Tag: letter

Apr 28 2011

Sponsor provides tips on how to write letters, part 2

Last week CFCA sponsor Cheri Duchrow shared with us some of her thoughts about writing to her five sponsored friends. She answers the rest of our questions in this blog post.

You have already met some of your friends. How does meeting them face to face enhance your correspondence?

I have met two of the children I sponsor so far and will meet Florence in August.

Meeting them can take your relationship to the next level. It is like when you watch the news and see a story that takes place where you have actually been.

Francini in Costa Rica

Francini, a child sponsored through CFCA in Costa Rica, reads a letter from her sponsor.

When you visit your child, not only do they have the affirmation that there is a real person behind the letters, but so do all of the other children. To touch and talk with a real live sponsor gives them all a gift.

One girl I sponsored had to travel on a bus for almost 24 hours one way with her mother just to meet me. Her teacher postponed a test for her whole class for three days at school so she could meet me.

Writing a letter is not even close to riding a bus one way for 24 hours. I met one of the mothers who had worked for 10 years, never taking a day of vacation until I came to meet her son.

It humbles you to see the faith and joy they have rising up out of their situations. No longer can you turn a blind eye to what really matters.

What have been the highlights of your correspondence?

Florence is one of my best letter writers. She shares the name of my mother, and that is a God story all in itself how I came to sponsor her.

But I feel she has the same spirit as my mother. At only 9 years old she wants to become a doctor so she can help others like all of the people who have helped her. She has shared scripture with me.

Two children I sponsor are being raised in a single-parent (mother only) home. I have shared with them that I raised my daughter by myself and understand what a single-parent home is like.

I have asked them to pray for me for specific situations in my life. The more often I write I am more likely to get a small gold nugget of new information and not just what they have done at Christmas or Easter!

How do you think your sponsorship experience would be if you did not write?

Read more

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Apr 21 2011

Sponsor provides tips on how to write letters, part 1

CFCA sponsor Cheri Duchrow graciously shared with us some of her thoughts about writing to her five sponsored friends. She has a fascinating story, or letter-writing journey, to recount.

How difficult was it to write the first letter?

The first letter is always the easiest because you can fill it with introductory types of information.

It used to be that after the first few letters it was difficult to find new things to say. I thought I always had to have something fun and new or wait and send a photo.

But just letting them know you are thinking about them, they are beautiful creations that God loves and you are praying for them is enough.

Like so many things in my life I needed to change my view and attitude and let go of the fear. I find now that I will share ordinary things.

For instance, many places may not have grass like we do so I take a picture of my feet in the grass and then a picture of the lawn mower telling them it is not my favorite job to mow grass, but I like it better than shoveling snow. In the winter they get pictures of snow.

Then I might ask them what are some jobs that they don’t like to do and we will pray for acceptance. I know how much I long to receive one of their letters.

How often do you correspond?

I try to write the children I sponsor every month but on average I would say it is about every 6-8 weeks. To help keep track of what I have written and the questions we have shared over the years I have a little system that works.

I also find that putting my questions for them at the end of the letter helps me to get an answer more often as it is not buried in the letter.

You mentioned (see Cheri’s previous blog post) that it took a while after sponsoring before you started to write. What got you going?

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Apr 14 2011

How to make CFCA letters easier to translate

Ana Carla
Paulo

When it comes to letter writing, CFCA translators worldwide make an important contribution.

Translating a letter requires more than knowledge of the language. It requires an ability to convey the author’s true sentiment.

Ana Carla Agreda and Paulo Alfonso Pleitez Barrera have translated thousands of letters in El Salvador. They offer tips to make letters easier to translate and for sponsored friends to understand.

What are some challenges in translating letters from English?

Ana Carla: There are some phrases and words in some states that only the sponsors understand what they mean. I am lucky to have translators who can help me.

Paulo: Most letters arenít that difficult, but in some cases there are sponsors who use technical language or language specific to their profession such as nuclear chemistry, law and other professions.

