The other day, I received a call from Sandy in New York. She was ecstatic because the girl she sponsored, Erica, had asked to be her friend on Facebook and wanted to know if she could correspond with her child through Facebook instead of writing letters. After all, it would be so much more convenient for her.
Sigh. These conversations are always difficult for me. I would have loved to have told her, “Yes, go for it!” but I couldn’t. You shouldn’t communicate directly with the child or youth you sponsor outside of the realm of Compassion.
In fact, before children are registered in our programs, they and their caregivers agree to our communication guidelines: No contact outside of Compassion.
Why, you ask? Wouldn’t it save money? Wouldn’t it save time?
It probably would, but it could also come at the expense of you and the child’s safety, and this type of communication places the child, family and church partner staff in a difficult situation.
It’s not uncommon for someone who knows a child who is sponsored to create an account on a social networking site and pretend to be the child, to contact the sponsor and ask for money, and to threaten the child’s well-being if money isn’t provided.
We cannot protect you or the child you sponsor if we are not involved in the correspondence between the two of you. We also have a responsibility to protect the children from sponsors who don’t have the children’s best interest in mind.
Without being the center of the correspondence process, we also cannot ensure that you don’t inadvertently write something inappropriate or offensive to the child – cross-cultural sensitivities seem to appear out of nowhere, even out of good intentions.
While it may seem easier and more cost-efficient for us to allow contact through social networking sites, we don’t allow it at this time because we want to be sure it’s done well, done right and done with the best interests of the children in mind.
So, I asked Sandy to delete the friend request and to not respond to it.
I also sent an e-mail to my co-worker Jill. In situations like this, Jill contacts the country office, which works with the Child Development Center staff to remind the student of our guidelines regarding direct contact with sponsors. The center staff also makes sure it was indeed the student who initiated the contact.
If you are contacted by the child or youth you sponsor outside of Compassion’s portals (e.g., by phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), please don’t respond, even to say, “I’m sorry but I can’t talk with you in this manner.” And please let us know about the contact.
If it happens in Facebook or Twitter, please use the site’s “block” feature to block the person from asking you to be their friend. I know this may sound harsh, but please try to imagine what could happen if these guidelines weren’t in place.
Thanks so much for your willingness to respect our communication policies. I know it’s hard and not what you’d prefer to do.
Get the answers to more of your communication questions with our Letter-Writing FAQ.
UPDATE: Since the publication of this blog post, we have implemented a fully digital letter-writing process. So your communications with the special kiddo you’re investing in can happen in weeks instead of months!
95 Comments |Add a comment
What are the guidelines when a child ages out & then makes contact on Instagram?
Hi Diana! That is a great question! In this very connected, digital age, there is a possibility that a sponsored child will contact their sponsor through email and/or social media. While a child is enrolled in the Compassion program, Compassion strongly advises that sponsors not respond to the communication. It is important for the child to respect and follow Compassion guidelines as well as honor the privacy of the sponsor. However, once a child is no longer in the program, there are no rules regarding whether they can seek out their former sponsor outside of Compassion. The decision regarding whether to respond or not is completely up to you. The communication is outside Compassion’s oversight and is no longer monitored for content. We ask that you prayerfully consider whether this would be a suitable option for you and to consider all the possible outcomes. Though it may be exciting to receive a social media friend request from your former sponsored child, there is no guarantee that it actually is your child who is trying to contact you. I hope this information has helped you. Have a blessed day!
So, if my child is no longer with the program because her “financial status has changed”, is it advisable to keep in contact with my child? Her mom has lready requested to be friends on fb. I worry that Honey will no longer have the opportunity to learn about Jesus and I pray for faith and salvation for her.
Hi David! We ask that you sign a waiver of liability for Compassion first before starting direct contact with your child or their family once they are out of the program. If you would like, I would be happy to email this document to you and you could sign it, scan it, and send it back to us. Thank you for understanding.
Thanks, Susan; yes please email the form to me. Honey’s Mom friended us on fb, but we stopped because we were worried that she would be dropped from the program because of it; but we found out she was dropped from the program because her financial status improved.
Dave, I’m sorry if I caught you off guard with my previous comment. I am a Compassion Employee. I just sent you the form to sign and return to me. If you feel more comfortable sending the form through regular Compassion channels, you are also welcome to send the signed form to my colleague in the mail to Compassion International, Attn. Matt Butler, Colorado Springs, CO 80997 or email it to [email protected]. Thank you for your cooperation.
By the way, my husband and I just started sponsoring today. I’m really excited I get to do this for a little girl as it was done for me. I can’t wait to find out more about her and start exchanging letters with her!
I was a sponsored child, now 25. I left the program when I was 13 due to moving here. I didn’t have the chance to ever talk to my sponsors again and I would love to get in touch with them and thank them for everything they did for me. I believe it was through Compassion but I’m not sure. Is there a way to find out? I just feel I need to find them. I guess I’m in need of closure. I’ve read some sponsors feel “dumped” when this happens and this was not at all my case. Anyway, if I never get to say it to them I want to say thanks to all the sponsors out there who never get to hear it!!
Lina, feel free to e-mail us at [email protected] and we can help you from there. Too, if you can remember your number and/or the child development center number that you attended, that will help. I hope you can connect with your sponsors some day!!
I just discovered this page a few weeks after one of my sponsored children contacted me on facebook. I was unaware that this policy existed until now. I had a short conversation with him last week but just blocked him. I think that this policy should be listed in a more prominent location (The FAQ’s would be an ideal location) so more people are aware of it and don’t make the same mistake I did. Like what is mentioned here, I would want to have the agency in his country verify that it was actually him that spoke to me and not somebody impersonating him.
Thank you Ted for this input! I will be sharing it with our web team.
I contacted my sponsored “child” a few days ago(who is 22) after seeing his name on Facebook. I was not aware of this policy but actually came across this blog post while looking for advice on this type of interaction. I got a very nice message from him saying he wanted to hear my voice gave me his cell phone number. The next line mentioned he was financially unstable and wanted to know if I could wire him some money. I am going to write him back and tell him I need to drop the contact and apologize for initiating it in the first place and that I would be looking forward to his next letter and do not want to jeopardize his sponsorship by continuing the contact. Thanks for posting about this topic.
This is one of the main reasons, why Compassion doesn’t suggest being in direct contact with your children via Facebook. Now, your child will graduate soon and then you are allowed to, but I would be very careful sending money to the child. You really have to know the culture and know the situation before sending any money. I know of someone, who got really hurt in a relationship with a former Compassion child, now an adult in another country like that. You really have to understand what they mean when they say things.
Just to give a little example. Last year when I was speaking in a church in Bolivia, a pastor came up and said: “It’s really nice to have a big fat guy talk to us!!!! ” That was a compliment. And by the way. I’m not fat. But it just is an example of how people think totally different in other countries.
At the same time, I was thinking about this a lot today, with a total different situation. Whether a teenager tries to befriend you or now on Facebook, many teenagers will look for their sponsor there. So, be careful what you put on Facebook. If there are photos that could be misconstrued in another country, your sponsored child might be looking at them. So, be careful what you put on your Facebook pages. I’m sure my page gets viewed all the time. And I want to be sure to be godly example to my children.
