THE POWER OF WORDS: SPONSORED CHILDREN LOVE TO RECEIVE LETTERS. WRITE A LETTER TODAY!
Why letters are important: How letters impact sponsored children
Nothing beats a letter in the mail. From imagining the journey a letter makes to reach you, reading the handwritten words written especially for you – you know that someone around the world is thinking about you.
The connection you have with your sponsored child is incredibly rewarding but can be even more fulfilling when you communicate through letter writing. By writing letters, you learn more about your sponsored child and see firsthand the impact you’re making in their life and their community.
When a sponsored child hears from you, a buzz of excitement surrounds their entire community. It’s a delight to hear from you, too, and it gives them a chance to write back to you, allowing them to practice their reading and writing skills.
Our former sponsored children let us know how their sponsor’s uplifting words inspired them to do great things.
My interactions with Plan International and my sponsor have been memorable. When I was a sponsored child I often shared information about my culture and country with my sponsor.
Sureka, former sponsored child from Sri Lanka.
Recalling those memories [of correspondence] makes me happy. Even though he was far away, my sponsor cared about me. It gave me the feeling that there was an additional member of our family who cared about us.
Ashok, former sponsored child from Nepal who is now an award-winning journalist
I’d get letters and my mom would read them for me. She also taught me how to write letters. My sponsor helped me build my self-esteem.
Pimpilai, former sponsored child from Thailand, who is now working as a nursing assistant
When my sponsor wrote letters to me explaining how he spent his time helping people as a physician, I fell in love with the medical field… I thank Plan International for the support it gave me and especially my sponsor who inspired me to be what I am today.
Prince, former sponsored child from Zimbabwe who is now a doctor
Writing letters is the only way for us to communicate with each other. There were times when I felt troubled and alone, but the encouragement my sponsor gave me was helpful and motivating… The last letter I received from my sponsor always stays with me.
Zhang, former sponsored child from China who now volunteers for Plan International, translating letters
Beginning a cycle of progress
I still have this dream of meeting my former sponsor one day, to tell her what I've achieved thanks to her support – and to show her that I'm now helping children who are in the same situation as I was.
Efrain, a former sponsored child from El Salvador
What to write about
Please keep letters brief, warm and friendly. Communications need to be translated when they reach our Field Offices overseas so please write clearly.
- Send photographs or postcards. Children love receiving pictures and will often display them in their homes or pass them around their community.
- Write about your family, work, food or the weather.
- Try describing your last family gathering. Introduce all the members of your extended family and describe what it’s like when you get together.
- Write about your neighbourhood. Are there stores, fields, busy roads?
- Describe the seasons. What does snow look like? Are the autumn leaves yellow or red? Is it a hot summer day?
- Many sponsored children live in agriculture-based societies and may be interested in hearing about your garden.
- Acknowledge your sponsored child’s family.
- If you have children or grandchildren, involve them in writing the letter or enclose their drawings.
- Simply write that you’re thinking of your sponsored child and wish them the best. This is a warm reminder that someone far away cares and is one of the most important things you can ever send a child.
What to avoid
- To maintain privacy, do not include your city name, home address, email address, or social media information, like Facebook. If letters contain this information, we may need to send it back to you to be rewritten, as letters with personal details cannot be sent to your sponsored child.
- Politics and religion are likely to be sensitive topics. In more extreme situations where local politics are unstable, your comments could actually put the family at risk.
- Pets may not be a familiar concept to some children. Animals have different roles and significance in other religions or cultures.
- Avoid being too familiar. What is acceptable in our country might be inappropriate in the child’s culture. It’s a very fine line but parents of a sponsored child might be offended or concerned by open expressions of affection made towards their children. We always advise sponsors to err on the side of caution, however close they feel to the child.
- Give careful thought to the pictures and photographs you send. For example, images of people in swimsuits or cuddling pets can cause offence.
How to send a letter
You can write your letter directly in MyPlan, or you can email it or mail it to us.
If you have written a letter outside of MyPlan:
- Ensure your Donor ID number and sponsored child’s ID number are clearly indicated on the letter. Also ensure all pages are secured together so pages can’t get separated.
