it specifically to US sponsors.@Becky -

  45. Sara F.
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 4:34 pm

    Sorry, thought of another question . . . how much does emailing a letter speed up its delivery? Do you print it at the US main office or in country?

  46. Alan
    Jun 25, 2009
    at 8:17 pm

    @Becky – I was wondering if there was a similar time frame for letters coming to the US. The last couple letters I have received from my girls in Honduras have been dated almost 4 months before I received them. Earlier letters took about 2.5-3 months.

  47. Becky
    Jun 26, 2009
    at 1:36 pm

    Sara,

    Email letters are sent directly to each Compassion field office. They are then printed and processed in the same manner as handwritten letters.

    Because the emails do not have to come to the Compassion headquarters first, this eliminates the 14 day turn time we have to process letters here.

    So in answer to your question, it could save up to two weeks of processing time.

    Becky

  48. Becky
    Jun 26, 2009
    at 2:23 pm

    Actually Alan, your experience is pretty typical.

    Realistically, the average letter takes around three months to get from your child’s hand to your mailbox. I know this seems like a long time, but there are a huge number of factors that play into this time frame.

    Oftentimes children copy the letter several times by hand. They write the original in their notebook as a practice, then rewrite it once or twice on the nice stationary to send to the sponsors.

    Then, the letters are sent to the field office and then sent out for translation. A few centers translate their own letters, but mostly, the translation is sent out to contractors or volunteers. The timeframe here depends on the volume of letters to be translated.

    Once translated, the letters are sent back to the field office to be put into the CTA system that we use to track them. Then they are packaged and bulk mailed here to the US.

    Another factor that may impact the time frame is Customs. There are times when the letters get held up in Customs on their way to the US.

    Once the letters finally arrive here, they go through several different teams at Compassion’s US office. Again, depending on the volume of letters, this may take up to an additional month. (Remember that we are talking about 3.5 million letters, or close to 300,000 per month.)

    We realize that the letters are your connection to your child. We do everything we can to make the letter process as efficient and reliable as possible.

    The fact is, though, that we are working in developing countries. The cultures are unique and time means something vastly different than it does to us in the US. The mail systems are much less reliable that the US postal system. (For instance, in Bangladesh or the Philippines, the project may be on a completely different island that the field office and the letters need to be transported by boat.)

    In spite of all these factors, we are constantly trying to find ways to make the letter writing process smoother. Our highest priority is the relationship that you as a sponsor develop with your child.

  49. Sara F.
    Jun 26, 2009
    at 8:01 pm

    Becky,

    Thank you so much for your time! Your responses to me as well as to Alan are very informative and appreciated.

    I think I, like many people, are very spoiled in this computer age. So much is instantaneous – cell phones, text messages, IM . . . . While I am aware that there are links on the site to the letter process, having a little more general info on times is helpful.

    I know I will continue to be anxious for that communication, but it helps to be able to visualize the process better and imagine where my letter might be or when they might receive it. I appreciate Compassion’s work and their efforts to facilitate communication between sponsors and children.

    Thanks!@Becky -

  50. Michelle
    Sep 17, 2009
    at 5:06 pm

    I’m just discovering and reading this blog, so I am learning a lot as I do so!! (and I’m very grateful for the info….)

    I have to admit to feeling like a jumping bean lately… I sent my first gift money to my little girl back on May 5th (other than Christmas money) and I’m still waiting to hear from her and dying to know what she bought with the money!!! lol Now I know that the money likely didn’t go out right away and due to the turnaround time I may not hear from her for a few more weeks… but I’m getting antsy. I haven’t heard from her since January….. and I’m wondering how she is! I keep checking the mailbox… Neighbors likely think I’m nuts! lol

    Also, I think I may be using the email function more often now that I know it shaves off weeks…. At least in between letters with little things in them!

    I love Compassion and the fact that they enable us to be sponsors… :o)

  51. Pat D.
    Sep 17, 2009
    at 6:24 pm

    It boggles my mind to think of all the work by Compassion staff to facilitate child/sponsor correspondence. I hear from all 8 sponsored children; arrival of their letters is the highlight of my day. My thanks to all Compassion workers who make this possible!

