A letter from a sponsor is one of the most desired things a sponsored child can receive. Letters from sponsors can do more than money because they build relationship between child and sponsor. These are not just pieces of paper; these letters are filled with love, affection, emotion and inspiration for the children.
In Bangladesh, Compassion centers do not celebrate any particular day of the month as “Letter Day,” as some other countries do. But every month children reply to their sponsor’s letters after receiving letters from the Bangladesh Compassion office. Children of Sath Nong Khasiapungi Child Development Center are always looking forward to the day when their center staff members bring the big envelope full of sponsor letters.
The head of the center, Mr. Pius, explains, “We are several miles away from the small town where the letters are received. Every month we receive sponsors’ letters at least twice. Children are very eager about these letters; they always ask us about them. Here we don’t have a mailman who can bring the letters to the center.
“We are required to collect these letters from the courier office. We use ‘three wheelers’ (small three-wheel taxi/auto rickshaw that runs by motor). It takes more than two hours to reach the town and come back. Children are always very excited and happy to see the big brown envelope in our hands.”
The caregivers, social workers and other center staff help the children read the letters and write back to their sponsors.
Bangladesh is a country where different tribal groups have their own languages. Bengali is the only language that is widely used. English is not spoken or understood by most people. So a group of young students at the Compassion country office translate the sponsor letters before they are sent to the centers.
Then the Sponsor Donor Service staff distribute the translated letters to the various ICPs (Implementing Church Partners). Children at the center receive the original letter with a translation in their local language at the bottom.
Rita, a caregiver at Sath Nong Khasiapungi, says, “Most of the time we receive letters in the afternoon. So we distribute the letters to children the next day. We call each child and help them to read the letter. We explain to them if they are unable to understand anything. After reading the letters we arrange a letter-writing session. The children sit together inside our church and write to their sponsors.”
Lishtina’s sponsors Lindsay and Steve are from the United States. They are very responsive. They reply to her every letter. This year Lishtina wrote six letters and received five from her sponsors.
“I received a birthday gift from my sponsors, but I love to receive letters and photos from my sponsors more than gifts. These letters are precious to me. I showed this photo to my friends.”
For boys, to receive a letter from their sponsors is equally important. Robin loves to get notes from his sponsors. He shares with his parents every time he receives a letter from his friends. Whenever he gets any cards or pictures he becomes very delighted.
It has been five years since Compassion started to work through the local church at this community. The staff in this center are experienced and understand the importance of children’s letters for their sponsors. Letter writing is considered as essential as any other regular activities in the Compassion center. Generally the children reply to their sponsors’ letters the day after the center receives them from the country office.
The letter-writing process is very organized and systematic here. Children read their letters from sponsors and then they sit together inside the church and write their replies. They sit on long benches and place their writing papers on narrow tables.
Compassion Bangladesh provides a special letter form for the children to write to their sponsors. These letter forms are colorful, and children can write and draw on them. There is also a small space for translation (from Bengali to English). The children who are in higher grades write their letters on their own; the staff help the younger children to write their letters.
Usually the information and language of the children’s letters are different for different age groups.
Synod is the eldest registered child of Sath Nong Khasiapungi. She is now 14 and studying in grade 8. She feels the significance of her sponsor’s messages.
“Every time when I receive a letter from Sylvia I get so excited. She is like my family member. I can feel her emotion, love and care for me. It is something very special for me. She encourages me to keep up my good results at school. Her inspiration helps me to improve myself. I always wait for her letter.”
Writing letters to their friends is an event of joy for the Compassion children. They love to write about their emotions, favorites, families, study, Compassion life and prayer requests. They also know that the drawings they made on the letters are appreciated by their friends abroad. These drawings are very special because they carry the emotion of the child for the sponsor. The alphabets may not be familiar to sponsors, but drawing is a common language for all.
A short message from the sponsor could play a vital role in the life of a child. The letter is not only a piece of paper, but it is a tool that builds a friendship between a child and a sponsor. It can develop a heavenly bond of love. This small piece of paper can bring huge inspiration, hope and change in the life of a child.
All of us at Compassion Bangladesh really appreciate the effort of our sponsors for not only supporting the children, but also for strengthening the bond of love by writing to them.
January 14 (this Friday) is our monthly letter-writing day! We encourage you to put some time aside to let your sponsored child know you are thinking of them!