- Do not include your address, including city. Letters can be seen by a large number of different people during customs procedures, translation and delivery to your sponsored child’s community. This measure protects you from any unwanted requests for money or assistance.
- Do not seal letters or cards in envelopes. Plan International reviews all letters sent to sponsored children and it is easier for us if correspondence is not sealed in an envelope.
Send your letter by email to Plan International Canada at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Plan International Canada, 245 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario, M4P 0B3. Please remember to include your Sponsor Number and Sponsored Child Number are indicated on the letter.
Please remember to include your Donor ID number and sponsored child’s ID number on the letter. You can find these numbers on any correspondence we have sent you about your sponsorship (for instance, your sponsored child booklet you first received, annual sponsored child update, tax receipt), in MyPlan, or by calling us at 1 800 387-1418.
Please also remember to exclude your home address, including city, in the content of the letter.
Why letters aren’t sent directly
There are practical reasons why this would be difficult. There may not be any mail delivery system where your child lives, the family may not have a postal address and there are language barriers. Plan International staff and community volunteers act as the postal workers for delivering your correspondence as well as translating them when necessary.
In addition, we screen all letters to sponsored children as part of our child protection procedures, and we do not share addresses from letters or any other communication to protect you and the children.
How long it takes to receive a reply
Your letter leaves our office in a parcel along with other sponsor letters for the same country or Plan International field office. Letters are generally sent monthly in bulk by courier to save costs. After being cleared by customs the package continues to Plan International’s country office where the letters are translated into your sponsored child's language and sent on to the relevant field office.
Plan International staff and community volunteers ensure the letter is delivered to the family. Reaching some communities involves a long journey by bicycle, boat, foot or donkey! For example, your child’s village may be 50 km from the field office, which can be a day's journey or more.
Community volunteers deliver the majority of letters and collect replies from children to sponsors. These volunteers also help children and families who cannot write by writing down what the family wants to say. If this happens, the letter should make it clear who has written it.
The entire process can take many months between you sending a letter and receiving a response. If you haven't heard anything after eight months and you are getting concerned, please contact us and we will look into it.
SAMPLE SPONSOR LETTER
Here’s an example of a letter you can send your sponsored child.
To: Rikki Kumar, sponsored child ID SC-123456789
From: Monica Smith, donor ID 1234567
Hello! Thank you for the drawing you sent;, my daughter Julie and I were so happy to receive it.
How are you doing? How is your family? Is school going well, and are you learning a lot? Julie is the same age as you and she’s just learning how to read. Her favourite book is about a princess named Elsa who has magical powers to freeze everything. She drew you a picture of the princess,; I hope you like it!
It’s winter here in Canada. The days are very cold and short, but soon it will be spring and the leaves will be green and the days will be much warmer and brighter. What’s the weather like in your part of the world right now?
We have a holiday coming up called Family Day, which means no school on Monday. My daughter is very excited!. We are going to visit my parents in a town not far from us to spend time with them and go ice-skating in an outside park. I am not very good at skating on ice, – I don’t balance very well! I will send you some pictures of us ice-skating in my next letter.
Say hello to your family and we’ll write again soon. Looking forward to hearing back from you!
Monica and Julie
Check out this fun video of a sponsor, Mr. Bear, and how he keeps up with writing his 25 sponsored children!
Letters from children
Here are examples of the types of letters you’ll receive from your sponsored child.
We greet you very cordially and I hope you are in good health conditions together with your family. I thank you very much for the nice letter you sent me.
I like the following books: history books, riddle books, fairy tale story books and others. I also wish to tell you I am back at school and I am attending 4th class in Primary School. I am very happy I have returned to my classes. I also like playing with my dolls and reading.
I say goodbye, until soon. I am looking forward to hearing from you again. Goodbye again!
First, please accept our hearty regards. We are all well here and hope you the same. We were very glad to get your letter. Right now it is the rainy season. The auspicious "Ramjan" celebration is going on. Hope to hear from you soon!