  52. Mike Stephens
    Sep 17, 2009
    at 8:27 pm

    Amen and Amen Michelle,

    Just so you don’t feel completely out in space I think it may have taken close 4-6 months for me to get the letter back for the family gift I sent. But keep being antsy maybe with a little Philippians 4:6-7. The letter will arrive and you will be overjoyed that you were able to help with whatever they bought. I know I was,when I saw that Osmari was able to buy her own bed along with some Nicaraguan Coco Puffs. I am a little amazed how much God let’s us fight/intervene/intercede in order to work out our SALVATION in order to obey Him and follow Him I guess that may help explain a little of Revelation 2:7 “To him who overcomes I will give the right to eat from the tree of life which is the paradise of God.” Your letter should arrive any day now and I don’t doubt you will be so excited once you see what they bought with the money you sent and hopefully you will get a picture too. I have not always gotten a picture, but if I don’t get a picture sometimes I just let that make me “mad” and then I go visit so I see in real life ;) I highly recommending visiting as does just about everyone b/c I have visited and the memories and truths you see are life changing and help you understand better and it changes you. Also I wanted to try and make some lasting good memories for my sponsor kids other than my letters. One such memory for all of us was letting the fish eat the dead skin off the bottom of our feet at the Acquarium in Manila. I thought skydiving over the ocean would have been fun too but maybe that can wait a few years ;) or maybe that is one I should do solo ;)

  53. Sara Benson
    Oct 10, 2009
    at 7:48 am

    I hope that the reciprocal system continues to spread into all the countries and projects. I have a little boy in Uganda(supposed to be on the reciprocal system) who write the most amazing talkative letters completely in English. However I have only received two letters since I started corresponding with him last November. I would love to hear from him more in response to my letters (which are at least monthly).

  54. Sara Benson
    Oct 10, 2009
    at 7:50 am

    Michelle, did you get a letter back saying what your little girl got with her birthday gift?
    If you still have not heard from her you can contact compassion and see if there is a letter in process for you.

  55. Michelle
    Oct 12, 2009
    at 2:08 pm

    Hi Sara!

    Well, I haven’t received a letter pertaining to the monetary gifts… but I did get a letter and a note card with another photo from her. She wrote that she went to the doctor and the doc said she was growing just fine and healthy and gave her vitamins to help her along. :o) She doesn’t look quite so thin in this last photo, so I am happy!

    I’m still dying to know what all she got. By now she’d have received her birthday money as well as the money we sent back in the Spring. So I’m doubly antsy! lol (good to know that Mike gets antsy too!!!)

    All is well though… I am just imagining her happiness at whatever she got for pressies!

    I may have to inquire if I don’t hear by the end of November though! Don’t think I’ll last much longer than that…. lol

  56. Oct 16, 2009
    at 12:29 am

    I am surprised that Bolivia is not on the official “Reciprocal” system. Also, I always understood that El Salvador was on that system and was the first country to be on that system. Oh, I get a lot of letters from Bolivia. I like the system they are on. I actually got to see how it works a little in Bolivia. I was there when one of my children got one of my letters and then at the same time, they got a blank piece of stationary for them to write me back on. I got that letter then about 3 months later!

    On the thing of forcing the sponsors to write to their children, I think it has a lot to do with how Compassion is presented to the prospective sponsor. In the typical mindset when the idea of poverty is presented, it is interpreted as a lack of money. So, if the prospective sponsor is presented with poverty as the problem, then their answer will be to give $38/month and they think the problem has been solved. This is why I always tell people that it takes 3 things to sponsor a child:

    1. Prayer
    2. Writing an encouraging letter from time to time.
    3. the Funding part of $38

    I’ve heard that Dr. Wess Stafford has said that if there is a question between the letter or the check to send the letter.

    In light of that, I would propose that on the form, where people sign up to become a sponsor, that it would clearly state that prayers and letters are expected and give the sponsor an opportunity right there and then to request a correspondent.

    The reason for this is that right now, people don’t find out about the importance of letters until they most likely get home and read what is in the sponsorship package, if they even read that at all.

    They definitely don’t know about the correspodent thing. They might have just requested to have the money withdrawn automatically and almost forget about what they just committed to.

    One time, a sponsor told me when I started talking with him about the importance of letters, that he doesn’t write letters and that he didn’t sign up to do so. He said that he had signed up to pay for the funding of the child to be raised by that local church. Telling him later felt like a Bait and Switch thing to him.

