Extremely concerned about our sponsorship and our child.

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Concerned that we have not had a REAL communication with our child.  We have been sponsoring our child for a couple years now.  We have sent letters, photos and funds to our child and her family.  As of this date we have NEVER received any information on what our gift monies were spent on for our child or her family.  We have never received a photograph except the staged one we received when we began the program.  Our child was very near to the epicenter of the Ecuador earthquake and we sent information to Compassion requesting to know the condition of her and her family and we were just told "if you hear nothing bad, she is okay".  We are beginning to be concerned if our funds are reaching our child or if we really have a child.  We have started getting emails instead of hand written letters.  The letters we do get say the same thing each time.  We have asked our child questions that are never answered, only get the same questions from her.  The only communications we have received recently is asking for more money and telling us she would like us to visit.  Is anyone else having these concerns?
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Jeffrey Corder

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Posted 2 years ago

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Denise Bailey

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If a sponsor sends a single gift of at least $60 the centers are required to send a picture.  If you have not received a picture after six months I know we are allowed to do an inquiry.  The email for an inquiry is socialmedia@compassion.com   After Hurricane Matthew I sent a child gift because I figured it could be used by the family in an emergency.  I did hear they were not harmed by it even though they were pretty close to the area affected!  I haven't received a picture yet but I don't think it is six months yet either.  I don't think the children are supposed to directly ask for money in letters so I think that is a little odd.  Does your child write their own letters or are they written by staff on behalf of your child?
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Jeffrey, I am so sorry for any disappointment, frustration, or concern that this lack of communication on our part has caused. You are completely entitled to receive acknowledgement that your gifts were received. We want you to be able to connect with your child through the letters because that is where the mutual transformation and encouragement happens in our program. I would love to be able to look into this issue for you and make sure that you are getting everything that you should be (even by sending a inquiry as Denise mentioned), but regrettably, I could not locate your account by your name and email address. Please post your child's ID number here or email socialmedia@compassion.com with some more information so that we can further assist you. 
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Mikah Taylor

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I am in a similar position as the original poster, only he has been dealing with it much longer than I have. We started sponsoring our child Efia in October. Despite the 4 letters I have sent, I still have not heard anything and haven't gotten a letter back. I am starting to wonder if we even have a real child.
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Mikah, I am saddened to hear that you are starting to question the integrity of Compassion and whether or not your child is real. Please know that your child is a precious and very real eight year old whom you are more than welcome to visit to see for yourself! I sincerely hope that you will not become discouraged and will give her a chance to respond to the incredible way that you have blessed her with your sponsorship. Regrettably, it does take some time for letters to go back and forth. It typically takes about one to four months to receive the first letter. This means that you will receive a letter from Efia by February 6. Please let us know if you have not received a letter by that point and we will contact your child and her staff to make sure you do. 
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Sally

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I am another sponsor. I am sure a Compassion employee will respond to you tomorrow. It typically takes up to 4 months to get your first letter. If you have already hit the 4 month mark, the staff can do an inquiry since you are waiting for a first letter. Then after that an inquiry can be done if it reaches 6 months without hearing from your child. I wouldn't be surprised if when they check your account, you have a letter in translation. Sometimes sponsors get a letter right away, if the child has a pre-written letter on file waiting to be sent as soon as he/she is sponsored (kind of a generic intro letter). That happened with my little girl from Rwanda. But with my others it has taken 4 months or longer for the first letter.
(Edited)
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Linda Baker

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Wow I agree with this totally.  We have been sponsoring a child in Haiti since April of 2016 and have never ever gotten anything from him at all. NOTHING EVER AT ALL.  HA7650618 is his ID. My children are worried sick to never hear how he is after the devastating hurricanes in that area in Fall of 2016.  I have written to him, both in paper, in email, via app probably 30 times in that 9 month period and still, we just get form letters from the pastor or Compassion, asking for more money. We have sent extra hundreds of dollars for disaster aid, family presents, Christmas presents etc.   I have agreed to give it one year then write this off to a BIG SCAM.  9 months and NOTHING is crazy.   If that happens and nothing personal is received after one year, I will file with the BBB and also dispute all 12 payments of $38 each month plus any extra sent on my credit cad.  I have been hesitant to end my membership if he is getting the money but at this point I really doubt the legitimacy of this organization. Please do check, write or call me, I would love to know why this is happening. 
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Linda, I am not sure I can apologize enough that you have waited so incredibly long for a letter from your child. You are exactly right - 9 months is absolutely unacceptable. The first letter should arrive within one to four months. I am happy to help you and do everything I can to help earn back your trust. I just wish we had heard from you sooner so that we could have started working on correcting this issue for you many months ago. 

