My child keeps writing the same things in the letters

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How do children write letters? I just received one yesterday and in it, my child says the same things over and over again. (I'm fine, how are you... I'm fine how are you...) In the 3 or 4 years I have sponsored her, I don't know anything about her because all the letters say the same things - even though I ask questions in my letters to her. The only things I know about her are from the information I get from Compassion. It's a little disappointing, and it causes me to wonder if any of my letters are even getting to her. Also - there are never dates on the letters, so I have no idea how old this letter even is.
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Shayna Anderson

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Posted 6 years ago

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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Official Response
I'm so sorry to hear that you're frustrated and discouraged with your letters from your child. Please be assured that your child is receiving your letters. It is important to keep in mind that letter writing is a new concept for the children in our programs. Typically, they are more prone to verbal communication than they are to written communication. Often, they will need a staff worker or family member to assist them in writing. The project will hold a day for all of the children to get together to write to their sponsors at one time. In this situation, it is common for the project worker towrite a few things on the board for the children to copy down in their letter, in order to help them along.

To help improve the correspondence with your child, I would suggest responding to each letter you receive from Julianna. This way, your letters will be more fresh in her mind so that she can be more responsive to them. You might try highlighting or underlining your questions so that they stand out to Julianna. This will let her know that you would love to have a response to that particular question. With these suggestions, you should hopefully see an improvement in the content of Julianna's letters.

If, after trying the tips above, she continues to say the same things, and not answer your questions, let me know. We can have staff work with Julianna to help improve her letters. In this case, it would be helpful to have a sample of these letters so that I can show staff what went wrong. You can send them in any of the following ways:

-Email: Scan and attach the letters in an email to ciinfo@us.ci.org

-Fax: Send the letters via fax to 719-487-4828

-Mail: Send the letters via mail to:

Compassion International

Attn. Susan, SDR

Colorado Springs, CO 80997

(Edited)
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Addyson

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my mom's child is the same way. after 6 years why hasn't she learned better writing skills. isn't that a class at the center?
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Addyson, I am so sorry for the frustration that you and your mother are feeling. :( I know it is difficult to write to a child and not feel like you are getting very much back. We do work with each child individually on their letter writing skills. As with all students, some kids are naturals and others struggle in this area. Add in the fact that many children in poverty in developing nations are more comfortable with verbal communication and have few literate role models in their lives. This is not an excuse but just to help bring a little awareness to the challenges we face. That said, if your mom would like us to work more closely with her child to make sure we can improve his or her writing skills, please ask her to send us a copy of some sample letters so we can show what went wrong. You can find the contact information to send the letters above. 
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Jessica Dryer

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I'm in the same boat. We hadn't heard from our child in a few months and just received a letter from her yesterday. I have two daughters, one who is old enough to be involved in praying for and writing to our sponsored child. We eaerly respond to each letter right away. Our sponsored child celebrated a birthday in October and we sent her three special cards and my girls color her big pictures each time and we always send something special along with our letters. We also always ask questions or tell her more about ourselves. We've been sponsoring her almost a year and have sent her pictures and filled her in on our family and our children and pets, etc. In her last letter to us, she asked me (because it is my name on the sponsorship) whether or not I have any children???

If she has been getting our letters and colorings and drawings and cards, I don't see any way that she could wonder if I had any children...especially since one is almost the same age as her and we've mentioned that every time. I feel disheartened and saddened that my daughter is building a relationship with someone who potentially isn't even getting the things we send to her. I just don't know what to do about it really.
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Jessica, I'm so sorry that you're saddened and disappointed by this process.

It looks like your sponsored child is just five years old so she definitely has a volunteer helping her write the letters. Carmen is always be present while the letter is being written and the volunteer may ask her questions about what she would like to know about her sponsor or what she would like to say to her sponsor to help her along and then write down what she says. Carmen is required to contribute to the letter at least by drawing a picture until she is able to write herself. In thinking about a five year old, she may not be able to remember the last letter when she sits down to write another one since it would not be in front of her. She may even have different volunteers helping her at any given time. Hopefully this helps you to understand a little more of what it looks like when Carmen writes the letters to you. 

For me personally, it has taken some time to develop a relationship with both of the girls that I sponsor. I've been sponsoring for almost four years, and for the first two years or so I felt like I really had to pour into my girl's lives without getting much back. Over time, their personalities have come out and I can truly say that I love them both deeply. One of them is very smart and affectionate. She wants to be a doctor. The other is a class clown and wants to be a secretary. It has helped me to focus on pouring into them and accepting each child for who they were. It sounds like you are doing a family project with this sponsorship and really trying to teach your kids about the least of these (which I applaud by the way) so this may not be super helpful but I thought I would share my experience anyway. 

I have record of two letters having been sent in 2013 from you - one in March and one in August. She just sent her third letter to you on December 5, which I trust you have received. Does this match your records?
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Gini Hart

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I wrote a letter and received a very nice response with image .... yet it is on a colorful brochure.  I have trouble believing each child and sponsor get to send and receive colorful brochures with pictures for letters given cost of that so it leads me to believe the letter is not authentic.  Please comment as I plan to look for another ministry if this is what is going on.  I don't want to disappoint a child but also don't need to be manipulated into thinking I'm communicating with a child when I am not.  Happy to contribute but not at all happy about that.  Thanks, virginia@amazingbloomsstudios.com 
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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Colorful brochure? You mean the colored pictures they put beside the kids letters? I've never received a letter that looked like a brochure. But they do all have pictures and color around them.
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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Like this.
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Gini Hart

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I actually need a better answer.  I'm sorry.  It's exactly as I said.  It's handwritten but it's not original pen or pencil.  It's copy on a colorful printed good quality brochure type paper with colorful perfect professional style image of the child .... cannot imagine it's authentic done just one for me, alone, yet there are promises that each child gets letters from only one sponsor.  It's discouraging as it's really not realistic that this type of correspondence is possible for every child and sponsor.  I use print copy for my business and happen to know how expensive that would be.  Please comment effectively or pass to your manager for comment or a call as at this point I am seriously considering canceling this sponsorship.  Before I do that I just want to be sure I don't disappoint a child somewhere.  Thank you so much.  
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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I am not with Compassion. I am another sponsor, just like you.
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Gini Hart