I know that we are not supposed to communicate with our child or their family outside of compassion. I am going to be a missionary in one or possibly two countries that my children live. What am I supposed to do if I am going to be working in the area of where my child lives and possibly running into him?
Hey James! This situation is a little different. It might be best to speak with our tours department (https://www.compassion.com/get-involved/trips-visits.htm) to see what they suggest. Most likely, you will be able to visit your child and develop a relationship with the project he or she attends. You will need to complete a back ground check first.
I correspond with my former LDP student in the Philippines on Facebook. She does not have a computer at her home; she accesses the internet through her church/project. Just before Christmas, she sent me a message to let me know their house (and all their belongings) were lost in the recent typhoon. I looked it up online and found it to be true. I’m so thankful I am in contact with her through Facebook. We have talked many times on a live Facebook chat and have been a big encouragement to each other this way. I’m so thankful for this avenue of communication! I am raising funds to send to her project, as they have become a refugee center for hundreds of displaced families. If you care to help, please send support to Compassion and earmark it for the recent typhoon relief in the Philippines.
I am really sad to hear about this blog, really sad. I knew it was coming, I knew eventually that this pandora’s box would have to be opened, but I had always hoped the news wouldn’t be so hard on both sponsor and child, for the sake of safety.
I of course did not know about this rule when I added my child on Facebook. She must not have known either when she accepted my request and left a short non-English message on my account. Soon after though she never wrote me again, at such point I suspected she was asked not too by the staff at her location. I tried writing once or twice then stopped, just visiting her page now and then to see her photos. I thought that this would be fine, and I carried on writing emails and planning for hand-written letters.
Reading this now though, and seeing that we are encouraged to go so far as to “block” our own children makes something like a stone in my stomach sink to the bottom of me. I can’t even imagine taking her off my list, let alone blocking her entirely! When I first saw her photos on FB with her friends, being a casual happy teenager (and I must emphasize that she is a teenager over 16, I would not have added her otherwise) and just reminding me of myself when I was that age (I’m 24 right now, so we even look a bit alike), it was so uplifting. It inspired me to start letter-writing all over again. It told me so much more about my child that I didn’t know before.
But I understand the difficult situation (and even dangerous) it puts others in. I wish there was a better solution. I don’t entirely think this is it. I pray that the Our Compassion website will continue to evolve and hopefully have more participation from the children. That might just be a good bridge.
The children are not allowed to be in touch through other media outside of the letters and possibly the visits. It’s important to teach the children through our actions to be obedient to God. One way to be obedient to God is through them being obedient to their authorities, as long as it doesn’t contradict God’s Word the Bible. It can be a bit difficult, because we can feel very close to our Compassion children. However once they graduate from Compassion, you can be in touch with them. I have to say this though, that it is important to give a lot of “grace” in this relationship. Cultural norms can be so different between the various countries and it can easily lead to people being offended on either side. Just to give an example. I’m here in Bolivia. When I take someone out to eat in Bolivia, it is very customary for them to invite someone else along. And not only that, but they love to look at the receipt for the meal and talk about with each other. Now both of these things would not be appropriate in the USA. If you invited me for dinner in a restaurant, you’d feel funny, if I brought along two of my friends and then when you paid for it, asked if I could look at the receipt and then show it to my friends. This is just an illustration and cultural things that can be so commonsense in one country can be so different in another country. This is why I think Compassion even after the child graduates doesn’t encourage continual contact. It can be great, but if someone isn’t used to different cultures, it can also lead to big disappointments and hurts.
Also, with Facebook, you have to be very careful. You don’t really know who you’re talking with. One of my formerly sponsored children and I are friends on Facebook. She doesn’t speak English very well, and she doesn’t speak Spanish either, and definitely not Dutch!!! Well, I was “chatting” with her a few months ago, as much as we could. All of a sudden, she asked me for sexual favors. I was taken back by it, but I did notice that her English magically improved. Then when I asked a few other questions, it became obvious that I was “talking” to someone else. What had happened was that she was in an Internet cafe and she had to leave all of a sudden and never logged out, so the next person took over the conversation and that person probably thought it’d be fun to write some evil things. So, just be very careful with it. Also, be very careful not to send money when asked. When the children write the letters in the student centers, they are under certain rules. One of them is that they can’t ask you to send them money. So,the rules are really there, not just to protect the child, but also the sponsors. It’s difficult to see, but when you live in another country, you can see how different cultures can be. I do really appreciate your love for your sponsored child though and I do agree with you that it is wonderful to write the letters. I see the children write the letters to their sponsor all the time and the letters mean so much to these children. And for whatever it is worth, there is something about a physical official letter through Compassion that means so much more than an email on Facebook could ever mean.
Kees, thank you! I canceled her friend request and didn’t respond. I hope she finds a great sponsor to share her progress with.
That’s awesome Becky. If she doesn’t have a sponsor yet, and she is not allocated to some concert to look for a sponsor for her, you might still be able to sponsor her, and then you can really build in her life, through your prayers and your letters. She’ s probably a really nice girl. In the centers, where I am, I would think that probably at least half of the teenagers have Facebook accounts. It’s crazy, but in some ways, I’m more concerned with their other “friends” that they get on Facebook. Some of them write some awful things on their Facebook pages, things that a sponsor would never think of writing. I’m actually going to be teaching a little thing on this to all the LDP students here in Cochabamba. Facebook can be a great tool. I know that Compassion uses it a lot. I find many sponsors through Facebook for the children. But there are also many dangers in Facebook. I think the biggest danger that can happen, when a sponsor has direct communication with the child for the sponsor is that they might get requests, from who knows who for money. Also, the good thing with Compassion is that anyone can sponsor a child. That can also be a bad thing. I do know of someone, who was a pedofile from England, sponsoring children. We need to protect the children. Even though the chance is very small, statistically speaking, it’s important. Kind of like they check if you bring a bomb on a plane. It’s a little bit of a hassle for me. (Last time, I flew to Bolivia here, I had just lost a bunch of weight, and they wanted to take my belt off. I told that me not wearing a belt as I went through the gate, might be a national threat) I degress… It’s important to protect both the sponsors and the children. Also, cultures are so different. What might be totally acceptable in one culture, might be totally offensive in another culture. So, that’s another thing that really helps the sponsor and the child have a good relationship!
What about when a child who is NOT your sponsored child messages you on facebook asking for you to sponsor him or her?
Hi, Becky, I run into similar situations all the time, being in the student center. Just a few weeks ago, an LDP student asked me to find her a sponsor. I told her maybe she had a sponsor already. She was convinced she didn’t. Well, as an advocate, I told her that if she didn’t have a sponsor and if I could, I would like to help her find a sponsor. I called Compassion and she did have a sponsor already. The fact of the matter is that from the moment that someone fills out the form to sponsor a child to the moment that the child finds out, might take a month or so. So, the child might already have a sponsor. If you were to promise to sponsor the child and the child is excited about this, then the child might be disappointed with the other sponsor and it might put the sponsorship on a bit of a disadvantage…. If you want to sponsor the child, just ask for the child number and contact Compassion about it. Of course as soon as you sponsor the child, you don’t want to continue your contact with the child. It really puts the child in jeopardy. They could lose the Compassion sponsorship and they might be cancelled out of the program. Besides that, I want my children to learn to obey their leaders, because I want them ultimately learn to obey God!
