The most important way to build a relationship with your sponsored child is by writing letters. Your letters make a huge difference in their lives.
How To Write Your Sponsored Child
HART provides each sponsor with a brief description of the child’s community and country. The more you understand about your child’s background, the more beneficial your relationship. A child’s culture provides insight into who they are.
Google information on your sponsored child’s country. Learning about the culture, geography or country history will give you a better understanding of your child’s background. Its a great idea to even learn a few words in your child’s language.
Most likely, your sponsored child does not speak English.
- Short sentences and simple words are easier for the staff at HART international office to translate and for the child to appreciate.
Avoid slang expressions and contractions, and write clearly to avoid confusion in interpretation.
- Keep your messages positive. Your tone should be warm and friendly. Take special care when discussing death or illness, and be sensitive to your child’s living conditions. It may be discouraging to speak or send pictures of your material possessions. Instead…
- Make each letter an educational experience for the child, and focus on happy news, such as: favorite memories, family, favorite stories, age-appropriate trivia, profession or hobbies, how you celebrate holidays, life in your town/city.
- Remember, the reader is your sponsored child.
Give the child lots of encouragement. Being able to write to you is a big deal for most sponsored children. To encourage your sponsored child:
- Comment on any progress you learn your child has made, such as in schoolwork, in a performance or even in the child’s letter-writing.
- Be generous with genuine compliments. Praise the child’s talents or skills that you’ve discovered (i.e. “you are a good writer,” “you are a good helper”) or the child’s accomplishments (“your grades were very good,” “you must be a very good soccer player,” “your drawing is very colorful and happy”). Your words will boost your sponsored child’s self-esteem and be a daily reminder that someone cares.
- Challenge your child to try something new or difficult and then write to you about it. Avoid “correcting” the child or criticism.
Strike a balance between telling the child about yourself and asking questions of your child.
Ask open-ended questions. A child will find it much easier to start and maintain a dialogue if you provide the material first.
Ask for descriptions, thoughts and ideas. Examples of good open-ended questions and statements include:
- What do you do on a normal day?
- What games or activities do you enjoy?
- What is your favorite way to spend an afternoon?
- Tell me about someone that has made your life better.
- Will you send me a drawing of your home or village?
- Who are the people that live with you?
- What are your favorite holidays? How do you celebrate them?
- What are your favorite subjects in school and why?
- Tell me about your favorite places.
- Other items to discuss: happy memories, hopes and dreams, qualities your child likes about himself or herself, sports, cooking and chores.
Ask a few questions at a time. Asking questions makes it easier for your child to respond, but too many questions can be overwhelming. It is likely that your sponsored child travels some distance to school each day, and has chores and schoolwork to complete when he or she gets home.
Keeping your letters to no more than 2 or 3 questions makes it easier for the child to respond.
NOTE: It’s better to avoid writing about material possessions and other topics that emphasize the difference between your culture and the child’s situation, but take every opportunity to encourage your sponsored child to work hard and perform well in school.
- Send the child fun and educational materials, such as origami paper and instructions, or flash cards that translate words from their language to yours.
- Share funny stories.
- Start a game by mail.
- Share what you are reading and learning. Children observe how adults live and manage their lives and sponsored children can learn from you by what you share in your letters.
- Make “All About Me” cards with space to answer preprinted questions that you both answer.
- Photographs enable you both to comment on the same things, people and events.
Little gifts to include in these packages could be: family photographs, drawings, hair ribbon or embroidery thread, stickers, paper dolls, postcards, poems or stories, coloring book pages, birthday cards, origami paper, stationary preprinted pages for children to fill out.
Gifts for Christmas, birthdays and special occasions. Your monthly sponsorship includes the cost for birthday and Christmas presents. If you would like to give you child an additional present for these occasions, this can be done either by sending and extra $20-25 for a present that your child’s caseworker will purchase for your child. Alternatively, you could send a small package or shoe box with a present for your child. Please include an additional $10 for shipping.
- Take special care in discussing death or sickness. Please keep in mind the age of the child when writing.
- Avoid asking questions that are embarrassing or too sensitive for children, such as why the child failed a subject, body image, death or an absent father.
- HART respects the cultures of the local communities in which we serve. It’s okay to express your faith or beliefs, just be sensitive to the faith of the your child’s family. HART is open to all children without consideration of background, religion, social and family structures. Our Christian caseworker’s objective is to share God’s love with your child and his/her family in a loving and caring manner.
- HART translators will be translating your letters to your sponsored child. Generally, the content of the letters is not changed, but should it be necessary, letters may be edited.
- You can also use this “GREAT” acronym to guide you in your letter writing:
- G — Greetings
- R — Remember something your sponsored child has said and build on it.
- E — Explain something about yourself or your world. Refer to the letter-writing prompts above.
- A — Ask your sponsored child a question.
- T — Toodle loo! Say your goodbyes. This is a great place to share a Bible verse and a last word of encouragement.
The most important thing is that you care enough to keep in touch with your sponsored child. Remember that we grow in our relationships. By exchanging correspondence with your sponsored child, you build a person-to-person bond that can mean a lot to both of you.