    It should never happen that a child thinks they are worthless because their sponsor doesn’t write.

    When I’ve visited projects, I’ve gotten that question many times…. Why doesn’t my sponsor write? Or the staff might ask about it. I always tell them that most likely the sponsor doesn’t even know about the importance of letters.

    Anyways, this is an important topic. I always encourage people when they tell me that they sponsor a child by saying how important their letters are.

    Anyways, I’m definitely passionate about this.

    Blessings,

    Kees

  57. Amy
    Oct 16, 2009
    at 8:20 am

    I’m surprised to hear about Bolivia also – we get lots of letters from our little guy there.

  58. Oct 16, 2009
    at 11:46 pm

    Yes, the same here. I got 38 letters from Bolivia on one day not too long ago!

    Kees

  59. Jan 13, 2010
    at 8:21 am

    subject haiti,
    Child’s name Joane,# HA-420, and famly are they OK?
    Date 1/13/2010
    Thank You

  60. Jan 13, 2010
    at 8:53 am

    We have not been able to establish contact with our Haiti office yet.

    You may find this blog post helpful in understanding what the Compassion Haiti office is probably experiencing now, as they work to assess the damage and affect on our church partners and children.

    Was My Sponsored Child Affected by That Crisis?

  61. Stephanie Green
    Mar 21, 2010
    at 6:48 pm

    I just wondered if the information about countries on the reciprocal system is still current. Are the ones that were to be implemented in 2009 now considered to be on that system?Do those transitioning this year have until the end of the year to do so? Are there plans to add any other countries to the list?

    Thanks so much for any information!

  62. Mar 24, 2010
    at 10:27 am

    Stephanie, that is a great question! Actually I do have some new information for you regarding the Reciprocal Letter process.

    In January of this year, the decision was made to put on hold the full rollout of the Reciprocal Letter process. The reason for this is a new project focusing on the complete redesign of the sponsor/child communications. Among other things, the project will emphasize e-communication options, and will radically change the way we think about frequency of communications, etc. Obviously, this could make the whole Reciprocal Letter writing process unnecessary. The redesign project is estimated to be a two-year project, including a full review and overhaul of the current sponsor/child communication process. Final decisions about the fate of the Reciprocal Letter process will be a part of this project.

    I realize two years seems a long way off. In the meantime, there ARE currently 10 countries who have formally implemented the Reciprocal Letter process. They are Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, Thailand, and Tanzania. These ten countries have committed to this process, so they will continue the process and will be held accountable to program requirements outlined in the Program Field Manual.

    There are some other countries (including those mentioned in earlier comments) who voluntarily implemented the process, but since it is implemented voluntarily, we are not in a position to require that they meet any of the program requirements. These countries are free to chose how they participate in the program and even whether to stop it at any time.

    I hope this information is helpful. We are excited about the changes coming to the communications process!

    • Yami
      Oct 1, 2010
      at 10:49 pm

      Becky:

      I have 3 kids from Nicaragua and 2 from El Salvador, and none of them write on a reciprocal basis. I seem to get about 3 letter per year per child.

  63. Amy
    Mar 24, 2010
    at 10:50 am

    It’s funny, because two of my sponsored boys, who live in India and Bolivia, are definitely reciprocal writers, even if the countries aren’t are, officially.

    I think that Compassion should stick with writing real letters, rather than e-mails. It is so much more meaningful to have handwritten letters from the children, to see how their handwriting changes, and their grammar.

  64. Stephanie Green
    Mar 24, 2010
    at 11:36 am

    Hi Becky,

    Sounds VERY intriguing! And now I have many questions! I know you can’t share many specifics yet but I’m wondering is the goal to allow more direct communication between sponsor and child? And to cut down on transit time of communications?I guess I’m wondering if there’s no reciprocity, though, how does that really change our communications? Would we hear more regularly from the children if we are communicating with them on a regular basis? Would this affect correspondent sponsors?And lastly, is any feedback from sponsors being sought by the “overhaul” committee? Will there be more information forthcoming on the blog about changes that may be on the way?

    Thanks, in advance, for your patience with all my questions and for sharing with me about something that sounds very exciting!

    Blessings,
    Stephanie

  65. Mar 29, 2010
    at 3:05 pm

    Hi Stephanie-

    All good questions! I do not actually work on the team that is conducting the project, but I will find out whatever specific information I can about the project and get back with you.