This is very clearly a Hot topic and I would venture to say that many Compassion sponsors are not aware that they are not allowed to contact their children on social networking sites. I personally feel that a letter from Compassion to ALL sponsors explaining compassions policy specifically regarding contact via Social networking sites would be appropriate. Many are just not aware of the issues they could face and the jeopardy they are placing their child in. Please consider using the comments posted here to develop a Q&A that is sent to all sponsors in a mailing globally.
Thank you Compassion for your continued dedication to the protection of our children. I have two sons that exited the Compassion program. One has desired to keep in touch and it is such a blessing continuing our relationship! His mother died when he was young, so it has been special to fill this void in his life. But there have been things to consider, such as cultural things to be careful about. The training I received from Compassion in the letter writing process, continues to be helpful in the emailing venue. I don’t communicate with my son via FB, because I want to be careful still that he isn’t exposed unnecessarily to “stuff” that doesn’t keep him close to the heart of Jesus. He is still attending university and doesn’t need to waste his time and money going to a “net cafe”. Thank you Compassion for all you have in place, and I am praying that God will continue to impress His heart of obedience into the lives of the sponsors, in helping to keep our kids safe. We will see them in Heaven in such a short time! 🙂
Don’t accept friend requests from your child, it probably isn’t them anyway! I received a friend request from my sponsored child, I pondered if I should accept but I chose not to because of Compassion’s policy. I felt bad about it though thinking that he just wants to be my friend, what could be the harm in that, right? Well, the next week I received a message from him but with a different variation of his name such as “Bill, Billy, William” and with a different profile picture. I checked the previous friend request again and that profile was still up too. As of now, I’ve received 3 friend requests/messages from 3 different profile claiming to be the same person. I do not believe this is my sponsored child. Plus, I don’t feel the need to communicate with him through Facebook because our letter writing is very efficient. We have great conversations through letters. So please, don’t fall into the trap!
Recently I visited the CI facebook site and left a comment. Shortly after leaving my comment I received a friendship request from a man whose profile showed him in what appeared to be a classroom setting with children from a poverty-stricken area. I accepted his request and almost immediately started receiving letters from him indicating he was in dire need of money for his orphans. Other facebook friends from his site said that they were sending him money; though he made it clear that he was unable to accept money orders. I was starting to get a bit confused because he had not mentioned a sponsor or on whose behalf he was working, but who am I to say? Perhaps he simply saw a need and stepped up the plate and truly does need money to help him with his “orphans”. I asked him last night with what group he was affiliated and he wrote me back without answering the question. Although this may be completely legitimate, I will not send him any money. It is for similar reasons that I would not correspond with my sponsored child in an open forum venue.
I am wondering how or if I could ever speak to those children who have left the program for varying reasons. I have had very bad luck with losing my compassion children, and have had a total of four kids since I started about 10 years ago.
@Wendell Unless Compassion has changed something, your child already has your last name. All of the children I have sponsored, have known my full name from day one. Most of the letters I receive begin with Dear sponsor (full name). Something could have changed, but for 21 years, my kids have known my last name.
I received a request for my last name recently from a child letter. I did not answer for this very reason. I hope to do so after their graduation from the program. But now it is definitely best that Compassion be the mediators in all visits and correspondence.
Thank you. Since using facebook, the biggest shock is even with the strictest settings, strangers can see a lot of info of my friends without their knowledge. I do not want to tempt anyone to be envious. Also anyone can pretend to be the sponsored child. I agree, BLOCK the request immediately & respect the authority of their parents.
Thank you for the information through answering questions. Has Compassion thought about leveraging technology such as video chat or an online social networking type platform for sponsors and sponsored children to communicate in a Compassion sanctioned fashion? If there were a way to do it in an approved and safe manner, it may help to provide a special time of interaction for those who can’t visit their child(ren) in person. It would be interesting to hear if anything like this may be available in the future.
Thanks Afain for you and your organization’s hard work and faithfulness. God Bless!
Jonathan, I know that Compassion is always looking for ways to improve the correspondence process. As we move forward, I’m sure we will look into these technologies. The difficult part will be to determine how to use the technology while protecting the child and the sponsor.
I wonder if sponsors could send video messages that would be reviewed just like the letters are before being shown to the children? I think the kids would love to see their sponsor’s videos, just like they like to get pictures. One downside would be that they might not be able to ‘take it with them’ for later, but I think they would still enjoy it.
Whew! I’m glad I don’t have Facebook or Twitter. I don’t even text. But the reason I don’t have these things is because they seem like a waste of time and people replace face-to-face contact with computer contact.
It had never occurred to me that a sponsored child would have Facebook — or a computer, for that matter. Now I’m doubly glad I don’t have those things.
I’m glad you addressed this.
It never occured to me that one of my Compassion kids would try to find me on Facebook. That’s a new thought, and one that’s good to be prepared for. Thanks. (My current sponsor child would be unable to – he draws pictures and has a staff member write a letter for him.)
I have had many Compassion kids (sometimes 2 at a time), and several have left the program abruptly – for one the program closed, one moved to the States to live with his dad, one’s parents divorced and I’m not sure where he moved. I was allowed to write one more/final letter to most of my sponsor kids.
The last sponsor child I got much closer to – she blessed me in her letters, saying she’d pray for me. I really loved hearing from her. I also received a letter from her pastor, but it was through Compassion. I enjoyed receiving that, and wondered if I could have responded to him via Compassion – but never tried. That child graduated from the program (or failed that level of school and in that way finished the program), and I could send a farewell letter. Fortunately, I got a call from Compassion and found out I could also send a parting gift.
I never knew that I could have signed a form and kept in touch with her. She had started writing in English, so we probably could have kept in touch. It’s probably just as well, as it would have been an expense to her, but I do miss hearing from her.
When I think of it, I still pray for my current and past Compassion kids. I haven’t been as consistent writing to the current child(ren) as I should be – I gotta get a letter written soon to my sponsor child.
I have been unable to make any of the trips to meet the children or see the programs, so I will look forward to meeing “my” kids in Heaven.
I sponsored a girl in Colombia for 12 years. She graduated and left the program in 2009. She has been corresponding with me by email. I didn’t tell her about facebook, because her funds are limited and facebook requires more computer time than hammering out an email at an internet cafe. Nevertheless she found out about facebook, and friended me. I only hear from her about once a month, probably because of the money required. Another girl in Guatemala, that I sponsored until graduation, has never contacted me. I don’t know if email address was an option at the time I sent the form back, and postage is very expensive. Just sending postcards back from Guatemala costs a lot.
@Darren Unfortunately, I don’t think Facebook pays any attention to information sent via the link you provided. Compassion posts have been blocked for “abusive content”, for months. I have used that link numerous times, and nothing seems to change.
I agree that Facebook doesn’t pay attention to the information sent via the link. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to get in touch with a person and have been successful a few times, but it was always for some other service need. When I bring this issue up, they never respond. I’m still trying to work this out.
this is excellent information to have in case the subject comes up and makes total sense as it protects both the child and sponsor or former sponsor if the child graduates, I can see how it would be so tempting to communicate in this way . Everyone should know about this.
