Does anyone else sponsor a child…
through an organization like Compassion International or World Vision? Or even a secular version–I’m just not familiar with those.
(Fair warning: I’m not sure this is the best place to put this, but I wasn’t sure any other forum was any better?)
I’ve sponsored a little girl in Peru named Isabel since last summer, and the organization I work with (Compassion International) encourages sponsors to write their children regularly. I’m just psyched to be a part of this little girl’s life, so I try to write her regularly (my goal is once a month, at least), but the more I write to her, the more stumped I am for things to talk about! Other Compassion sponsors, what do you talk to your kids about? Or just in general, what do you write to a little child month after month just to make sure they know you care and that you want to be involved in their lives, when communication is so disjointed (getting a response to one of my letters takes approximately 4 months–by then, I can’t even remember what I wrote!), and she’s too young to try and answer a ton of questions, anyway.
If I was standing in front of her right now, if I could hang out and play and be invested in her life person-to-person, I would know exactly what to do. But what do you say when you’re half a world away and communication is so hard? I feel like I’ve exhausted every topic I can possibly think of (her favorite color, her family, her favorite Bible story, the seasons, vacations, the beach, her favorite subject in school, etc.). What am I leaving out?
We sponsor a seven year old Ugandan girl named Elizabeth, an eight year old Indian boy and a ten year old Indian boy, George and John, and a three year old Russian boy, Kirill. We have one for each of our actual kids. My kids write letters to them and draw them pictures, it’s a really cool way for them to learn to be giving and to love. We ask questions like what they do in school, what their favorite church songs are, etc.
Can I ask which organization you sponsor through? I would have loved to sponsor a European/Russian child, but it’s mainly Central/South American, Asian, and African children through the organization I use. That sounds like a great opportunity for your children! When I get a bit more stable financially, I hope to add a little Brazilian boy. I really want to be able to go visit Isabel, too, someday, but I just don’t have the money or resources right now.
I think part of the problem is that when they’re as young as Isabel is, they usually use this worksheet thing, where they can check off what their favorite chore is, or their favorite Bible story, etc., so there’s only a very tiny space for them to write what they want to say. And most of that ends up being something along the lines of “this is Isabel’s tutor greeting you on Isabel’s behalf. She says hello, and yes she is doing well. She asks that you pray for her and her family. She says good-bye with kisses and hugs.” Which I love, but it’s the same with every letter, and she doesn’t really respond to my questions yet, so it almost feels like pulling teeth just to try and get to know her? So I’ve asked about several topics, with very few answers. But the songs is a good idea! I know some of her favorite things to do are sing and dance and draw/color. So maybe I could build off of that somehow.
Elizabeth is through World Vision. George & John are through friends we have that are living in India. Kirill is from a small orphanage in Russia that has a sponsorship program. Before my youngest was born, we lived in Russia and we actually knew Kirill, and then we decided to sponsor him.
TwoSapphiresParticipant5 months, 3 weeks ago
I know what you mean. We have sponsored a boy in India for around 5 years now and I run out of things to talk about, too. I think especially with a child so young and not getting responses, I can see how it’s hard. I try to share simple things about us and the boys, a funny little story, what they like to do, something we did together as a family, our own favorite Bible stories, etc.
I try not to just write stuff, but also send little things, like the stickers and the paintings and the little book I sent her, etc. She loves to color and draw, so I’m thinking about seeing if I can find something that she might like that fits the mail specifications for Compassion. I guess I’m just finding this unnecessarily hard? All the little girls (especially!) adore me at my church, and I adore them, but it just seems really hard to get to know Isabel with so much space and time in between us, especially when I love her so much already.
I wish I did have something I could tell her about my life, haha. I basically make salads at work, search for editing jobs when I get home, sleep, eat, and do ministry stuff when I can. My birthday’s in 8 days, so I’ve thought about bringing that up, but it almost felt like bragging? Her birthday is in May, so I’ve been sending her “Happy Birthday!” messages, and I’ve sent the money for them to buy her a birthday gift, so I thought it might be appropriate to mention it in passing, or even that my brother’s birthday is a couple days apart from hers, but I’m not used to talking to a child about my life, lol.
