Is our Sponsored child receiving our letters?

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My wife and I have sponsored a girl in Ethiopia for almost 4 years. (Alima Ali). During that time we have sent her stickers, pictures of our Vacation Bible School, pictures of our wedding and other things. We've written to her by hand and over the internet. Various times we have asked questions. She does write us, but she has NEVER responded to a question or acknowledged the receipt of any of the little things we've sent. (She has thanked us for things like Christmas money that we sent.) We have begun to wonder if she receives the things we've sent. Please help. This is very discouraging. Thank you.
Child Number ET-955-0255. Sponsor Number2348449-5
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Ed McGee

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Posted 8 years ago

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Jessica

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How old is your child? If she is young, sometimes the leaders at the project will help them with their letters. Sometimes even until fourth grade. I'm sure she is receiving your gifts and letters, but you must consider, these kids don't ever really write letters. When they write about their Christmas/birthday gifts, perhaps it's because they are encouraged to at the project. Other than through Compassion, these kids don't write letters, or even receive them, but I know that they are extremely grateful for them and it is so fun for them to find little surprises inside! I know it can be discouraging when your questions aren't answered, but be persistent, and patient. They really appreciate your letters, love and support. Keep it up!
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justine

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I think we also need to remember the kids don't always write back on the day they receive letters so there could be a gap of time between receiving our letters and responding. Since they are allowed to take their letters home I assume it's probably difficult to remember what questions you asked when they are writing to you from their child development center.

Also, I think I read somewhere that in some cultures its just simply not custom to acknowledge gifts/receipt of gifts in the way that Westerners do (or something along those lines).

Of the two children I sponsor only one of them responds to my questions (she is 18) and the other one only writes to me whatever she has on her mind that day (she is 10). I am okay with not getting answers from the little one and have changed my mindset from "I ask questions because I wanna know as much about her as possible" to "my questions show her that I am interested in her life and care about her."
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Shaina Moats

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Ed, have you tried separating your questions from the body of your letter, numbering them and highlighting them? This will help them get noticed.
I know that your letters and goodies are reaching your child, If we were not able to send something to her, we would contact you to let you know.
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Michelle Wright, Champion

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We have 12 Compassion children and we have found that some of our children just don't really respond to us.

We think that it may be, in part, a cultural thing. Letter writing is a foreign concept in many cultures.

We are also guessing that some children may just not be good at writing. Education in most of the Compassion countries is far behind what we see here in the US. A teenager in Rwanda, for example, may be writing at just a 3-5th grade school level in the U.S..

We also know that, though we write at least one a month to our children, they may not have our letters with them when they are writing letters back to us.

I hope that you are encouraged in knowing that you're doing a wonderful thing by sponsoring. Thank you for Taking the time to write to your child.
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Morgan Kaitlyn Blount

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i've written my child several times since last year and i even sent her pictures. but every time she sends me a letter, it seems like she isnt getting any of mine. she always says she wishes i would write to her, but i do! why isnt she getting any of my letters?

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
it seems like my child isn't getting my letters..
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Joshua

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I sent additional money as a christmas gift and my child did not say he received it. I know that it can take 3 months to get there and 3 months to hear back.... so I was wondering if someone could let me know if he received it and what he bought?
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Shaina Moats

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Your child definitely received your gift. When you give to our Christmas fund, we pool the funds and distribute them evenly to all children in our program so that everyone receives a Christmas gift. The center will throw a Christmas party for the children and select a gift for everyone. They are told that the gift they receive is from their sponsor. Normally, all girls receive the same gift and all boys receive the same gift, according to age. I encourage you to ask what he received for Christmas in your next letter.
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Kimberly Warren

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I sponsor a 10 year old in Ethiopia as well. Her letters always seemed impersonal and I was very discouraged for a while as to whether or not she cared about my letters becuase she never wrote much she just liked to write about the bible story she had recently just learned. And her last letter was the same but the last sentence reconfirmed why I sposnor it said "I love you. God Bless you. I loved the stickers. Thanks allot for all." That told me that while she may not be very personal, (whether it be age or culture) I know I am making a difference. And in her last picturre, she had the biggest smile I had ever seen!
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Lindsey Huang

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We have same issue. The child is sponsored in my husband's name alone, but from our first letter almost a year ago, we introduced our family and included picts of our family. Second letter included pictures our own children drew. In a letter we received today the question is asked: do you have a family? It seems that unless the child never physically saw our letters, this question would not be asked. Just seems very odd.

