Ever wondered how many hands, planes, buses, motorbikes or elephants it takes to deliver the letter that you’ve written to your sponsored child? Let’s take a look!
01 Nov, 2018
Sienna sits on her bed in Australia writing a letter to her family’s sponsored child, Praise. Praise lives in Kenya. They ask each other about their countries and what life is like for one another. Sienna posts the letter to Compassion Australia, like so many other sponsors. Alternatively, some sponsors write online through My Account.
On average, Compassion Australia processes over 2900 letters each week!
Your letter arrives at Compassion Australia’s head office. Once we’ve sorted through the letters, yours is forwarded on to the head office in the developing country that your sponsored child lives. This is done either electronically, by scanning letters and sending them to the relevant country offices, or by posting attachments that can’t be scanned, like stickers and cards. These items make their way by plane to their final destination.
Drawn by Compassion sponsored child in Peru
National Country Office
Your letter has arrived at the national office where your sponsored child lives! At the national office, letters are reviewed for any materials that may be considered culturally inappropriate, organised by centre and location, and assigned to translators.
Ghana National Office
Burkina Faso National Office
Jose, from Mexico, sits at his desk reviewing a stack of letters.
Translating your letter
In some African countries like Ghana and Kenya, letters generally don’t need to be translated as English is commonly used and taught. However, most of the countries Compassion works in speak languages other than English.
Translators receive access to letters and translate by hand or online. It depends on what the process is within the country. Imagine translating hundreds of letters every month!
In a country like Ghana, where translating is not required, a sponsor’s questions are rewritten in a checkbox on the letter pad to highlight them to the project workers and children when they reply to the letter.
Warunee works from home and translates letters
The Thailand national office receive approximately 1000 letters each week that need to be translated. Each Thai translator receives 50 letters to translate at a time.
After letters have been translated, letters are organised into ‘clusters’ across the country. Each cluster is made up of a number of Compassion’s frontline church partners within a country’s region. Once this is done, they’ll be sent to a collation officer to distribute to each frontline church partner.
Getting to the child development centre
Some Compassion child development centres are located in urban areas, which makes them a lot more convenient to get to. However, it can take a little more effort for areas that are rural or hours away from the national office. The lengths the collation officers will go to make sure your sponsored child receives your letter is impressive!
Lorlor travels from Dove to Adidome in Ghana every Thursday to collect letters and to send children’s responses to previous letters.
Lorlor travels by boat across the River Volta.
She continues on a motorbike to get to her final destination.
Other collation officers will trek through heavy traffic.
On local transport...
Or on tuk tuks!
Before roads were built, elephants were sometimes used in Thailand to deliver letters to children in very remote villages. How cool is that?
Arrived! Let’s celebrate.
Let there be the sound of joy! Your letter has been delivered. Some children are so excited they’ll open up your letter straight away. Others like to savour the moment and save opening your much-loved letter until they get home. You’ve really made their day—thank you.
Children at Compassion centre GH0921 show off their letters.
Lorlor finally is able to deliver the letters to the children personally.
14-year-old Godwin from Ghana can barely contain his excitement.
Young friends from Ethiopia enjoy reading the letters they receive together.
“My sponsors letters are very important to me, I get very happy when I receive their letters. I feel special because their letters come from very far,” says Leysha, from Peru.
Six-year-old Brenda from El Salvador loves getting letters from her sponsor.
Let’s reverse it!
Now it’s your sponsored child’s turn.
After reading this, you might be feeling guilty for not writing as often as you think you should, or perhaps not at all. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Tomorrow is a new day, and we encourage you to jump online and write to your sponsored child on My Account. It’s quick, easy and can be as little or as long as you like. Even sending through a short message of encouragement will go a long way!
Words by: Vera Mensah- Bediako, Ellyse McCallum
Photos by: Vera Mensah- Bediako, Bayly Moore, Nora Diaz, Sean Sheridan, Ana Santos, Serge Ismael Ouedraogo, Cesiah Magana, Arada Polowat, Jonathan L. Suwaratana