    Depending on what I learn, I think your suggestion about a whole post about this is a great one!

    Becky

  66. Peggy
    Jun 8, 2010
    at 11:44 pm

    Quote:
    “In January of this year, the decision was made to put on hold the full rollout of the Reciprocal Letter process. The reason for this is a new project focusing on the complete redesign of the sponsor/child communications. Among other things, the project will emphasize e-communication options, and will radically change the way we think about frequency of communications, etc.”

    I use email sometimes. It is easier. But then how would we send photos and the little gifts that we are told are so special to the child if there was no snail mail?

    As to reciprocal mail, I was surprised to find out Rwanda had the program, since the child (young woman really) I sponsored there wrote the three letters only, and this year, none. But, much as I love getting the letters (I sponsor a boy in Peru who writes often) I think sending them, even if unanswered is more important. There could be many good reasons a child doesn’t write. But if my letters have even a chance of making a difference I need to write whether answered or not.

    I won’t know until eternity if my letters made any difference to the girl in Rwanda, now married. I am in the process of sending a good-by letter and wish I could pour the love and hope and fears I have for her into it. I wish I could discipline myself to write monthly. It is not for what we get out of this ministry, but what God might do through us even if we never know.

    At any rate I hope the new things in the works won’t mean that we can no longer send letters as well as emails.

    Peggy

  67. Jun 29, 2010
    at 10:24 am

    Becky-wondering about emails….how are they delivered-are they mailed in envelopes and the kids receive them just as they would snail mail letters/packets? Are the kids excited to get them? blessings to you for all you do.

  68. Michelle
    Jun 29, 2010
    at 4:16 pm

    I’m excited about the prospect of email communications between sponsor and child…. But will that totally eliminate the ability to send cards and small items via snail mail? I so enjoy doing that!!!!

  69. Jun 30, 2010
    at 3:24 pm

    yeah, me too, Michelle. I assumed that they would never stop the snail mail.

  70. Michelle
    Jul 1, 2010
    at 11:01 am

    Susan, I just read on the other blog post that even if they go to email and other electronic means, that we will still enjoy the benefit of snail mail!! :)

  71. Lynne
    Jul 18, 2010
    at 9:03 am

    Hi Becky, I see this is a year old. What does the list look like now? Those of us who sponsor in Uganda and Ethiopia are not finding them to be reciprocal. That’s ok. We just like to know what to expect:) Thanks

  72. Chris Giovagnoni
    Mar 2, 2011
    at 4:34 pm

    All of our countries are expected to be participating in the reciprocal letter writing program by June 30, 2013. That’s the latest update I’ve received.

    • Deborah Letcher
      Mar 26, 2011
      at 2:52 am

      If a country is in the reciprocal letter program, what is a reasonable frequency for writing to our sponsored children? Up to now, I’ve operated under the assumption that my sponsored children would write three times a year, but that I would write much more often just to encourage them and build up our relationship with them. However, if they are expected to write back to me after every letter, I should probably cut back my writing so that they don’t groan every time they see yet another letter from me. Afterall, they are just kids and letter writing is hard when you’re itching to go and play.

      • Mar 26, 2011
        at 11:45 am

        Your question has been discussed extensively on Ourcompassion.org, which is a networking website for Compassion sponsors. Kees Boer has mentioned that he cut back to once a month (I think) in his letter writing for some of his littlest children as he found out it took them 4+ hours to write a response. I know other sponsors have written they write every 2 weeks to their kids. I don’t have time at the moment to pull up the answers people have gotten from their kids when they asked if they wrote too often (one woman posted she was told her kids liked getting letters very frequently although it did mean they had to write more often). I’d recommend joining OC and you can click the ‘journals’ weight at the top of the page and search for letter writing or post a new journal with your question and others could help point you to that information.

        You are certainly blessing your child by writing and if they are old enough, perhaps you could ask them if they’d prefer you to write less as the other sponsor who posted about her experience did.

        • Deborah Letcher
          Mar 28, 2011
          at 4:07 am

          Thanks so much, Becky! I am on OC, but I had no idea how to find that information in there. That’s really helpful.