Ι understand and respect the rules of compassion, about communication with our sponsored children, when they are still young. But i STRONGLY desagree about no having contact with them after they finishe the programm! We have every right to communicate with them if they become adults!
Thank you for your comment. We really appreciate it. We understand that you may want to continue to communicate with your sponsored child after they graduate. That’s why we have made a way for both parties to do so if both parties desire.
If you tell us you want to continue writing to your child, we’ll send you information to read, sign and return to us.
The form we send will describe what your new relationship will look like and will give us permission to share your contact information with our country staff, who will then share it with your child. If your child wants to keep in touch with you also, he or she will send you a letter or an e-mail to begin the conversation.
The main thing to keep in mind is that translation services no longer will be provided —something to consider if you do not speak the child’s language.
Also, since the child will be out of our program, we cannot make any guarantees about the regularity or quality of the correspondence from the child. Plus, we won’t be able to help with questions that may arise.
And finally, it’s important to know that sharing your information means you could potentially be contacted by others, such as your child’s relatives, friends or acquaintances who might want to contact you for personal gain.
Thanks and please comment again if I can be of further help to you. – Darren
How heartbreaking to not be able to talk to them 🙁 I understand the good sense of this rule though..but my heart would absolutely break 🙁 If they leave the program or graduate though I’d definatly stay in contact with them,never mind the problems. 🙂
The content that you have set up to for us to share has been blocked on Facebook as spam. The content regarding communications with your sponsored child on facebook so I can not share it.
Pam, the way to get around that is simply to Copy the URL for the article as it appears in the Address bar of your browser. Then, in FB, paste it as a link to a status post and attach. So far, that has worked for me. Sometimes the URL is very long, as in this case, but at least you should be able to share it.
Hi there. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. All we can do is use this link to report the issue to Facebook. Thanks for your help. – Darren
I was just contacted by someone who said he is the pastor of my sponsored child’s family in Uganda today via Facebook. He said that the family would just like to hear from me, and gave me the address where I can write them. He also mentioned that if Compassion found out about this contact, my child would be removed from the program.
I wrote back and said i would send a letter soon (it HAS been awhile) but I would not be sending an email, because I do not want to put at risk my child’s status in the program.
Is it ok to leave it at this? I would hate to ‘turn in’ my child, as it was not him who contacted me, but actually someone from outside of the family. I have invested many years and resources into this relationship and would hate to see it come to an abrupt end.
I suppose I will report the situation to Compassion if the correspondence continues. One thing I recommend to CI in the future is to remove the sponsor’s last name from all correspondence and remind the sponsors not to give away identifying info in this day and age of global communication. This child’s family knows my full name – maiden included – and therefore it was easy to look me up on Facebook. I feel a bit nervous now and won’t relax until I know for sure that this contact was initiated in a true spirit of Christian love.
Cate- I think you should pass the pastor’s info on to Compassion. Sounds to me like he may not be that child’s pastor. I have found the pastors who are directors of child development centers understand the rules, and know they put their relationship with Compassion in jeopardy if they allow this type of contact. Either this is not the child’s pastor, or he is a pastor who is not following the rules that are designed to protect both sponsor and child. Either way I don’t think it should effect your child’s sponsorship status – he/she may not know the rules, but the “pastor” certainly should. I would pass the info on to Compassion.
Thank you for not replying through email. It would be best for you to block this person from contacting you on Facebook (in your privacy settings). Although the person could be your child’s pastor, it is very likely that they are not. For this reason, we ask sponsors to only communicate with their sponsored child through Compassion. If the contact does continue, please do call or email us with more information.
Wow. Great mission. Great success so far in achieving your goals. Congratulations.
I love social media. I have for the past 4-5 years. It’s broadened my world, help me run a small company whose business model needed changing, connected me with fabulous people. It’s through social media I found your site.
Having said that, I don’t think everyone absolutely needs to use social media.
Your group could be one. The imperative to protect your members is key. And social media can appear to increase the risk that members’ trust and identities could be compromised.
As I thought about your challenge some questions came to mind:
How do you protect their identities now?
How do you protect the children now?
How do you now know a letter offered was written by…its author?
There are resources other than Facebook that provide community settings, more layers of protection and privacy and more resources to monitor and protect those who participate. One that comes to mind is NING.com. They provide individual and group settings for security and sharing.
Twitter even has groups. You can also protect/lock your tweets and followers need your permission to see and tweet with you.
While I said not everyone needs to be on social media, it offers a tremendous opportunity to connect people who share a common goal. Your goal is admirable. You have a trusted community. Those connections serve to continue to inspire and even generate new members through word-of-mouth.
Protecting the children is key. Absolutely. But, if corporations like IBM and HP can protect their employees…and their conversations and enhance their connections at the same time, I think there’s a way for social media to do the same thing for your laudable goal.
Another thing worth considering is when you are contacted to become a “friend” of an individual who indicates they work at your child’s CDC. We have personally experienced this on Facebook.
While Facebook provides easy access to social networking, given everything that we know about potential predators, we must choose to err on the side of our sponsored child(ren)’s safety and well-being – this is critical.
Thankyou for this information. It was very informative and has the right and Godly motivation for preventing other means of contact while the children are in the program.
I run an online prayer group via Facebook. Occasionally people pose as children saying they are in desperate need of money and if some kind person would send some money ….. they promise to pay them back. When I go into these profiles they are either fake or have security settings, so I can’t see who they are.
I pray for the person, whoever they are, and either tell them I think they are being mislead (depending on their story) or delete the post. Unfortunately in this day and age it is common story.
Thank you so much for posting this. If one of our kids asked to be my friend I probably would have said yes. Thanks again for posting I would never like to hurt any of our kids! And thanks for sharing about writing them when the graduate because I was wondering about that myself.
I think the biggest fear for me would not be for myself, but for my sponsored children. Unfortunately, there are terrible people out there, sometimes in their own lives, that could use this information to exploit these children and possibly put them in danger. My two sponsor children are still young so have a long time before they graduate from the program but I still hate the idea that someday I may not be able to communicate with them. It is heartbraking thought and I don’t know how I will feel about this topic at that time, but I pray that God will guide us when the time comes.
My (former) LDP correspondent girl in the Philippines spoke up to me on a chat line on Facebook late last night. She has some really big issues to deal with, still. I was praying for wisdom to say things that would direct her to God, not to me, for advice and support (which I know is what she wants as well). That is exactly what happened — we both felt God was speaking to us, together. Rather than offer to “fix” her problems for her, I reminded her of God’s character and presence in her life. I told her He would show her what the next step in her life is, and the next one after that. When she asked me to pray for her, I did (online) and by then the tears were flowing. It was a precious time I would not want to have missed.
I am so glad you shared this with us. I would have been shocked if my children contacted me through facebook. I would not have known what to do. This blog has given me that answer.
Thank you so much. I will keep your advice in mind.
Another wonderful, sensitively written post. Thank you for all the information you’ve shared. As an Advocate, this will help me prepare in case the question arises.
@Joseph, Hi, just thought I’d mention that it’s very easy to find people on a networking site such as Facebook. You don’t need anything except their name & maybe a photo of them (things the kids have through Compassion naturally). If the child were to email you, that would be different, but if you have a facebook profile then the child could find you without being given any other information whatsoever. That’s the point of sites like Facebook – they’re a networking tool; intentionally making it easy to find other people who have profiles there.
