How Do One Sponsor’s Letters Offer Support?

In the Philippines, godmothers play an important role in the lives of children. Together with godfathers, they are expected to bring gifts and goodies on Christmas Day, birthdays and other special family gatherings. The godchild will not hesitate to ask for gifts in case the godparent forgets.

But more than the bearers of gifts, godparents are considered part of a child’s extended family.

The extended family is an important social component for Filipinos. Included within the family extension are grandparents, uncles, aunts and godparents. And, in some cases, their words of advice are tantamount to those of the child’s parents.

Of all the people included in a child’s extended family, only the godparents are not blood relatives, yet they are looked upon as second parents.

One sponsor has earned that position in the life of Shiela.

girl sitting on mat writing a letter

“Monthly, I receive letters from my sponsor and we talk about life in general, her church and family.”

Shiela knows a lot about her long-distance godmother.

“She loves talking about her nephews and nieces, and, recently one of her sisters got married. I also get plenty of photos.”

Shiela has kept many of her sponsor’s letters, but some were taken by her mother when she left home to live in the province. Her parents have separated and now she is living with her grandmother.

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Sheila’s sponsor knows about this and often encourages Shiela to be strong.

“She always encourages me by writing encouraging words. I really enjoy receiving letters from my godmother.”

Sponsored children from all over the islands are required to write their sponsors at least three times a year, and to respond whenever they get a letter from their sponsors.

children in a classroom

Many of the children, like Shiela, write more than three times a year.

“I love writing to my sponsor, even if I don’t really have anything to say. I tell her about my life, my church and how happy I am here at the student center.”

Each child development center has its own style of distributing the letters.

In some centers, caseworkers deliver the letters to the children’s homes, while most give them out at the center during weekly activities.

“I get my letters usually during our lessons, but I often go to my caseworker to ask if I a have a letter, since I always anticipate that I do.

“It is important to write letters, for people to know each other and to share experiences, activities, ideas and so on.”

Country Director of the Philippines, Noel Pabiona, expresses,

“I hope that, at least once a year, sponsors will write their children.

“Exchanging letters really makes a difference. It creates a strong impact in the sponsor-sponsored child relationship and brings the two close to each other.”

Through the monthly exchange of letters between Shiela and her sponsor, the sponsor has ceased being just a sponsor. She is now her sponsored child’s second mother.

Shiela knows that her sponsor cares about her.

girl holding a letter

“I write to her about everything. She knows about my parents’ problems and that I am staying with my grandmother. I usually write her at home at nights and sometimes while I am here at the student center.”

photo of photojournalist

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    Ursula December 17, 2012

    We have three sponsored children. The little girl in Indonesia was so happy when I told her that she is another grandchild to me (I have 16 grandchildren). She told me that her grandmother died not too long before we started sponsoring her, and she is so glad to have a new grandmother in me.

    The girl we had before her (she graduated from the program) called me ‘Mama Ursula’ right from the start.

    The teenager in Ecuador (we’ve been sponsoring her for nearly nine years now) considers me part of her family, too…. she writes very frequently and tells me everything!

    We are a blessing to each other….. and the children and I write a lot more often than three times a year… I feel guilty if I don’t write at least once every two months.

  2. Avatar
    Stacey October 13, 2012

    Thank you for posting this. It just confirms that we as sponsors become family to our children. A few of my kids have referred to me as their second mother. Eugene, who I sponsor through another organization, calls me his aunt. Then his biological aunt wrote me a letter saying that he sees me as more than a mother. Niphaporn in Thailand has also recently told me that I am like a mother to her.
    Our letters are so important to these kids, and I hope more sponsors will write to their kids, who are so anxious to hear from them.

  3. Avatar
    craig downs October 12, 2012

    One of my precious girls from the Philippines who I have sponsored for 6 1/2 years asked me to be her godfather from the very beginning. I never knew that they were that important in their lives and that I’m an extended part of her family, I really learned something today. I just got a letter from her a couple of days ago and she thanked me for being her sponsor and that I’m a part of her life now. She has always been a little protective but has been opening up little by little lately. I recently told her that I have been happy and honored by be her godfather and that I hoped that I have been a good one for her. After I told her that she really has been opening up. After reading this today I really understand my role in her life now.

  4. Avatar
    Andy and Miranda – Compassion Calling October 12, 2012

    Wow! I just sent this to Andy, because although I am not Shiela’s sponsor, and although this is not our sponsored child’s story exactly, I feel there are many many similarities between the two! Letters are so important, and they can not only change the child, but they can change us as sponsors as well! Thank you for sharing this, and we will be praying for Shiela and her family, including her extended family of her sponsor! 🙂

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