        • Jul 20, 2011
          at 5:46 pm

          I try and keep to once-a-month-ish, but sometimes it’s more – and of course, it is sometimes the case that letters get held up and arrive in a bundle anyway. My little Tanzanian boy, who seems to be the one who’s definitely on reciprocal (whether it’s official or not, he writes all the time!), often says he’s received 4 or even 5 letters, which he is replying to in one go.

          I’ve wondered and worried the same, with regards to writing “too often”. I just adore writing and sending letters and emails and I worry between overwhelming them, and on the other hand wanting to shower them with love. It’s one of the reasons I have, between sponsorship and correspondence, 7 children to write to – makes it less likely for any one of them to be TOO overwhelmed!!

      • Mar 26, 2011
        at 12:32 pm

        Hi, Deborah,

        I would probably look at that more as an issue of age. I know that some of the younger children can take a very long time in writing a letter. I’ve heard of it taking 4 hours for real young children. So, I don’t write more than once a month for children 10 and under. The older kids are a lot faster in writing back a letter.

        Also, realize that they do get the mail in the student centers maybe once a week…. And they generally write back one letter, if they get more than one letter that week. Either way, the country offices get the letters once a week in a big box.

        Having said this, I must say that I am basing my thoughts here pretty much on Bolivia. I am sure the other countries are probably quite similar, but there might be differences that I’m not aware of.

        • Deborah Letcher
          Mar 28, 2011
          at 4:15 am

          Thanks, Kees. That’s the plan I’d come up with too – once a month. Although, I can’t imagine that Ecuador is on a reciprocal plan (or at least my project) because of the number of letters I’ve been getting. I’ve only recently add children in Tanzania and Kenya so I’ll see what happens there.

    • Lynne
      Mar 26, 2011
      at 3:43 pm

      Becky wrote that a decision was made to move to e-communications instead of reciprocal letter writing. Did Compassion decide to go with the reciprocal plan rather than the e-communications?
      Personally, I like getting hand-written letters and pictures. They seem much more personal that way:)

      • Mar 27, 2011
        at 7:52 pm

        I am trying to see where Becky wrote that. The only thing that I’ve heard about this all is what Chris said that every country will be moving towards the reciprocal process. I also heard that then they’ll have only 2 program letters.

      • Mar 28, 2011
        at 11:39 am

        Lynne,

        We currently have a cross-functional team that is working to suggest future improvements in the Child Sponsorship and Leadership Development Program communication process. The purpose is to maximize the value of communication between sponsors and our program beneficiaries. It is not limited to e-communication options. All of the options being considered are being investigated from multiple perspectives (e.g., sponsor/child/data protection and privacy, cost, ease of implementation, technology disparities between countries and church partners, sponsor/child expectations, programmatic administration, etc.)

        • Lynne
          Mar 28, 2011
          at 2:24 pm

          Sounds great! Thank you.

    • Mar 29, 2011
      at 9:21 am

      New update: Per current plans, all countries should be participating in reciprocal letter writing by October 1, 2012, according to Emily Sarmiento, Child Sponsorship Program Director

      • Alice
        Jun 6, 2011
        at 8:27 am

        Hi Chris,
        I read on the Our Compassion blog that starting in September all centers will be writing two mandatory letters and the kids will only be allowed to write up to four reciprocal letters a year. Is this true? Thanks, Alice

        • Jun 6, 2011
          at 10:12 am

          Hi, Alice, I think I made that comment. I was just talking about Bolivia as far as September is concerned. I’m sorry that wasn’t clear. I don’t know about the other countries. “Reciprocal” is in a sense redefined to mean replying to letters, but only up to one every two months, i.e. not more than 6 letters/year. I would say in the next 1 and a few months all the countries should be on the same system.

          • Jun 6, 2011
            at 4:20 pm

            Oops, I need to be more careful…. The last sentence should read in the 1 year and a few months…. etc…. I forgot the word ç
            ¨year¨

            I hope this makes sense. I´m typing this on a Bolivian computer, in the LDP office, which has a bit of a different keyboard.

          • Alice
            Jun 6, 2011
            at 10:30 pm

            Thank you Kees for replying to me. My concern is that the kids whom I have a wonderful relationship now will no longer be allowed to write once a month as they have been.

