Did you know that every year, we process more than 1 million letters from sponsored friends to their sponsors?
That’s tremendous cause for celebration! Behind every letter is a special story and friendship that we treasure.
Here are three sponsored children in El Salvador who recently received letters from their sponsors. Their smiles say it all.
Norma is 8 years old. She enjoys attending school and playing with her friends. Photos, like the one Norma is holding from her sponsor, are a fun, meaningful and practical way to deepen ties between sponsors and sponsored friends.
Developing a sense of friendship and mutual encouragement is one of the most rewarding aspects of sponsorship through CFCAís Hope for a Family program.
Don’t wait – write a letter to your sponsored friend today!
I am a huge fan of crafts. If it involves fabric, creativity or hot-glue guns, you can almost guarantee I’ll be crafting it at some point down the road.
When we posted 18 small gift ideas to send in your Christmas card, we received so much positive feedback from our sponsors, I thought it would be fun to start a D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself) tutorial on small craft items to send to your friend.
So, here it is! Unbound’s first D.I.Y. post: 10 steps to a friendship bracelet.
Ever sit down to write a letter and then notice an hour later you only have one word? Do you ever think, “I’ll send a letter next month,”†and then next month turns into next year?
CFCA is here to help bust these tough myths about letter-writing, and help you cross “write a letter to my sponsored friend” off your to-do list.
Myth 1: It’s too hard.
It can be difficult to start a letter. Trust me, I’ve been there. Sometimes there is too much to say, and sometimes too little.
Some sponsors don’t know where to start when it comes to writing a letter to their sponsored friend. Read more
Karla Manzur has worked as a translator at the communications center in El Salvador for the past four years.
CFCA-El Salvador holds letter-writing day workshops where translators help CFCA social workers supervise the writing, spelling and legibility in letters written by sponsored children, youth and aging friends.
Karla attended her first letter-writing day workshop in February 2012.
“It changed my way of thinking,” Karla said. “When you start working as a translator you don’t understand how important a letter is to the sponsors and sponsored relationship. This visit made me realize that we cannot request a child to write a perfect letter.”
Translators attend letter-writing day to learn more about the communities where we work and the difficulties the sponsored individuals face when writing letters to their sponsors.
It also allows Karla to discover more about the Salvadoran culture and the lifestyles of people in the United States.
Karla feels like a family member when she translates letters.
Translators have an important role in the communication between sponsors and sponsored friends by strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two.
Being a translator gives Karla the experience of traveling across the world as she translates letters from sponsors.
For Karla, her work is rewarding.
She isn’t just translating any document. It is about translating the sponsored members’ dreams, wishes and their joy of being sponsored.
CFCA sponsored children from Colombia talk about letters and what they want to hear from sponsors.
“I would like it if they told me about their family, friends and their cat. Also I would like them to tell me about where they live, how the city and country are.
“I would like to personally know and thank them for all the things they have given me. I would also like them to send me lots of pictures.”
“I want to know what my sponsor eats, and if they eat what they like. I would also like him to tell me where he lives and to send a photo.”
“… if there are robbers where my sponsor lives and if his work is going well.”
“I would like to know how my sponsor’s family and children are doing and whether he has all he needs. I would like for my sponsor always to support me in everything I do, and am grateful that he gives me much love. I work very hard and send him lots of hugs and kisses.”
“I would like them to tell me how they are doing, if they live with the family and for them to send me a photo.”
“I would like to know how their whole family is doing, and how he is doing since I last heard from him, how it’s been going in the [U.S.] Air Force, what has happened in his life since he last wrote.
“Also, what food he likes, if he is sick or well, his birthday so I can send a card and a happy birthday greeting, how old he is, if he lives with his children, if his wife is still alive, if he is a grandfather, if he still has his dogs.
“I’d like to know if he has received the letters I sent with thanks for his support and help. But the most important for me is to know how he is.”
