Frequently Asked Questions are being updated regularly. There are also topics covered in other pages, such as leadership, teams etc. This questions page is not intended to repeat information on all these other pages but to provide a little more detail about a specific question asked of us.
If you can’t see the question you’d like answered you can ask it here.
Child sponsorship (23)
As electronic communications become the norm in many countries they are still anything but that in other countries. Also some countries actually have bans in place preventing many social media and communication sites from being accessed. We understand your desire to avoid using “snail mail” in our ever-increasing, digitally connected world. We have installed our online child letter-writing site to help in this area.
Our greatest concern is protecting the children. In this day and age we must be firm in this area and we also have requirements and best practices followed by all international agencies.
If you are contacted by your sponsored child outside of Heart For Kids (e.g., by phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), please don’t respond, and please let us know about the contact.
It’s been surprisingly common in some organisations for someone who knows a sponsored child, even a family member like an uncle or cousin, to create an account on a social network. They then pretend to be the child, to ask for money or to claim the child’s well-being is threatened if money isn’t provided.
We cannot protect your privacy or your sponsored child if we are not involved in the correspondence. We also have a responsibility to protect the children from sponsors who don’t have the children’s best interest in mind. Sadly this happens occasionally as well.
Being involved in the correspondence process also allows us to help you navigate the ocean of cross-cultural sensitivities and avoid inadvertently writing something inappropriate or offensive to your child or to other laws or practices in your child’s country. Many of these are very different to those in our own countries.
If you are contacted by the child or youth you sponsor outside of Heart For Kids system (e.g., by phone, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, WeChat etc.), please don’t respond, even to say, “I’m sorry but I can’t talk with you in this manner.” And please let us know about the contact.
If it happens in Facebook or Twitter, please use the site’s “block” feature to block the person from asking you to be their friend. I know this may sound harsh, but please try to imagine what could happen if these guidelines weren’t in place.
Sending a parcel to your child can be difficult. It incurs a cost that Heart for Kids is not able to bear unless someone from our office or a volunteer is able to carry while travelling. This of course is dependant on weight restrictions and when someone is next travelling.
Everything we send to our country offices is declared to customs as a document. If custom officials find anything in a box of letters that isn’t a document, we will be assessed and may face hefty fine and the box will be held for weeks, possibly months.
On top of that, there is a high incidence of theft when sending packages to the developing world, and shipping items overseas can be quite costly.
Instead, we encourage you to send a monetary gift. Our local staff will purchase what they need most. This also benefits the local economy of your sponsored child by supporting local businesses.
While it may seem easier to speak with your child directly through social media (Facebook etc), and we know that writing letters the “old-fashioned” way may not be what you prefer, we appreciate your willingness to respect our communication policies which are written in the best interests of all concerned.
We would love you to! We recommend you send a picture of yourself in the first letter and various pictures after that. You can send landscape photos, artistic pictures, pictures of your pets, the town you live in, your family and friends, etc.
Please remember to include your sponsor name and your sponsored child’s name and number on each photo or small gift you send.
Please avoid sending pictures that may accentuate the economic differences between you and your child (e.g., homes, cars, etc.). Be aware of what is in the photo’s background, as well.
If you happen to send a photo that our staff considers inappropriate, we will advise you by email but we cannot return the photograph to you.
Visits to our programs can happen in a few ways. Each year we run volunteer teams where you can join with others to serve our children. These offer an a Come – See – Do experience. They are hands on and you’ll be very involved. Visit our teams page for more information.
Some people come to our children’s home to volunteer for a short term. Often these people have particular skills that will directly benefit the children in that program and they may even help training some of our staff. These visits are dependent on staff availability as our team may be away visiting children or on teams. It is therefore at the discretion of our team to decide if it’s possible on a case by case request.
Yes, visits to sponsored children are usually possible after the first year of sponsorship.
Trips must be planned well in advance because travel to villages will need to be planned and their school activities etc must be worked around. Weekends are usually the best time. There are costs involved and these can be calculated for individual visits. Our staff will always take you to visit your sponsored child.