            • Jun 7, 2011
              at 6:54 am

              Alice, one thing that I am glad for is that we do not have a limit ourselves on the number of letters that we can write. So, they won’t necessarily feel the difference that much. I will miss the letters myself too…. 2 months does seem to be a long time, when you are very close to your sponsored children. Who knows, maybe they will change it to once a month….. I am thankful for all the letters that I have gotten from the children. I think for the ones of us that write and get letters back as much as we do, it will be an adjustment. Especially, when we see our role as sponsors also as a discipler. I remember this is what Dr. Wess Stafford encouraged me with. A discipler relationship is a very close,very regular relationship. I think of Christ and the disciples. This is also a reason, why I think it is so important if we can to visit our children. I had the privilege a few days ago, of sharing the Gospel with one of my children. She got saved then, and then later, I was sharing the Gospel with the taxidriver and she jumped right in and explained to the taxidriver how his sins could be forgiven, because of the death of Christ on the cross….. So, a visit is very valuable, if you can do it. Individual visits are a lot cheaper too….

              • Alice
                Jun 7, 2011
                at 10:09 pm

                Hi Kees,
                I agree with your thoughts. Two months is a long time to keep a close relationship going. Once a month, I could understand once a month. We would love to visit our sponsored kids. A individual trip would be much better for us due to the length of the group tour being longer than is realistic for my husband to be off work. I will call Compassion and check into it. Thank you for suggesting it. I also thank you for your honest answers to my original question.

                • Jun 10, 2011
                  at 7:11 am

                  Hi, I just found out that there is only one part of the letters that will change for Bolivia this upcoming September and it has to do with the format. The part of the six letters won’t go into effect this year….
                  I’m so sorry for the miscommunication. Again, what I’m writing about just relates to Bolivia. I can’t really speak for the other countries.

        • Stephanie Green
          Jun 6, 2011
          at 1:18 pm

          I, too, hope to learn the answer to this. Is it possible that my children who write monthly would not be allowed to write that often in the future?

        • Shaina
          Jun 6, 2011
          at 1:18 pm

          Our current guidelines state that all children should write a minimum of 3 letters each year. Children who live in countries that participate in our reciprocal program should write the sponsor each time they are written to (still a minimum of 3 letters each year). If the correspondence guidelines do change in the future, we will communicate the changes with all sponsors.

  73. Vivian Doidge
    Mar 26, 2011
    at 12:53 pm

    I read this with amazement because I do not receive reciprocal letters from El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kenya, or Rwanda… and I write a lot! What is the truth? Are the countries who agreed to be in the program not required to comply? I hear much discussion about the importance of the sponsor to write to the child…. it is equally beneficial for so many reasons for the child to build a relationship with the sponsor…. just stream of consciousness here… I actually select my sponsored children now based on the letter writing experience…. because the letters… the communication is important to me too!

    “there ARE currently 10 countries who have formally implemented the Reciprocal Letter process. They are Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru, Rwanda, Thailand, and Tanzania.”

    • Mar 26, 2011
      at 5:52 pm

      El Salvador was on the reciprocal writing plan, but they wirhdrew from what I understand. I’m not sure of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda…. I do write to children for my church in Ethiopia and Rwanda. We might not even get the three program letters/year. I have no experience with Kenya. My dad has a child in Ethiopia and he gets just the three program letters/year.

      I do know that in Bolivia, they are reciprocal. When a letter comes into the country office, it generates a reply letter or “Thank You” letter which gets send to the project along with the letter of the sponsor. The child has 10 days to reply to this letter. If the country office doesn’t get a reply, they will follow up as to why the child hasn’t replied.

      I know Peru works that way too, but they have 15 days to reply. There is something with Peru in the last half year though that the letters tend to get accumulated somewhere, because my children from there are mentioning that they get multiple letters at a time now. I don’t know what it is. But in general, I used to get a lot of letters from Peru too.

      • seena
        Jun 21, 2011
        at 8:33 am

        i am not sure if we are being impatient or if there is really a delay in receiving letters..we started our sponsorship in march of this year and received a mail by the end of April- kept thinking she wrote before even receiving a mail from us, as it was too soon for that. maybe she wrote as soon as they received word that she was being sponsored. anyway, since march have sent several emails and about 3 packets of letters-whcih included coloring pages, activites, devotionals etc. We also sent her a birthday gift, as her bday was last week (sent this in April i think)..is it too early to receive a response from her??just excited and waiting to hear back from her. even our 22 month daughter says ‘yescia’ everytime we check our mail (mailbox). She is in bolivia and 11 years old.

