Ending our sponsorship after a year and one letter from our child. Sad to go but this is beyond unacceptable.

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Sadly, after a year of sponsorship, and giving of nearly $600, we will have to give up our sponsored child in Haiti. When I went to my first Compassion event, I thought it would be a great way for my son to learn compassion, and so we sponsored a child in Haiti about his age. But after 15 letters sent, many of which I simply went ahead and translated to French for you, to facilitate their quick arrival.  Christmas gifts, special family gifts for the emergency after the hurricanes, we have received one letter, ONE, the first letter on the form sheet that each child writes. And, we only received this after coming to this site and someone doing something to prompt it being sent. 

We do not feel like our gifts or our words are reaching our child, nor have we been able to build any type of relationship with him whatsoever. Our conversations are all just one way, us writing with no responses. My child has begun to doubt the existence of this child. My husband says that we could drop money on the sidewalk and have a better idea that someone who needs it get it. The program is not working as it was advertised or promised for us, and the fact that so much money has been spent without photos or accountability makes me now question where our funds are really going.  And please do not say that it is difficult due to distance, politics, customs, etc. We all knew this when we signed on.  However, you are not keeping to the word and spirit of your agreement to at least let us know where our special gifts go.   We have gone well beyond what is reasonable or even patient in receiving any sort of validation or even contact from our child. 

I will be writing Neider and making some excuse as to why we cannot continue any more, so he does not hold you at fault and maybe he can get a new sponsor. I will hope that you will forward our last letter on to our child, including our contact info, should he or his family wish to contact us without having to go through your organization. Also, if I could make two recommendations, it would be that you drastically improve communication to and from the children, and you stop wasting so much time, money and our patience on the many many many mailings you send home asking for more.  You have a lot of people here and on Facebook pages specific to each country sponsoring children.  You have a huge pool of loving, compassionate people.  And I think you are trying to do your best.  But we all do it with the desire to know those children and build some sort of connection.  Until you solve that problem and the communication flows, then I will have to work with other organizations who are somehow much more successful in these areas, all over the world. 
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Linda Baker

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  • very sad and disappointed

Posted 2 years ago

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Marci L. Ficht

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My sister and I are close to doing the same thing. It's difficult because we've sponsored for years...myself personally since November 28, 2009 and my sister for several years before that. It is very, very hard for us right now because we are so disillusioned and upset over everything that has been happening. Compassion used to be a fabulous organization. The "improvements" have taken ridiculously long and all you get is assurances that they are doing what they can on the IT front and people telling you to keep the faith and trust that God will get your letters through and be patient and blah blah blah. Wrong. That would apply had this all taken a normal amount of time. IT'S BEEN OVER A YEAR. The only thing keeping me so far is that every once in awhile a letter makes it to me...like today's letter...and I love my children so much the thought of losing them HURTS. So, I'm stuck. 
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Christina, Employee

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Marci, I know that you have shared your concerns on another thread on this page, and we wanted to make sure that you received a response to all of your concerns.

I completely understand your concerns regarding the very thoughtful mailings your sister has sent. Please rest assured that we are looking into this for her, and we will be responding to her post on our Compassion Correspondents Facebook page as soon as possible. We are so thankful for the love, time, and effort that you and your sister put into your letters and gifts for your children, and we are committed to resolving this issue promptly.


We are deeply sorry that our system updates have taken significantly longer than we had anticipated. Please rest assured that Compassion has several teams of IT professionals working hard toresolve these system issues as we speak. We believe that prayer is an integral part of what make any effort a success. But that doesn't take away the responsibility to also work earnestly towards that goal.
(Edited)
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heather o

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It saddens me to see that people are losing faith in Compassion. I believe they are working hard to fix the problems in the new system upgrades. IT systems for Compassion have to be built specifically for them and small scale testing doesn't always uncover all the bugs. I RECEIVED A LETTER YESTERDAY THAT WAS WRITTEN ONLY 20 DAYS AGO!!! It is getting better. I have always received my photos and letters, though sometimes it is late. I went a year + with one particular child's letters never making it to my door. The staff helped meany times to try to figure out the issue, ultimately it was with the USPS. I believe that was a test of my patience and willingness to stick with the calling God had put on my heart. Compassion is working hard every day on the issues and have offered many apologies for the issues. Computer programming is very complicated and often fixes cause more issues. Compassion International has been doing an amazing job for many years and I believe they deserve grace, mercy, and patience during this season of change (which in any large business can take a very long term to be perfected). God bless!!
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heather o

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Linda, my husband also has worked in the IT field so I have that inside line also. I work with a program that has been "adapted" to my field of work and there are still issues with that system after a year. So no, due to personal experiences with a program that was just adapted not built from the ground up, I don't find it ridiculous. Yes, I do remember a time prior to the upgrades; the upgrades are what finally allows me to receive letters from my child that kept getting lost in the mail.