Regrettably, at this time, I am unable to get into my system because of the system upgrades. We are migrating the last of the data from the old system to the new system this week. I have made a note to follow up with you just as soon as I can get into the system next week. I look forward to doing everything I can to remedy this situation and hopefully earn back your trust. 

I hope you can understand that I am not trying to make any excuses for how long you have waited for this letter, but I wanted to explain a little more about why this letter is so delayed. You may be aware that in April 2016 we started transitioning over to a new letter processing system. Regrettably, there were more issues with the new system than we had anticipated. This has caused considerable delays in letters. While we have worked hard over the last nine months to resolve these issues, we are still battling some of them. Please know that in most cases the children are continuing to write letters to their sponsors but a backup at the country offices has regrettably kept these letters from being delivered in a timely manner. 

It sounds like you and your family have been fantastic sponsors! Thank you so much for blessing your sponsored child with your letters, gifts, and donations. I know it is tough to pour into a child and not receive anything back, even an acknowledgment. 
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Jennifer

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Hello Linda:

Thought I'd add anorher perspective . I've been a sponsor for over 10 years, and a few years ago was able to meet children that I had been sponsoring for 8 and 3 years. We had a fabulous and meaningful day together. Please know that this last year has NOT been the norm for this organization. Even those of us who have been sponsoring for a long time have been exercising our patience. I can't even imagine how tough it ha been for the staff to be so excited about a well-intentioned change and have it go in the opposite direction. The tide started to turn a few months ago and I believe it will continue to improve.

Meanwhile, though the correspondence has been rough, the programs have continued for the kids. In my visit, I was blown away by the quality of the program. Children were learning several aspects of four broad categories: social, cognitive, physical and spiritual. Little little kids were learning about keeping an area clean to avoid malarial mosquitos, nutrition, how to make correct change in the market, learning languages, playing games to interact well, etc. Compassion has a thing about each child being known, loved, and protected, and it was clear that the staff that came with my children knew them well. I found that the holistic development program was much more than a buzzword. Your money is going farther than you could ever know. The fact my first two can now read already puts them ahead of 2/3 of their country...

I apologize for the ramble, but I do encourage you to stick with it. It sounds like you've been a tremendous sponsor, and you are likely a very important part of your child's family, letters or not.
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Linda Baker

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Hi Jennifer and Susan, I appreciate both your replies.  We do really want to keep sponsoring, but this is not the first time we have reached out for help, complained or called about these issues.  I have called previously and was told that my expectations were a little high to expect a letter after 3 months, then 6.  We check frequently to see if our letters even got translated, delivered, where they are in the process.  We realize there is a lot of work involved for even one letter to reach us and for our letters to be translated.  We actually began translating our own letters and headed them with NO NEED TO TRANSLATE at the top, so they were in both English and French going to Haiti.

 I also belong to a Facebook group for sponsor families with kids in Compassion in Haiti.  Some have been sponsoring for a long time and have many letters over the years and relationships with their children. But all report that in the last year, it has been much worse and they hardly get anything and when they do, they are written well in advance, dont address anything in the letters sent and seem to be canned responses that all the children write in school.  I don't see how you can create a relationship with a child if they are simply copying things they read off the board onto paper.  My child is 9 now and my own son is 10 and he writes both hand written and typed emails to our sponsor child, Neider in Haiti, so I don't think that expecting them to be able to write what they want or personal letters when they want, not just on "letter day" ever few months can create a relationship.  They even sponsor more than one child and get almost identical letters from different kids in different centers.  

For those that have visited, both Jennifer and the families in the group online, those stories are helpful to hear, give us hope that our money is maybe actually making it to our family or his center.  This program was designed to work remotely however, and I don't really think that I should have to go there to make sure he got a gift or is given medicine or a goat.  This was supposed to be both to help this boy, as well as to help my own family to be aware and cognizant of other people in other situations with needs much greater than their own. Yet every time we see a Compassion return address on an envelope it is a director or a pastor or someone else, wanting or needing something else from us.  