        • Danielle
          Jun 21, 2011
          at 1:12 pm

          Yes, it takes awhile to get a reciprocal schedule going. You got your first letter really quickly, so I’m sure that makes it seem like a long wait! It takes about 2 months to go there and 2 months back, so I would say you could probably expect a letter in July.

        • Jun 21, 2011
          at 9:21 pm

          I’m glad you write her with the email, because that comes to her a lot faster. She should have her letters. The letters on the way back take much longer. But I can tell you from being here in the centers in Bolivia, that she does write you back. I see it all the time, children writing to their sponsors. I am sure she is also very excited about your letters and that you also sent her a gift is a huge blessing for her, that you love her that much. Remember, the letters from Bolivia to your home, take anywhere from 2 to 3 months. I was just at the Compassion Country Office of Bolivia yesterday, and I saw some letters that my children had written to me. It was nice to read them. (I can’t take them, they have to be logged in Colorado Springs too, otherwise, they will try to search for the letters, that are lost) Every letter gets logged and treated with the greatest care. But I know that those letters will take about 2 months to get to me. I’ll be back home and receive them. :-) What project number is your child? (The first three numbers after the letters BO

          • seena
            Jun 22, 2011
            at 6:52 am

            thank you, Danielle and Kees. Danielle, you are absolutely right. Becuase we recieved a letter so soon, it seems like it is taking longer!!! Yes, we did some math and did realize it will be mid July when we receive another mail-so we need to be patient:)When our daughter sees the little Compassion logo/symbol, even as a tiny dot in some remote part of any letter or magazine, she excitedly says, Y esica!!! so as you can see, we are all just eager to hear back. Kees, I think you had already looked into her info for me before. At that time you had not visited that center-but you may be there now so here’s that info again:)- BO426. Thanks again and GOD bless.

            • Jun 22, 2011
              at 5:50 pm

              Seena, you should be also happy to know that the regularly scheduled program letters are almost ready to be sent to Colorado Springs. So, you should get that letter in about 2 months.

              • seena
                Jun 23, 2011
                at 9:48 am

                thanks for the update, Kees!! we look forward to hearing from our little girl there!!

    • Mar 29, 2011
      at 9:22 am

      Vivian,

      The best thing to do is to call our contact center (800-336-7676) so a representative can look into the situation for you.

  74. Mar 29, 2011
    at 9:21 am

    Per current plans, all countries should be participating in reciprocal letter writing by October 1, 2012, according to Emily Sarmiento, Child Sponsorship Program Director

    • Michelle
      Mar 29, 2011
      at 12:31 pm

      YEEEESSSS!!!!! Chris? You just made my day!!!!! {grinning happily} :)

      • Judy Price
        Apr 6, 2011
        at 5:43 pm

        I was amazed to learn which countries are officially reciprocal. Currently I sponsor children from many different countries including ECm EL, ET, IO, KE. NI, RW, TH, and TA. The only ones that I have found to be any where near reciprocal are TA and TH. GH is also very oood and very fast , ET, RW and KE are very disappointing — 3x a year at best. So the official list is quite different from reality.

        • Jul 20, 2011
          at 6:11 pm

          I was under the impression those countries were “moving onto reciprocal”, rather than necessarily having got all the way there.

          I try to write to all my kids whether or not they often reply.

          I would do this anyway, I think, but what really made my mind up was reading someone’s post about seeing their sponsor child being read a letter. They had had very few letters, and were wondering if those letters were really having any impact.

          Then, someone took a video of their child reading the letter.

          The child was transfixed and evidently overwhelmed and overjoyed to receive the letter.

          Those who do not seem to respond may be those who need the love the most. Reciprocal letters are nice, but the important thing is the love that can be poured into these children’s lives. The love, the letters, the pictures, etc that come back? Those are icing :)

  75. Sarah
    Apr 22, 2011
    at 2:52 pm

    I sponsor in Peru, and my first two letters have been sent out about 2 1/2 weeks apart. I was just wondering if anyone knew if Peru offer reciprocal letter writing, and whether or not my sponsored child is likely to receive these two letters separately, or will the letters “catch up” with each other? I don’t mind of course, both packets are filled with a letter, colouring book, stickers, photos and postcards – as long as she receives them and likes them is my main concern! I just wondered if the poor lovey will have to sit and write back to me twice in a fortnight!!!

