An Uncomfortable Disconnect

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Some months ago I expressed concern that there was no apparent connection between letters I wrote to the child I sponsored and his translated responses. In letters I received I have been asked multiple times.."What is your favorite color?" Each time I answer but the next letter poses the same question.I was advised to ask specific questions which I have done and have never received a single answer. His latest letter asks..."What are you studying?" This despite the fact that I have written several times that my wife and I are retired. When Efrin asks a question I always answer. When I ask a question it is never answered. He says for example that he helps his family pick coffee. I asked ..."What kind of coffee?" I have asked other simple questions but never get a response. I do get letters supposedly written by Efrin but they are hardly in the handwriting of a child his age...particularly the signature. All of this continues to make me quite suspicious about the veracity of this whole operation. I truly wonder if I want to continue. The reassurances I have received from Compassion staff ring quite hollow now that I have tried what they suggest without positive results. Like others who have written in I have sent money specifically for the gift of a soccer ball or some item in which Efrin had expressed an interest. While I do get a thank you for funds received there is no mention of the specific item. I realize that clothing may be of greater need but I have sent enough to cover both. I loose interest in corresponding when the thread of a conversation is totally disjointed.
I feel I will discontinue my involvement if there is no better communication soon.
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David K. Hills

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  • disapponited and frustrated

Posted 6 years ago

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Photo of Sonja Weeks Oswalt

Sonja Weeks Oswalt

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Hi David,
I sponsor or correspond with 8 children through Compassion. I don't know how old your child is, but as the mother of a 4 year old boy, myself, I invite you to consider a few things: Young children (especially under age 10 or 11, and most especially boys) don't often know how to effectively communicate with adults. Young children may not really internalize everything you write (for example, your occupation). To give a more personal example, when I was a child (shoot, even until I was in college), I knew my own dad was "an engineer" but I really had little understanding of what that meant.  A young child in another culture where retirement is more or less unheard of may not even understand what it means "to retire".  With regards to repeated questions, young children probably struggle with what to write to an adult. Simple questions like "what is your favorite color" may be the only way they know how to safely try to connect.

What is most important, as difficult as it can be (and potentially disappointing when you really yearn for connection) when you are writing to your child is to remember that what we (sponsors) are trying to do is to convey a sense of belonging and importance to the child. It's not about us as sponsors - it's about the child.  In time, your child may finally develop the skills and desire to connect more deeply. Or, they may not. But, what YOU have done is to impart in that child a sense of what it is like to be loved from thousands of miles away by a complete stranger. That's what it's about. 

If you have specific concerns about where money went for a gift, Compassion can follow up on that. Sometimes I hear back about where my gifts went, other times I don't. Sometimes I hear back, but it's a year later!  So, try to be patient and hold to the understanding that we are doing important work in the lives of these kids, even when it's hard!

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