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Yes, exactly like that.  Very professionally done on good quality paper with good quality professional style print.  Thanks for sharing.  Need answers.  Feeling very manipulated and little angry.  Thanks
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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What you get in the mail is printed out in the USA. so no it is not the original pen or pencil. Its the printout of the letter scanned in on the country size.
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Gini Hart

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I think I saw there are over 1 million children in this program.  At $1 per 8x11 color copy, which is actually low, that's $1 million per page per letter.
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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It's stationary. Its very typical for younger children letters. The older children tend to have more space to write and fewer small squares to write in/answer questions of.
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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We print color at work and our cost is nowhere close to $1 per page.
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Gini Hart

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I have a color printer.  The cost to print in color is very high.  I am having a lot of trouble believing this is done originally with every single letter and, if so, ... color, on high quality paper ... I'd rather that money be sent to the kids and rough draft original letters sent and cannot understand why that would not be better anyway.  I am loosing faith with each answer here.  Sarah, I know you'r not an employee.  And I also understand you want to have faith in something that appears to be so amazing as this.  Yet, still questioning the authenticity of it and will need good answers to this very specifically in order to continue.  Hoping to hear from staff at Compassion with a meaningful reply.  If so, will be the first to apologize here.    
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Hilary Hopkins

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Gini, I am another sponsor as well. While I cannot help answer questions about the stationary, I can tell you that the letters are being written by the children or by a tutor or family member on their behalf. I have met children I sponsored in Bolivia, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. In person, the children talked to me about things they had written in their letters and asked me all about every family member I’d ever written about in a letter. I brought the letters my Bolivian girl had written to me and showed her that I still had them and she thought that was amazing.
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Jennifer

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I am also a sponsor.  The staff are extremely responsive during business hours, so I am confident you will get an answer tomorrow.  I, too, have met children -- four in Africa and Central America.  These were children I had sponsored for many years, and they were most definitely the same children of the letters and photos.  They recognized me as well, and we were thrilled to be able to talk face to face!  The children's records were incredibly detailed, and I was impressed with the quality of the program as we visited the centers at the churches.  The staff know the children by name and care for them.

Compassion is very committed to keeping administrative costs down.  Until a couple of years ago, we did get the original letters.  They switched to scanning on both ends to significantly reduce the cost of postage and speed up communications.  As a guy explained to us in the mail room during one of my sponsor tours, a child would be asking the sponsor to pray for a broken arm, and it had healed two months ago.  You would be talking about snow, and it would be summer when the child asked more questions about it.  The turnaround is much better now and it is possible to have conversations.  People still want to see their child's handwriting and drawings, so the print quality makes that possible.  The letters also include photos sometimes (after larger gifts), so those are also in the printed scans, whereas before they took photos, had them printed at photo shops and mailed them.  Printing is a significant part of what Compassion does, so they will absolutely have negotiated the lowest rates possible.  (I recently paid $0.35 each for a very small volume of glossy coloured copies, and I live in an expensive area.)  Here's a photo of customized stationary ready to go out for the children to write their letters in ONE national office. 

I remember getting a Compassion magazine celebrating the millionth child sponsored -- it was a big deal!  Less than a decade later (I think) they are now over 2 million.  It is a large operation, but the correspondence is a key part of what they do.  The one-to-one sponsor child relationship is one thing that tells the child they have value -- leading them to dare to hope and dream. 


  
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Sarah Heacock Schreffler

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That is so cool Jennifer. I am pondering a trip to Guatemala and had not even considered that the group trips will also show the background of how the letter process works after the letter hits the country!
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Jennifer

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I think visiting the national office is pretty standard, and you'd see at least some aspect of the letters (the other time I saw translating).  You also learn all sorts of other aspects about Compassion's administration, depending on the country office and who is there!  In one trip we met the president, the leader of the medical programs, and had devotions with the staff.  The other we saw the accounting/finances (such as what happens when you send a family gift) and the letter room.  All in all, during the trips they show you a lot of different aspects of how Compassion runs, and take you to different centers to see it in action!
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Hilary Hopkins

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Visiting the national office is always a treat! It’s neat to see the letter process on that side of things. One cool thing that happened in Honduras, is that there was a pile of letters waiting to be delivered and my trip leader told me to pull one out for a pic. And I just happened to grab a letter that I had written to one of my kids!! It was so cool seeing it waiting to be delivered!
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Gini Hart

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Hi Jennifer
Your comments are helpful and somewhat close to what I am hoping to hear but still not making sense to me that postage is avoided when the letters I am receiving are through the mail.  I also noticed the President's salary is $367k per year, very high; and the near 20% ratio of admin to funding is well over the high standard of 10%.  As a CFO of a non profit I learned anything over 10% is a non-starter.  I have a lot of questions here and am being advised to pull out at this point.  Hoping to hear from the company tomorrow with good answers.  Gini
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Gini, 
I am so sorry for the delay in our response! I pray that I can help you understand a bit more about how Compassion works, what things cost; and in the end, help you gain faith for our ministry that allows you to feel confident in continuing sponsorship.

I would like to explain a bit more about what I believe you are calling a brochure. If I am understanding correctly, these are the welcome packets we send out when you first choose to sponsor a child. We feel these are very important because they provide you information on the child and can help you begin your sponsorship with knowledge of the child you chose. which in turn helps you write your letters and build your relationship. We have also had feedback from sponsors that they really like having this as a nice, "welcome" and that they keep this, rather than just tossing it. 

The letters you are speaking of, do come on sturdy paper, printed in color, as you said. However, you can opt out of receiving physical copies of your letters and just view them online if you would like. This is what many supporters have chosen to do. You can also opt out of receiving any billing communications on printed paper as well. 

We have recently changed how letters between a sponsor and child are processed. Research showed that the greatest frustration among sponsors and children was the length of time it takes to receive letters. This new process enables letters to be received up to fifty percent faster. Previously, it took up to three months for a letter to travel one direction. Now, all original letters between sponsors and children are scanned, translated, and delivered to the child's country office or to Compassion's USA office, digitally. The kiddos also receive high quality prints of sponsor's letters. Sponsors all receive letters by email, and if you so choose, a scanned printout by postal mail (again, this is optional). Letters are also stored online in the sponsor's My Account where they are immediately available after translation and remain there so that you can go back and view them at any time.
 
