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.
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Child sponsorship (25)
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 traveling. This of course is dependent on weight restrictions and when someone is next traveling.
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.
If you’re sending some cards or photos please make sure they reflect the everyday lifestyle of your home area. Sending photos of luxury stores and palatial homes would not be encouraging for the children we support. Please only send a few. Two or three are great for a child, 10 or 15 are overwhelming.
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.
You can write a letter to your child electronically. We have an online form you can access here.
To write your letter please have your sponsor child’s name, child number and your sponsor number ready.
Heart For Kids 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. Please note that we have limited resources to manage letters between sponsors and children. Every letter to a child must be processed by our translation team, then sent to our in-country team and finally given to your child. It’s not a simple task but we value the impact of letters greatly. We ask that you write to your sponsored child a maximum of once in four months.
- 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 four 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 and safest 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.
Please limit your letters to each child to one every four months. More than this becomes overwhelming for our translation team.
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.