child sponsorship

Think Flat When It Comes to Sending Gifts

A little reminder since Christmas is coming, and many of our sponsors want to give something special to the children they sponsor. For more tips about corresponding with your sponsored child, check this out.

Want to include something special for your sponsored child? Think flat.
Children cherish the little gifts and fun extras you add to your letters, but bulky objects cause difficulties and create problems with customs officials. Make sure that anything you include is flat, lightweight and not easily broken. Avoid items that can melt.

Trifonia Timor-Leste

Trifonia, 10, of Timor-Leste, received this card from her sponsors.

“Envelope add-ins” include:

  • family photographs
  • drawings
  • hair ribbon or embroidery thread
  • stickers
  • paper dolls
  • postcards
  • poems or stories
  • coloring book pages
  • birthday cards
  • origami paper
  • stationary
  • preprinted pages for children to fill out

To minimize the possibility that mail will be lost or stolen, make it appear to have less worth to those who may be interested in its contents. Never include anything of value, use plain manila or white envelopes, and keep external writing nondescript.

We ask sponsors not to send packages to their sponsored children.

Packages are frequently stolen, or they can be charged a prohibitive duty tax. If you would like to give a gift for Christmas, birthdays, or other occasions, we recommend gifts between $20 and $50. ChildFund requests a $3.50 donation when sending monetary gifts to help offset the costs associated with processing, distributing and safely delivering the funds. If you would like our assistance with giving your sponsored child a monetary gift, please call us at 1-800-776-6767. Our representatives will be happy to assist you.

A Sponsor’s Visit to La Paz, Bolivia

sponsor visit to Bolivia

Isabel (left), whose family sponsors five children through ChildFund Deutschland, visited Neri and her mother in Bolivia recently. Here, they visit the cable car station in La Paz, called Mi Teleferico.

By Abraham Marca, ChildFund Bolivia

ChildFund’s office in Bolivia recently hosted the daughter of a sponsor, who got to meet 2-year-old Neri and her parents.

Isabel, 18, is Spanish but lives in Germany; her mother, Luisa, has sponsored Neri since July through ChildFund Deutschland, one of our Alliance partners. They sponsor five children in all, one for each member of the family. Luisa needed to stay home to care for her younger son, so Isabel went in her place to Bolivia.

“With these pictures, my mom is going to be jealous of me,” Isabel said. “She really wanted to come here.”

Neri will become a big sister in January, when her mother is expecting her second child. Her father is a truck driver, and the family lives in La Paz, one of Bolivia’s largest cities. During Isabel’s visit, they went to see Mi Teleférico, a new cable-car system, which was very exciting for Neri. It was a sunny day, and the independent little girl was happy to walk by herself.

“Neri’s dream has come true,” her mother said. “She has wanted to get in the Teleférico for months.” Then they went to a children’s park, where Neri ran and played with Isabel and her mother.

“Neri reminds me of my younger brother,” Isabel said. “She has a lot of energy and independence, and it seems she never gets tired!”

Earlier in the trip, Isabel also visited an Early Childhood Development center supported by ChildFund and run by a local partner organization, San José Las Lomas. She had the opportunity to talk to the coordinators and meet children there, and she expressed a lot of interest in their work.

When the sun was going down, the group returned to the neighborhood where Neri’s family lives, again riding Mi Teleférico and enjoying the city’s sights one last time. “This is like her Christmas gift,” Neri’s mother declared. Below, see more pictures from Isabel’s visit, including a trip to the local ECD center. If you’re a sponsor and wish to visit your child in his or her country, call our Sponsor Care team at 1-800-776-6767, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. (ET), Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

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New Global Strategy Focuses on Children’s Rights

By Florence Provendier, Executive Director, Un Enfant par la Main 

To commemorate ChildFund’s 75th anniversary, we invited the leaders of the 12 ChildFund Alliance groups to reflect on the past and future of their own organizations and the Alliance. Today, we hear from France. 

75th ChildFund logoUn Enfant par la Main was founded in 1990 by ChildFund International. Today, through sponsorships, we are supporting more than 7,000 children and almost 100 projects in 16 countries. 

After 23 years of work and engagement to help children who are impoverished, 2012 saw a dramatic change in our global strategy. We interviewed hundreds of sponsors, donors, volunteers, team members and other stakeholders in our organization to arrive at our key objectives of increasing sponsorships and funding, and to accurately measure the effects of our actions to promote children’s rights.

These objectives are based on our organizational values:

  • Solidarity: Building links between France and the communities we serve to enable children and their families to be self-sufficient. To reach this goal, we work with fellow ChildFund Alliance members to meet the true needs of families and communities.
  • Responsibility: In communities we serve, we seek to build awareness of the role community members have to play and their responsibilities. At the same time, we commit to evaluating the impact of our actions and being transparent.
  • Respect: Listening to and understanding sponsors to make their involvement easier; listening to and understanding supported children so that we may better meet their needs.

    Senegalese children

    Florence Provendier spends time with children in Senegal.