We understand there are obvious age/language issues, but the pictures are pretty obvious...We still will write, encourage, etc. though. And it still is nice getting correspondence from Compassion concerning our sponsored child.
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Lizzie, Champion

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I am sure your child is getting you letters and pictures. My kids always thank me for my letters and pictures. It is possible that they had not gotten the pictures of your family when he/she wrote the letter you are talking about. Also, at the Compassion project the worker will usually write an example letter on the board. The children are supposed to copy it or write something like it. Usually it will be themed. I hope this helps reassure you some! God bless. You are changing his/her life! Thanks for writing your child :)
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Shaina Moats

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Hey Lindsey! I'm sorry you're not satisfied with the correspondence from your child. I know that your child is definitely receiving your letters. Why don't you give us a call or email us using the contact us tab above and we can take a look at your specific account. We'll be able to give you more information that way.
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Steven Onken

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I have been sponsoring a particular child for over 6 years. In my most recent letter from her, she wrote that she was 15 years old, in the 9th grade, and has black hair. Why is she writing me things I've known for years?!? Is this just a "stock", impersonal letter? This is very discouraging -- makes me think she has no idea what I know about her -- and does she know anything about me? This is supposed to be a PERSONAL relationship with my sponsored child. Letters with information repeated over and over again do not feel the least bit personal. Please explain.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Is this really personal?.
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Shaina Moats

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Hey Steven! Don't be sad. I see that you're a great writer- thank you for that! It can be hard for children to know what to write as they tend to communicate verbally instead of by written communication. Just keep encouraging your child and I'm sure they'll open up as they feel comfortable.
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Elizabeth Hill

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I am also really discouraged with my letters. While, I know that they have received some of the letters, since they've thanked me for the stickers, puzzles, etc, I really do doubt that they are receiving the letters. Or, if they are, they just don't care what I am writing about. For instance, I wrote to my boys last August that I had broken my ankle and had to have surgery. I even send a copy of the x-ray since it looks really cool with all of the pins. They are teenage boys, so I thought it would be neat for them to see. Not once have they acknowledged this letter. I just get the same form letter: greeting, thanks for being my sponsor, school is going well, I like soccer, wish me good health, and praises to God. It's incredibly discouraging and dissatisfying. I'm not going to drop my sponsorship, but I have to say my letter writing has drifted off since I find the entire process to be wasted breath.
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Michelle Wright, Champion

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Elizabeth, I am sorry that you're feeling that way. I understand, but I want to encourage you that your letters may have more of an impact than you will ever realize here on earth.

Out of our 19 Compassion children, we have a number that write infrequently and never really refer to our letters, so I do understand the difficulties in that. However, I try to remember that culturally, letter writing is a foreign concept to many. Also, thinking of my own American nieces and nephews, many of them struggle with writing letters. They would talk your ear off, but when it comes time to sit down and write, it would likely be forced, simplistic and repetitive. Education in the developing world is so far behind ours in the US that even a child in the mid to late teens may really struggle with putting together thoughts in written word.

You might like to read this post about "Writing into the Void". http://www.bloggingfromtheboonies.com...

I hope that you are encouraged! If you feel like you no longer want to take part in the writing part of the ministry, you can also ask Compassion to assign your child a correspondent!
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Harry Gritzke