In regards to your concern about printing costs, I would like to give you some statistics on what kind of costs we are up against. Based on the letter or printed element (welcome booklet, appeal, etc.) and quantity of pages, the price can vary from 12 cents to 20 cents per piece for printing and production. Postage can also vary depending on how we mail the piece and the discounts that we receive. These costs can start at around 14 cents and go up to 38 cents. So an item can cost from 26 cents up to 58 cents per piece, but we try to keep the costs closer to the 26 cents per piece.
 
We are happy to answer any other questions you may have about this. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to speak with us about your concerns! Please know I will also copy my answer to your other post, for your convenience. 
 
 
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Julie Hartland

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Does my child really get what we are sending?.


I am beginning to not trust compassion international. Our child writes and doesn't seem to know anything about us, we send pictures and give lots of details and yet she writes and asks things she and ALL of Compassion worker should EASILY know based on the pictures and ALL the details we are always writing??? A few times she thanked us for ordinary things such as stickers but recently asked if we have children??? We have talked extensively about them so that doesn't make sense? I just want to do the right thing but don't want to be taken either as we can be donating elsewhere. Thoughts?
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Julie, I'm sorry to hear that you're beginning to not trust us! I sincerely apologize for any confusion or frustration we may have caused. 

I merged you onto this conversation from a few days ago because you seemed to have similar concerns. Similar to Jessica's situation, you have a young six year old girl. She probably has a volunteer helping her write her letters. The letters are usually written on a scheduled day at the center, much like a school assignment, so that tutors can be on hand to help each child. 

It looks like you've been blessed to receive five letters from Silvia and then you've sent two to her this year! One thing you could do to help improve the correspondence with your child, is trying to responding to each letter you receive from Silvia. This way, as I told Shayna, your letters will be more fresh in Silvia's mind so that she can be more responsive to them. 

If after trying this, the letters do not improve, please let me know. 
(Edited)
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William Blair

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What if the sponsor children brought past letters with them on letter writing day? That way the staff can look over the letters and better help them answer questions. I've received many letters with the same things and most of the time with more information.

I've been to visit some of my sponsor kids and you definitely step into a different world.

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Emily

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Hi William! You're absolutely right, this would greatly help the child to address questions and ensure things are not consistently repeated in each response letter. The children are allowed to take their letters home to keep in a safe place and show to their families, however. Because of this, sometimes the child forgets to bring that letter back to the project on letter writing day. We encourage sponsor's to highlight and bullet point their questions and our staff can take note of these questions in their own records so that if the child forgets their letter on writing day, they are able to better help the child in responding to the past letter. 

I am so encouraged that you have been to visit your children! I know that it is something they will never forget and I hope you also enjoyed your time with them :). I actually see that you're going on another trip to Nicaragua in March with us! Have a safe and blessed trip. 
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William Blair

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Hi Emily.Actually I'm going to El Salvador in March.In one of the posts someone said her sponsor child wants to be a doctor.Mine in El Salvador does too.I'll talk to him about this when I am there.Something must have caught his attention at the doctor's office for him to want to do this.

I was there in 2012 and met some LDP students,2 that will be doctors.I'll tell him about that also.

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Marji Hughes

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
Same Letter Different Day.


My sponsored child recently graduated from the program. In the beginning, I believed strongly in this ministry, going through the training to become a volunteer child advocate & working tirelessly to increase awareness & help raise up sponsors. After a few years however, I began to loose heart. From the outset of the relationship, every letter I received from my sponsored child (and I have saved them all) had the same content - none of which was ever response to the content of my letters - not one of my questions was answered - not one attempt to connect was successful. I found myself essentially answering the same questions each time I wrote a response, only to have him ask them again as if it were the first time we had corresponded.
I contacted Compassion, but was given simplistic and what felt like evasive answers. While I continued to pray for the child and provide financial support, I eventually stopped writing letters and working as an advocate. I have lost confidence in Compassion and am therefore unable to commit to sponsoring another child - and that makes me sad on so many levels.
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Sarah

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If I may give my opinion - I have been sponsoring a child who is now 8 from Mexico since this past fall, and I also write to my boyfriend's sponsor child, a correspondent child, and just this past week decided to sponsor another. I love them all so much, and I pray for them everyday. I'm able to financially help two now. I recently told someone else this: God has given me a love for them that is bigger than distance, lack of letters, or future mistakes/bad choices. I would love them the same, even if they had a point where they doubted their faith in God. I get to know *of* them, and pray for them, and help meet the physical needs. That's the best part. If they write back and form a relationship with me, that's just a bonus blessing. So I encourage you, if you're still with Compassion, (and anyone else who looks at this thread) to not give up hope. Continue to show agape love, because it's what Jesus does for us and our prayers can make a difference that no letter can even reach. :)
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Cathee Kancel

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Very good point, Sarah. it is so fun to learn more about them and to build a connection. But even if your child doesn't write or isn't very responsive, God still had your lives merge for a reason. i believe the child or children you sponsor is the one/onesGod has put on your heart to make a difference in their lives. Also, your words of encouragement and hope and love will touch her/his heart, even if you don't get a reply about what you said. 
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Kellie McHale

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There's a reason people keep googling this question. No matter how good at HR /customer relations you are, the facts keep speaking for themselves. My sponsored child changes from a girl to a boy, never grows up, and has no idea who we are. The picture we have is two years old. You can't tell everyone the kids don't remember pictures or questions from age 5 & up. Every response from Compassion HR is the same, just different employees and longer explanations. I don't think Compassion is a scam, but I do think they need to focus some of their resources toward quality control concerning the people who "help" the kids write their letters. I feel as if they say "here draw a quick picture, what's your favorite game/pet, (we need to get through all of these so sponsors keep sending the money)."
(Edited)
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Stephanie Joan

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agree
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Sierra, Employee

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Kellie, I'm so sorry to hear that this is your impression of our letter-writing and sponsorship process. If you would like direct answers for all of your specific concerns (your child switching genders in letters, etc.), please let us know and provide us with your sponsor number, and we'd be happy to have a discussion with you. We are so thankful for your sponsorship and support of your sponsored child.
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Gini Hart