Just so you’re not worrying about information leaking or anything like that. 🙂
it is a good idea to make sure to tell the sponsors to limit their contact until child is through the program. People need to understand their are issues/miscommunications, as well as cultural issues that could arise should this limitation be ignored.
Good afternoon beloved,
I stumbled across this website and this posting.. I’d like to give my 2c worth from a management view.
There seems to be some other form of break-down if the child was able to make contact w/ the sponsor, i.e. how did the child get the sponsor’s info? Even tho there are policies in place, there remains a leak in the process if the child made contact. This leaves the possibility of contact still open, even tho it is against policy.
I’d recommend sealing the leak.. However the child could receive the sponsors name, that specific process should be looked at and adjusted as a permanent solution.
God bless your organization and the sponsors. May the Lord’s face shine upon thee. In Jesus name, Amen.
Joseph, all sponsored kids know their sponsor’s names. That is all it takes to find somebody on Facebook. I want my kids to know who I am. Using your recommendation, sponsors would be known by a number or something. No thanks. These relationships become very personal and close. I don’t care to be known by a number. Common sense is all that is needed in this matter.
No leaks at all. In my case, I have been to visit my sponsored child, met her family in her home, visited her church/Compassion Project site, and she knows my name, my wife’s name, our DOG’s name… she knows I am a pastor and what city I live in. How hard would it be for her to google my name and locate me? Not hard at all.
I have pretty openly shared my life in letters, postcards and photos, and i know personally some of the leaders of her project/church (a sister denomination to my own) so the boundaries are blurry. I plan to sponsor her for her remaining 4 years of school, Lord willing, and then I frankly look forward to connecting with her via Facebook, email and Skype after she ages out of the program. I hope to be her life mentor, and that requires connection that is more immediate than the 4-8 week lag of letters through channels.
So far, none of our sponsored children has left the program, whether early or through graduation. And the first scheduled departure is three years away. But I’ve heard and read comments of sponsors whose sponsored child has left the program early; I’m wondering if graduation makes it any easier, as the sponsor and child have time to get used to the idea and to say their goodbyes.
But…on topic…I appreciate the growing potential of exactly the sort of situation described early in this post and have heard of similar contacts, before. I also appreciate all of the thought, care, prayer, discussion and decision-making that has gone into establishing the policy.
At this point, none of the children with whom I feel the closest bond speaks or writes English–and I know three words in Swahili! One of them speaks Spanish, and between us, we might be able to communicate; but she is several years away from graduation. It will be tough not to be able to communicate, when they are out of the program, but as Anne says, we will spend eternity together, at the feet of Jesus, where we will all understand each other,.
From what I understand, you CAN communicate with them after they leave the program. You just have to sign a waiver absolving Compassion.
Hi Melissa! Yes, this is the case. Once a child leaves the program, you are welcome to inquire and we can send you a waiver of liability in order to continue communication with your child outside of Compassion.
I have an advocate friend who had accepted her child’s “friend” request without even thinking about it, and then asked me about it upon further reflection. I requested an official statement from Compassion to send back to her, and it was very nice and made complete sense. She wrote the child and told him what she learned and said that, much as she hated to have to do it, she would have to “unfriend” him for now (until he graduates or leaves the program). She has met this child, so it was especially difficult for her. However, I love the fact that she wrote him in a loving manner. She told him he could make one more response to her and then she would have to “unfriend him.” Among other things, she mentioned that she wanted him to spend his time now focused on his studies, not on social networking. She explained that his studies are important for his future. She also told him she feared he would be spending money that would be needed elsewhere. For these reasons, she could not support encouraging him to use Facebook. But, of course, she looked forward to his next legitimate letter through the normal channels! He was very sweet in his reply to her, completely understood, and then they closed their contact through Facebook. I hope they will be in contact in the future, when he finishes his sponsorship. I’m currently in contact with my former LDP correspondent student who just graduated this spring. We are thrilled to be in touch with each other, especially just having met in the Philippines! I would never hesitate to talk with LDP students on Facebook, once they are graduated from the program and this type of contact is allowed. However, as an Advocate working tables at concerts and events, you would be amazed how many people come up to tell me they are now corresponding with their children on Facebook! It would be nice to have some type of official statement we can give to them when that happens, because there isn’t always time to explain. I think my friend’s method of handling the situation was very sensitive, loving and practical, although it was a situation where she had inadvertently accepted the friend request already.
I sponsor an LDP student with my coworkers. I know he has a Facebook account, and he knows I do. Thankfully he has not tried to add me to his friend list, and has even told me in a letter that he knows this would go against the rules Compassion has. He is grateful for the opportunity he has been given through Compassion, and is careful not to jeopardize it.
I was never told before I started sponsoring that I wasn’t allowed to communicate outside of Compassion. I would love to communicate with my sponsored children on Facebook. If one was to contact me, I would be very unhappy with not being allowed even to send a response. That seems very unloving and therefore ungodly. I don’t intend to block anyone on Facebook, unless they’re threatening or abusive. I would certainly let Compassion know if one of my children contacted me, but if Compassion didn’t want me to be friends with them on Facebook, I would like to send them a message explaining that.
It sounds entirely godly, reasonable, and safe if you read why this is put in place. It would be ungodly not to respect such guidelines and put persons, including your own family, possibly at risk.
To those few who said they would still respond to their sponsored child through facebook – how do you it is really them? Please reconsider. Also I would like to add that I am surprised some of the children have computers and are even on facebook. I thought we were sponsoring them because they were in need of clothes, education, etc. How then do they have computers?
Jane, THANK YOU! I share your thoughts as well! I go without high speed internet myself (I do have dial up) and various other luxuries (my personal computer is almost ten years old) in order to be able to afford to send gifts to my sponsored kids and their families. The day my sponsored children can afford recreational use of the internet (such as Face Booking me) will be the day I DROP not only my gifts, but my sponsorships! I couldn’t agree with you more, Jane! I read on one blog how the sponsor sends DVDs to his kids and my mouth fell open when it dawned on me that the children would have to have a DVD PLAYER in order to play the DVDs! Another poster sent money to replace her child’s cell phone that had been broken! It does make one wonder just what the “needs based screening process” is in some countries and/or developmental centers, doesn’t it?
It’s been a year since you commented, Jane, and it shocks me that no one has commented on YOUR question for an entire year. I take that back…one gentleman noted that internet cafes are CHEAP at 25 cents an hour in some places. But, I agree with you, Jane…if these children are HUNGRY and in such dire need, then why wouldn’t they spend the 25 cents on FOOD instead of internet cafes? As Jane said, “Also I would like to add that I am surprised some of the children have computers and are even on facebook. I thought we were sponsoring them because they were in need of clothes, education, etc. How then do they have computers?”
Courtesy of Compassion International: https://blog.compassion.com/what-should-i-do-if-my-sponsored-child-contacts-me-via-facebook/#ixzz1iRygbwt8
I reread your post again and I realized how I hadn’t answered some of the questions.
First of all, thank you for sacrificing so much for your children. I am honoured to write you.