My kids are correspondents to children, including my 7 year old, I prepared them before starting that letters may be few and far between at times. It has done wonders in teaching them patience and made them very much aware of the plight of others. My 7 year old has had her little girl for a year and has received and 2 letters. She writes and waits, it has been amazing to see her actually practice patience, since she is not a very good at waiting.

Form letter are normal for younger children and especially introductory letters. Granted you should have received more than one letter but I have noticed a significant slow down on letters from Haiti since Hurricane Matthew. I imagine recovery took many resources and the amount of letters increased substantially. As far as translating so Compassion doesn't have to is a nice gesture but the letters still have to be reviewed. This is for the protection and cultural sensitivity of the children. I can't tell you where God is leading you, and I am deeply saddened by the distrust you have for Compassion. Compassion sent a sincere and very apologetic email and letter here recently addressing the issues. I hate to see the children lose their sponsors because of these issues. Grace, mercy and patience during this season is a must if we are to help these children. God bless!
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Linda Baker

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Linda Baker

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 I think after 16 letters, my little boy has shown a lot of grace and patience.  And it is not just an issue of getting the warm fuzzy.  We have sent over $150 in extra financial assistance which should be accounted for by Compassion, in how it was spent or what the family did with it, as they were gifts.  Being compassionate or Christian doesn't mean being bad at accounting.
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Marci L. Ficht

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KristenH and heather o - I'm happy that you get your letters in about 20 to 25 days. That must be really, really nice.
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Denise Bailey

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Maybe we all need sponsorees from those projects, lol!
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Linda Baker

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While there may be an issue with their computers, I do not understand why there are no letters even in the pipeline to us.  It appears that the children are only told to write on a certain day occasionally, and so it would seem that that would feel like a chore that they must to, to keep their money rolling in.  I have said before that I read and speak French, the native language of my child.  There is no need to translate them even. But we have received one letter in over a year and there are none coming or pending or in translation  I do not want to sponsor someone who sees having to contact me as a chore or job.  I wanted to build a connection with this child and for my son to know him for a long time.  If the program is working how it was originally presented to us, then there would be at least 6 letters or more somewhere?  We were worried sick when Haiti experienced hurricane direct hits last fall.  But it is hard to remain so emotionally tied to a situation or a child who has had his aunt fill out a form for him.  So you see it is not JUST an issue with the technology challenges and upgrades.  It is a problem with how the program is run in general, as well.  I have friends on a Facebook page dedicated to Haitian children sponsors via Compassion and other programs and they only have these issues with Compassion.  And today I got a letter from Compassion, (not my child, mind you) apologizing for all these issues.  And my first thought was how long did it take to write this letter, how much labor did it cost to get all these envelopes stuffed and how much postage did it cost to send them to every single sponsor.  What a huge waste of funds that could buy chickens or medicine or malaria nets.  If I wanted to continue my sponsorship I would say STOP APOLOGIZING and just get it fixed. 
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Denise Bailey

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Hi Linda, that's amazing you write so often.  I am another sponsor and I decided to look and see how many letters I received from my boy in Haiti and it says I only received one last year and I wrote 9.  So far this year I have only written 4 and I just received one from him May 5.  2015 he wrote 5.  I didn't realize it because I sponsor and correspond with quite a few.  My girls in Ethiopia only write twice a year no matter how many I write.  Last year I received 4 from an older gal I sponsor in Kenya and 5 from a sweet teen girl I sponsor in Guatemala.  I think I generally hear at least 3 times and some 5 times a year from my various kids.
  