If you are interested please open a discussion by emailing us through our contact form. Be sure to include your child’s name and country.
ChinaHeart encourages sponsors to participate in the life of their child.
How can this happen:
- Pray regularly for your child and their family
- Sponsors are encouraged to write occasional letters to their child with update from your life and pictures. These letters allow your child to share in your life and relationships are built. Letters will be forwarded to your child as and when our team are visiting them. Sponsors are provided with guidelines for letter writing.
- Provide gifts for your child’s birthday or Christmas. We’re not able to send actual gifts to your child so a gift of money is the best method. This will then be used locally to bless your child in the most appropriate way.
- Commit to a long term relationship with your child.
- You can write a letter to your child by clicking here
- All communications between sponsors and their children or in-country offices go through our international office and translation team to protect the security of each child we serve.
Sponsoring is easy. Simply visit our page to see children who need sponsors now. Then go to our Sponsorship page to commence your financial sponsorship. You will complete a form providing information about yourself so we can provide you with child information then complete your payment via credit card on the secure form.
We will then be in touch soon afterwards and send you your child card with details of their situation.
When you choose to be a child sponsor, you create a special bond with a child who is in great need. You will make a huge difference to a child’s future by providing them with an opportunity to meet their basic needs and to receive an education, which is so vital in breaking the poverty cycle.
We encourage you to write to your sponsored child, send photos and small gifts to create a bond with them and to let them know that you care about them. You’ll find that sponsorship is incredibly rewarding for you too. Through letters and reports, you can see the progress of your sponsored child and their community over the years, and know that you have made a difference to a child’s life and future.
We forward letters by e-mail to our inland workers, so we ask that you not use any religious terms as some e-mails are being censored by the government. Our workers will translate your letter and take both copies to the child on the next visit. Children are encouraged to write back to their sponsors. Our workers will translate their letter into English and send it to us by e-mail.
Your sponsorship can be paid setup online via our secure sponsorship page.
We hope that you will want to be part of Heart For Kids work for some time. Our work is long-term and committed support from sponsors allows us to achieve lasting results. However long you will be with us, your sponsorship is very important to us. Children are normally sponsored until they reach the age of 18. Sometimes we extend that age if we are helping the child through university.
Circumstances can however change during your sponsorship: the child’s family might migrate to another area, our work within that community might come to an end or your financial circumstances could change.
We have found it best to place some restrictions on what sponsors can give. We support many families who are living on the poverty level, many under $2 per day. If we do not place some guidelines and restrictions on the type and size of gifts we may inadvertently encourage a level of dependancy. We could also encourage feelings of jealousy between children in the village.
Our staff encourage the children to understand that gifts are to be encouragements from sponsors, signs of their genuine love and best wishes for their child and not to be taken as something to expect. We encourage children to study diligently and strive to achieve all that they can to become the person they were created to be.
As a guideline we suggest you can give up to $200 a year to your sponsored child. This could perhaps be a $100 birthday gift and a $100 general gift.
Children who are studying at university have greater costs cost the yearly gift to them might be up to $500
If you wanted to give to the family in general this could be up to an additional $1,000.
These are guidelines for sponsors who feel they would like to make additional gifts.
Sponsors should not include messages about financial gifts in their letters to their child. This creates expectations which can be harmful.
Our Christmas Appeal helps to ensure that every H4K child receives a Christmas gift, including those who are supported by us but not yet sponsored. We believe every child should receive a gift, not only those who have sponsors, so gifts are pooled and distributed equally for an age specific gift.
Gifts may include clothing, blankets and bed-linen, toiletries and perhaps, a range of toys. Wherever possible, our church partners in the developing world purchase the gifts within their local communities, encouraging local businesses and boosting the local economy.