Tips from Ana Carla and Paulo
  • Talk about the weather, your family or your daily life.
  • Encourage your friend.
  • Give context. Letters typically sent to friends and family about holidays are sometimes difficult for sponsored friends to understand, especially the events in these letters.
  • Try to avoid idiomatic phrases, such as “easy as cake” or “I died when I heard the news.”
  • Use short, simple sentences and avoid slang. Here are examples that have caused confusion: “jump the couch” as in losing control or going crazy; to “maul” someone with hugs and kisses; and using the word “kicks” to mean shoes.
  • Write legibly, print neatly or type your letter since handwriting can sometimes be difficult to read.
  • Provide a brief explanation when writing about American holidays and customs since these will likely be new ‘holidays’ for your friend. Here are some examples: “Pumpkin pie,” Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Wise Men (use “Three Kings” instead), Trick or Treat.

These words donít always translate easily to another language. Or sponsors use words that in the U.S. have another meaning.

For example, in English, the word ìvacationî is when you leave to travel, spend 15 days away. Here, it is when the children have free days and donít go to school.

Also, levels of school are difficult. The sponsors say it differently, like ìmy child is in 11th grade.î So I try to relate it to our terms so we can translate it and make it familiar.

Can you share one of the most memorable letters you have translated?

Ana Carla: There are letters so beautiful that they make you think and wish you could be part of that friendship.

Paulo: Each letter I translate is a new experience. You start to feel part of the story. The sponsors always try to transmit new knowledge and this helps the sponsored friend imagine and open their minds.

I remember one sponsor who sponsors several children in different countries of the world. There was one letter I enjoyed translating it a lot.

He described that he had gone to visit children he sponsored in Central America and Mexico. He sent photos of an amusement park in Mexico.

I will never forget it because it transported me to the place he was describing. I imagine it was the same for the child, since the child is limited to the small village, neighborhood or wherever they live.

There are children who donít have the opportunity to see things on the Internet or television to give them an idea of what these places are like. With these anecdotes, the child knows and it makes him use his or her imagination.

We appreciate your effort in writing to your sponsored friends, who treasure every letter!

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Apr 11 2011

CFCA’s spring letter-writing challenge

April is National Card and Letter-Writing Month. Our surveys indicate about 66 percent of CFCA sponsors write their friend at least once a year. We’d like to increase that number!

We’re asking our sponsors to take a “letter-writing challenge.” The steps are simple:

  1. Write your friend and send a photo of you and your family if you haven’t already done so. If you need inspiration, check out some letter-writing tips.
  2. Tell us about it in the comments below. Here are some questions to consider:
  • What were your most memorable letter moments?
  • Any letter-writing tips to share with us?
  • What was your experience like?

Two sponsored friends from El Salvador, Kilmer and Maria, explained what they’d like to hear from their sponsors through letters:

Kilmer, sponsored eight years: “[I write] three regular letters each year and one Christmas card. What I like most is to make drawings. Sometimes I draw flowers, or Winnie the Pooh.

I like writing to my sponsors. In my last letter, I wrote them I was sick, I had a fever. I also told them that during Christmas, I shot off rockets [fireworks]. I tell them that sometimes I feel good, and sometimes I feel bad.

I would like to know about my sponsor when they are coming here, where they work, what they do there. I would like to know more about them.”

Maria, sponsored about two years: “Every year I write [my sponsors]. I like it because I feel very content with their help. They have never written, because my sponsors changed.

I would like to know them. I donít know how many hugs I would give them if they were here. Everything my sponsors have given me is good.

I like everything and I thank them for everything they have done for us because we need their help. I would like to see them even if it is only in a photograph.”

Thanks, and we appreciate your support!

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Dec 28 2010

Letter to CFCA sponsor: ‘Shoot for the moon … land among the stars’

Here is an edited letter that arrived from a Nigerian sponsored youth, Stephen, to his sponsor, Sarah.

“Dear Sarah,

Greetings to you. I pray and hope this letter gets to you in good health, a nice mood and above all, Sarah, a joyful and peaceful moment.

Stephen, from Nigeria

Stephen, 18, a CFCA sponsored youth in Nigeria.