The cellphones in Bolivia are also called the “poor man’s phones.” The cost to make a phonecall with a cellphone is about 10 cents to 15 cents/minute. It’s expensive, even by American standards. People buy 20 minute cards and load it up on their cellphone. Most people have no credit like that, so they can’t make phonecalls. They have a cheap cellphone, but they can’t call. However the cost of receiving phonecalls is free. So, they have their cellphones, and receive free calls. They might have had very little to eat that day, but they can still receive phonecalls on their cellphones, because it doesn’t cost anything.
Now, when it comes to the selection process, there are certain rules as to how many children per what size family can register their child at a Compassion center. Then they can obviously not be well to do. In other words they are poor. Compassion seeks to serve the poorest of the poor as long as they have certain qualifications. They have to have a certain minimum standard of stability in order for it to work as a child sponsorship organization. This is something that can be a tough decision. When I lived in Bolivia, there are over 3000 street children. These children many days have nothing to eat, they sniff paintthinner to stay warm and most of them steal and get into all sorts of trouble. They also tend to join gangs. The difficulty with these types of children in a child sponsorship program, is that the majority of them are not stable enough to really minister to in a sponsorship program. They would maybe join one day and within 2 weeks run away. Besides that with the level of crime that these children get involved with, they would become a danger to the other children in the project. Compassion doesn’t focus on these children in Bolivia. (Now, my good friend Alejandro, who used to be the LDP specialist for Cochabamba, is just about to start a ministry to them, but that’s a different story) But this is where you would find the children that you are more describing. It’s an extremely difficult group to reach. If you want to read a book about them, you can read a book called “When invisible children sing.” You can get it on Amazon. A group called Kaya works with them. I can not give any information about the integrity of the group. I would suggest checking them out with charity watchdogs. But I don’t believe one can sponsor a child in that group. Again with those children they tend to run away and come…. If you read the book, you’ll see the challenges. But it’s not a group that you want to put into a sponsorship organization.
Sandra Huayhua (a former LDP student) and I ran into a dear boy like that in La Paz. We bought him some food and he started telling us the story. He was crying, when he was 9 years old, he was dumped off at the street by his parents and he had to fan for himself.
Now, how does Compassion deal with this? Really what Compassion does is preventative. I believe if Compassion hadn’t been there, many of our Compassion children would have ended up on streets and in situations like this. It’s very difficult. Like I said before, it’s freezing cold every night in La Paz (12,000 feet high) Right now it’s the rainy season. So, the children are wet and cold. The only way they know how to survive is by sniffing paint thinner. The police beats them up and sometimes rapes them. 90% of them are HIV infected. It’s very difficult. Incidentally, they also tend to almost form little families. When they become teenagers a boy and a girl might become an item and they live sort of as husband and wife together. Much of this is that the girl needs the protection. Again, I don’t think Compassion is necessarily equipped for these types of children, but they do prevent many of the Compassion children to become like this.
I hope that I’ve answered your questions. Please feel free to contact me, if I can be of more help.
One thing I do want to emphasize is that I can primarily speak of Bolivia, because I spend so much time there. In some of the other countries, it’s a bit different.
Now, I just copied my two posts to you into MS Word and checked how many words I wrote, and it was over 1700 words. Why in College did I have such a hard time writing a 1000 word paper? jajajajaja
Kees, thank you for taking so much time to paint a picture of the reality of life on the streets for so many children. I think what is bothering me the most is reading that so many have never been told that they are loved – much less had it demonstrated to them. Why is this? I guess I just don’t understand, since a hug or an “I love you” doesn’t cost a thing. Especially when the parents don’t do these things. Is it a cultural thing, or do you suppose they really aren’t loved? Why would a parent dump a nine year old in the streets to fend for himself? I understand that it is ESPECIALLY difficult for “these” parents to provide for a child, yet surely they could provide better than a nine year old could provide for himself. I’m just not “getting it”. I’m thinking of things such as the concentration camps in WWII and how a parent would give their scant food ration to their child, or hold their child, sing to their child, struggle to live for their child, etc. – how/why is it different in impoverished countries? I certainly didn’t mean to make it sound like I sacrifice so much for my sponsored children. Believe me, I don’t. I’ve rarely been truely hungry in my life, much less starving. I’ve always had shelter and clothing, running water and heat, and so much more. What I meant to say was that if I discovered my sponsored children had computers and time to spend on Facebook, then I’d rather be sponsoring more needy children. I was (wrongly) picturing more of our “American version” of children spending way too much time on Facebook at the family computer and owning cellphones “American style”. Thank you for enlightening me and perhaps others, Kees! By the way, I went straight to Amazon and ordered the book “When Invisible Children Sing” by Dr. Huang. Just as you said, Dr. Huang estimates that 89% of the street children inhale paint thinner to stay warm in the winter – some of them as young as four!!! Beyond devastating. When I’ve prayed for the physical health of the children in the world, my primary concerns have been hunger, AIDS and other disease – until now. Thanks for the education.
I forgot to answer a question, you raised. (It’s becoming a habit with me!) As far as why the mothers would do this to the children to drop them off at a streetcorner. Well, some of the children are runaways from home. Not all of them are dropped off in the city. You will read some of that in the book too. But I believe the big difference is that the problem is generational. The mothers that were with their children in a concentration camp (if they got to be with their children. I thought the children would immediately be sent to the gas chambers) But those mothers hadn’t grown up in a home where they were abused or where there was a lot alcohol or so. They had grown up in stable families and those children were of stable families and an external force put this on them. What we’re dealing with in poverty is that it is in the thinking of the family and the children. They are believing they are trash, to give up, it will never change. Once that gets into the thinking of a child, the cycle of poverty has duplicated itself to the next generation. This is why the Gospel and the prayers and letters of the sponsor are so important. For instance in Santa Cruz, young girls go into physical puberty at the age of 10 or so. They might get pregnant by the age of 10 or 11. These “mothers” are just children themselves. They don’t know about commitment and being a mature adult taking responsibility of their child. I could see them dropping their child. This is why CSP the “Child Survival Program” is so critical. Anyways, I hope that helps. If you want to see poverty in a movie, there is a movie called “City of God.” It is the true story of gangs in very poor neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro. (Now Bolivia isn’t that bad) but I’ve been in area in Colombia that were close to that. But I have to warn you. The movie is very “R” rated, but many of these children live in very R-Rated worlds.