Although $40 is the recommended amount to ensure that each child receives a suitable gift, you are welcome to donate more. By giving more, you increase the value of every child’s gift once financial donations are pooled, and assist those sponsors who are unable to contribute. Our desire is to make this a special time of the year for the children in our family, even if their country does not really celebrate as a nation.
Thank you for helping to make it so special! To give to our children Christmas gift fund please go to our Gift Page and select the Christmas Gift Fund as the area you with to give to.
- Letters need to be translated and we have a wonderful team who perform this task. So they are not overloaded though we ask that you limit your letters to 250 words.
- Please keep your letters simple as this makes it easier to both translate and for the children to understand
- Your letters should include little pieces of news about you or your family and words of encouragement for your child
- As you encourage your child to do well in school (for instance) please don’t labour the point so the child does not feel additional pressure. Many are under enough pressure from family, friends and society in this area already.
- It’s OK to let your child know you are praying for their health (for instance) but sometimes we may need to edit letters which may be to explicit in this area.
- Please limit your letters to one every two or three months maximum so our translation team are able to keep up.
Experience has shown that routing letters through the Heart For Kids system is the most efficient way to handle correspondence.
- It allows us to translate letters in the most appropriate manner for both you and your child
- It helps us coordinate the process so letters travel in both directions as quickly as possible. Letters to children often have to be hand delivered.
- It allows us to protect your privacy.
- It allows us to protect the children.
If you do write to your child in their native language we will still forward this to our translation team so that we can be aware of the letter’s content.
Child sponsorship is a means of raising long-term support for the child until they complete their high school education and can take care of themselves. For some children it even means supporting them through their university education. It is a rich and rewarding experience for the sponsors which has real impact in the lives of the child and also, because education helps improve adult life too, will impact future generations. We hope our sponsors see their role as a long term commitment however we realise that changes occur in everyone’s lives. Your sponsorship provides needy children, their families and communities with lasting practical support.
When you first sponsor a child we send you a welcome letter along with your child card. That letter includes your child and sponsor numbers. It’s helpful to use your sponsor number when communicating with us and when writing online letters to your child.
If you can no longer locate your welcome letter please email our admin team.
Child sponsorship sows into our various projects allowing us to impact groups of children in our projects. Child sponsorship enables us to operate homes and programs like Doves Wings, Morning Light and IndiaHeart. It means children can remain in school. Many are forced to leave school due to family poverty and not being able to afford education. We provide educational scholarships to help break a very real cycle of children growing up without education and continuing the poverty cycle. Child sponsorship also enables us to provide medical care and sow into community programs where needed.
Historically we have been able to send 83% of funding to the child programs. This is quite high by comparison to many other organisations.
We take information security very seriously. For this reason, we handle all child letters directly and ask that you not share your personal contact information with your child.
Your letters are sent to the Australian office and then to your child’s country. Sharing your personal contact information can put you and your child at risk.
Some sponsors in other organisations who have shared their personal contact information have received solicitations for money from people claiming to be friends or family members of their sponsored child. There have also been situations where children have been placed at risk in their communities due to their direct contact with a sponsor from the developing world.
We cannot protect you or your child unless we are able to monitor the correspondence process.
General Heart For Kids questions (8)
In the past we have run what we’re called Boutique Teams. This is where a church has formed a team with it’s own leader and we have organised the logistics of the program and guidance by our in-China staff. The team leadership must follow our guidance on cultural issues and activities as you are seen as a Heart For Kids team by local projects and venue personnel.
These teams are still very hands on teams where you will be involved in the daily activities of the children. They are not teams where a group could simply come and view whats happeneing.
Boutique team dates can usually be set to work in with the church however we need to space teams out so our in-country staff can cope.
Boutique these teams are only available in China at this time due to the circumstances and school requirements of the children in our homes and projects in other countries.
You can choose to donate or sponsor via our secure donation page
You can also donate via bank transfer. Bank account details are on our Resources page but please email and let us know when you do this as often banks do not include very clear information in their transfer reference.