Meanwhile, I have had better luck messaging strangers on Facebook who have friends or family in Haiti to find out what is going on there and asking them about our center.  This is a digital age and the focus on whatever system you are relying on that is this slow is absurd, no matter what the challenges.  Get the folks a fax machine, and you could at least bring them up to 1980's.  What is sad is you seem to have a huge customer base of people who want to help these people, but because of business practices, those relationships and human contact that both parties crave and need is not possible.  I do appreciate that you are here in this forum answering me, but honestly don't know how much longer we plan to keep throwing money into a black hole every month. 
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Sally

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Hi Linda. I do have one bit of advice to offer. Whenever I have a question or concern or problem, I go straight to the social media team and completely forego calling Compassion. I have had the best results this way. They typically respond with 1-2 days and are very helpful. The email address is socialmedia@compassion.com. That way I have a record of the interaction and can keep track of when I need to follow up. I also created my own FAQ's list when I started sponsoring and periodically use the emails to add info to my list. I can tell you really want what is best for your child and I sincerely hope it works out for you. This has been a difficult year for me too (actually it has for most of us) with the transition. I have 2 sponsor kids and 3 correspondents and I think that helps me because if I am having a letter drought it won't like be with all of them. Hope that makes sense. I didn't mean to ramble on. I hope you have some resolution soon. And hopefully you will get a gift photo. That has been eye opening for us and proven that the gifts we give truly make a difference.
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heather o

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Linda, I have to echo Jennifer's comments. It has been a rough year with upgrades not going as planned and slowing down letters. My family and I sponsor several children (and have for several years now) and we correspond with 40+ more, so I have experience with Compassion. My 7 year old is even a correspondent, so yes I understand young children waiting for letters. I can assure you this is not a scam or a money pit. You are investing in your sponsored child's life and future. All letters have to be reviewed, even those going to English speaking countries, for proper content to protect our sponsored kiddos. Certainly, being a mom, you can agree that this is a priority. The letter system once fully functional will speed the process tremendously. I am anxious for that day as I have had correspondence slow down significantly from regular writers. You will know exactly how your gift money was spent. I always receive a thank you letter and photo when appropriate. Granted it is slower than usual these days but it will get better.

As far as development of relationships, that takes a while and also depends on your child. Some of my kiddos have been very open with me from the start, while some have been more reserved. I have a six year old in the Philippines who writes me sweet short letters and a 13 year old Hatian boy who's family members still write for him. I have another 13 year old Hatian boy who writes his own letters. So it varies widely from child to child and country to country. My Hatian kiddos (4 of them) are some of my most faithful writers, though letters have slowed. In my experience that over time letter writing becomes less of a foreign concept to these kiddos and most of them begin to open up more. I know however each are reading my letters because they now reference things I share with them, though due to translation they sometimes get confused on certain details. They sometimes ask the same questions, but that is okay with me because I know I have repeated questions to them too.

Sponsorship has been a lesson in patience for me and my family. That is a lesson we have failed miserably at times too! We have learned to wait and keep pouring love into these children who so desperately need encouragement and love. The reward has most definitely been worth the wait. I wish I could share some of my letters from my many kiddos with you so you could read for yourself how much our letters mean to these kiddos.

God bless!
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Linda, again, you should not have had to wait longer than four months and again I am so sorry that it has been over double that. It is absolutely unacceptable and I am so sorry. 

As far as technology in Haiti (and many of the countries where we work) goes, I hope you can understand the incredible challenges we face. Many places do not even have phone lines to connect a fax machine to. Internet is extremely slow and unreliable. We have had trouble even getting a printer into some places of the world due to the logistics of shipping such things and getting them through customs, etc. It may seem simple compared to the ease of life with technology that we enjoy here in the US, but it has been very difficult. That said, we are working very hard, despite these challenges, to somehow find a way to get letters and information to flow faster and more easily.

Regrettably, sometimes technology fails us too. We have seen errors in our new technology that we could not have anticipated before hand and we have continued to see other errors as time goes on. I think the issue in your case and in others is that it is tough to fix issues we don't know we have. I know you tried to contact us at least once before, but we need to be able to report these issues to our field offices and our IT people so that they can be fixed. If I had known about this issue you were having back in September I would have sent an inquiry right away and we would have had this situation resolved by now. I am disappointed about that, but we can't change the past. :(

As I mentioned, I will be following up with you next week just as soon as I can get into the system and send off this inquiry to Haiti to request a letter as soon as possible. 
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Linda Baker

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I look forward to your contact, the results of your inquiry, finding out now Neider is and getting some letters and photos from them. 
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Linda, I have sent an inquiry to our Haiti office to request that Neider write you a letter as soon as possible. It looks there there is actually a letter already written by Neider that has been stuck at our country office due to system issues. This inquiry should push through that letter and help other letters to flow more quickly. We will follow up with you in the coming weeks just as soon as we hear back from Haiti.

Also, I wanted to confirm that it looks like Neider has received eleven of your twelve letters that you have sent to him so far. I am working on pushing through the letter that you sent to Neider that has been stuck in the system for several months. 
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Linda Baker

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hi Sarah, we look forward to seeing that first letter!  

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