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Sarah and Sierra, 
I think you are missing the point here.  If Compassion is willing to manipulate this process, we cannot trust they are also behaving with integrity in every other manner, including the funding of the children.  Financial reports can be manipulated to look good.  In the end, trust is needed to be involved in something like this.  I can't blindly offer support to an organization that proves itself to be anything less than at least painfully honest!  I will wait to hear the response from my post made today before cancelling but at this stage it's unlikely I can continue without strong support of the authenticity of the letters.  I am told in the correspondence they come with that each child has only one sponsor.  Yet color brochures and pictures in professionally done literature with each letter makes it more than just a bit difficult to believe.  Sponsors likely want to support this type of effort.  But if we cannot trust the process, we cannot trust the organization.  Thanks for listening.  I sincerely hope to find out somehow I am wrong about Compassion but it is going to take some explaining, not sidestepping, in order to get there at this point.  Thanks again.
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Gini Hart

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P.S. I think I saw somewhere on the site there are over 1 million children in this program.  8x11 color copies run over $1/page.  At $1 per 8x11 color copy, which is actually low, that's $1 million per page per letter.  I get at least 2 pages back, so if that's typical, that's $2 million per child per letter sent ... hard to imagine that's possible.  Much more likely these are not single copies but each sent out to lots of people.  I'd like to help, but not if the organization feels they need to do this kind or manipulation to get funded.  Also super disappointing it's considered a Christian organization.  I sure hope to become convinced I am wrong.  Next reply from the org needs to be much more than hand holding and side stepping the real concern here.  Thank you 
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Shannon Massey, Employee

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Hi Gini, 

I am just going through your posts now to consolidate your concerns and will be responding above shortly. 
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abbyhick.8

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
help getting to know my child.


I have been a sponsor of a boy in Ghana since Aug 2009.  In those 6 years, with writing letters and him responding I still hardly know him.  It is really frustrating me - I pray that he will tell me something about himself - something different than what he has been telling me for years.  I guess I'm struggling to connect with him which is disheartening to me.  

Do you have any tips for me on how to connect better with him? 
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Emily

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Hi Abby! I am so sorry that you are not feeling connected to Augustine after having sponsored him for several years now. I merged your conversation because other sponsor's have also struggled with building a relationship with their child. We understand that the letter writing process can be frustrating. We appreciate the commitment you are making to bless his life with your letters despite the lack of information he tells you in his letters. We always encourage sponsors to consider this your own personal ministry to your child. While his responses may not be full of quality and value, you are still impacting his life in such a positive way. They do not always know how to express their thanks, or communicate their feelings, schedules, hopes and dreams to us in a letter. I encourage you to keep feeding love into Augustine and like Kaitlyn suggested, asking more specific questions to get him to open up. Even highlight or bullet point your questions to make a point of them. I pray that your relationship with him only continues to grow and become deeper as he gets older and the more that you write and respond to his letters. :)
(Edited)
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abbyhick.8

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Thank you, I appreciate it.  I have not lost hope in Compassion I truly believe in your program and I am excited to be apart of it.  
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Chuck Welch

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It is easy to wonder if this is a legitimate ministry. Do the children even exist? and if so, Do they get the benefits promised through sponsorship? We were invited to "visit" our child in Uganda, but the trip was not even to Uganda. I am confident I will never be able to visit Uganda and meet her in person, so trust is crucial. Hopefully there are administrative explanations, but it is very understandable to question the credibility of Compassion.
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Hilary Hopkins

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I do not work for Compassion, but I can tell you that the children most certainly do exist. I have gone on trips with Compassion and I have met 17 of my sponsored children. They have all shown me letters and pictures and gifts that I had sent them. I hope that a Compassion employee will reply to this and help to regain your trust in Compassion.
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Emily

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Chuck, I am a huge advocate for researching ministries I partner with before I invest time and money into them. We value you as a sponsor and I am saddened that our invitation to you has caused your trust in us to waiver. We are a ministry founded on Christ and as such, we value stewardship and integrity and want you to be confident in the impact you're making in your child's life. 

Without seeing the invitation you received, I am unclear as to what it said specifically. Was this an email invitation? If you're able to send us the email you received to socialmedia@compassion.com, I would be happy to take a look at it to clear up any confusion. If any links we provided you were incorrect, I deeply apologize and will pass this information along. Compassion has multiple trips throughout each year and often times the invitations to our sponsor's lead to the tours and visits page on our website. This page provides information on multiple upcoming tours to many of our countries, including your child's. Please know that our intention was not to provide you with inaccurate information. You can view our upcoming January 2015 tour to Uganda, here.

Although we do provide the opportunity to meet your child and see our projects at work first hand, we understand that this is not possible for everyone. Therefore, it is important to us that you have resources providing information on how your money is used and assurance that the investment you're making is helping to pull a child out of poverty. 

If you have concerns about our financial integrity, I would encourage you to please check out our ratings on Charity navigators or check our our budget. You might read this article in which a third party organization looked at the effectiveness of our programs in the 80's and 90's by interviewing former sponsored children.

I want to encourage you that Eva is a real child with value and potential. Your support is going towards programs that benefit Eva specifically in the four areas of holistic child development - economic, social, physical, and spiritual.  Most importantly, she is hearing the gospel and being told that she is loved and treasured by Jesus. I pray this information helps but please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any further questions about our ministry and we are happy to answer them for you. 
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Lindsee

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I don't work for Compassion either, but I trust in Compassion wholeheartedly based on the letters I have received from my sponsored children. I have not been able to visit any of my girls, and have only sponsored for a short time (less than a year), but I'm confident that the girls are real and that they receive my letters. So far, in the letters that I have received, the questions that I asked have been answered. I've also heard from others of funny questions or comments made by the children that I seriously doubt could be made up by an adult writing these letters as fake.
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heather o

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I think it is important to remember our kids don't have the same opportunities to do different things on a day to day basis that we do. It is also important to remember that our kids may not be able to express themselves well, whether it be because of age, shyness, or personality. I have had the pleasure of writing two wonderful young men in Uganda. They would repeat a few things in each letter but there were different points too. I can to realize the stuff they repeated was the stuff that was very important to them. One wrote of his dream to be a doctor and continually thanked us for a small gift we sent him and the letters, pictures, and stickers we sent. The other loves to update us on his grades and farming (we have that in common) and thank us for his gift, letters, pictures, and stickers. Both boys wrote wonderful letters but they were very different. One is very open about his life while the other a bit more reserved. The type of letters you get depend on a number of things, mostly the child's personality, age, and communication skills. The important thing to remember is to write your child and let them know that you and God love them and believe in them.
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Margie Manchester Scotten