  76. seena
    May 18, 2011
    at 7:05 am

    Hi, i was wondering if India is one of those countries listed in the resciprocal system?

  77. susan Brunson
    May 30, 2011
    at 6:19 pm

    I was told the best way to write since there are so many letters to translate and to help the reciprical child to not feel like they have to write every 2 wks is write a letter once a month and about the middle of that time send a card with goodies.

  78. Jun 14, 2011
    at 1:41 pm

    One thing that sometimes worries me, and I wonder if Compassion will give me feedback on this – I write to my kids… a lot! I love writing and sending post, and although I love to hear from them, I write just as often to those I’ve only had one or two letters from as to those from whom I’ve received more than one a month.

    My little boy in Tanzania (reciprocal system I believe?) writes a lot and has sometimes said he’s had 5 on one letter day. I just hope he wouldn’t be under pressure to “keep up”? I don’t know how I could say “you don’t have to” without it coming out wrong! But I don’t want him to worry, either.

    • Shaina
      Jun 16, 2011
      at 7:39 am

      I appreciate your commitment to writing your sponsored children! We’re always trying to improve the correspondence process, and this topic is something that was recently visited. I think most times, common sense comes into play. If they receive several letters from you at once, they will reply to them in one letter. An easy way to check this is to count the number of letters you send to the number you’ve received.

      • Jul 20, 2011
        at 6:21 pm

        Thanks – I’ve only just seen this and it is helpful AND reassuring. I thought/hoped that it would be a commonsense thing – and that seems to be the case from his letters (he’s very excited about telling me how many he’s got, but apart from two letters around his birthday, it seems to be one or two a month even when he’s in full on writing mode (he seems a talkative little chap, I wonder if he’d write even when he hadn’t heard from me to be honest!)

        I work on the principal that most of my letters are quite short and sweet, and though I do ask questions, I also send letters which are simply a “thinking of you and praying for you today, and wanted to tell you that I love you” kind of thing, assuming that the child will get, in many ways, just as much from a simple letter like that. Jumanne certainly seems to appreciate the post, which is great: one of his letters said that he knows he is precious “for your love proves it so”. That’s gotta be good :)

        Anyway – it’s late here and so I am waffling horribly! Thanks again :)

  79. Jun 17, 2011
    at 8:57 am

    i have nothing to do with this but i am in a library in Carnew Ireland and 11 years old i think it is sickning just looking at how many children are in poverty. i would hate if i were one of thoes children i wish i could help without sponser if you could tell me what to do pelese i wish i could help the whole world just email me back at the email address i gave megandoyle@live.ie

  80. Diane Nichols
    Jun 18, 2011
    at 6:32 pm

    Boy I sure think the Phillipines is on the reciprocal letter system, my son and I both sponsor boys there and sometimes we get 2 or 3 letters a week from our children and they always answer our questions so we know they are getting ours, when we send a gift, it sometimes takes a while to hear back about what they bought, if they don’t answer within 2 letters after their birthday I usually write and tactfullly say something like I hoped the child had a nice birthday and did they enjoy the gift we sent them.

    • Angela
      Jun 20, 2011
      at 11:10 am

      Wow! That is amazing! Which projects are they enrolled in in PH?

  81. Sep 22, 2011
    at 2:25 am

    Friends, personally, I was sponsored by compassion for the last 18 years. Joined Leadership development programme, and completed. While at University, I initiated the idea of sponsoring a child. we took up one child in Ethiopia called Esset Miliion. two years down the road, this child has never written to us. where is the problem?

    • Jacquie Parella
      Sep 22, 2011
      at 7:24 am

      Please e-mail us your concern at ciinfo@us.ci.org so we can look into why you have not received any correspondence from your LDP student!

    • Sep 22, 2011
      at 9:49 am

      That’s a wonderful idea Naturinda. I love it. I’m not sure why the child hasn’t written you. Or why the letters haven’t gotten to you. The child is supposed to write at least 3 program letters/year thus far. I would contact the Compassion office of the country that you sponsored the child with. with the USA, that would be ciinfo@us.ci.org. I’m not sure about the other countries, but each one has a website and you can find the email address there or some way to contact them.

© 2008-2014 Compassion International. All Rights Reserved.
ECFA Charity Navigator BBB