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Writing To Your Sponsored Child

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“My sponsor would write to me, and that letter-writing alone gave me much hope. I’ve lost him, but I love him as a person. This beauty and love cannot go from your heart.'”

—Sam Okiror, former sponsored child, Uganda

 



Sponsorship is all about connection.

Is there anything more exciting than opening your mailbox to find a letter from a dear friend? Imagine how much more that experience means to a child who is struggling.

We often hear from sponsors and sponsored children alike that the ability to connect with each through directly is one of the most amazing parts of the experience. For children, letters can be an important source of encouragement that inspire them to overcome challenges, stay in school and reach for their dreams. Every letter you write sends the message that you believe in them and care about what happens to them – words that can be so much more powerful than you know.

If this is your first time, you probably have lots of questions about how, what and when to write. We’ve got answers! Keep reading to learn how to write letters that nurture a deep connection with your sponsored child and show them that they matter, no matter what they’re going through.


A young woman holds letters received from her sponsor.
“I thought, how can someone who doesn’t know me in person have such a great love for me? Because sometimes, even family members don’t care as much as he cares about me.” -Ana Kelly, 16, Brazil

How do I write to my sponsored child?

There are two ways you can write to your sponsored child:

  • The traditional way. Some people like the old-fashioned feeling of putting pen to paper – and that’s okay! Hand-write (or type and print) your letter, put it in an envelope, address it to your sponsored child and mail it. You can find your sponsored child’s address in the welcome packet you received in the mail with their information, as well as in your personal account on ChildFund.org.

  • The digital way. E-letters are the fastest, easiest way to correspond with your sponsored child. Just log in to your personal account on ChildFund.org, click on the “My Correspondence” tab and start writing. You can even upload photos and choose from different backgrounds.

What should my letter say?

If you’ve never written a letter to your sponsored child before, it can be nerve-racking thinking about the “right” thing to say. Don’t worry: Your sponsored child is going to be excited to hear from you no matter what! It’s okay to keep it simple. Talk about your family, your job, your neighborhood and your hobbies, and then ask your sponsored child some questions about their own life. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find something in common.

Here are a few helpful tips to remember when writing to your sponsored child:

Do

  • Ask open-ended questions about your sponsored child’s thoughts, feelings and ideas.
  • Encourage your sponsored child to stay in school and reach for their dreams.
  • Keep it positive, with a warm, friendly tone. Write about anything in your own life you find interesting and worth sharing!
  • Give generous, genuine compliments. Praise your sponsored child for their skills and talents, and congratulate them when you learn they’ve made progress in school or in life.
  • Make it fun! Share funny stories or send some “extras” that will fit in a flat envelope (see the list of ideas below). Use your imagination and get creative to appeal to your sponsored child’s sense of fun.
  • Use short sentences and simple words. They’re easier for translators to work with (and for children to understand).

Don't

  • Ask questions that may be sensitive or embarrassing for children, such as failing a subject in school, body image issues, absent family members or death.
  • Use salutations like “my dear” or “love” that may be inappropriate for some cultures.
  • Write about material possessions. Be sensitive to your sponsored child’s living conditions.
  • Try to influence your sponsored child’s faith. It’s okay to express any faith or beliefs you may have, but ChildFund respects the culture and beliefs of every child.

What are some good questions to ask?

Here’s an incomplete list! Two or three questions in each letter should be plenty to keep the conversation flowing without becoming overwhelming.

  • What is your favorite … ? (sport, school subject, thing to do for fun)
  • What is your least favorite … ?
  • What is something you’re good at?
  • Who is in your family? How is everyone doing?
  • How many kids are in your class at school?
  • What is the weather like right now in your community?
  • How far do you live from the ChildFund office? What activities do you do there?
  • What’s the toughest problem you have to deal with right now?
  • What do you dream of doing when you grow up?

If you hear about an emergency that may have affected your sponsored child, such as a typhoon, drought or earthquake, it’s also okay to ask about that. Sponsored children and their families will appreciate you taking the time to express concern.


What if we don't speak the same language?

It’s pretty common for sponsored children and their families not to speak English. That’s why ChildFund uses language translation services to make sure that you can both understand each other’s letters! When you write, just be sure to use short sentences and simple words – they’re easier for our translators to work with.


A young woman holds letters received from her sponsor.
Mary, 13, reads a letter from her sponsor outside her home in Katakwi District, Uganda.

How does a letter get from me all the way to my sponsored child?

When you put your letter in the mail or hit “send” on your computer, your letter begins an incredible journey around the world. Check out the infographic below for the full scoop!

You should know that in some places, international mail is still slow because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about how COVID-19 may be affecting letter delivery in your sponsored child’s country, and be reassured that we are working hard to keep communications alive and well between children and their sponsors.

How letters are delivered though ChildFund

How often should I write to my sponsored child?

If you can, it’s great to write at least once or twice a year. But the more you write, the more you’ll deepen your connection to your sponsored child. Children especially love receiving your letters on special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Keep an eye on your mailbox for cards and other fun materials that ChildFund will send you to personalize yourself and share with your sponsored child on these special occasions; it makes celebrating together easy!


Can I send my sponsored child a package?

Children cherish little gifts that you add to your letters, but bulky objects are difficult to send and can cause problems with customs officials. Because of customs fees and a high likelihood of loss, we generally discourage sending packages to your sponsored child.

Instead, opt for items that are flat, lightweight and durable – things like:

  • Photos
  • Cards
  • Drawings or paper crafts
  • Stickers
  • Paper dolls
  • Educational items (flash cards, small notebooks, etc.)

Remember, you should never send money directly through the mail. If you’d like to send your sponsored child a monetary gift (for example, for a birthday or holiday), you can send it through your personal account on ChildFund.org or by calling our Sponsor Care team at 1-800-776-6767.


More questions?

Call our Sponsor Care team at 1-800-776-6767 anytime between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and anytime between 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday. Or join our Facebook community, the ChildFund Village, to meet other sponsors and learn about new ways to connect with your sponsored child!