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I can really understand all of that but we have sent pictures, asked very easy questions and still no response but things like "I go to school, I pray for you, I like _____ sport, we celebrate ______ holiday."   He is now 14 and I just think he could respond a little more which is why I am asking if my child is getting the money and or none is going to him.  We answer his questions. I am not doing this for letters or self gratification, I am doing it as a way to serve the Lord.  By the time my child ages out we will have supported him for 11 years.  This has not been easy as jobs have changed, lost, money decreased, medical bills in the thousands and putting a child through college.  We have not used our  money in a careless way and we have no debt but for the medical bills.  Even though it would be so easy to take the money we give to Compassion and pay those bills we are still committed to give this child money.  So you see, we really are giving to us, very much money.  I thank you for your reply. 
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Emily

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Margie, I understand your frustration and we certainly want to make sure Yader is doing alright and is receiving help in improving his letters. Your family has been so faithful in sponsoring this child for such a long time. You have had the opportunity to watch him grow and I want to encourage you that your child is still receiving assistance at the project through the support that you send. Please rest assured that if there ever comes a point when there is a change in your child's status in our program and he is no longer attending the project or receiving your support, we will be sure to contact you directly.

I know that Susan and I have been exchanging emails with you regarding your concerns and please know that we have contacted our field staff in Nicaragua regarding this issue. We are still waiting to hear a response from them but a few days ago I followed up with our country office and should hear back from them very soon. We will contact you as soon as we receive a response. 
(Edited)
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Emily

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Margie, I have heard back from our office in Nicaragua and have sent you an email with new letters from Yader and additional information :). Please let me know if you do not receive this email. Thank you SO much as I know you have been very patient with us regarding your concerns. Merry Christmas!
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PJ Martins

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I'm in the same boat, the child I'm sponsoring in Mexico is 13 years old, she also asks the same questions over and over, I had just sent her a letter earlier this year about a trip I went on in Mexico for vacation, yet the letter I received today asked if I've taken any vacations recently. In some of my letters I've even written in spanish with what I've learned from my wife and my trip to Mexico.
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Adam

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PJ, I'm so sorry to hear that you are frustrated and don't feel like your relationship with your sponsored child is developing the way you would like for it to. Please know that you are making a huge impact in your child's life and that she values and treasures every letter that she receives from you. Most of the time when children in the program receive a letter they immediately take that letter home and put it in a safe place to save them. I've heard of many children saving every letter that their sponsors ever send to them. Your child might receive a letter from you but then not sit down at the center to write you a letter until several weeks later and most likely they would not have the last letter you sent to them in front of them at that time. Also, each child is different but many children living in poverty in developing nations are much more comfortable with verbal communication and some may struggle with the concept of communication through writing. Your sponsored girl probably has a volunteer helping her with writing her letters to you and they may suggest certain topics or questions to her to ask or say in her letters. She may not know how to really express her thanks, or her feelings or all of the things going on in her life in a letter yet. I would just encourage you to view this as your own personal ministry to your sponsored child and keep on sending encouraging letters to her reminding her that she's special and that you love her and that our Heavenly Father loves her and treasures her deeply. Poverty tells children that they don't matter and that their lives won't amount to anything, but your letters are helping your child to not believe those lies and they help to give her hope for her future. Your child probably thinks the world of you. If you have a specific question that you would like answered in a letter, I would encourage you to highlight it or maybe list the questions in bullet points so they stand out more. I know it takes patience and the process can be frustrating at times, but please know that you are making a positive impact to help and bless your child even if she is not really able to communicate that to you yet.
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CherynP

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We're in the same situation as others commenting here. We have received 6 letters in 2 years of sponsorship. We've sent stickers, family pictures, and our children have drawn pictures. Not once were any of these items mentioned nor our Christmas or birthday cards. Hearing what was received for a gift (Christmas & Birthday) chosen by Compassion would be fantastic. We've also not received answers to any specific questions. We did start this as a family project. To be honest if it weren't for the automatic charge to our credit card we would long ago have lost heart in monthly contributions. Our church is having a rather large financial campaign right now. I've had to pray and search deeply to continue this sponsorship over a larger contribution to impact children here at home.
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Teresa Dawn

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CherynP  I have a kid like that too, but thankfully I have many kids (Most are correspondents so the financial part is not covered by me) so I know that it's not the norm with Compassion. 
If you are on facebook, there is a great facebook group called Compassion Correspondents that is really a great place for encouragement in your sponsorships :)  So many stories from people who, like me, do not work for Compassion and Can't afford to go see my kids first hand...  the stories are from people who do get to go and people share letters and photos of their kids as well as letter-writing ideas :)  It really lets you see how much difference we really do make in the kids life :) If you have facebook I'd encourage you to join.

On the other hand, if you have not had a letter in 6 months, Compassion staff will look into that for you :)
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Adam

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Hi CherynP. I know the letter writing process can be frustrating at times and I'm sorry that it's not going as well as you had hoped it would. It sounds like you are pouring a lot of love and encouragement into your sponsored child's life through your letters and not seeing all of the fruits of your labor yet, and I know that can be hard. I just want to encourage you that your child is receiving every card, letter, sticker, and picture that you send to them and that you are making a positive difference in your child's life. Poverty tells these children that they don't matter, but your family's letters of encouragement tell them that they do matter and that someone cares about them and believes in them. Your voice might be one of the only sources of encouragement and love in your child's life.

Many of the children in Compassion's program don't really grasp the concept of communicating through letters and your child might have a tutor helping them, especially is they are very young, and giving them suggestions on what to write about. I sponsor a little five year old boy and his letters are short, but I know that he loves getting my letters. We got a letter from his pastor describing the joy and excitement on the kid's faces when they received letters from their sponsors, and how sad the children were who didn't receive many letters. I love him dearly even though I don't know much about him and I know that if I keep writing that God can use my letters to bless him and work in his life. I would just encourage you to view this as your family's personal ministry to your child and keep writing to him or her and encouraging them and reminding them that God loves them and that they are special and important. Eventually, you will see the difference that you're making.

