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The First Letter Builds a Cornerstone

first letter The relationship between a child and his or her sponsor is a special part of our sponsorship program. As soon as a child in Guatemala is chosen to be sponsored, the notification process begins.

The Global Partner country where the sponsor is from, such as Canada or France or Australia, sends information about the sponsor to our Global Ministry Center in Colorado. There, all the new sponsorships are posted in the Correspondence Tracking Application (CTA), an application that keeps track of all the letters going back and forth around the world.

Once the information is in the CTA, Ericka Samayoa, a Sponsor and Donor Services Associate in Guatemala’s country office, is in charge of the weekly updates of the new sponsors posted for Guatemalan children. She creates a list of which child development centers have new sponsorship assignments.

An associate then e-mails the centers where children have received sponsors. Most of the centers have Internet access, but those who don’t are contacted by telephone. The associate tells the correspondence coordinator at the center the news, and all the information about the sponsor.

Alexandra, left, and Vanesa

The correspondence coordinator is the one in charge of delivering the good news to the child.

Sofia is the correspondence coordinator for Niños del Carpintero Student Center. When she gets a notification of a new sponsorship, she prints out the child and sponsor information. Sofia likes to prepare all paperwork she will need at the moment she tells the child about his or her new sponsor.

Today, she gets to notify two girls that they have sponsors. Before she calls them to her office, she prints the information and gets two different letter formats for the girls to write their first letter to their sponsors.

Once everything is ready, Sofia goes to the child’s classroom and asks the teacher permission to excuse the child for a moment.

Alexandra, who is frequently called Ann, and Vanesa get to go to her office today. Sofia proceeds to tell 5-year-old Vanesa more information about her sponsor, Juliette, from France. Vanesa repeats her sponsor’s name a couple of times so she can learn it. She even pronounces it in Spanish “Julieta” (hoo-lee-ET-uh).

Sofia tells Alexandra, a 16-year old, that her sponsor, Leonhard, lives in Australia. Alexandra has been sponsored twice before.

Before the girls can begin writing their letters, Sofia writes their sponsors’ names to ensure they are spelled correctly along with their codes. There are two different letter formats. One of them is for younger children who cannot yet read or write and the other for older children who read and write by themselves.

You can also view this Sponsorship Notification [3] video on YouTube.

Alexandra gets to write her letter by herself. She shares about her family, best friend, and some of her favorite things like food, drink, Bible story, songs, games. There is also a designated area where she is able to write a personal message for her sponsor.

Vanesa, on the other hand, needs the help of Sofia to write her letter. Sofia sits beside Vanesa to transcribe her answers on the letter. Vanesa shares about her family, things she likes, and prayer requests. There is a section where she is able to draw and color a picture for her sponsor.

Vanesa also gets to stamp her fingerprint on her letter. Sofia takes a picture of Vanesa to include in the letter. If the child is very young, the correspondence coordinator asks the mother or caregiver to join in the process. She provides the information needed to fill the letter out.

“The letter format for younger kids is more interactive: they even draw their eyes and color them according to their eyes color. It is more kid friendly,” says Sofia while she waits for Vanesa to color the picture of her eyes.

When the letters are ready, Sofia includes a cover page with the number and types of letters included in the package. This package is then sent to the Guatemala country office. This process needs to happen within eight days of telling the children about their sponsors.

Once the letters reach the office, the Sponsors Donor Service Associate prints a bar code for each letter and scans it into the Correspondence Tracking Application.

The letters are reviewed to ensure quality and names and numbers are verified. The letter is also checked to verify the participation of the child.

After its review, it is sent for translation. After two weeks the translated letters are sent to the Global Ministry Center in Colorado Springs, where they are then mailed to the Global Partner countries.

The first letters are a cornerstone to building the new relationship between sponsor and sponsored child. These letters make the sponsorship commitment more personal, and now Vanesa and Alexandra will be waiting to hear back from their sponsors.