Linda, I want to add that Haiti has had some weather issues this past year and I wonder what other sponsors have hearing from Haiti this past year.  
(Edited)
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Linda Baker

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Thank you Denise, I hoped to get more than one in over a year.  And it bothers me that it was the form letter and it bothers me I only got it after waiting almost 9 months and complaining.  I would think I would not have gotten any had I not done that, even. 
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Mr. & Mrs.Hughes

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The younger children especially write on form letter stationary. The front has different questions for them to answer, and the back has a small space to write, and space for drawing a picture, then another space for the translation. That's because small children have short attention spans and they do try to have the child dictate the letter. Older children have more room to write, and teens get quite a lot of space I guess. But I guess you could call the stationary form letters, but compassion did that to try to help the children tell more information about themselves. I get a little frustrated that the tutor spends so much space thanking me, etc. Instead of giving me news, but that comes as the child gets older and more comfortable with you and the letter writing process. They're not ungrateful, they're young children with lots of adult stuff to deal with. You should have gotten s
a picture however, maybe the bad weather and other problems Haiti has experienced have delayed things.
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Sheri Brebner

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I'm sorry but I'm unable to reply to Linda Baker's post. No reply button. I just want to say to her and hope she can read this, I too was a sponsor for a year. I totally am with you and feel the exact same way you do. I sponsored a 5 yr old girl from Haiti for a year, up until just a few days ago I cancelled for the same reason. There was very little communication with her. It would be months after sending a letter, before I would get a reply  and when I did, it was only generic answers to questions. I gave extra for birthday and christmas but never once did I receive an answer as to what was given. After several attempts to find out, I received an email stating a chicken was bought with the birthday money. Was it a pet chicken or a chicken that was used to make chicken stew?  Sorry, I'm being sarcastic now.  They said I could write a final good-bye letter which I intended to do today, but I am now blocked from doing so. 
I will pray this organization will work on the issues you mentioned.
Even though I don't agree with how they are doing things, I will continue to pray for them and that my little girl will get another sponsor.  
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Madison

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Hello Sheri. I am so sorry that you did not experience the relationship that you had desired with your sponsored child. It looks like we did already address the issues with you in a different post. Let us know if you have any further questions and we will be happy to assist you. 
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Denise Bailey

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Linda, we have been sponsoring with Compassion for 15 years and I am have joined around six or seven Facebook groups related to Compassion.  One of them is Compassion Sponsors Haiti.  I also belong to several other groups related to the various countries where we sponsor.  If you are on Facebook you could try searching for the group called Compassion Sponsors Haiti and ask to join.  

You could tell Compassion for now you are not going to pay for several months and you will give the center some time to improve their responsibility of helping the children write letters.   I totally look at it as the center's responsibility to have the students write letters, especially when they are under 14 or 15.   My understanding is if the sponsor don't write, and many do not, the kids are still required to write and I thought it was two letters a year.  

I support whatever decision you come to, however, please don't give up on sponsorship.  There are some other organizations out there that encourage relationship and the kids do write.  I know of some but don't want to say it on here because it is a Compassion site.  

When you write your final letter, think about kindly telling the center that you are not continuing because you never hear from your child.  I totally think it is them and they need to know that their lack of attention to detail has cost them a sponsor.  Especially if it is form letters with a paragraph on the back!  How weird is it that they cannot send more of them out?  I get quite a few form letters but always there is a paragraph on the back.  I sponsor at 420 in this country, where do you sponsor?
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Briana

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I have sponsored a 21 year old in Haiti for what will be a year on Saturday. She has written to me once, after I inquired, and I have written eight letters to her. I also sponsor children in the Philippines and Thailand who write back quickly. (In the case of my youngest child, who is 4, her mother writes back quickly.)

When I was a child, my parents sponsored a girl in Haiti who was my age through Sonlight Ministries. I wanted to write to her, but at 8 years old was too shy. I remained too shy to talk to her until after her graduation. It was only this past year that I finally found her and we connected. It was a reconnection on my part and a first connection on her part. We were 26 by then.

Who am I to judge the correspondence of another, especially a child in poverty? I was a middle class child, and I didn't have confidence in my abilities to write a "good enough" letter. How much more could this apply to a child in poverty, struggling for education and nutrition -- and struggling against terrible odds for a sense of self-worth?

When I did get a letter from my oldest Compassion child, it was a beautiful and sincere letter. There was a format, but she very much came alive for me as she detailed her heart's prayers. She is a young adult, of course, so it's to be expected she is better at personalizing forms than someone much younger.

