Letters same/Says Hungry no food??

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My letters from both children I sponsor are the same never really giving me personal information. I feel an adult is writing all these with no input from my children. Now he didn't celebrate his birthday because of hunger? Is that true or making me feel guilty because I don't send extra money? I don't want to be critical but I don't want to be used. I write my kids a lot and send stickers and coloring pages. I'd like more personal letters from them.
I'm getting ready to do a compassion international Sunday with my church and I want to make sure that other people don't feel the same if they sponsor.
Thank you
Despina

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Despina Henry Rogers

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Posted 2 years ago

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Denise Bailey

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I am another sponsor and have been sponsoring for 15 years. An employee will get back with you on Monday.  I don't think they are asking for money.  Most of our kids do experience hunger, probably almost every day.  I get letters from my students in Kenya and they say, "pray for rain."  They couldn't even plant crops because of the drought! Africa is going through a very bad time.  Sudan is on the verge of a famine crisis because of dry weather.  It is a reality for them.  I wish I could send some money but right now things are a bit tight for us. (Summer is our slow down for our business.)   I haven't heard much about Rwanda and my student there graduated over a year ago.  You can google some information to see what you find out.  Here is an article I just found on Google.        
          http://www.fews.net/east-africa/rwanda/key-message-update/january-2017

 Since you have had more than one letter talking about a hunger problem, perhaps the employees that answer your question on Monday can advise you about Rwanda and maybe even do an inquiry for you!   Don't be discouraged about that letter.  Since they mentioned it, ask them about it.  Our sponsorship provides a meal when they go to the center which the older students generally once a week and the primary twice a week.  Preschool is once a week, too, I believe.  $38 isn't enought to feed them.  In Guatemala it is very expensive for school.  I talked to someone who has a ministry there and they only charge $38 per month for sponsorship because they are matching Compassion.  They said it is $60 to $70 per month just for school.  They have fund raisers for the rest of the money but they are a small organization and can do that.  

Are you in the Facebook group called, "Compassion Sponsors and Correspondents Facebook Forum" because there are some sponsors that share letter ideas.  I have used some and got good response from some of my kids!  

Hope you can find out what is going on at your students' centers and what the issues are for your kids!
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Julie Alton Porter

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Despina (what a pretty name!), I think your kiddos are simply sharing their reality with you. Can you imagine what their lives are like? We can't even wrap our brains around not being able to celebrate a birthday, not because there wasn't enough money for presents (which has happened in our family from time to time), but because they are hungry?
The fact that a child/center living in these circumstances took the time to write to you at all is evidence of how much your support means to them.
I have started lately trying to answer each letter the same day I receive it. I always make sure to mention things that were said in their letter, modeling how letters can be like conversation, and then I tell them about something I am doing and ask them questions, trying to go beyond the "what is your favorite color" level of questions. That has dramatically increased the level of conversation that is going on between us, but it's a slow process. Letter writing is not necessarily a well-known skill in many of the countries Compassion serves.
Blessings to you for sharing Compassion with others, and for the important lifeline you are to your sponsored kids!
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Despina Henry Rogers

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Thank you for responding. I agree , it's hard to understand hunger. This is a great group . Such positive thoughts and help
Thank you
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Beth

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Seeing the letter, I think the child is simply stating a fact. Unless you have extra money and time, celebrations are optional. Food is a necessity.
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Jenny Kim

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I think the child is just honest with what he is saying and he doesn't mean anything. He is just sharing what is going on in his life with you. I would like to hear these things to find out how my child's situation is so, that I know I am helping someone in need. Also, to pray for this child's situation and that I can provide a monetary gift at times when I have some extra money to give ut to. The reality is sad, but I think it's a good sign that your child is open to share these things with you. You know their needs and you can simply pray to God that he will provide more for your child.
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Bethany

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To me, the letter sounds sweet and thankful towards you. :)
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Mr. & Mrs.Hughes

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Your child probably had help with the letter, but he seems sincere. I've learned from reading other posts and answers, that other countries don't put the same emphasis on birthdays as we do. There is just to much death,and the struggle for life is to real and all consuming. Even with help from you and compassion, the families work horribly hard just to live, my guatamalian boy bought food and a cake to give to his family with his birthday and Christmas money, and was proud to be able to help out.
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Jenny Kim

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Me too. When I sent a first monetary gift to my children, they mostly bought food and clothing. My boy was able to celebrate his birthday with a bread cake and drinks with my small birthday gift. 
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Julie Alton Porter

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It was actually a really good lesson for my kids: The first time we sent birthday money to our Ritu in Bangladesh, she used it to buy a blanket for her mother and a goat for her father. I asked our daughters: "Do you see anything she bought for herself?" Over the years, Ritu always buys goats with the extra gifts I send. She told me in her last letter (she's 20 now) that over the years she has been able to have 102 goats! Obviously she's sold some over time, because she currently has a herd of 22 goats. Such an enterprising young woman!!
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Beth

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Julie, It is so inspiring to hear that! I love it when sponsored kids/families can use the money to make a lasting improvement like with the goats. I was so thrilled when the Compassion center helped one of my widowed mothers buy a stove with the gift money and set her up selling food at a stand. Now she has a source of income to help buy food for her family. My child is well aware of their dire financial situation, and I know he is very happy to see the improvement for his whole family.
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Despina, I am very sorry for the concern that your child's letters have caused. I know several others have shared their experiences here but let me just explain a little further. 

