Experiencing Letter Writing Day in Haiti

The more I visit countries and talk to former participants of our child sponsorship program, the more dedicated I am to letter writing.

Many students need encouragement from sponsors who believe in their potential to do well. Some have not felt loved by sponsors who are not writing, and when a new letter-writing sponsor becomes available, their lives change for the better.

Words of encouragement can make the difference between a normal life and one that is charged with energy, passion and purpose.

two men in baseball caps

This summer’s trip to Haiti gave me several interesting encounters with sponsorship letters. While there, I approached a man to talk to him because he was wearing a Kansas City ball cap (the city I grew up in).

A translator explained to me that this was Manasseh, the man responsible for delivering the Compassion mail from La Gonave to the mainland every week.

I was thrilled to meet him. I told him I had sent many letters over the past 24 years and that I appreciated his dedication to this important job.

When we visited one of the child development centers, it happened to be letter-writing day! I met a wonderful center worker named Jacquelin, who was helping kids and their caregivers complete letters to their sponsors.

It was fascinating to observe the letter-writing process. The children had been given notebooks to take home to begin their letters.

With the help of parents, the children completed their letters and returned their notebooks to Jacquelin, who carefully reviewed the letters with each child and family member.

When the letters were complete with corrections, additions or deletions, the final drafts were written onto the official stationery. Then each child was encouraged to add a drawing as a special gift to his or her sponsor.

girl sitting at desk with letter

I watched as several children used a small ruler to make neat, straight lines on their drawings. Jacquelin never told any child to hurry up or to finish quickly. I admired his patience and careful attention to detail.

Older children were working on their letters at various tables around the room, usually with the help of friends and family. Dozens were lined up to report to the communication officer, who keeps track of every letter sent.

older boy holding letters

This was a combined effort and the children seemed enthusiastic about their task. I loved seeing the involvement of the family members.

I observed as an older young man helped his two little brothers with their letters.

Every group eventually came before Jacquelin for his final proofreading and approval. I loved seeing the pride on the kids’ faces for a job well done.

But no face was more joyful than the face of my own sponsored child when we met a few days later.

When we visited his home, Enold was quick to bring out many of the letters I had sent through the years.

I told him I had kept all his letters, too.

I think the look on his face says it all; letter writing is important!


8 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Judy January 5, 2014

    Are the individuals who run the development centers volunteers or are they paid a salary?

    1. Susan Sayler January 6, 2014

      Hi Judy! Most of the amazing individuals who work in our student centers are volunteer tutors, teachers, and social workers. Usually the only paid staff at the student center level are the center director and maybe one or two other people under him or her.

  2. Stephanie August 12, 2012

    Thank you for the post! I love it! I just received a letter from my sweet boy in Haiti and it made me smile from the inside out! He even needed extra space and stapled an extra page onto the back!

  3. Miranda — Compassion Calling August 11, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this experience with us! Although we don’t have children in Haiti, we appreciate knowing that our children’s families may be so involved in sending us letters. 🙂 It also made me 🙂 to read about the older children helping the younger children to write their letters. What a great way to serve Jesus and others right where they are!

  4. Emily August 10, 2012

    My Haitian child’s father writes for him and I love that they seem to get the whole family involved in the process! Also I have to say that the little girl with the sticker on her face is absolutely precious!

  5. douglas August 10, 2012

    i a doing it

  6. Teresa August 10, 2012

    Looking forward to getting more letters from my kiddos in Haiti with the new writing system changes (’cause I send LOTS of letters!) Love this visual of them writing to me. 🙂

  7. Nina August 10, 2012

    Thank you for this insight on the letter writing experience for the kids. I have had 2 letters from my newest child, a 7 year old boy in Haiti, and it is nice to think about his mother helping him to write, and hoping that the experience is enjoyable for both of them.

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