-Send her a picture of the salads you make at work, I think she would find our food interesting.
-Do you have any pets? Send her a picture of those, tell her their names, etc.
-Tell her your daily routine. Basically just what a day looks like in your life. Tell her what time you get up in the morning, when you go to sleep, how long you work for and what you do, etc. Not only will she find it interesting, it is educational!
-Talk about your best friends, and send a picture of what they look like. Say what they like to do, what their names are, etc.
-What is your favorite flower? Get one and laminate it and send it to her. Preferably one she wouldn’t have in her own country.
-Fun Band-Aids! Because everyone likes those
@vivnoles – omgoodness, so many good ideas! I know Compassion has a blog about letter-writing suggestions, but I always forget to look on there. And they always suggest talking about spring a couple months in advance, so by the time the child gets the letter, it’s appropriate for that time of year. I always forget to think that far ahead, lol. So I’m asking her about summer when it’s nearly October. Fail. :/
The flower idea is a great one! I tried pressing some colored leaves this fall, and then putting them through the laminator, but then the laminator ate up the leaves (we still haven’t figured out how to get them out!) because it was so thick. I suppose I’d have to find a laminating kit that doesn’t require an actual laminator? ha!
haha. My schedule is so boring though! haha. Maybe she might find it interesting, though. I’m not sure I could take a picture of a salad I’ve made–our restaurant is really fast-paced and very high volume. But there are plenty of examples online. I’m not sure I should just copy and paste, though–I feel like that might violate some copyright laws?
But I like the idea of taking pictures of food! She might find that intriguing. I’m just worried about anything too fancy/rich looking, because Compassion strongly discourages taking pictures of stuff like houses, cars, etc., because even middle-class America is so much more wealthy than the average Peruvian/etc.
MomkeyParticipant5 months, 3 weeks ago
You can also make cards for her! Take pictures of a park near by and print them up! Have them made into post cards you could send to her! ETC……
With the leaves and flowers it would be a good idea to laminate them by hand and not machine as you have learned!
@Momkey – haha, definitely! I didn’t even know there was a machine that did it, but if I press any more flowers or leaves, that’s definitely not the way to go! I was slightly worried, but my mom thought it’d be okay, so I went for it, lol. Bad idea! I’m thinking about maybe trying to turn one of the stories I have told at my church for the kids’ portion of the service into a little booklet, and getting somebody to translate it into Spanish for me. It would take a bit of time, but I think she might really like it? She seems to be into really girly things, like pink and purple and singing and dancing and coloring. I already have an idea for one, but I’ll have to get it all sorted out. Lucky for me, my pastor and his wife are both fluent in Spanish, haha!
The organization I go through (Compassion International) has very strict guidelines about sharing information that regards to wealth, because of the disparity between cultures, so they pretty much confiscate pictures of houses and cars, so I’m pretty much leery of sending stuff that has anything of what it’s like here. My state is so different in every way from Peru. While I’ve not been to Peru, I have been to Honduras and Brazil, and have seen first hand how good I really do have it. I try to highlight the things we share in common, even if we are worlds apart, but I’m not even sure if a playground or a park would be okay? Maybe it would…
MomkeyParticipant5 months, 2 weeks ago
I was just thinking You could take pictures of flowers growing at a nearby park, or trees, or a beach! Just some nice scenery around, nothing to show what you have/own!
