In New Zealand, we don’t really think about it much because it’s so easy — you post a letter or package, and a few days later it’s in the hands of the person you sent it to.

But mail and package delivery in the developing world is more complex. 

In most cases, there is no express delivery to small, remote villages. And even if there was, because we take child protection so seriously, there is a series of checks that have to happen from Tearfund’s office all the way to your child’s local centre before your sponsored child receives his or her letter.

In almost every case, your letter travels a great distance, preserved with great care, by a whole host of people who treat your written words as they were precious gold. Your letters bring more hope than you could know.

Let’s step through the process of exchanging letters with your sponsored child, and hopefully, you’ll have a clearer understanding of:
  • Just how important and uplifting your letters are.
  • The massive effort that Compassion in-country workers undertake with great pleasure to deliver your words of encouragement to your eager children.
woman-handing-out-letters-to-a-group-of-children.jpg Woman handing out letters to a group of children.

Step 1: Sending Letters

You can send a letter one of two ways.

You can send a hard copy letter via mail to Tearfund. In most cases, we scan your letter and digitally send it to specially trained staff in the national office in the country where your child lives.


… If you write a letter via the Tearfund digital letter-writing platform, the digital scans are sent directly to the national offices in your sponsored child’s country.

Step 2: Letter Translation and Child-Protection Monitoring

Once the national offices receive your letters, a small team of caring child advocates reads each letter. This may seem like an invasion of privacy, but they do this for very good reasons. The first reason is practical—most children don’t speak English, so translators at each country’s national offices,  translate your words into the language your sponsored child understands.

The second reason every letter gets read is for the protection of your sponsored child and you as the sponsor. The staff look for any instance of accidental over-communication, such as:
  • personal email addresses
  • phone numbers
  • Facebook and other social media accounts
  • inappropriate language
Letters are also checked to make sure there are no inappropriate or culturally insensitive photos, or any content that would affect the dignity of the child. It’s been caught in the past.

Three boys smiling writing letters.

Step 3: Obstacles in the journey

This process has been delayed by the global pandemic. But typically, after letters have been translated and reviewed, they are labelled, sorted and packaged according to each child development centre.

Your letters are packaged with other letters and are sent through Compassion staff or via private courier to a pickup and drop-off point a reasonable distance from the centre.

This is where it gets really interesting because dedicated workers from each centre make long, hard and sometimes dangerous journeys to these pick-up and drop-off points for the letters.

Step 4: Assembly, delivery, coaching and reversing the process

Each Compassion centre handles letter delivery a bit differently, but most centres make a big deal and a celebration out of letter delivery day.

It may seem a bit mundane to you and me, but in small communities like those in the Volta Region of Ghana, it’s rare to receive mail at all, let alone letters from someone half-way around the world. So, when letters arrive, the centre hosts an assembly where letters are handed out and everyone celebrates as though they received a letter of their own.

Compassion workers on boat to villages.

“When children get letters, the whole community hears about it and rejoices. For someone abroad to think about a child [here] and write to that child, it is a very big thing for them.”

Writing letters is also part of the child development curriculum. The exercise of letter writing teaches children how to form handwritten letters properly and how to use proper sentence structure in their language. It also helps children to practice valuable communication skills.

The process is then reversed. Letters are carried to collection points, delivered to the national offices, translated and then scanned and sent back to Tearfund to be sent to you.

I hope this gives you an insight into how many people are involved in making sure your sponsored child receives your loving words of encouragement. Each one of them is honoured to do it. And each one of them is also 100% dedicated to seeing your sponsored child reach his or her full potential in Christ. So, keep sending your letters and cheering them on! Perhaps now is a good time to write your next letter to the child you sponsor.

Kick this amazing journey off right now—send a letter to the child you sponsor.

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