Establishing a Connection through Letters

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By Alcina Nunes, ChildFund Timor-Leste
Posted on 10/11/2016
Natu

Natu, 17, is a high school student in Timor-Leste who writes letters to his sponsor regularly.

Each morning, 17-year-old Natu walks for an hour and a half to get to his high school. He lives in a sparsely populated region of Timor-Leste with his parents and five younger siblings.

Natu hopes he will become a successful entrepreneur one day so he can look after his parents in their old age. “They have been taking care of me and paying for my schooling.”

Natu, whose given name is Fortunato, has another important adult on his side: his ChildFund sponsor. He’s been sponsored since kindergarten, and although Natu has never met his sponsor, he feels a strong connection through their written correspondence.

“My sponsor tells me that I should always be careful about my health, that I should not skip class and that I have to take care of my younger siblings,” Natu says. “Also, whenever it’s my birthday, he sends birthday greetings and asks what we are preparing at home for my birthday.” He enjoys reading the happy stories his sponsor shares, especially about special occasions, like the birth of his sponsor’s baby.

Natu also shares his own significant events. “Whenever I write a letter to my sponsor,” he says, “I learn many things: how to respond to his questions, how to express my ideas and how to share what’s going on in my life."

Natu’s favorite subjects in school are economics, English and Portuguese, and he recently won a special award — second place in a letter-writing competition run by ChildFund’s local partner organization in his district. He also received training in journalism, specifically how to interview people and communicate well with others.

Writing letters and receiving them from his sponsor mean a lot to Natu. “When we write letters, we are making our connection strong. We are sharing stories in joy and in sorrow.”