How are you, my dearest friend, and how has life been for you?

Hope you’ve gotten a good job and how are your parents, siblings and everything in general. Are you still searching? I hope and pray you meet the right one someday. Let’s hope before the first quarter of next year runs out that you will be very much happy.

I am all right and in good health, together with my family. We have the Almighty to thank for it.

I am still waiting and hoping to be admitted into the university since getting into the university is very difficult and very much expensive, even after attaining the senior school certificate examination result.

However, the delay has not stopped me from making many findings about the world and getting more awareness of what I am required to possess if I really want to help God’s little children of the world.

I did some research on the Internet about UNICEF to see what it really takes to work with such organizations that care for the needs of children.

Of course, Sarah, you made me go this far. Remember “shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you will land among the stars?î

This has made me see no limitations to achieving whatever I desire in life, owing to the care you’re taken upon yourself concerning my well-being.

Once again, Sarah, you’ve been more than just a sponsor or even a pen pal. Just to let you know, you are on my list of my first five role models.

My dearest friend, hope you will love this; here are some things I found out we have in common:

  • Alphabets of names ‘S': Sarah, Stephen
  • Second child of our families
  • Father’s name, David; my brother’s name, David
  • Our love for little children
  • Your knowledge about medical science, my desire to study pharmacy

Dear friend, I would like to know how you have been coping with challenges facing you.

Just want to say a very big thank you for all your love, caring and understanding toward my well-being.”

Says Sarah, “Being a sponsor to Stephen has been and continues to be such a treasured experience for me. I had the privilege of becoming a sponsor to Stephen several years ago. Being able to be a pen pal, friend, cheerleader, encourager and prayer support for Stephen, and watching him grow through the years into a grounded, caring, intelligent young man with heart for God and others, makes me feel like a proud parent! His thoughtful letters always bring light into my life, and I have such hope for the future of the world with individuals like Stephen reaching out to those around him. I am so excited about what CFCA is doing for these families, and I am humbled to play a small part in their mission!”

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Aug 27 2009

Children want to hear from their sponsors

In spring of last year, CFCA sent out special postcards to sponsors to encourage them to write a letter to their sponsored friend. The response has been wonderful. Many children who had not yet received any letters heard from their sponsors for the first time.

Jilma holding one of the CFCA postcards sponsors sent.ìI am very happy because I have received letters before but never one like this,î said Jilma, who lives in El Progresso, El Salvador. ìMy sponsor has told me in her letters that she has a beautiful garden and lots of flowers.î

The Vellore project in India saw an immediate increase in communication between sponsors and their friends because of the postcard campaign. Additionally, nine children received their first communication from their sponsors.

In the Zamboanga, Philippines, project, an estimated 140 individuals received their first correspondence from their sponsor. Project coordinator Maribel Mandi said the children and aging were delighted with the postcards, and it helped give them motivation to openly express their emotions.

ìA short message from a sponsor adds life and growth to the child and sponsor relationship,î said Mandi. ìThe postcards created a SMILE.î

Many children in the Quito, Ecuador, project had not heard from sponsors, and the postcards brought them much happiness.

Letters are an important benefit
ìI can tell you with great certainty that the kids and their families value the letters and photos that sponsors send more than anything,î said Dan Pearson, project director for CFCA international operations. ìImagine the lives of these kids. It is hard for them to believe that someone they have never met chose them and is sending help every month to give them a better chance in life.

ìThe sponsor is often a central figure in the child’s life, and they want to know who this person is. They want to know what they look like, who is in their family, and why they decided to help.î

In an age of instant information, emails and text messaging, letter writing is becoming a lost art. It is one of the many gifts that our brothers and sisters in developing countries can give to usóto remind us of the joy that can be found in taking the time to sit and write a simple note of love and encouragement.

On behalf of the sponsored children and aging, we thank you for writing, and we encourage you to continue growing your relationship through letters.

Below are the three postcards we mailed to sponsors

2friends postcard

If friends were flowers postcard

Love in a letter postcard

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