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writing lettters has been pretty meaningless. There is no dialog going on. The letters responses say pretty much the same thing over and over and over and over. I have been supporting Baraka for quiet a while, he is now old enough to communicate himself, but this is not happening and probably will not happen. It is pretty much a waste of time.I have a every letter that has been sent and received, I pretty much can predict what the responses will be. I have committed to this young man, and will finish that race, I am a discipler, I have been to Africa, South America, on mission trips. Here at home, I have been a Christian School Principal, so I know children, I know how to communicate with children and how to encourage, etc. Your system does not lend itself to a discipleship environment. That is pretty sad.I have no idea who writes the responses to my letters, and it is pretty obivious that they are not read, and responses given are totally irrelevant to what I wrote and asked for. Last year I went to Uganda, interacted with orphanage children, and discipled local workers as we where building a medical center for the local community, I spent a month there, later on that same year I went to Haitii and the Dominican Republic. Visited 13 sites for Mission of Mercy, by the way they run a system very similar to Comapssion if not just like a carbon copy.I dialogued with the staff and the children they were ministering to. When questions where placed the children would answer. I cannot say the same for my letters that I have sent for the past few years. I am very disappointed with Compassion International. Baraka is now around 12 years old and he should be able to answer and respond to my letters appropriately, but since a staff member writes, I have a feeling that my questions are not even placed to Baraka for him to respond himself.
This is why I have stopped writing letters.I has been an excercise in futility for me.
Just let Baraka know that I love him, I care for him and I pray for him and his family.
Maybe some day when he is 18 or older, maybe then we might be able to communicate on a personal level, if I am still alive then.
Sincerely,
Harry Gritzke.

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
communication problems.
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Shaina Moats

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I'm sorry to hear this, Harry! We want you to be able to build a relationship with your sponsored child. It looks like Baraka is 11. He should start writing his own letters by very soon. I also sponsor a boy in Tanzania who is 11 and he does not write on his own yet. You can encourage him to do so in your letters- it just might be the confidence boost he needs!
We find that the best correspondence relationships occur when you respond to every letter you receive from your child. This will begin a "conversation" of sorts. Also, it's a good idea to separate your questions from the body of the letter, number, and highlight them. This alerts the project staff that you would like an answer.
If you'd like, we'd be happy to take a look at your letters. If needed, we can contact our staff in the country to go over any learning lessons that might help them improve the correspondence process.
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Beth Gilgenbach

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I've been a sponsor for over 5 years. I've sent many letters to my sponsor child, however, the responses I receive back consistently seem canned. Sreeja seems to only ask about weather. She shares little to no information about herself and seems to know nothing about me (making no responses to the questions that I've asked her). I'm wondering if my letters are being censored or if the letters that students write are limited to only certain subjects?

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Why do my sponsor child's letters seem like canned responses?.
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Rhonda Christlieb

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I have the same issues. I've sponsored my child for about 3-4 years now and it seems like he doesn't answer any of my questions, nor does it seem he receives the answers I provided to his questions. He continues to ask the same questions over and over.

It's frustrating as I know this is supposed to be a 'relationship' but it's not. I think the letters are sent to appease us, and make us think there's a relationship, when there is not.

I know this is not the case with all Compassion kids but it has been my experience, and that's sad.
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Lizzie, Champion

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I am sorry, Rhonda! I have ten kiddos. Some of them, I feel like I know well. Others of them, I hardly know at all. It can be so hard sometimes to know what to say to them. I can assure you that the letters aren't sent to appease the sponsors. Your sponsored child love you to death. He tells all his friends about you. He prays for you. He gets excited at mail days, because he loves your letters! I have read stories by many formerly sponsored children. No matter the country (Rwanda, Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Peru, etc), they all say the same thing- they all love getting their sponsor's letters! In fact, I read a book by a formerly sponsored child. It is called Sheba's Song. Basically it is a collection of her sponsor's letters and the replies she would write to those letters now. I would suggest you read it. It is a great book and it may give you insight to what your sponsored child is thinking. Or I know the names of some formerly sponsored children. You can probably find them on Facebook (perhaps you can message them if you have questions, or just read their posts)- Maria Diamond, Hategekimana Laurent, Okta Wariyanto, Michelle Tolentino, Richmond Wandera, Tony Belton, etc. I hope you will keep writing your kiddo. He loves your letters!!! :)
God bless!
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Chris Muller

