By Veronica Batton, writer/editor
It’s around 9 a.m. when Edwin Cocon, a social worker for Unbound in Guatemala, walks into a large room with cinderblock walls and a round tin roof. Wooden tables covered in plastic tablecloths line the walls, and plastic lawn chairs are haphazardly arranged around them.
Cocon begins to straighten the chairs when more than 100 sponsored children, with big smiles and eyes that suggest an eagerness for the day’s activity, flood into the room.
It’s letter-writing day, and there will be several more to come. In a period of 11 days, more than 2,000 sponsored friends will visit this room and compose letters to their sponsors.
“We provide ideas for them, but they decide what they want to write about,” Cocon said. Some suggestions focus on things like what school is like, how their parents earn a living, and what their daily routine is like at home. “It’s a great satisfaction to see how kids write their letters with so much love.”
Sponsored friends start by writing drafts of their letters. Staff members review them for clarity and help the children make corrections if needed. Then, sponsored friends copy their letters onto Unbound stationery, and many decorate them with drawings.
“Children write their letters with great care because they want their sponsors to enjoy them,” Cocon said.
Letters are an important part of building the relationship between sponsors and sponsored friends. They help form connections that have the power to illuminate and change the lives of both parties. Letters provide vital links that foster hope in sponsored friends and their families. Letters from their sponsors tell them they’re not alone, that good people out there care about them and want them to succeed.
Bernabe is a sponsored youth who dreams of having his own carpentry shop. He’s working on a letter to his sponsor, Howard.
“I am writing about the weather and how cold it is,” Bernabe said. “I like to talk about my carpentry course and my hobbies. I even made a bed last year.”
Bernabe and his sponsor have learned a lot about each other through their letters. They write to each other several times during the year.
Sponsored children often mention receiving letters as one of their favorite things about Unbound. They have deep appreciation and affection for their sponsors and want to know them better.
Writing to your sponsored friend reinforces that they are important. Words of encouragement in a simple note can have a lasting effect on a child’s self-confidence and desire to succeed. With the eLetter feature on our website, you can send a message easily and save the cost of postage, too.
When asked if he had a message for his sponsor, Bernabe said, “Thank you for all of your support. Your words encourage me very much.”
Start 2015 by sending words of encouragement to your sponsored friend.