Letters

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We started our sponsorship in June and received a very generic letter from Niyomukiza August 2nd. My children and I have wrote numerous letters and have sent him monetary gifts, gifts for his family as well as Christmas. This was a family endeavor involving giving up a monthly family activity to show our commitment. My children are very depressed that they have heard nothing at all from him and are asking if they could help someone else because he doesn't seem real to them. We also asked for both digital and hard copies of his letter and have never received the hard copy of the generic letter. . Our kids no longer even ask if we received a letter from him. Sadly we are close to canceling our sponsorship.

Theresa (Teri)
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Theresa Spenske

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  • saddened and frustrated

Posted 2 years ago

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DONNA DUFOUR

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I have been a sponsor for approx. 9 years now and have the same concerns. I had contacted Compassion about this and was told to ask specific questions - even numbering them. Very little changed. And I also do not understand why my child who is turning 18 this year has never personally written a letter to me which would then be translated.
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Donna, I am so sorry for the many years of frustration and disappointment at not getting what you hoped in the letters from your child. 

I know you had contacted us seven years ago or so about this issue. At the time, we told you to underline or number your questions to make them stand out and even had staff try to work more closely with Nyirarekeraho to write more personal letters. I am sad to hear that her letters have not improved. 

Hopefully, you can understand that I am not trying to make excuses at this point, but just want to explain a little bit of what may have happened here. The letters are often a struggle for the children. It can be tough to know what to say to someone halfway around the world whom they know little about but who has invested so much in their lives. From what I have heard, it's almost like trying to build a relationship with a celebrity - they absolutely adore their sponsor but struggle to think of what to say sometimes. Also, in some cultures, it may even be considered vain to discuss so many personal things about themselves. Letter writing as a medium is a foreign concept to many cultures that are more familiar with oral communication face-to-face. Lastly, the children are also living in extreme poverty and face challenges that no child should have to face. Sometimes it can be tough to do well when you are struggling for your next meal. 

I noticed that in your last few letters to Nyirarekeraho you did not ask her questions, but just said "I hope you can tell me..." I am hoping this is not because you stopped asking questions a long time ago because you weren't receiving answers. :( I wanted to encourage you that our new system is designed to recognize sponsor questions and to automatically take note of these questions for the child to make it easier for them to respond to these questions in the next letter. If you were to frame your questions in question form, the system will take note.

At this point, it has been many years, and I am frankly trying to figure out where to go from here. What would you like to see in your child's letters? If I were to ask staff to work with her again, what kind of information would you want her to share? What would you want her to respond to? How can we make this right?
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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Teri, I am so sorry for the discouragement you and your precious family have felt because of the lack of correspondence and personal connection with Boris :(. I can see that you have written a total of four letters to him and sent two child gifts as well as the Christmas gift to him, which I know delighted him to receive! The first letter that you received from a Compassion child does tend to be more generic as it is an introduction letter. I did actually love seeing that he listed out his family members for you and wanted you to know that he is praying for you though :)! Most likely, he wrote this letter before he had received your first letter. It currently takes two to three months for letters to be delivered between sponsors and children, though we have a new system in place that will speed up that process once it is running efficiently. I do want you to know that a second letter from Boris is currently being translated. Once it is done being processed, it will be placed on your account where it will be ready to read. The relationship with a newly sponsored child can take some time to get rolling, but once it does you should start to see letters from him come in more quickly if your family continues to write often as well. I did check on your letter preferences and saw that you are correct about receiving an email and printed copy of the letter. I resubmitted the first letter from him to be printed and mailed to you, which you should receive in the next two weeks. I am sorry that you didn't receive the first copy! Teri, your family has been wonderful to Boris already, and I know it's been difficult to feel like he isn't real. I am hoping that Boris' personality truly shines in his next letter to you, and that your family is able to enjoy sponsoring him over the years!

I also wanted to give you a little insight into Boris' experience as a Compassion child. I looked in his file to see if there was any further information about his sponsorship history and there was. Boris was sponsored by someone else just after he was registered in the program in 2014. One thing that makes Compassion's program so special for the kids is the letters that they receive from their sponsors that are full of encouragement and hope. Boris never received a letter from that sponsor. I personally can't imagine how much that must have broken his heart when there were other children in his center hearing from their sponsors. We require the children to write to their sponsors at least twice per year whether their sponsor writes back or not, so Boris was writing to his sponsor for two and a half years without receiving any word back. As a young, impressionable boy, I can't imagine how much that had to hurt. I am sure that the letters he has received from you have warmed his heart and put the biggest grin on his face. Knowing that someone who you've never met in person is praying for you and believes in you is one of the most empowering things in the world. He may be timid in his letters at first, but keep investing in this boy. I know that you will be amazed at just how much God will be able to do through your impact on his life!
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Theresa Spenske

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Just so you know our sweet boys name is Niyomukiza from Rwanda. So not sure if you are looking at the right sponsorship.
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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Hi Teri! Sorry for the confusion. Yes, your child's name is Niyomukiza Boris. Culturally, Rwanda actually puts the last name first. Sorry! Don't let that mess you up in letters. If he signs his name Niyomukiza, then call him that when writing to him too :).
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Theresa Spenske

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That kind of makes me sad. As a suggestion in the future if that information could be given to sponsors in the welcome package it would be helpful. We have spent months referring to him by his last name which seems rather impersonal.
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Jennifer

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I have a few different African children, and most of the names are listed in the "American" way, but I have one who isn't. I think maybe a few slip through the cracks. An African friend explained once that they "reverse" it because the family always comes first ahead of the individual. Your child probably won't mind.
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Sarah, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Theresa, many American sponsors call their child by their easier first name instead of their last name because they are pretty hard to pronounce. If your child is signing his name as Niyomukiza in letters, we do recommend calling him by that name because that is what he would like to go by. I'm so sorry for the confusion. You are not doing anything wrong or impersonal by calling him Niyomukiza instead of Boris.

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