Also, the more often that you write, the more often you will receive letters back from your sponsored child. When your child gets your letters they will take them home and put them in a safe place and so they might not have your letter in front of them at the time they write back to you. I would encourage you to highlight your questions or put them in a bulleted list so that they stand out more and hopefully your child will then remember to answer your questions that way.

Thank you for choosing to bless a child in need. I know that you and your family mean so much to your sponsored child. Please don't lose heart. You are doing a wonderful thing.
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Emily

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Cheryn, do you and your family sponsor little Joyce in Kenya? I can definitely understand how hard it would be to start supporting a child with your family in hopes that your children would see the impact their letters and your support are making in your child's life, and feel like you're not seeing this come to fruition. Relationships are two way and we know that it can be tough when letters take 2-3 months to be delivered both ways and when your letters do not have responses to your questions or are not filled with new information each time. 

I am truly grateful that you have stuck with it over the last two years. We appreciate the investment you're making in Joyce's life and I want to encourage you, just like others have above me, that what your family is doing is providing the opportunity for Joyce to hear the word of God and be told that she is loved, valued, and treasured by the King. Your letters boost her confidence and show her that someone cares about her, is praying for her, and believes she is worth more than the lies that she receives from the poverty she lives in. 

My heart breaks hearing that you're struggling with the decision of whether to continue. After reviewing your account, I want to thank you so much for writing her letters. All children are required to write two letters per year to their sponsor but if their sponsor writes more often, they will write a response letter every sixty days in response to the letter they received. So for example, if you write every other month, you can expect up to six letters per year from Joyce. I see that she actually wrote you four letters in 2014. For a young child in their first year of sponsorship, this is wonderful! Often times, we encourage sponsors to wait a couple of years as the children catch up to the letters and get a handle on letter writing. Especially young children, who often times, this is a very foreign concept to them and they don't often know what to write because their lives are very similar day to day and most of their interactions are face to face where ours, we communicate in many different ways. She must be very eager and excited to send you letters as she's been responding to each of your letters! :) Even if she hasn't been able to express it to you through her letters, please know that they mean so much to her! Like Adam and Teresa mentioned, these children love to hear from and get to know their sponsors. Highlighting and numbering your questions will help Joyce's tutor to be sure and help Joyce answer the questions you have as she's still young and I'm sure wants to go out and play if she sees her friends outside :). It will also help because if Joyce forgets your letter at her home on letter writing day, she doesn't have it to refer back to when she writes you the next time. If you highlight specific questions, the tutor will take note of these before letting Joyce take her letter home, this way they have something to reference the next time she writes a letter. 

My prayer is that these tips and the advice Adam gave, help you in your relationship with Joyce. As she gets older, it's likely that her letters will become even more personal and have more information. However, if you continue to receive letters that repeat the same things over and over please send us copies of those letters to the address that Susan gave above, or if you ever go six months without receiving a letter, please let us know. I see that your family gave her your first birthday gift this month. Since gifts take 2-3 months to reach her, she hasn't received it yet. But once it reaches the project, they'll help her to make a wise decision on how to use this for her greatest need. Thank you for blessing her this way! You should receive an acknowledgment regarding this gift within six months. I would encourage you to ask her about it in your next letter to her though! 

Thank you for your patience as we work to make communications quicker and more efficient, and for your continued love and grace with Joyce as you're truly making a beautiful impact in her life. God is using you to build her up into the woman of God he's created her to be :). 
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CherynP

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I absolutely appreciate everyone's responses and encouragement.
Emily, yes our child is Joyce. I appreciate you looking up our correspondence - unfortunately the information you provided confirms my suspensions - she is not receiving our letters, drawings and gifts. I have 3 chosen and myself that send correspondence to Joyce. I chose to send them separately to increase the mail she receives. Only one of her letters appears to have been attempted by her, all others are written by a volunteer. Our most recent letter received was 2 sentences, the several before 4 - 6. I expected a language barrier, but wondered if the volunteers were/are quoting the letters without her input.
I will have to look up our credit card records, but clearly remember donating for Christmas and her birthday last year, we were excited to do so and made a big deal out of it with our kids - geography lesson and all to explain why we had to send it early. If Compassion doesn't have that on record, there wouldn't be a gift for her to mention.
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Teresa Dawn

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The Christmas gift goes to a Fund for all children, so that kids who are not sponsored get a Christmas present too, not all the kids mention these gifts, but all kids get them for sure :)  It works quite different than other child gifts that way.  If you've had more than 2 letters in a year she is getting your letters.  As for a birthday gift that was sent over 6 months ago, that should definitely be looked into by Compassion for you!
Kenyan kids will often write in English fortunately, so the language barrier will disappear as they get older but the little ones that have volunteers writing with them (which is usually age 8 and under) may have shorter attention spans and "not much to say".  Many of the littlest ones don't quite get the writing letter concept and don't understand why/who they are writing to exactly.  It'll come as she gets older for sure :)  My guess is that she just can't wait to get outside and play ball or sing songs with her friends :) However, when she gets your letters I bet she is overjoyed :)
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CherynP

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Thank you Teresa. I realized the Christmas gift find just yesterday when I looked into some if this. Emily started that Compassion records show only four letters from us in 2014, with 3 of my children and myself mailing separate correspondence - sometimes just art work there should be more on record. If they don't have it on record, then she's not receiving them I would think.
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Teresa Dawn

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Oh the four letters she mentioned was letters from Joyce to you, not the other way around :D  There are probably much more from you and your kids to her :)  Usually when asked they just let you know how many are going to you, rather than from you :)  They should be able to get a record of the other way too though I think, hopefully Emily can look at that for you too, they just don't check that automatically :)
(Edited)
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CherynP

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Oy. You're right! Thank you.
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Teresa Dawn

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You're welcome!  Hope that helps, and praying you'll hear from your child again soon :D
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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CherynP, according to our records, Joyce has received four letters from you in 2014 and three letters so far in 2015. This is a little more than the six over the last two years that you have mentioned above. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help with. We are happy to help!
(Edited)
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CherynP