I'll never forget a conversation I had with a pastor in Eastern Africa a few years ago. He lives a middle class lifestyle and is better off than many of the families we work with here at Compassion. Yet, he was baffled that I had never had to go without food due to lack. I have fasted by choice but never been forced to go without food. Everyone he knows has had to go without food for a few days, especially if it means that their children can eat even if the parents can't. These are choices and challenges that we have a hard time fathoming because there is consistent food security where we live. Regrettably, 705 million people live in the reality of struggling to feed themselves and their families, sometimes having to go without food, and having to choose between a birthday party and simply eating.  

This is the reality and the challenge that we are facing with all of our children. If they didn't need assistance, they wouldn't be in our program. And regrettably, poverty is a problem that is not solved overnight. Our goal is to release children from poverty long term through empowerment not create a dependency on a handout. This type of work typically takes more time than just a feeding program. That said we do want to keep the children alive and healthy while we are teaching and training them skills to break free from poverty. The children are fed when they come to the center on Saturdays. We also provide additional supplements and food for children who are malnourished. All of these helps do not prevent a child's family from having to choose between a birthday party and the family eating. Also, I will say that when children live in families that are struggling to put food on the table, their letters may not be perfect because they have quite a few other stressors in their young lives. 

It is likely that a tutor helped your child write letters, just like a teacher in a classroom here in the US would help students write letters. I remember when I was in elementary school, I had to write thank you letters in class to the people who we met on field trips. At Compassion centers, if the child is able to write, the child will write themselves, but may get some help with trying to decide what they might say in the letter. If the child is not able to write, the tutor will sit with the child and dictate what the child would like to say to their sponsor.

In addition, letter writing is often a foreign concept in the areas where we work. I have seen child letters that are repetitive and have little personal information. In looking at your children's letters, I do not see this repetition. They write different things in each letter. What I do see is that they write in a formal style. Honestly, everyone that I know in Africa would write letters like your children have written, especially when writing a letter to someone who has supported them financially. I hope you can see that the formality is just a reflection of them wanting to show respect to you as their sponsor. This is a foreign concept for us, because children here are so casual and are not taught to show respect to elders like in other cultures. We expect a child to write to us in the same casual, chatty manner that an American child would, but that is not their culture. This is what I see in your child's letter - he is trying to show you respect but is also telling you what is truly going on in his life. 
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Patty

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Hi Everyone!  Hope this information helps in getting a better idea of life in Rwanda:

I just met an Ex-Compassion child from Rwanda who is now 26 years old.  He is a survivor and a success story of  Compassion International.  He graduated from the LDP program that essentially also paid for his Bachelors Degree at the University of Rwanda.  He is currently on scholarship studying for his Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering at the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

Hunger was normal growing up-- everyone experienced it.... it was normal and nothing extraordinary. The day would begin as soon as you would wake up--- now off to the well with your cans or whatever you could carry.  For him.... it was a 1.5 km walk one way and back.  You had to get to the well early so the line up wouldn't be too long as there were hoses that you would fill your containers with.  He grew up in a family with 9 children.... it was normal to fetch water about 3x a day.

There was no electricity and no running water in his home.  For light, they would use kerosene lamps in the evening.  They slept on woven mats -- at some point, compassion International did give out small mattresses that they shared with their family.

Compassion International was 1x a week -- Saturdays. He would walk about 8.5 km one way to the Child Center.  It was a privilege and a life-saver for him to have been accepted into the program.  It was a delight to make the journey on foot to the Compassion Center. He would get a delicious meal there-- he got eggs which was a luxury! Once a month, regardless of how many in a family, each Compassion Child in his center would be given rations of certain food staples to take home-- example 20 kg of beans--- everyone in his family looked forward to this. Compassion also took care of his school fees which was about 35 US dollars a year.  They also supplied him with notebooks, pens, pencils, essentially school supplies and the uniform he was required to wear.  This helped with his siblings because he shared his school supplies and his uniform too.  Every year he would get new ones and could pass down the old ones to younger siblings or to others in the village, relatives, etc.

His medical care was supervised and taken care of by Compassion International .  At one point, he was hospitalized and Compassion International took care of the hospital bills and care.  

His sponsor never sent extra gifts (birthday, general or family) but it didn't matter-- he was just grateful to be in the program as so many wanted to be but did not fit the parameters and were turned away.  

Kids at his center who did not have a sponsor did not really care because they were at least in the program and received the same benefits as the others who did have a sponsor.

Obviously, if you have a sponsor who does write and does send gifts.... kind of a bonus but absolutely not expected.

These kids are focused on survival-- bare minimum survival. If they had food and a place to sleep that was already considered blessed. 

So... yes... I think when your child wrote no birthday celebration because of hunger--- yes.. they were not even thinking of asking their sponsor for a gift but just stating a fact..  Birthdays are not really celebrated there -- Christmas was a big celebration and that would be for feasting and celebrating.

I was shocked, floored and completely humbled  when I asked my new friend ..... " So how many times did you eat for example... chicken? "  He replied... very straightforward, " Yes, of course we had chicken! My mother always went to Kigali (the capital) to get 2 kg of chicken so we could as a family, celebrate Christmas!" -- that 2 kg of chicken fed 12 people (2 adults and 9 kids) for about 2-3 meals over Christmas time.  A great Blessing!

Hope this sheds some light on their lives their and why they might write something like that and how it doesn't mean they are asking for extra funds.  When you are that focused on surviving , the idea of the possibility of more doesn't even come into play.  Compassion is really targeting the poorest of the poor.  
(Edited)
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Beth

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Patty, Thank you for sharing. I found this very interesting, even though my child isn't from that country.

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