MomkeyParticipant5 months, 2 weeks ago
Maybe take a picture of something nearby and make it into a puzzle!
jenni_lynn91Participant5 months, 2 weeks ago
My Godfather sponsors a boy named Julian from Colombia. I think he is about 12 years old now. How old is Isabel? I have an 8 year old niece in Mexico, and I don’t know what I would say to her either. I have only talked to her on the phone once or twice, asked how she was doing. My fiance asks her about school and about the other family members. Does Isabel go to school yet? You could ask her what she likes to do in school, and talk about games you used to play in school or what your favorite things to do in that grade were. You could send her a picture of when you were her age. One Christmas, my Godfather sent his sponsor child an I Spy card game and I translated the instructions into Spanish. Maybe send her a doll or stuffed animal for her birthday and ask her to take care of it. She can tell you where she brings the doll, what she does with it, etc.
ashthedreamerParticipant5 months, 2 weeks ago
Jenni – Isabel is five. She’ll be six on May 30. Unfortunately, they won’t let you send gifts in the mail (there are really strict international mailing/postage laws), so I can’t send her anything like clothing or dolls or a board game or something. They do accept money orders, and then the Compassion staff will buy a gift for her (and it only goes to her, nothing goes to the organization itself), something she’s really been wanting, or that she really needs (like a new pair of shoes). I would like to spoil her a bit, but it’s hard to do it right now. If I ever get to visit her in person, though (and they encourage sponsors to visit their child, but it’s way too expensive for me right now!), I’m allowed to bring gifts for her, so I have this personalized silver bracelet with her name on it that I’m saving for her, and I’ll probably buy her an adorable stuffed animal and a volleyball (since she’s mentioned she loves to play volleyball), and maybe an outfit or a doll? I would love to bring something for her family, too, as she has two siblings, a mama, and a grandpa that lives with her, but she doesn’t really talk about them, so I wouldn’t know what to buy in the slightest. But anyway, I’m saving that sort of thing for when I actually am able to visit her–I’ll have to save up several thousand dollars, unfortunately, and that’s going to take a good while.
She does go to school! I have asked her about it, but all she really says is that she likes it and she has a lot of friends there. Since she’s so small, most of her “letter” is this form she fills out with one of her tutors, and it’ll have all these pictures and it’ll give options, like: “My favorite sport is:” and there will be a picture of a soccer game, a volleyball game, a basketball game, etc. So she really only has room to answer one question at a time, and not very in-depth. I think at this point, I just need to be able to tell her about things? I mean, I’ll respond to some things she’ll say in the letter form, like, “Oh, you like to dance? I’m sure you’re amazing!” Stuff like that. She’s said several times that she likes to color/dance/sing, so I’m thinking of sending her some coloring pages, maybe? Or asking what her favorite song is…
jenni_lynn91Participant5 months, 2 weeks ago
I’m not sure which organization my Godfather’s child is sponsored through, I just know it’s from his catholic church. The one year they let him send a present for Christmas, but I haven’t heard if he has sent anything else. My Godfather just visited on Sunday and brought the letter from the boy for me to translate. The people translate the letter into English, but its not always accurate. Its hard because Isabel can’t really write herself yet. There is probably a lot she wants to say (because 5 year olds talk a lot and are really curious), but she can’t tell you. I think the coloring pages would be a good idea.
ashthedreamerParticipant5 months, 2 weeks ago
I know! It makes me sad, because I know just how excited I am to talk to her and write her letters, and how much I want to know about her, and how involved I want to be, and then there’s just this tiny little message. It’s sort of hard to remind myself that it’s not that she doesn’t want to write me letters–all the little kids in the program I’ve seen videos seem to be massively in love and so grateful to their sponsors–and I’m sure it is very hard for her, too. That’s why I always try and write her really long letters, and tell her as much as I can that I love her and that she’s amazing, because I want her to know I’m crazy about her, even if she can’t say it yet. Ugh, I wish I had the money to go visit her, because I really would love to. There’s a trip going to Peru this May, but I just don’t have the money.
Cody TaylorParticipant5 months, 2 weeks ago
Sponsoring a child is always considered as a good cause towards humanity. I believe every person should come forward towarding helping kids to grow up in a better manner. I also do invest to raise a girl child from India, so that a day may come when the world will be free from any malice.