You don’t need a pen to be a penpal. You can write your child digitally through your MyCI account.
Sponsored children and youth also love receiving letters from their sponsors. They want to get to know the people making such a big difference in their lives. Although in-person sponsor visits are on pause because of the pandemic, teams in the field are working hard to continue delivering letters and messages between sponsors, children and youth (with a few added safety precautions, of course). Although writing a letter may not seem easy, even just a short message of care can mean so much to your sponsored child. Read on to learn more about writing your sponsored child—and how easy it is to get and become a pen pal!
First, you don’t have to write your sponsored child. Your sponsorship is providing life-changing opportunities and support to your child. But sponsorship isn’t just about providing important poverty-fighting benefits, like access to health care, education and empowering programs. Sponsorship is also about showing a child living in poverty they matter. Poverty is dehumanizing: It tells people they aren’t worth care, time or attention. A letter from you is written proof that poverty is wrong. No matter what you write, what your letter really says is this:
That kind of concrete encouragement is invaluable to children and families struggling through the daily stress and disappointments of poverty.
Ideally, it’s best to write at least once or twice a year, but you can write as often as you’d like! Think of how you feel when you find a letter from a friend in your own mailbox. It feels great, right? That’s the gift you’re giving your sponsored child and his or her family every time you write. Marking important milestones— such as birthdays, holidays and graduations—with a letter can also be meaningful. Make sure to check your MyCI account regularly to keep up-to-date on opportunities to celebrate your sponsored child with a letter or card.
- Sandra, 19, Ecuador, in a letter to her sponsors
Our agencies are doing their very best to get letters to sponsored children and youth in the diverse environments where we work—from busy urban neighborhoods to more remote rural villages. There might be a delay in delivery, depending on what kind of COVID restrictions your child’s community is experiencing. Different countries (and cities and regions) have different COVID restrictions, so our teams have had to create a wide variety of letter-delivery solutions. Right now, the only letters we can process are ones written through MyCI. We know it might be disappointing to not be able to send a physical letter to your sponsored child right now. Please know your child needs all the encouragement you can give, even if it takes a few extra clicks to get your words into his or her hands.
Once you hit “send” on your MyCI letter, it will be transferred electronically to your sponsored child or youth’s field office. The team there will sort and translate the letters. (To reduce costs and use funds efficiently—and to meet pandemic restrictions—we may use translation software as well as non-professional translators.) If your child’s family has access to a phone and/or data plan, the team will either forward the letter digitally or call to read it over the phone. When families don’t have access to mobile devices, the team tries to print physical copies and deliver the letters personally (if they can do this safely, depending on current pandemic restrictions). Our teams are working very hard to keep the lines of communication open during extremely challenging times. We know how important it is to share encouraging messages with each other right now!
- Astrid, mother of Litzy, 13, Guatemala, on Litzy’s sponsor.
Encourage your child often:
We get this question a lot, so we’ve put together a few helpful resources to get you started. If you’re nervous about crafting the perfect letter, remember this: There is no perfect letter. Your sponsored child is going to be excited to receive a letter from you, no matter what it says! If you’re just starting out, keep it basic. Many sponsors find it easiest to describe their family, pets and/or a favorite subject, like a sport or hobby, and then ask questions about your child’s daily life, favorite activities and goals for the future. Use the tips below to get typing. You’re going to do great.
This helpful article will walk you through suggested topics of discussion (describing the town you live in), ways to encourage your child (don’t forget to say you are proud of him or her!), important questions to ask (what are his or her hopes for the future?), and topics to avoid or take extra care with (material possessions you have that they might not).
This list of idea starters will help you write a smile-inducing letter and spark your growing pen-pal relationship. Help your sponsored child and their family get to know you a little better with prompts like, “As a kid, I admired ______ because __________.” Or “My nickname growing up was __________.”
We’re so glad you asked! We have a variety of letter templates to get your creative juices flowing. Here’s how to use them:
7. You can save a draft of your letter if you aren’t ready to send it yet. (Drafts can be found in your Message Center, under the “Child Letters” tab.)
8. Click “Send Now” when you’re ready to send your letter to your child.
- Henry, 14, Zambia