Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What to Write to Your Sponsored Child

Do you sponsor a child?  If so, you've probably been urged to correspond with your child through letters.  When I visited Kenya, Africa through Christian Relief Fund, I was given the opportunity to see the excitement of sponsored children when they received letters from their sponsors.  Letters make kids feel valued and loved.  Your sponsored child is eager to hear from you.  You mean the world to them.  letter from sponsored jpgWriting letters is very important.

However, you might feel frustrated.  It can be hard to know exactly what to write to a child who lives across the world from you, a child you've never met before.  If you're not good at letter-writing in general, writing to your sponsored child might seem especially intimidating.

But hey, no worries.  Today I'll go ahead and list twenty topics that you can write about in your letters.  Be sure not to write about them all at once, especially if your child is young and won't be able to read long letters.  Remember that you're writing to a kid who might not even speak much English.

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1. The Weather- Do you have different seasons where you live?  I often send Lavin- my sponsored child- pictures and descriptions of snow.  Where Lavin lives, it's either hot and dry or hot and rainy.  I talk about snow, sleet, wind, and the differences between summer, fall, winter, and spring.

2. Sports- What sports do you play?  What sports do you like to watch on television?  Remember that in foreign countries, different sports are called different names.  Lavin calls soccer futbol, so if I tell her my family watches football on TV, she might become confused.

3. Facts about your family- How many people are in your family?  What are your ages?  What do your parents (or you and your spouse) do for a living?  What do you call your grandparents?  How many of you live in one house?

4. Pets- In some countries, the idea of dogs and cats as pets might seem strange, but it can't hurt to talk about them.  Be sure to send pictures of your fuzzy friends.

5. Holidays- What holidays are you celebrating?  During the Christmas season, talk to your sponsored child about your family traditions.  Send a sketch/photograph of stockings on a fireplace or of your Christmas tree.  Try not to focus as much on the material gifts, but on the traditions themselves.  Explain to your child about Thanksgiving, Easter, 4th of July, and other fun holidays your family celebrates.

6. Daily Schedule- What is a day for you like?  Talk about what time you wake up, what you eat for breakfast, where you work, where you go, what you do...  Let your sponsored child feel like he is experiencing a day of your life with you.

7. School Subjects- If you're a student, write a list of the subjects you learn at school.  Your sponsored child might be curious to see what you're learning as well.  Try to keep things simple, like Mathematics instead of Trigonometry and English instead of Reading Comprehension.

PianoKeys-600x338.jpg8. Instruments you play- Music is a big part of most cultures.  Can you play the guitar?  Talk about your musical experience to your child.

9. Chores- As boring as this might sound to you, chores are something your child can understand.  Talk about common chores you have to do at home, like washing dishes or dusting.  Avoid talking about chores that involve modern technology, such as vacuuming.

10. Foods you eat- What is your favorite food?  Talk to your child about the foods you eat regularly and be sure to send pictures or drawings!  Believe it or not, but many children who live in third world countries have never heard of pizza or enchiladas.

11. Your best friends- Friends exist in every country.  Describe your best friends: what they look like, why you love them, what you do together.  Send a photograph of you and your friends.

12. Describe your garden/backyard- Talk about the trees and flowers you might have in your yard.  If you have a garden, then talk about the kind of vegetables you grow.  Many children in developing countries have their own gardens to care for, and they'll be able to relate to you.

13. Games- Tell your sponsored child about easy, little games you like to play (or liked to play as a little kid).  For example, tic-tac-toe, tag, hopscotch... all games that your child could understand and possibly even incorporate into her daily life.

14. Funny family stories- Did your little brother just stick his hand into the toilet?  Did your dad hide behind a door to scare your mom?  Share funny stories that are easy for children to comprehend.  Avoid telling actual jokes, as they can be difficult to understand in different cultures.

greeting-cards-600x400.jpg15. Vacation stories- Are you going out of town for a family vacation?  Tell your sponsored child where you are going.  Talk about the culture of the place you're going, what the weather is like, and what the scenery looks like.  Send a small souvenir from your vacation.  If you're going to a nice resort or somewhere fancy, be sure not to dwell on the material aspects of the trip.  Instead, talk about things your child will be able to relate to, like the flowers and language.

16. Hobbies- Do you love to write poems?  Write a poem for your child.  Do you collect buttons?  Do you love to read?  Are you obsessed with crossword puzzles?  Talk about your hobbies and quirks with your sponsored child.

17. Small, random facts about you- Share your favorite color, flower, number, your birthday, etc.

18. Words in your language- If your child doesn't speak English, make little flashcards with easy words in your language (such as dog, cat, please, thank you, hello, etc.) on one side and in their language on the other side.  Your actual letter will be translated into the child's language.

19. Bible verses- Share encouraging Bible verses that are easy for your child to understand, such as John 3:16 and Romans 8:28.  You could even share short Bible stories with illustrated pictures!

20. Lighthearted prayer requests- Sharing prayer requests is a way that you can make your child feel like he is doing something for you after all you've done for him.  Mutually praying for each other is also a great way to create a bond between you and your sponsored child.  Be sure not to give any big and scary prayer requests.  Your child will have enough worries in his own life.  Ask for prayer about acing a hard class at school, ministering to a friend of yours who isn't a Christian, or healing from a broken arm.

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What do you and your sponsored child talk about?

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for this article. I sponsor a little girl from Guatemala (were I was born and adopted) and I've only written two letters to her so far. It's nice to have ideas to what I can write to Wendy and her family.

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  2. These are great for everyday life as well! Thanks :)

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  3. Thanks for this! I have been sponsoring a girl from Zambia for a year, and I was running out of ideas.

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  4. This is the best letter-writing idea list I have found so far! Thanks!

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  5. Thanks this helps so much!!

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  6. We have no trouble writing to our child! We keep it light and loving, with prayer offers and prayer requests, and tons of encouragement. We send little things - little bouncy balls from gumball machines, stickers, stationary, a bookmark with a butterfly on it. We describe our family, our vacation, send pictures of cool stuff (like the caves we sent down in Texas with the stalagmites). We try to write her once every two to three weeks with a little something extra in every package. They only get their letters once a month, and we figure if we write every two to three weeks, she will get her name called every month. It's just so exciting!

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  7. I am a newbie at sponsoring. I send monthly donations to a 4-year old girl named Merge in Ethiopia. I am aware that because she lives in a tiny village in a remote part of the country, she will most likely never receive any letters or even benefit directly from any of the money I send. That makes me unhappy. Save The Children says donations help her, her family and her community but I have a feeling that it pays for photo sessions for brochures and other administrative costs. If I believed Merge got anything at all, I would write to her.

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    1. Dear Cocoanlace,
      You will never know until you try. Did you know one candle can light a whole room or house? And can be seen for miles? Try to be that small candle - shine your light and write this young girl.

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    2. Thanks for your reply. I just found it today. I have been writing to Merge and she, with the help of a STC worker, writes back and sends me pictures that she draws (usually a drawing of her simple home). She is 8 now and looks healthy. She writes that she has friends and enjoys school. Hopefully, my donations have helped with that.

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  8. I am thinking about sponsoring a child. I think it would be a great experience for my boys. My oldest is 4. and I was wondering, do the children write back?

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  9. i have a girl sponsored through Compassion International and it has been a wonderful experience thus far. one t hing that i feel really sets this organization apart is the relationship building factor. we write one another and the monetary component really does provide opportunity for your child. CI is also very communicative and make writing back and forth easy and fun.

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  10. Emily, i like you. can i follow you on FB? im not much for twitter. my name is julie

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