African names (specifically Rwanda)

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  • Updated 7 years ago

This conversation has been merged. Please reference the main conversation: What is my child's first name?


I sponsor two children, one in Nicaragua and one in Rwanda. I select the children to match the birthdays in our family and when I selected a young girl to match my birthday, her name came up in a way that made it seem her last name was listed first and her first name was listed last on the Compassion sponsorship information. I've written letters to her using the first name that appeared on the sponsorship information and after a couple letters from her, it turns out that I've been addressing her by her last name instead of her first name. In her last letter, the staff person in Rwanda who helped her with the letter used the name that came last on the Compassion sponsorship information as her first name!

I feel silly for this mistake but as I checked on Compassion's website for other children from Rwanda in need of sponsorship, it seems like it's the same way for many of them - their first name is listed last while their last name is listed first, with no comma in between or anything signifying that their last name appears first. It probably would seem obvious to most people which name is the first and which one is the last but since it's a different country, I didn't want to address her by the wrong name. Is there any way for Compassion to correct this? In all of the correspondence I receive from Compassion, you all are using her last name as her first name. I'm guessing this is how the information was given to Compassion but it's a little confusing.

I'm not sure if any of what I've written makes sense but hopefully it does :) Thanks for your help!
Photo of kimariepina


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Posted 7 years ago

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Photo of Lizzie

Lizzie, Champion

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My girl in Indonesia has called herself both Aprilla and Kartini and Tini! I am not quite sure about the name to use. It is best to use what the child calls himself. On your online account, it shows what the personal name is as well, which is used in the info from Compassion. You can ask your child in a letter what they would like to be called, too.
Photo of Cathy


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In many cultures, family names are listed first, then a child's given name. In others, children might have two given names and no a family name. I believe Compassion lists the child's name the way it would be written in their own country/culture.