I’m glad that you ordered that book. I’m writing a book myself about my experience with the Compassion children in Bolivia also. Of course, the children that Dr. Huang dealt with are different than the children that are in the Compassion program. You truly can see the difference between the Compassion children and the non-Compassion children. Especially when they graduate. I remember being with the LDP students almost every evening. We would have so much fun. At one point, I remember thinking “These students don’t appear poor to me.” And I was right there. They aren’t. They are released from poverty. But they came from very poor humble beginnings. You might check out Michelle Tolentino’s testimony when you have a computer that you can play Youtube on. That’s one thing that I really appreciate about Compassion. It works. The children are released from poverty. They don’t think like poor children. But when I see some children or some children, who were just registered into the program, I can see how poor they are, look, act…. etc….. I have a photo of one of my little girls. She calls me daddy. She is very dear to me. Her father abused her. Then he was thrown in jail. If you saw the first photo of her, she looks so sad… she looks so cold and you could see that she felt miserable. Then after her dad try to abuse her, he ended up going to jail. The family moved to escape from his fury. She went to another project. Then she wrote me a letter and said: “You’re the daddy that I lost.” Ever since then she is my daughter. Last summer I took her to the LDP graduation. We were seated on the first row. She was just a 10 year old little girl then, but she grabbed my camera and just started taking pictures and pictures. She was like a miniature Paparazi at the event. She wasn’t shy at all anymore. She would talk to the country director of Compassion. She would talk to anyone and she was a confident little girl. That evening, I shared the Gospel with her and the next day and she got saved. The next day, we went to “church” together and we were in the taxi and I started sharing the Gospel with the taxidriver. She jumped right in and started sharing with him too. I was such a proud dad…. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Then at the church, we were brought forward and she was given the microphone and she addressed the whole church. This was a totally different girl. God had done a miracle. I’m very thankful for Compassion. Now, she wants to be an LDP student when she grows up. I’m encouraging her just to serve the believers in that church to help wherever she can. To do well in school. To love the Lord, To memorize the Book of Philippians. That’s what we’re working on now. We’ll tackle other Books later. God has changed her life. And there are so many other children like that. That’s just one of my little girls.
But again, I want to emphasize that the children in the book you ordered are different than the Compassion children. But if Compassion wasn’t there, many of them would probably be in that position. My little girl could have very well been in that position. But Compassion works more preventative. But anyways, please pray I’m looking for a sponsor for a little 3 year old girl named Zulma Flores from Cochabamba. She is from a very poor area. The church that I am a part of in that area is the church partner that runs her center (CDI BO571). She is from a family of 4 children. She loves to play with dolls. The area is very poor. Something weird happened in that area last month, a tornado passed right by the church building and project. Everyone was very scared. This was the first tornado in Cochabamba history. They had never seen such a thing. The children cried. 20 homes lost their roofs, but none of the homes of the children. Oh, little Zulmita loves to play with dolls and with a ball. 🙂 If you know someone, please let me know and I’ll set it up for them.
Thank you again for sponsoring. Blessings, Kees
Kim, I am hoping you reconsider some of the things I have just read. On the issue of Facebook, the kids likely pay a very minimal amount to access a computer at an internet cafe. Internet cafes are very cheap. Believe me, NONE of the kids in the Child Sponsorship program through Compassion, have computers. They couldn’t afford an abacus. My girl who I sponsored for twelve years, in Colombia, now corresponds with me by facebook…for maybe three or four minutes every other month. She doesn’t have the money to do more than that. Second, I don’t know where you got the information about DVDs. Many of these kids don’t even have electricity, much less DVD players. And, there is no way to get DVDs to the kids. I asked Compassion if I could send a cd containing pictures, to my girl in Guatemala, that I had taken on an individual trip. They would not allow me to send to cd. I have no problem with that policy, but I wanted to ask. If this has not changed your mind, please call Compassion and ask about these issues.
Thank you, Garry. You’re right, I was picturing the children sitting at a family or friend’s computer. I obviously spouted off from a very ignorant state of knowledge regarding technology in poverished areas of the world. Thanks for the reality check!
Hi Kim, no problem…we all have questions. I think Kees more or less has given a pretty good picture. As far as the kids knowing about Facebook, I think most of the time they don’t until somebody tells them about it. Yolimar, the girl I sponsored in Colombia, told me that she wanted to continue correspondence when I visited in 2009. I didn’t tell her about Facebook, because I knew FB was time consuming…I just gave her my email address. But within a month of the first email I received from her, I got a FB friend request from her. Do you have an Ourcompassion account? It is very helpful. You can find others who sponsor in the same country as you, and probably even a few who sponsor a child in the same student center. You can sigh up at ourcompassion.org
You bring up some very good questions. I spent several months teaching in Compassion centers in the Cochabamba, Bolivia area and I got to know the children and a lot of the teenagers well. Bolivia is the poorest country in South America. To describe the poverty, I would say, just picture a shack or storage place where we might put a lawnmower and that’s how they live the whole family. Or maybe a garage. Most of the kids in Bolivia in the cities live in a house maybe the size of 12 x 15 feet and maybe an additional room added to it. The houses are made of big red blocks. The floor might have a cement or dirt floor, and the roof would be a corregated tin metal with maybe some rocks on top of it for keeping the roof from being blown off.
Then the food would probably be mostly a lot of carbohydrates, because it is the cheapest. The inside of the home probably might have one or two beds in it for the whole family. An old rusty thing to heat the food some pots and pans and old television and some minor electrical things like a light bulb hanging down the ceiling. They might have a DVD player and DVDs are extremely cheap in Bolivia. (As a matter of fact, do not send DVDs to Bolivia. First of all, I don’t think that they can play there, because Bolivia has region 3 (I believe) DVD players and second of all, they are so much cheaper in Bolivia. We’re talking about 35 cents for a DVD. Of course they are pirated, but that’s all that Bolivia sells. (At least in my 7 months being there, I never saw a legal DVD) )
As far as the Facebook accounts. Most centers have computers where the children learn how to use software like MS Office and the Internet. So, most teenagers start their own Facebook pages. It’s free. Most of them also have hotmail or gmail internet accounts. Bolivia is very poor, but isn’t necessarily technologically in the dark ages. The thing though is that even with the knowlegde on how to use the computers, that doesn’t mean they will get a job, making the type of money that someone with that level of expertease gets here.
I never forget Carlos. Carlos graduated from the LDP in Bolivia with an IT degree in computer programming. I have an IT degree too, so I knew how much he knew. He is one of the sharpest programmers, I’ve ever met. Yet, with all of his specialized training, he would be very “lucky” to get a job that pays him $300/month. My friend Teresa used to be a Compassion child. She is studying to be a doctor. Starting salary of a doctor is about $400 to $500/month.
So, the parents might work 14 hours/day to bring in a couple of dollars that day. The child is left by themselves in a house with gangs all around. Crime is all over the place. The child never learns that anyone loves them. They never hear that from their family. You as a sponsor are very important to that child. It’s not about the DVD player they might have. It’s about them know that they are loved and treasured and that they can break the cycle of poverty. They are going to be ones to break that cycle. This is why the Gospel is really the answer here. Yes, the food that they get in the project is very important. The medical attention is very important. (Bolivia has a 5% infant mortality rate from preventable causes) The clothing is important. But what is ultimately going to break that cycle is the Love of Christ and you demonstrating that love by your prayers and letters.
If that doesn’t happen, what generally happens is the following.
