Wondering if your child will (really) write back?
Find out what happened when Leslie wrote to 8-year-old Seraphine!
Christmas 2006 was approaching on Washington state’s Bainbridge Island, and Leslie Kelly was home ironing.
“I can picture the day exactly,” she says. “One of the commercials for World Vision came on TV. I looked at the faces of the children and wondered what I could give up …”
Leslie didn’t have much, but she was moved to cancel her cellphone service so she could sponsor a child. Her sacrifice closed one mode of communication — and paved the way for a new one she hadn’t expected.
Leslie chose an 8-year-old girl from Rwanda named Seraphine, and wrote to her. Soon Seraphine was writing back to Leslie about everything in her life — her siblings, her school, and her daily two-mile hike to get water. From then on, Leslie couldn’t turn on a water tap without thinking of Seraphine.
The two kept corresponding. Leslie sent a letter every couple of months, sometimes including small gifts like colored pencils or notepads. Seraphine replied, using her new pencils to send drawings. “After getting two or three letters you can’t stop, because you want to know how [their] life is turning out,” Leslie says. After nearly 10 years of faithful friendship-building, Leslie got an announcement: World Vision’s work in Seraphine’s community was done! They were taking full ownership of their future.
“How do you say goodbye to someone you’ve never met?” wondered Leslie. She was grateful for the chance to change Seraphine’s life, and for the love that Seraphine had brought into her own. She sent a farewell letter, a Special Gift for Christmas, and a package with more pencils and stickers as a parting gift for her young friend.
After witnessing the wonderful impact that sponsorship had made for Seraphine, Leslie couldn’t wait to sponsor another child — a girl in Uganda named Docus. She’s excited for this new relationship, but she’ll always have a special place in her heart for Seraphine. And she still treasures those letters and drawings from Rwanda, marking the years of friendship with a child whom she grew to know and love across the miles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is writing to my sponsored child really a big deal?
It is! Reports show that sponsored kids who exchange letters with their sponsors are more confident, happier, and more hopeful about their futures. Your letters tell your sponsored child that you care about them and their community. And their messages back will bless you with a special look at how they’re growing thanks to your prayers and support.
Wondering what to say?
We know — sometimes it’s hard to think of what to write. If you haven’t already introduced yourself, you can start with something like:
Hi, __________! My name is __________, and I’m so happy to be your sponsor. I live in [City, State; describe what part of the U.S.]. There are __________ people in my family. Their names are __________. We also have these pets: __________. What is your family like? I can’t wait to get a letter from you!
Or, if you’ve already started getting to know each other, try these ideas:
- Describe your family and friends: names, what they look like, interests
- Share your (or your children’s) interests and favorites: colors, animals, school subjects, sports, hobbies
- Tell your sponsored child why you’re thankful for them
- Ask about their hopes and dreams — what they want to be when they grow up
- Ask what they’re learning in school
- Ask about their favorite games and sports
- Share about your relationship with Jesus Christ*
- Share Bible verses or stories you’ve read recently*
- Remind your sponsored child that you’re praying for them*
*Note: If your child lives in an area where a faith other than Christianity is most commonly practiced, you may see a “sensitive area” alert when you send an email. Please refrain from religious references in your message, which could endanger your sponsored child or our local staff. Do continue to pray for your child’s physical and spiritual well-being.
When you write, consider your sponsored child’s environment and culture. For example, avoid writing about things you own, since your child may have very few possessions. Sharing stories, talking about family, friends, and interests, and asking about their life are great ways to keep building your relationship!
How long will it take to hear back?
We know how hard waiting is! Remote locations and slow postal systems mean delivery can take up to four months. And once letters arrive, staff usually need to translate. Your child will love to hear from you as often as you’d like to write, and you’ll hear back up to four times a year!
How to send a message through My World Vision
- Sign in to, or create, your My World Vision account.
- Click “Email your Sponsored Child” at the top of the page.
- If you sponsor more than one child, select the one you want to email.
- Choose a unique design to use in your message if you like.
- Write your message! You can even attach a couple photos (we suggest your family or pets).
- Preview your message and make sure everything looks great.
- Send it! A World Vision staff member in your child’s country will print, translate (if needed), and deliver it.
How to mail a letter
- Use paper of your own or download one of our fun letter designs (below).
- Write your message! Be sure to include your child’s full name, your child’s ID number, and your full name at the top in case your letter gets separated from the envelope. (Your child’s full name and ID number can be found at My World Vision.)
- Write the mailing address of the World Vision office in your sponsored child’s country on the front of the envelope. (This can also be found at My World Vision.)
- Write your name and address on the back flap of the envelope after folding it. Then write your child’s first name and child ID number on the back of the envelope (near the bottom).
- Put your letter and any photos inside the envelope.
- Add stamps and drop it in the mail! Check with your local post office for the right amount of postage.
Use this letter design if it’s your first time writing to your child.
Use this letter design to ask about their community and complete a fun drawing activity.
Questions? We’re happy to help! Call us at 866.461.5683