This is an important area we need to clarify for the security of both sponsor and child. This is to prevent any difficult circumstances from occurring between children & sponsors through our organisation, which have already happened in others.
Experience has shown that routing letters through the Heart For Kids system is the most efficient way to handle correspondence.
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.
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 to be 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. 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 on 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.
We would love you to! We recommend you send a picture of yourself in the first letter and lots of 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 country staff considers inappropriate, we will advise you by email.
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.
Sending a parcel to your child be difficult. Costs are incurred which heart for Kids are unable to bear.
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.
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