You just made the decision to become a sponsor. You downloaded the Compassion app and zipped off a nice little letter introducing yourself to that special kiddo. Now what?
Do you wait to hear from him or her before you write again? Should you say “Hi!” every month? Can you send the adorable picture you took of your labradoodle at the beach RIGHT NOW?
This month on the Compassion Letter Club, we, along with the dedicated tutors in Honduras whom you met a few months ago, are here to answer these and other important questions you have asked us this year about letter writing!
“How often should I write?” – Brian
To answer this question, let’s first start with how often you should expect to hear from the child you sponsor.
Children in our program will always write to their sponsors twice a year. Often the student centers will plan a special letter-writing day to inspire the children to share their lives with their sponsors in written form — something that is unfamiliar to many of them.
Osiris Guzman, who tutors children ages 6 to 11 at Pentecostal Child Development Center (PCDC) in Siguatepeque, Honduras shares,
“[How often a child writes] all depends on how many letters the child receives from the sponsor. The sponsor is the one who triggers the number of letters that a child may write per year. For example: If a sponsor writes six times a year, then a child will write back six times.”
Now, how often you write is completely up to you. But know that the child or teen you sponsor will write to you up to a maximum of six times a year, including any “Thank You” letters for the birthday, personal or family gifts you have sent.
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But just because children may write six times a year, doesn’t mean that you only have to write six times a year. Sometimes you have exciting news that just can’t wait! Maybe you just got married, got a new kitten, or you want to send a Christmas gift or birthday gift with a letter.
“Sponsors can send as many letters as they want. But, those letters have to go through a process of translation. It takes awhile for a letter to get to a child because of the language barriers, delivery issues to the communities, registration and scan into the system, etc. However, we’re glad to see how this process is getting optimized and the time frame is reducing,” says Glenda Reyes, who has been a tutor for 14 years at PCDC.
So what is the right amount?
Your words are treasured no matter how often you share them. However, because letter delivery happens at least once a month* at Compassion centers, we recommend you write once a month. This means that once a month when letters are passed out to all the children, you get to put a smile on their faces because they know their new friend cares for them!
Now that you’ve put that monthly reminder in your Compassion app to write your next letter, what should you share in it? The ladies at PCDC have some ideas for you…
“What do the kids enjoy hearing about in letters?” – Arial
First of all, don’t worry about whether your letter is too short, Glenda shares,
“We have taught the beneficiary children that the content of their sponsors’ letters is very important. Sometimes, it may be a three-line-paragraph letter, but it is still very important. Children love to hear from their sponsors’ daily activities, vacations, family events and mostly about pets.”
Second, think about what you would want to know about him or her and share that about yourself. Alicia, who has been a tutor for 14 years and works with the teens and young adults says,
“Beneficiary youths love to hear about their sponsors’ families because they feel part of them. Some of the sponsors share about the arrival of a baby within the family, and youths feel nothing more than joy and love over that news. But sometimes, the connection that the sponsors have with their children is very deep, because they share about a relative that passed away and the youths grieve their loss with them.”
Third, show an interest in their culture and share yours.
“We know that most of the sponsors do not speak Spanish, but when they include some words, phrases or Bible verses in the child’s language, that unfolds expressions of happiness and appreciation in his face. We love to see how some sponsors make some research about our country and include drawings of our flag, traditional foods and customs in their letters,” shares Alicia.
Fourth, tell them how much they mean to you.
“Beneficiary children love to hear that their sponsors put their letters and drawings in special places. Some sponsors share with the children that they put the letters on the front of their refrigerator, or that they keep the children’s photos on their desk at work,” encourages Osiris.
“When we send photos, what would they like to see?” – Yvonne
As a Compassion alumna, Débora has a unique perspective when helping the children write letters.
“Most of the sponsors not only send long letters, but some of them include photos or postcards of the country where they live, or about a family vacation that they had. But what puts a big smile on the children’s faces is to see their sponsors pets’ pictures. They love to hear about dogs, cats, horses, cows, or animals that are not raised in Honduras like kangaroos,” Débora says.
Don’t have pet? Don’t worry! How about sharing a picture of a place in your community that means something special to you, or a postcard from your state?
“It’s very important to teach children about their sponsors’ countries and cultures. Children know by heart their sponsors’ name and the country that they’re from. When the sponsors include pictures or postcards that represent their countries, then that helps children to create a picture in their minds of the place where the sponsors live,” Glenda states.