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I’m 45 years young, live in the US, and just sponsored my first child in Peru. After reading this thread, I became very discouraged that I’ll never hear from my sponsored child; he’s 8 years old. Then I took a step back and thought about this a little more. When I was young, I enjoyed receiving letters in the mail; and I received many letters from family and friends. During my whole life, I have only written about three letters. I’m certainly not a letter writer. That said, I have sent over 200,000 emails. We live in a digital world now. Is there a way that I can help buy computer equipment for my child’s Project and help pay for satellite Internet; so we can communicate between each other more frequently utilizing the Compassion website? Until then, I’m going to keep writing letters every month. I know my sponsored child will enjoy receive the letters I send him.
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KristenH, Champion

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Hi Chris, for every discouraging letter situation you'll find many more encouraging ones. I wouldn't get discouraged yet! With the new writing guidelines a child is supposed to write 2 times a year minimum and up to 6 times a year if you are writing frequently. Since it sounds like you are, you should get up to 6 letters a year.
I would encourage you to join the OurCompassion forums, to hear stories (good and bad) about writing experiences. You may even connect with a sponsor who has a child in the same project as yours...that would give you a better idea of what to expect from your sponsorship experience!
www.ourcompassion.org

I don't know what Compassion has planned for the future of communications between Sponsor/sponsor Child but I do know that you send gifts to your child's project. Maybe one of the Compassion staff can weigh in on your idea :-)
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Susan

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Official Response
Hi Chris! I completely agree that whether or not the children always acknowledge it, your letters make a world of difference in their lives. Sponsoring a child many times is a selfless act in which we have chosen to pour love, encouragement, and support into a child's life. We can experience a deep sense of satisfaction and spiritual growth that comes with a commitment to pray, correspond and give - without an expectation of what a child is able to give back. Although Compassion is looking to improve child to sponsor relationships, we cannot expect more from children in poverty than they are able to give to us. 

I have some exciting news! Compassion is looking into alternative methods of sending the letters. We have to update our systems first which could take a few years. However, we are hoping to roll out very quick computerized communications between sponsor and child in the next two to three years. Our system updates are going to begin on the field side so you may see that the children will begin to communicate on updated technology faster than we will on our side of things. 
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KristenH, Champion

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Susan this is very exciting to hear!! thanks :-)
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Chris Muller

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This is great news!! I’m an advanced programmer and know nine programming languages. If Compassion needs another volunteers with this effort, please feel free to drop me a line. :)
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Chris Muller

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I have been so busy with work, I forgot to reply back to this forum. Just a few days after replying to this thread, I received a letter from Erick; the child in Peru my family and I are sponsoring. Erick is only 6 and drew some colorful pictures! Someone assisted in writing down his thoughts and Compassion was kind enough to translate the letter. Erick drew and colored a pinwheel, flower, large freight truck and a monkey. We just loved receiving his letter and plan on sending him a thin coloring book with stickers and a book-marker. Does the content of our letter envelope get looked through by Compassion and Customs, or will it remain sealed until Erick received the letter envelope? I wanted to send him a new $1 bill sealed in a plastic holder so he can see what our money looks like. Any suggestions on what to send Erick would be most appreciated. Thank you!! :)
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KristenH, Champion

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Hi Chris, Yes our letters are opened at Compassion and they check to make sure everything we've sent is allowable. If not they will contact you and let you know. It's then sorted and mailed on with other letters to your child's country. So whatever you include, make sure to label it with your child's name, number and your sponsor number. I've actually bought printable mailing labels and printed my children's info on those. That way I can just stick a label on coloring pages, bookmarks, stickers, photos, and etc.
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Lorraine

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I understand issues relating to children writing back, but I feel I need some feedback as to whether my letters really are something Anny looks forward to. I have been sponsoring for 15 months, and have received two "letters" from Anny. Her initial, very sad expression, photo has been updated to a very angry-faced photo. I assume Anny is told the photo is taken for their sponsors? If so, I wonder why she would be so angry. It's difficult to send letters when I now feel they might anger her in some way. There has never been acknowledgement of items included in letters, birthday or Christmas money sent. I wish I knew what Anny would like to know about my family and if she appreciates the photos and family updates I send.
I sponsored chidren as a child and found it incredibly rewarding. I'd like to pass along this idea to my children, but they certainly cannot connect with this kind of structure.
Is there a way to find out how my sponsor child feels about my letters?

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