A young girl, we’ll call her Claudia. Claudia’s father abandoned her, when she was 4. He used to come home drunk, beat up his family, and now he left for another woman. The mother now has to work 14 hours/day in the market place. Claudia spends her day, going to school and after school just sitting in her cold shack in a gang filled area, watching television. She might have a potatoe to eat that evening. The television has the same garbage as it has in the USA. Some of her cousins joined a gang and they sniff paintthinner or they get drunk or straight alcohol. The house stinks. It is very cold (In El Alto, it freezes every day and hardly anyone has heating) One day, when she is 13 years old, she meets a boy, who tells her that he loves her. She melts. She’s never heard that before. A year later, she is pregnant and has to go to work 14 hours/day like her mother to support the new baby. I would call this poverty. It is the belief to give up, that they are trash, that it doesn’t matter. Please watch the following video:
Now, I’m going to tell you a little secret about the video. That drunk woman, who used to hit her child, she was a prostitute. The little boy is now a teenager. (He might have Facebook). His mother became a Christian. She left her life of prostitution and is now working at the Compassion center as a cook. My friend Djanira did the translating that you hear the background. It was a very unexpected real situation. Then this is another video that I made. By the way, Djanira is also translating here, but it is in the background, so you’ll have to listen carefully:
This mother and her little daughter and baby were in Sacaba, Bolivia. (East of Cochabamba)
It’s real, but it’s really about Jesus and that’s what Compassion is all about. God bless you. Thank you for sponsoring these precious children.
Kees, you’re right, of course. It IS all about Jesus. I can’t watch the videos just yet, (very slow download on dial up connection), but I will return another time when I can access You Tube more easily, as I would love to see them. Just reading your descriptions made me shudder and has given me a clearer perspective. Thank you for educating me about technology and access to it in Boliva and other parts of the world. I had no idea how prevalent Facebook and email is in the poorest parts of the world. I didn’t even imagine that these children would know what Facebook or a cell phone was. I certainly appreciate your contribution to this blog, Kees.
I wouldn’t think that the computers they are accessing are at their homes. It may be at an internet cafe or even possibly at the child development center. Many of the centers have computers that are accessible for the children- used for teaching computer skills and for school work. Yes, it is possible that they could access Facebook on one of these computers and contact their sponsor. However, don’t forget that it may not even be the child in the first place- just a friend or relative with the right information and access to a computer. Every child in our program is identified as the most needy in their community. Rest assured, your sponsorship is making a huge difference in your sponsored child’s life!
Yes, and the Internet cafes in many of these countries are very inexpensive. They are all over the place. They cost about 25 cents/hour. So, many kids get into putting together Facebook pages, especially when they are teenagers. I’ve had teenagers befriend me on Facebook and only to find out later that they were Compassion children. (They obviously weren’t mine…. I know them very well, and they know me LOL)
Talking about this, what I tend to do with the teenagers is openly talk about this before it even becomes an issue, but I do so in a very positive spin, if that makes sense. Like I might say something like: ” I can’t wait till you graduate. Once you do, we can be in direct contact with each other. Until then, Compassion for very good reasons doesn’t allow that.” I might even let them know about how you read this article and what it said. And how much you love them.
I can say that with some of them, once they graduate, I was able to be in touch with them on Facebook and via the phone. It’s nice to call them and wish them Happy New year or so. But of course by that time, they are adults.
Sarah, please read the article carefully. It describes the danger you put yourself and your child at risk of when communicating with them outside the scope of Compassion. When you enter into a relationship with Compassion and your child, you agree to their terms of communication. Selfishly putting your child at risk is much more “unloving and ungodly” than communicating with them in the appropriate way.
It was such a hard decision to stop corresponding with our sponsored child when she finally left the program. We’d been her sponsors for over a dozen years! To think that I would never talk to her again was heartbreaking. Knowing it’s for the best I just hold on to the fact that one day we’ll spend eternity together.
The safeguards put into place by Compassion are honorable and need to be respected for the safety of the children. As for graduates, I know of several young adults who prayed to find their sponsor families and, by the grace of God – and the miracle of the internet – were blessed to do so. The three I am aware of have been long after their graduation from the program. All 3 have regular, positive communication. To know that a child was freed from poverty forever by the education and skills a sponsor made possible is heart-warming and encouraging. To know that adult is serving the Lord – despite incredible sacrifice (family disowning them, etc.) – is also encouraging. Personally, I would tread cautiously, but willingly into a post graduate relationship.
On a separate note, if you are trying to share the link, copy it from the web browser into http://www.tinyurl.com and then post the ‘tiny’ version.
May God bless all who read this, support and work with Compassion!
No Direct Child-Sponsor Communications-that’s what it’s called. Compassion International makes sure that all child letters and communications to sponsors pass by channels or points which is STUDENT CENTER>COUNTRY OFFICE>GMC>GPAs (partner countries) Correct channels guarantee quality and appropriateness. Pen and paper letter writing is still the SWEETEST and MOST SINCERE form of correspondence. PLEASE DO READ THE BLOG. Thank You, God bless You all
Wow. This never even occurred to me, but I can certainly see the good sense behind it. As my great-grandmother would say, “There’s a lot of meanness in the world.” I’m just sorry that children are its most frequent victims.
Thanks a lot for this, Chris. Only one of my sponsored kids speaks English, but it’s good info to know, anyway.
Chris, I have been wondering about this for quite a while. I have a correspondence child that will be leaving the program next year. I would love to keep in contact w/her and she speaks English…but I hesitate for the the reasons you listed. What have you seen happen to people who continue to keep in contact? Does it typically go well? Are there some major problems that you have seen arise? Thanks for the help!
Hi Amanda! I just wanted to tell you a little bit about my experience. A little while back, I received a message from someone who I did not immediately recognize. It was the child I had sponsored many,many years ago! He had been looking for me for over 5 years! He had saved every picture, every letter, and anything I had ever sent him! Since we began communicating again, it has been a blessing. Knowing where he is and how he is and hearing about his relationship with the Lord is absolutely God’s answers to my prayers! I appreciate very much the growing friendship I have with him. I think it’s important that you remain guarded and careful about how much information and what information you might share with your child. Keep in mind that while my experience has been wonderful and very positive, not all experiences are going to be the same. Good luck!
Amanda…I too have had the very same experience as Jennifer!!! I even had gone and met my sponsored child and her baby and then had not heard from her for 4 years! I feel God led her back to us and we have been communicating ever since! We now sponsor her daughter!!!!!! I totally agree with Jennifer’s advice….I was extremely careful to be sure this was our “young adult”!!!! I did alot of praying and felt in my heart that this was something we were supposed to do. She is and always will be our daughter! God bless!!!
Regrettably, I have very little feedback regarding continuing correspondence since we are not a part of the communication process. I have spoken with a few sponsors who signed the waiver and never heard from their sponsored child. If it were me, I would only give my email address. There is no telling who could end up with my mailing or home address if I were to give it out.
Shaina, thanks for your reply. I am not sure how easy it is to find someone via ip addresses on e-mail addresses. Maybe it would be safer to be on facebook – once the child has left the program. But I still worry that someone could threaten to harm the child/young adult for money. That would be a horrible situation to be in. I have some praying to do before I am ready to make a decision. Thanks for your help/advice.
Hi Amanda, after the child has completed Compassion’s program and you have signed the continuing correspondence waiver, it is your decision to decide how to stay in contact with that child.
I hope the day never comes when I have to “block” one of my children :s But I know it’s for everyone’s best interest, so it has to be done. Most of my kids are still too young to be into Facebook and stuff like that anyways.
what about after the child has graduated from the program and if you’ve signed that waiver I’ve heard about?
If a child leaves the sponsorship program the situation is different. We are no longer in the position to facilitate the contact for you.
I’m quoting Bill Dunigan here, from an earlier blog post, “What Happens When a Child Leaves the Sponsorship Program?”
Can I stay in contact with my child if he or she graduates or leaves the program?