Sep 5 2012

Why do my sponsored child’s letters sound so impersonal?

Ask Sponsor ServicesQ. I am a new sponsor and was excited to write my sponsored child, but I was a little disappointed when I received her letter. It sounded very impersonal and did not answer some of the questions I had asked her in my own letter. How do I even know she wrote it and not someone else?

A. Many cultural expectations that we place upon letters vary from country to country. In some cases, this may be the first letter a sponsored child has been asked to write. Your friend may not have grown up with thank-you cards or any form of written correspondence.

Letter writing can be an especially difficult concept for children who come from a strong oral tradition. In Kenya, for instance, CFCA staffers say sponsored children sometimes view letter writing as some sort of exam.

The English language can also create a barrier, and other children may not know how to express themselves in writing. Therefore, they may not realize that an answer is expected when a letter contains a question.

Related link: Kenyan oral tradition affects letter writing

Another reason your sponsored child may not have answered your questions is that it can take about eight to 10 weeks for her to receive your letter.

Your letter’s journey encounters many obstacles like translation time, unreliable mail systems and delivery to remote areas before it reaches your friend.

The same time frame also holds true when you receive a letter from her. (You can learn more about the journey of a letter here.)

As a result of this extended time frame, your letters may cross in the mail. Questions in one letter may remain unanswered until subsequent letters are received.

We encourage you to keep sending letters to your sponsored child, and also to consider sending a photo of you and your family. A picture may help your friend to write to someone they haven’t met before.

Letters from sponsors are often a prized possession for sponsored friends and their families. It is sometimes the only mail they receive.

7 thoughts on “Why do my sponsored child’s letters sound so impersonal?”

  1. We sponsor 7 children and 1 adult in 3 different countries. Some letters we receive always acknowledge our questions and gifts while other make no mention. 2 of our sponsored children always send photographs displaying all gifts received from us. I think it depends on the project social worker as to the level of response. We have visited our children in Ecuador and showered them with gifts without receiving much in the way of verbal thanks. We found that it is a cultural thing in that they seem to be embarrassed and don’t know how to react. I don’t think thank you cards are part of their culture. Although, we know they are very grateful for anything we do. We agree 100%, it is far better to give than to receive. Keep on giving……we are meant to serve others.

  2. Having sponsored 5 children over the past 14years, I’ve learned that the old cliche about it being better to give than to receive is so true. My children tend to write the same things in every letter so I learn very little about them. I try to keep my focus on making them happy by writing to them.

  3. When I first met my sponsored friend, she said “I already know you because I have your photograph and your letters” It was then that I realised how important my letters were. Please continue to write to your friend, it means so much . Leah

  4. I remember our first letters from Juan David and still re-read them often. His writing skills as well as him penmanship have both improved greatly in the past two years we have had him, as what I refer to, as our “Prayer Partner”. It may take a few months for him to acknowledge the small gifts we send him or for him to comment about a photo we sent him, but he has always expressed appreciation. We cannot tell you how happy and truly blessed we have been since receiving him into our lives, as well as our Granddaughters, who also look forward to his letters and his wonderful drawings.
    May God continue to Bless CFCA and all they do.

  5. Hi i was a beneficiary of cfca before here in the philippines.. And letter writing was one of the reason why i was able to enhance my english skills.:) thank you very much cfca i’m an english teacher now here :-)

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