Q. I am a new sponsor and was excited to write my sponsored child, but I was a little disappointed when I received her letter. It sounded very impersonal and did not answer some of the questions I had asked her in my own letter. How do I even know she wrote it and not someone else?
A. Many cultural expectations that we place upon letters vary from country to country. In some cases, this may be the first letter a sponsored child has been asked to write. Your friend may not have grown up with thank-you cards or any form of written correspondence.
Letter writing can be an especially difficult concept for children who come from a strong oral tradition. In Kenya, for instance, CFCA staffers say sponsored children sometimes view letter writing as some sort of exam.
The English language can also create a barrier, and other children may not know how to express themselves in writing. Therefore, they may not realize that an answer is expected when a letter contains a question.
Related link: Kenyan oral tradition affects letter writing
Another reason your sponsored child may not have answered your questions is that it can take about eight to 10 weeks for her to receive your letter.
Your letter’s journey encounters many obstacles like translation time, unreliable mail systems and delivery to remote areas before it reaches your friend.
The same time frame also holds true when you receive a letter from her. (You can learn more about the journey of a letter here.)
As a result of this extended time frame, your letters may cross in the mail. Questions in one letter may remain unanswered until subsequent letters are received.
We encourage you to keep sending letters to your sponsored child, and also to consider sending a photo of you and your family. A picture may help your friend to write to someone they haven’t met before.
Letters from sponsors are often a prized possession for sponsored friends and their families. It is sometimes the only mail they receive.