One big point I am trying to make is that your sponsor child treasures the letters he receives, but writing may greatly intimidate him. Knowing the years were going by without my writing made me feel guilty and more afraid to write, not less, when I was a child myself.

I do think some countries have slower delivery than others for multiple reasons, as well, from what I've experienced.

Please know I'm not judging you. I am empathizing with your boy in Haiti.

I'm sorry your son is disappointed. I'm sure that is among the last things your sponsor child wants.
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Denise Bailey

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It is the center's responsibility.  Some of my centers write on behalf of my younger kids because there is only so much time at the center and with younger ones it probably is time consuming.
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Linda Baker

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I understand what you are saying and agree that he may have trouble writing or have bigger issues.  I just want some verification that he is getting our help.  I have asked even for him to send a drawing. But I agree that there are probably much more important things he and his family may need to be doing to survive than write us.  
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Adam

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Linda, I've gotten frustrated before because I wasn't hearing from one of my kids and I hadn't received a few gift acknowledgements but when I told Compassion about it they helped me get all of the gift letters and I've got a ton of letters from all my kids in the past few months within just a few weeks of them writing them. If you're having problems Compassion will always try to help you. Some of my kids write a lot and some don't. We're not dealing with robots and this is not a business, it's a ministry to kids in poverty. And if you want to cancel your sponsorship all you have to do is ask. There's no need in all this. My hope and prayer is that the Compassion organization doesn't change and that the employees don't lose their compassionate hearts because of seeing these kinds of angry posts. I love Compassion and I want to see Compassion be here for a long long time. This world needs Compassion.
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Linda Baker

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Hi Adam, I understand your perspective but I think that you have misread my post if you feel it is angry.  I am profoundly disappointed that the ministry is not working as designed and that my concern is that if it is not working on MY end to get me the things it said it would, that my child is not getting the things that he needs on his end, as well.  The letters are a way of verification of this.  I have been hearing this new technology, new process, have patience line for months now and have pointed out that for some it has been going on for over two years.  As for contacting Compassion, isn't that what I have done? I had to do it to get my first letter? Should I have to do it for every letter?  Why do they  need to dedicate staff to putting out fires and addressing problems instead of focusing on not having the problems and issues?  I have the right to be concerned and I also have to right to express my disappointment and dissatisfaction.  I would hope that you would  reconsider before presuming or even contradicting how I feel, as I noted that I felt very sad, NOT angry.  I think many people struggle with this issue and it goes unsaid, but that doesn't mean that it is not an area where Compassion needs to improve greatly and should be aware of my disappointment.  I brought this to Compassion's attention in other ways as well as this, in the hope that I would get some official response and resolution.  However, I did it publicly so that others could add their Me Too responses or give advice, not judgement.  I am a person who values honesty above all else.  If they had said, you are going to send money to a child, you won't know which child and you probably wont hear from him but our center staff will send a letter maybe one or two times a year, that would at least have been accurate. This may be a charity and a ministry but it does not have the right to misrepresent itself and how the program works, not how they would like it to work. 
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Adam

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Linda, the reason I assumed you were angry is because you posted multiple times about the same issue in multiple threads only to, what seems like, end your sponsorship and let others know about your frustrations. That seems kind of like "shooting our wounded" to me. Obviously Compassion knows that there's a problem. They're sending out apology letters to sponsors. They are doing the very best that they can. I honestly believe that. There's nothing wrong with asking for help and getting a resolution or even letting Compassion know that you're frustated, but the Compassion "organization" is made up of the employees. Words matter and I can only imagine how discouraging this whole situation is for them already. Compassion is doing a whole lot of things right too. I am getting letters from my kids and a lot of other sponsors are too. I hope that you will give Compassion another shot and let them correct this for you.
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Linda Baker

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Adam, I went looking at other threads because I worried/wondered if my issue was isolated.  I wanted to find out if I was the only one and to see proof of these great relationships people formed prior to the "season of change" IT wise.  I found some of these yes, but other posts where issues were flagged as Solved or Answered where people complained about the same issue I had over a year ago, yet I didnt see the resolution for the long term.  Create in inquiry, and they will answer.  Great.  But really should each and every sponsor have to take a secondary step each time to get a letter or make sure theirs arrived? As they say, once is a fluke, twice is a trend, three times is policy/a choice.  I wanted to see what their resolutions or suggestions had been that worked.  I don't want another apology, I want a solution.   If I were Compassion, I would have gone out into the corporate world by now, contacting some major IT companies who would have probably helped with a solution and given a heavily discounted or free help for such a worthy charity.  This is pretty easy technology.  This is taking paper and making it electronic.  You can take great pictures with a cell phone these days and save as .pdf files.  You add a barcode to track them.  I have converted manuals over 1000 pages into fillable forms in pdf.  