Heart For Kids is a Christian organisation. Very early in our existence we believed a key verse for us is James 1:27 where God calls us to care for the poor, widows and orphaned. We believe children thrive in families and love seeing them adopted where they have no family. We believe in Psalm 68’s description of God as Father of the fatherless.
We believe in practical service. We exist to bring relief to children’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
If you visit our resources page you can download our statement of beliefs.
Our international office is located in Sydney Australia. This is the home city of our Founder / CEO David Ryan and our Board of Directors. We do have direct representatives in the east and west areas of the USA.
This is a great question. Here is the Why, What and How of our ministry.
No matter what country or what physical circumstances they are in, children deserve to know Jesus and other people love them, and to have opportunity to grow to be the person they were created to be.
By supporting and defending orphans and widows as spoken of in scripture and connecting those who are able to give of themselves, sharing love as spoken of by Jesus, with those who are in need
We offer physical, emotional and spiritual care through foster homes, sponsorships, mentoring and orphanage support, and provide opportunities for people to come and share in this experience, with an end result that the children’s lives are improved.
Heart For Kids is a small, very hands on, organisation. Due to strategic partnerships with supporters we are able to save greatly on administration costs which means we can send a larger percentage of gifts to the child. We are a Christian based ministry seeking to always serve in culturally appropriate ways in each country.
Pre-Team questions (8)
Team applicants need to be 18 years or older unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. In certain circumstances we may approve of a younger person coming on team if they are travelling with an older person who has been approved by the parents to act as their guardian during the team.
If pre-teenage children are joining a team it’s best if both parents are also on the team.
There is no maximum age limit imposed however team activities require a reasonable level of physical fitness.
We do our best to make sure team member needs are met when it comes to spicy or non-spicy etc. food requirements.
On team we mostly eat local style foods. We don’t frequent western restaurants. If you must have a McDonalds fix there may be one available however it’s not where we will usually be found and special trips to allow for such foods are not made available.
One China team member said “Food! – Want to have the most amazing food experience then spend two weeks with Heart For Kids China team.” We’ll give you a good cross section of safe local food. It can be spiced up but if you don’t like too much spice we also take that very much into account. You’ll need to be practicing your chopsticks before you come to China.
If you have food allergies etc then be sure to note those on the team application medical form.
Volunteer teams generally run three times per year. Team members have come from many countries. You’ll need to contact us for an application form then submit that and your deposit. Team contributions are payable 4 weeks before the team and include expenses in China once you are picked up at the airport through to the end of your team and returning to the airport.
Our founder loves coffee too! Depending on the quality of coffee you have a passion for you need to remember Asia is not a big coffee drinking culture. It is becoming a little more common but in general the restaurants we frequent won’t serve much coffee. You may therefore choose to bring your own sachets or personal plunger and coffee with you.
You should be able to buy milk where we are but it’s not always convenient. Some people bring 3 in 1 sachets. If you’re hoping to have a morning macchiato Italian style espresso with your bacon and eggs breakfast you better keep dreaming on all counts 🙂
Team contributions are different in different countries.
The contribution to join a China team in 2017 is $AUD1150 per person. This includes your land costs once you are met at the airport to when your team has finished. It doesn’t include personal snacks or souvenirs or personal travel like taxis to go shopping etc. Neither does it cover the travel expenses getting to China such as flights, visa or any vaccinations you may like to have.
Team contributions in India and Indonesia depend on the team length and activities but so far have been lower than China teams.
Teams will usually visit a variety of projects depending on circumstances and the country the team is serving in.
In China activities will include our Doves Wings foster home, orphanages and partner programs. Team members run the activities which may include crafts, games, songs, plays, English teaching.
In India we again run a varied program of games, crafts, sports and may even have a special event like going to a movie.
In Indonesia a team would be different again as we’re serving young adults in that environment.
Each year team dates vary. Generally we anticipate running a team to India in April. Teams to China are normally in July and October. Teams to Indonesia are more flexible.
You can see more information at our teams page.
Teams usually run for 2 weeks.