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Susan, I misunderstood Emily's post earlier to read that Joyce has only received 4 letters from us in 2014. Teresa helped point this out. So I want to verify - you are looking at how many letters Joyce had received from, or sent to us?
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Cheryn, I apologize for the confusion. As Teresa explained, Emily was speaking of the four letters that Joyce has sent to you in 2014. Please understand that I was trying to fully answer your question of how many letters you sent to Joyce.
(Edited)
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Cheryn, also please note that Emily is only speaking of the year of 2014. I understand that you have received more than a total of four letters from Joyce since you began sponsoring her.
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CherynP

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Susan, I am concerned that Joyce is not receiving the letters we are sending to her.  As I've stated before - I have 3 children and myself that like to send drawings, stickers, short letters, etc... to Joyce.  I choose to mail these separately so that she receives many letters.  If there is only a record of (from you response) "Joyce has received four letters from you in 2014 and three letters so far in 2015. "  Then there is an issue from our home through Compassion on to Joyce.  I may mail separate letters at one time, or over a course of a week as my kids complete theirs.  We also have a special envelope with Joyce's name on it that my children can put a drawing/letter into until I am able to send it off into the mail.  So if I'm mailing off 2-4 letters at one time throughout the year, and she's only received 4 and 3 respectively, that would certainly be an additional explanation as to why she doesn't respond to anything of a personal nature - like our drawings, stickers, and family pictures. 
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Cheryn, 

I want to apologize as it seems that there has been quite a bit of confusion in this conversation. I can understand that you are upset, maybe even a little frustrated regarding Joyce's letters and I sincerely hope that we can win back your trust in our organization. Please know that I am here to serve you for as long as needed. I just want to confirm your concerns so that I can adequately address each of them to your satisfaction. 

As I was re-reading all of your posts on this very long conversation, it became clear that you seem to be concerned that Joyce is not receiving your letters because 1) she hasn't mentioned receiving your letters and gifts and clearly thanked you for them 2) the most recent letter you received was much shorter than the ones before which makes you think that she is not writing the letters herself. Am I understanding your concerns correctly? Please do let me know if there is anything that I have missed.  

Do you happen to have record of how many separate packages of paper gifts you and your three children have sent and when you sent them? That would really help me to be able to compare your records to ours to confirm what was received or not. 

Let me try to explain a little further what might be going on with Joyce and her letters. While Joyce is ten years old and should be writing on her own at this point, many of our children begin writing on their own gradually at about age nine as they feel confident and comfortable doing so. It could be that her tutors are still helping her write the letters, but she is required to be present, answer questions for the letter, and contribute to the letter herself. I just want to be honest with you that it is a process with many of these kids and some of them want so badly for their letters to be perfect for their sponsors that the idea of writing on their own is terrifying. It is also possible that as she gradually becomes more comfortable writing the letters on her own and gets used to the process, her letters may be a little shorter for a while.  It could also be a little overwhelming in Joyce's case in particular because she has so many people writing to her and sending her things so she might not be entirely sure how to respond to it all. 

That said, we ask the children to respond to each monetary and paper gift that they received and to respond to their sponsors' questions in their letters. If she has repeatedly not acknowledged receiving your letters and gifts, we can ask her tutors to work with her more closely to make sure that she does. I will send an inquiry to do this. However, I would like to address one of your other concerns when I send this inquiry. Would you be willing to send a copy of this most recent letter that was shorter than previous letters? That way, we can investigate to see if she wrote the letter herself and what the best route would be to correct this issue. Please send this letter copy in one of the following ways and I will follow up with the inquiry:

-Email: Scan and email the letter to socialmedia@compassion.com (Please write in the subject Attn. Susan) 
-Fax: Fax the letter to 719-487-4828 (This is my personal fax number)
-Mail: Mail the letter to:

Compassion International
Attn. Susan, SDR
Colorado Springs, CO 80997
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Cheryn, I wanted to let you know that I received your email and sent the inquiry just a few moments ago. Thank you for providing those letter copies! I will be in touch shortly with what we find out from our office in Kenya. 
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Teresa Dawn

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I don't know if this makes a difference or not... but Cheryn, you mentioned mailing several things at the same time... The child would receive them together because the projects only get mail once a month for most projects. 
Is it possible these are being counted as one mailing? 
I am happy to hear it's being looked into for you though! 
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Emily

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Cheryn, I pray you had a blessed Christmas! We have received a response from our office in Kenya regarding your concerns about your letters to and from Joyce. Susan is out of this office on holiday this week but I wanted to get this response out quickly to you. I sent you just send you an email with the information we've received. 
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CherynP

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I received you email. Thank you for looking into this.
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Emily

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Our pleasure, Cheryn! Thanks for your patience with us as we worked with our field staff and your child. God bless you and have a blessed rest of your week :).
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Jeremy

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I have all the same questions. I've written letters to our child on behalf of our family, and my daughter, 11, who was 7 or 8 when we started sponsoring our child, has written letters as well. Every time  we receive a letter they are addressed to me...my first name, even though I always ended our letter with all of our names. Letters my daughter has written, we've yet to see a reply saying anything like, "Hi Lily, thanks for writing me" or something more personal like that; like my daughter's letters are being read by our sponsored child and that she understands my daughter is writing her specifically and responding to answer her specific questions. I understand the differences in culture, shyness, etc. However, it is a little bizarre.

The red flag to me was that since I set up the account,  is my first name being used by default in responses? Is a child, my sponsored child, even writing my letters? It seems a little scripted... robotic...and impersonal. There has been nothing answered to questions we've written. In addition to always asking specific questions about school and family, we wrote and sent pictures of our family and pictures our new baby boy. Our replies contain nothing referencing what we've asked. I mean, being her sponsor for 4 years or so, you'd think that a reply would contain some kind of excitement or reference to our new baby boy. I'm not saying I need our child to say anything about our baby, but it would seem like a legitimate response if ANY letter contained something that seemed like our letters were being read and comprehended by a live person. Also, my latest letter was addressed, "Hi dear sponsor"... never "Hello Smith Family!" or something a real person would write that we've been writing for 4 years or so.  It also is casting a cloud of doubt over my daughter who I'm trying to instill good values, that giving to a charity is a responsibility we are fortunate enough to be able to take part in. Also, why do the letters seem like scans? It would be nice to get the real letter... and feel real crayons being drawn on the paper... it's weird.