This is document management and repository, this is not the cure for cancer.   The part of getting the letters created by sponsors and by children should be the difficult part, not the part where Compassion gets them to where they need to be.   If they can't manage that part, then just give us the addresses to the centers and let us put airmail stamps on our letters and send them ourselves. Have compassion staff on site at the centers who can translate using simple programs like Google translate.  Even a fax machine and landline would work better than this system.  I am not one to sit around and whine about a problem and apologize.  I believe every apology should come with a resolution to make it right, like the AA steps program.  You say you are sorry and make amends.   Where are the amends.  I got the apology electronic, on the website, in my mailbox.  When you say you are doing "everything you can" you have to be able to consider working out of the box on a solution, asking for help from other competitive organizations who seemed to have worked this out years ago, or find out who their technology champions are and using them.  
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Steve

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Linda, I have a suggestion. You have advised Commpassion of your specific concerns. Put your sponsorship on hold. See if Compassion can turn arround your experience. I felt the same way you do, LAST YEAR. Instead of dropping my sponsorship I followed through with a planned trip to visit two of my kids. I saw the work Compassion does (at least in Peru and Ecuador). I've met staff who work behind the scene in country and in Colorado Springs.

It's clear the transition in systems was, I'll just say it, a failure. There were mistakes made and many people are involved in solving them. There are obvious problems at the project and country level, too.

I sense you care about the child you have chosen to love, support, and pray for. You are completely justified in giving up on Compassion. I have had to follow-up on gifts and received letters that were many months old. But, my relationship with "my kids" has changed my life forever. I heard the girl who only sends me an occasional form letter, pray for me in person. I had her hand me a photo of her when she 18 months old and tell me that she thanks God for me daily and feels like I have always been a part of her life.

You might not ever know what a difference you and your family have already made in your sponsored child's life.
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Linda Baker

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Thank you Steve for this suggestion and observations of your own sponsorship.  I hope we are making a difference.
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Denise Bailey

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Adam, I believe the Center has a lot of responsibility in getting letters to sponsors.  I didn't think her letter was "angry."  Really bummed they weren't hearing from a child that they had been working with Compassion with no resulting success, yes, but angry, no.  To be quite honest, I find your reply unnecessary!

Some of my centers write letters on behalf of my kids and now I know why.  They realize the importance of letters for the sponsors, too!
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Denise Bailey

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Unfortunately there is a saying about shooting our wounded.
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KristenH, Champion

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I'm sorry if you feel that is being done to you Marci. I know your sister is a sweetheart and I'm sure you are too! I don't see anyone saying people are awful for having problems with Compassion. The entire purpose for support forums is to get support from organizations when you have an issue.
Personally, my only issue on these fourms is with people *not you* who come on here and treat the employees badly or rudely. I think we can all agree that every employee we interact with on this forum does their very best to help us when we have an issue.

I do hope things start looking up for you with your sponsorships.
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Marci L. Ficht

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Denise - You just put that song in my head....from years ago..."I get knocked down, but I get up again...you ain't ever gonna keep me down...." :)
(Edited)
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Marci L. Ficht

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KristenH - OMGosh yes!!!! I know that the Compassion employees are going through misery over all this, too. They don't deserve it and I would never want them to think I was upset with THEM. They're doing all they can. I'm upset with the way the organization has gone downhill since a little over a year ago.

