What is my child's first name?

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My child in uganda has a really long name. He signs his letters with the name that looks like it should be his first name. Why is it backwards? How should I address him?
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Brett Goodlin, Stewardship Specialist / Finance Division

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Posted 8 years ago

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Shaina Moats

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It is not uncommon for the name of an African child to look backwards. In African countries, equal pride is taken in the tribal name and personal names. So, often the tribal name will be listed first (Nigira John). A child may be comfortable being addressed by either name. We suggest you note which name the child signs on their first letter or two. That would be the name to use in your future correspondence.
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kimariepina

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Hi!

I sponsor two children, one in Nicaragua and one in Rwanda. I select the children to match the birthdays in our family and when I selected a young girl to match my birthday, her name came up in a way that made it seem her last name was listed first and her first name was listed last on the Compassion sponsorship information. I've written letters to her using the first name that appeared on the sponsorship information and after a couple letters from her, it turns out that I've been addressing her by her last name instead of her first name. In her last letter, the staff person in Rwanda who helped her with the letter used the name that came last on the Compassion sponsorship information as her first name!

I feel silly for this mistake but as I checked on Compassion's website for other children from Rwanda in need of sponsorship, it seems like it's the same way for many of them - their first name is listed last while their last name is listed first, with no comma in between or anything signifying that their last name appears first. It probably would seem obvious to most people which name is the first and which one is the last but since it's a different country, I didn't want to address her by the wrong name. Is there any way for Compassion to correct this? In all of the correspondence I receive from Compassion, you all are using her last name as her first name. I'm guessing this is how the information was given to Compassion but it's a little confusing.

I'm not sure if any of what I've written makes sense but hopefully it does :) Thanks for your help!

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
African names (specifically Rwanda).
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Beverly Crimmins Sarchet

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
not sure which is the first name.


Hi, I have a new child on my account (correspondent) and I am happy he is there.  My problem is that I suspect his first and middle names might be listed after his last name.  Is there a way to find out which is correct?  I haven't received any letters from him yet, of course, so I can't check them, but is there some record of how he signs his name?  His name is listed as Louvensky Jean Baptiste.  (HA2613600).  Could it actually be Jean Baptiste Louvensky? I may just have to guess and go with my best judgement until I hear from him, unless there is another way to find out.  Thanks so much, Bev
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Susan, Sponsor and Donor Relations, Social Media

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Hi Beverly! We often see last names appearing first for both African and Central American children, particularly in Haiti. It looks like your sponsored child goes by Louvensky though. 
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Marissa

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This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
New child's name.


I received a correspondent child yesterday, and I am very excited to write to her! It says that her name is Mary Njeri. However, it lists her personal name as Njeri. Do you think I should address her as Mary or Njeri?
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Rowena C

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I have the same question with my new correspondent child from Uganda - his name is Owere Boniface but is addressed as 'Boniface' in the personal details page. I am excited to send a letter as soon as possible but am not sure how to address him. Any advice would be really appreciated! :-)
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Rowena C

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Hi Emily, I sent the email 3 days ago, but forwarded it to you. Please let me know if you do not receive it as it's somewhat lengthy! Thank you again!
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Emily

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Rowena, this definitely concerns me if you sent the email 3 days ago as I should have received it by now. Did you reply to socialmedia@compassion.com? I just checked our inbox and I still do not see a reply from you. Is it possible for you to send it again? I am so sorry for this inconvenience; I want to make sure I get it and can address any other questions or concerns that you have. 
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Rowena C

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Hi Emily, I have forwarded it to the address you provided. I realized I sent it to the wrong address; I simply replied to the email address from which your first reply was sent! Thank you and I hope you get it this time!
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Emily

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Rowena, I have good news! I received your email and just sent you my reply :). I am still confused why I didn't receive it the first time but thank you so much for your patience and for sending it again! Please let me know if I can answer any other questions for you. 
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Sara Hill Loggins

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I work with people who are from Africa and this is how some of them name their children there.  I am told that it is difficult to trace family trees because they make the fathers last name their childrens first name, so it gets very confusing.  I think I would just ask the child what they want to be called and explain to them your confusion or just go by how the child signs his/her letters.  There are many ways to name a child and many other countries have a more flexible naming system than the fixed naming systems of Europe and America for example.
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