By Ricardo Ajpuac, CFCA staff member in Guatemala
A group of 134 mothers are helping CFCA sponsored children in the Guatemalan community of San Lorenzo, San Marcos, write letters to their sponsors.Many of these mothers were only able to complete the primary level of education. Only a few were able to study in middle school.
ìI only studied up to fourth grade where I learned to read and write, and now I am putting that into practice,” said Ilcia, one mother. “Although I cannot write very well, I want to help.î
Mothers have used this as an opportunity to feel significant and involved with their community.
After CFCA staff members explained more about how to write a good letter, moms now meet in advance to plan all activities on the day of writing letters to sponsors.
Each sponsored child has two notebooks. One is for writing the letter draft, and here the mothers can make observations and corrections. Read more
The only letters that will be affected are letters to Mexico (1 oz.), which will cost 80 cents instead of 79 cents.
All letters to other international destinations will remain unchanged at 98 cents, according to the U.S. Postal Service.
“I feel very good when I get a letter. I feel I am being loved very much. It makes me want to write lots of letters to my sponsor.” – Sesilia, 9, Tanzania
Sesilia expresses what all sponsored friends feel about receiving letters from their sponsors. A letter from you is a symbol of love and represents the human connection in the relationship. Exchanging letters is a way for you build that relationship.
(Update: You now have the option to send an eLetter once you’re logged in to your online sponsorship account!)
If you haven’t written your friend because you don’t know what to say, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Our goal is to help you compose a letter step-by-step using as an example a letter written by a sponsor to her friend in Venezuela.
Step 1: The opening
How do you start? This is usually the toughest part of the letter. Start by greeting your friend and asking about the family. Then, follow up with something your friend mentioned in a previous letter as Sheila has done here. Did he take a test? Is a family member ill? Did she have a birthday? The opening is the place to touch base about important events your friend has talked about.
Step 2: The body
Now that you’ve opened the letter, share what’s going on in your household. Sheila mentions Halloween and the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sponsored friends love hearing about holiday customs. Or, share something about yourself. Describe a pet. Talk about your favorite sport. Tell your friend about your children, their ages and grades in school. The words will flow once you start writing about something important to you.
Step 3: The closing
In your closing paragraph, give your friend encouragement. Sheila simply closed her letter by wishing Edinson and his family a happy New Year. Tell your friend you think about him and pray for him and his family. Then, sign off.
Congratulations! The hard part is done. You can include a photo of yourself and your family with your letter. Sponsored friends love getting pictures.
Mailing your letter
Follow the instructions provided with the pre-printed mailing labels you received from Unbound. Send your letter via international airmail, unless it is sent to a U.S. mailing address. Check postage rates at the U.S. Postal Service Web site, www.usps.com.
We have more suggestions about letter writing here.
Was this helpful? Do you have any questions for us regarding letter writing? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.
Every year CFCA processes an estimated 1.5 million letters from sponsored children and elderly. Each of these letters, with mailing labels, must be put into envelopes before they can be mailed to the sponsors.
You might think we need a small army to get this done. But, we have something better: a group of 35 highly dedicated volunteers.
And today, one of those volunteers, Angie Simms, is celebrating her 95th birthday!
Angie has been helping CFCA for 25 years, making her our longest-serving volunteer. She averages around 570 volunteer hours per year.
The staff and other volunteers know Angie simply and affectionately as “Sarge,” both for her military background (she served in the Womenís Army Corps in World War II) and her no-nonsense manner.
“She’s very spit-fire, and brings humor to the work place,” said Colleen McKeone, CFCA coordinator of child letters who works closely with the volunteers. “She has no qualms about speaking her mind. I enjoy her presence very much.”
For those who take the time to listen, Angie has a wealth of stories and life lessons. She’ll also trade some one-liners with anyone who’s quick enough to keep up with her.
After thousands of volunteer hours and probably millions of letters, we wonder what makes her so steadfast. Her brisk answer is pretty simple:
“God must have left me here in this world to do something.”
We’re glad He has, Sarge.