As for people coming right out and saying I'm awful...no, that's not done. It's not that in-your-face, but it's there, nonetheless. I call them the "Christian I am Holier Than Thou" people for making us feel like we are wrong for being upset. They use the words "saddened, grace, test of patience, no need, they deserve grace, mercy, and patience, I'll pray for you to find patience, I'll be the bigger person"....things like that. They're condescending and downplay our feelings and our problems. Our very legitimate problems.
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Linda Baker

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I kind of agree that the reaction of many posts seems to be heavily coated with the idea that there is a built in guilt that people invoke when you try to complain or express concerns about the program.  It is like they say I should be happy if just one dollar of my X dollars makes it through, because it is for the children. The truth is there are lots of kids that need help and lots of charities that are doing that.  If Compassion cannot perform the tasks they claim they will, why would I not put my love, Christianity and money towards a program that is efficiently using my funding to help my child and build relationships.   Playing the charity / Christian / guilt card doesnt really work on me because I know my own heart and what my intentions are.  
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Denise Bailey

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Thank you!   Ms. Baker has legitimate feeling and concerns which can be addressed more kindly than saying it should not have been even brought up.  
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Susan

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Official Response
Linda,

I sincerely apologize for the incredible disappointment, frustration, and concern that we have caused. I am saddened that your experience with Compassion over the last year has not met your expectations, or even the standards that we have here within this organization for quality and integrity. I also want to apologize for the delay in my response. You have posted in several places here on this page with many different concerns. In an attempt to respond to all of your concerns, we wanted to make sure we read all of your posts and researched each issue thoroughly before responding. I hope you can understand our reasoning on this. 

We greatly appreciate your partnership and all of the loving letters and gifts that you have sent. Please know that whether or not Schnaider is able to express this to you and your son, each of your letters have made a huge difference in his life. It is amazing and uncommon to see a sponsor write as often as you do, and send so many generous gifts. Please know that it is seen and appreciated.

You are completely entitled to know where your money is going, and receive acknowledgement that your gifts were received. As a sponsor, you should receive a thank you letter within six months of when the gift was given. I sincerely apologize that you have waited so incredibly long for a thank you letter for the very generous gifts you have sent. You are right. Waiting seven months for a thank you letter is unacceptable and we are working to correct this for you. I sent an inquiry to request that Schnaider sends both thank you letters, and a photo for the four gifts that you sent in October and November 2016. I also adjusted your account and covered the next three months' support for you. You should not be responsible to make any further payments until you have received the inquiry back and have a satisfactory response to all of your concerns.

It is not normal to go longer than four months before the first letter or six months without a reply letter. I am so sorry that you had to wait nine months for the first and only letter you have ever received. Again, you are right that this is unacceptable and we take full responsibility for that. As you mentioned, we did send an inquiry and this one letter was sent. While it is not right for sponsors to have to send an inquiry for each letter, it is also difficult to fix issues if we do not know about them. Again, we greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know that there was a problem and we are absolutely happy to fix it for you. 

I am happy to take care of whatever you want to do on your account today, but I would ask that you give us a chance to correct these issues, and win back your trust. If after the next couple months, you still feel that you would like to cancel, and we will honor your wishes. 

Lastly, I know you had other concerns and I will be addressing those concerns shortly. 
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Jenny Kim

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You can plan to visit him one day with your son then maybe you can understand better~ :)
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Linda Baker

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Yes we hope to when our son is a bit older and they, as a country are not overburdened after the hurricanes last fall.  
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Stephen

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Couldn't you just print them off so you have the letters and then it doesn't cost Compassion anything to print them or whatever they do and the cost to mail them
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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Stephen: I do print off the letters I get to read immediately. However, I find the letters I get from Compassion are better quality than what I can print at home, so I still wish to receive those letters. The ones received from Compassion are what go in our books to keep and refer back to -- and their quality reassures me that what my kids get out "in the field" are completely sufficient to the cause.
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Linda, 
I apologize for the delay in getting back with you. We are so thankful that you feel like our offer to cover the next few months of sponsorship until all of this is sorted out, may help. We did take care of making those adjustments on your account yesterday, so you are completely covered through the end of August. Please know that during this time, Neider he will still receive full benefits and this will not affect him.
Additionally, there is one letter in the works. Although we do not know for sure why you have not received more letters over the last year, I am confident that we will be able to figure this out for you. We did send the inquiry yesterday to find out if there is a reason he is unable to write, or feels uncomfortable writing. Regardless, this inquiry will provide us answers. We will get this response to you as soon as possible. 
Have a blessed weekend and please let us know if we can do anything further! 

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