Not Convinced Your Letters Matter? Meet Kenenisa.

Kenenisa is wearing a blue shirt. He is sitting on a small ledge by the front door of his house and is looking through his sponsor's letters. His house is tan.

Letters. They are a source of joy and discouragement for nearly every sponsor I’ve met. As a sponsor, you don’t know what to write. You wonder if your letters matter at all. And maybe the letters you’ve gotten back don’t feel “real” somehow. Or maybe your child isn’t even old enough to read or write.

So sponsors are left to wonder: Do my letters really matter?

Six-year-old Kenenisa is the poster child for how much letters matter to children in poverty.

Kenenisa is wearing a blue shirt. He is sitting in an open window at his home and is holding up his sponsor's letters. His home is tan.

This active little boy loves playing soccer with his friends. He spends hours each day running and playing in his community in rural Ethiopia. But if his parents can’t find him outside, they know exactly where to look.

He will be sitting by the front door or a window in his home, the bright sunlight illuminating the letters in his hands. Despite not knowing how to read yet, Kenenisa spends hours poring over the letters he has received from his correspondent, Aljon. To him, they’re a reminder that he is loved and cared for.

“When he receives a new letter, he won’t rest until I have read it to him,” says Kedir, Kenenisa’s father. “Sometimes, I read it to him over and over again and he never gets tired of it.”

Kenenisa says his favorite activity at the child development center is letter writing. With help from Misganaw, a volunteer at the center, Kenenisa draws and colors the letter template he will send to Aljon. Since he doesn’t know how to write yet, Misganaw writes for him, recording his answers.

Kenenisa is wearing a blue shirt. He is sitting around a large table in a classroom with yellow walls. He and several other children are writing letters to their sponsors and drawing pictures for them. The children are using colored pencils. The project's social worker, Misgana, wearing a white shirt, is helping the children.

Photos are his favorite thing to receive, and every time he gets one he makes sure to share it with the other children at the center. He then takes his precious letter and photo home, and his father smiles and reads it to him again.

“I run to my father so he can read for me,” he says. “I’m happy.”

Kenenisa is wearing a blue shirt. He is sitting on his father's lap while his father reads his sponsor's letter to him. Kedir is wearing a red and black checked shirt. The wall behind them is green.

The interesting thing is, Aljon may never know how much his letters mean to this little boy. Kenenisa’s pictures and templates may never reveal just how much he means to him. He will likely never understand that Kenenisa treasures his letters and pores over the words he can’t read.

Think about that. You may never know what your letters mean. But believe they mean something. That they are letting a child know they are loved and cared for.

The words are secondary. Your heart is what matters.

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing delays in some letter exchanges between children and their sponsors. But we encourage you to write today — your letter matters and will be a source of much-needed joy when the child you sponsor receives it!

13 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Amanda Thomas September 28, 2022

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. It can be hard to know what to write when they’re so young, and I admit I don’t write as regularly as I should because of that. The reminder that the love behind the letters reaches them as well was such an encouragement.

  2. Arianna Hahn Fontenot May 11, 2021

    Thank you Aljon for being so personal and sharing your experiences with your sponsorship through Compassion. You represent the heart of sponsors all over the world!!! Much love and blessings to you!

  3. Tom February 11, 2021

    Aljon, thank you for sponsoring and writing to this child. May God bless you.

  4. Barbara Barg September 29, 2020

    Sitting in a rural African village hut on a short-term missions trip back in 2007, I was shown how much sponsors mean to the families of sponsored children. A proud mother brought out all the letters and photos her child had received from her sponsor. Then she showed me the girl’s school book and book bag, and through an interpreter told me that she was so happy her daughter could now go to school, thanks to the financial support of being sponsored. She had clothes and shoes to wear. The family and the village was lifted up by the sponsor, also. It matters, keep writing!

    1. Shayla September 29, 2020

      Hi Barbara! Thank you so much for sharing this short story of your experience! Letters are so important! ???

  5. Shirley Armstrong September 23, 2020

    Dear Compassion, I know that you tell the sponsored children how much we sponsors love hearing from them also . Our world has changed so drastically, so fast . These changes have made me more aware how small our works is and how important these precious innocents need our love and steadfastness. I feel so close to my little Euris and Esther in my heart and they have added so much joy in my life . God bless all your good works and your wonderful volunteers. Always Shirley Armstrong41

    1. Anna September 23, 2020

      God bless you, Shirley! Thank you for your love and sponsorship for Euris and Esther. In times like this, we are so grateful for all you are doing for these sweet children! We definitely tell the children how much their letters are loved and adored by their incredible sponsors. ??

  6. Liz Polk September 17, 2020

    What a wonderful and encouraging story! I know that you are right -the letters bless all of us!!

  7. Zachary Adkins September 11, 2020

    my eyes welled up reading this too. We just dont know how much these little things matter to these little children of God. It fills my heart with so much joy, just to know God has blessed me enough to help these kids.

  8. zed f castro September 11, 2020


  9. Muhindo Kikha gedeon September 11, 2020

    Dear sirs.
    please support our vulnerable for covid19 in all congo kinshasa come to invest,to do bisiness,and send for us 3 container we can selling in congo kinshasa.
    we hop hear from you boss.
    sincerly from yours, MUHINDO KIKHA GEDEON

    1. Christina September 11, 2020

      Muhindo, I am sorry to hear that you need our help. Please send us an email to [email protected] so we can discuss whether we can help you. Thank you!

  10. Aljon Lego September 10, 2020

    I have been missing his letters and I am very surprised to see this blog! And he has grown up a lot already. This almost made me cried ? It’s the first thing I saw in my email. This really made my day! Thank you so much. I got to see Kenenisa again. ❤❤❤

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