(Edited)
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Sierra, Employee

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Hi Jeremy! I'm so sorry for the frustration that's been caused by the lack of personable responses to your letter. :( Everything Teresa said is correct. If you would like us to, we would be happy to change the name on your account to reflect each individual family member, so your child can know who all she is writing to, rather than "Sponsor".

As a general rule, the project staff does an excellent job teaching the children how to respond to letters. However, keep in mind, children may not have their most recent letter with them when they reply. This means they may have forgotten questions that were asked in a previous letter, or pictures you sent, etc. These children also communicate verbally; letter writing tends to be a foreign concept to most of them. Many of them do use scripted responses or prompts written on a board by their tutor.

The letters you receive are copies of your child's original letter, which means the drawings, etc. are all hers, but they're copied and scanned in order to save money and get the letters to you more quickly. Please let us know if you have any other questions, or if I didn't explain something you had a question about!
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Cathee Kancel

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I always assumed they had the letter with them they were responding to. I feel that would lead to better communication between the child and his/her sponsor to actually what he /she is responding to adn ot asnser specific questions.
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Sierra, Employee

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That is a great point, Cathee! The reason the children don't have letters with them when they respond is because they will often take the letters home with them and leave them in a special place, and then not bring them the next time they attend the center.
(Edited)
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Cathee Kancel

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Can you make copies before they take them hom
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Christina, Employee

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Hi Cathee! We greatly appreciate your helpful feedback and suggestions :). Each church that we partner with typically has a couple hundred children in their program. Regrettably, many of these programs do not have the resources available to make copies of every child's letter to keep at the student center. This would require a lot of time, paper, electricity, storage room, etc. We want to ensure the field staff are able to invest their time and efforts into providing holistic support to the kiddos. I understand your desire to receive more answers from your child. We have seen some great results from supporters listing out their questions, numbering them, or even highlighting their questions :). This will bring more attention to the questions your child should be answering, and it will make your questions stand out to the tutors as well. I hope this is helpful! Thank you so much for your patience, grace, and understanding, and we are happy to take your feedback into consideration :). Have a blessed day! 
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Jennifer

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Some centers keep crazy good records. I was shocked when visiting my child and seeing her records: they had handwritten a copy of every letter she wrote to me for tracking purposes. I don't think we'd have patience for that here!
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Meg

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What doesn't make sense to me is that Compassion International insists that writing letters is a foreign concept to the children in their programs, and the kids can't remember photos or questions they received in letters from their sponsors (because the kids only write back on letter-writing day.) After many years, older children should be able to remember basic information about their sponsor and his or her family (whether the sponsor has children or pets).  The youth I sponsor through other Christian-based programs are able to write and to respond to questions, even though their command of English is not perfect. They acknowledge the bookmarks and gifts I have sent.  I sometimes also receive photos of my sponsored child, holding the most recent letter I sent.
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Christina, Employee

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Meg, I am deeply sorry for any doubts or frustration caused by our responses to these types of questions about child letters. I hear your concerns, and I respect your perspective and opinions. We are grateful for your heart for this ministry and your desire to foster relationships with children in need. Please know that our desire is for every sponsor to have this opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with their child. I am glad to hear that you are having a good experience with writing to your other children, and we’re happy that you are fulfilling the calling God has placed on your heart. We appreciate you asking these questions, and I’m happy to help.

When we say that letter-writing is a foreign concept for many of the beneficiaries in our program, we are usually referring to the younger kiddos because letter-writing is typically outside their experience and knowledge. Of course, there may be many reasons for a child to not write well or not know what to say. For example, many children may feel timid or have a lack of confidence when it comes to writing. It is also quite common for children to be behind in their schooling due to a lack of opportunity or funds to pay for school fees. Therefore, we have the younger kiddos write using form letters where they can fill in blanks and circle their answers. As the child gets older, they will begin to write their own letters without the assistance of a tutor. Also, as they begin writing, they might rely heavily on the subjects or topics recommended by the tutor, so their letters may seem similar. Our hope is that their confidence in writing may grow stronger over time. 

When a sponsor is writing regularly, about once every 1-2 months, a good letter-writing relationship should be built over time. If this is the case, then I completely agree that older kiddos should begin to remember some information about their sponsor and be able to answer questions. However, to err is human, and they might still forget some answers to questions previously asked. I know that I have asked my own sponsor child some same or similar questions a couple of times, and he might think the same thing of me. I don’t always have the time or the ability to go back and re-read all of his letters, which may result in similar topics being discussed. My hope is that he will be gracious and understanding of my forgetfulness :). 

Please know that even if your children have not acknowledged each letter or bookmark in the past, they have indeed received everything you’ve sent. If there were any reason we were not able to deliver your letter or items to your child, we would have notified you and let you know why. I completely understand your desire to receive a confirmation since you were sending letters to children across the world, but please rest assured that your items were indeed successfully given your children. When a monetary gift over $20 is sent, the child is required to write a special letter to thank their sponsor and let them know what was purchased. Due to the time required for gifts to be processed, delivered, and utilized, it may take up to six months to receive a thank you letter.  

I cannot express how sorry I am to hear of the doubts you have about Compassion and that your letter-writing experience did not meet your expectations. We sincerely look forward to earning your trust and proving our hearts for serving our sponsors and children with excellence.
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Teresa Dawn

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I am not staff but if it helps, the kids Address letters to whoevers name is on the account as that is how they are instructed to do so at the projects. You can get your daughter's name added to the account to and then letters would be addressed to her as well if you want to. Also as far as the letters being scanned, they are now scanned in order to save money on Postage and time for delivery so that we can get them quicker. You are able to request that you got the original letters though and if you log into your online account it gives you the option to get the letters as scans or Originals. If you get the original letters it will have the child's crayon accept her on it but it might take several months longer to reach you as it will not be mailed until there is Enough original letters going out at once to save money on postage. Also the original letters are not translated because the scanner is what translates them, so if your child is writing in English that would be fine. Are there way the letters will be available on your account and they should be translated to there the translation will just not be written on the original letter. You would also be able to see them ahead of time on your account and you would get them on the account before they arrive in the mail. Anyways like I said not staff, I'm sure somebody that works for compassion will be able to help you more tomorrow
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Sierra, Employee

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Thank you, Teresa! That's some awesome insight. :)