The first outcome of our strategy was the launching of a communication campaign called Aider un enfant, si ça compte pour moi, imaginez comme c’est concret pour lui. (Helping a child: If this matters to me, imagine how concrete it is for him.) The campaign focuses on the relationships between children and sponsors, highlighting the concrete effects of sponsorship on children’s lives. As the campaign launched, we also increased our digital presence with a new website, newsletter and increased social network engagement to reach our supporters.

As our organization makes strategic shifts, it is always with the desire to help more and more children to grow up and thrive in the best conditions and environment possible through sponsorship.

ChildFund Volunteers Make the World a Better Place

By Kate Nare, ChildFund Marketing Specialist

This week is National Volunteer Week and we would like to thank ALL of ChildFund’s amazing volunteers! Whether it’s participating at our LIVE! concert events, sharing our organization’s mission through social media, speaking at a local Rotary club or attending fundraising luncheons, ChildFund volunteers are getting the word out about children who live in poverty and are in desperate need of a sponsor.

Every day ChildFund supporters make a difference in the lives of the children they sponsor. Through monthly sponsorship donations and staying in touch through cards, photos and letters, ChildFund sponsors provide support, encouragement and empowerment to a child. Some sponsors go one step further by also giving their time to find other sponsors for children who are struggling to survive.

Christine Lin and Marilyn Warner are good friends and ChildFund sponsors who go above and beyond to help children. Recently, the duo volunteered at an event in Newport Beach, Calif. This luncheon and fan mixer, billed as “The Sounds of David,” honored recording artist and American Idol Season 7 runner-up David Archuleta by raising funds for his favorite charities.

Archuleta sponsors a child and kicked off ChildFund’s LIVE! concert series in December 2011, garnering child sponsorships during his “My Kind of Christmas Tour.” He was unable to attend the event since he is currently on a mission trip in South America. However, 85 of his biggest fans were there to participate in silent and live auctions to raise money for ChildFund and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Two friends at table

Volunteers Christine and Marilyn get ready to share their sponsorship stories at the ChildFund table.

Marilyn and Christine greeted guests who stopped by the ChildFund table, providing information about sponsorship and ChildFund’s mission. They brought letters and photos from their own sponsored children, bringing their sponsorship experience to life and sharing how much it has meant to them. The display featured child packets, photos of Archuleta during his visit to ChildFund’s programs in the Philippines, as well as an iPad with rotating images of children.

Performer David Archuleta talks with children in Philippines.

David Archuleta visited ChildFund programs in the Philippines last year.

“Christine did an awesome job handling all the paperwork and creating receipts for the sponsorships and donations,” Marilyn noted.

Christine added, “Marilyn did an excellent job making people feel welcome to our table, encouraging others about sponsorship and explaining to them what ChildFund is all about and showing her folders of her kids, so people can see the blessings from it.”

woman holding up photo of child

Robin Gantz signs up to sponsor a child in Zambia.

The two friends made a great team, raising several hundred dollars for ChildFund and signing up two new sponsors.

But Marilyn and Christine didn’t stop there. They divided the remaining child packets from the event and are now asking their friends and co-workers to sponsor these children.

Thank you Christine and Marilyn for giving your time to ensure a successful event! Because of your efforts, and the work of other volunteers like you, children living in poverty will have new opportunities to reach their full potential.

If you would like to volunteer with ChildFund at a LIVE! event, or in another way, please email volunteers@ChildFund.org or call our toll-free number at 800-458-0555, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.

Good Things Are Happening for Ecuadorian Children

by Cheri Dahl, ChildFund Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs

We sway hard to the right as the bus navigates the hairpin turn in the road as we travel south to the highlands outside of Quito, Ecuador.

Today the ChildFund Board of Directors is visiting the Alpamalag de Acurios community in the rural Cotopaxi province. Parents tell us that ChildFund sponsorship has had great impact on the quality of education here. At the Miguel de Cervante School, elementary students provide a tour and tell us about positive improvements to the school, organized with assistance from ChildFund.

Photo of dream corner

A dream corner where students can read and muse.

My favorite is a “dream corner” furnished with comfortable bean bags just right for reading. The dream corner makes reading fun, students exclaim. Parents share that teacher training and improvements to the curriculum are resulting in their children’s academic success. In fact, the principal reports that this school has been recognized by the government for students’ excellent test scores.

We also meet with eighth-grade students who demonstrate computer and welding skills that are attributable to expanded courses made possible with ChildFund’s support.

Photo of girls with welded objects

Rocio and Elsa display their artisan welding skills.

Rocio, age 14, shows us how she crafts beautiful shapes out of iron and then welds them to make tables, window screens and even doors. She acknowledges that she loves mastering a skill often dominated by males.

Her teacher, Mr. Rivera, notes that students who master the craft of shaping and welding wrought iron can make a good living.

As I say good-bye, Rocio and her classmate Elsa pose for a photo and ask that I share with ChildFund sponsors the good things that are happening at their school.

ChildFund Board Gives Sponsorship a Checkup

by Cheri Dahl, ChildFund Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs

A few splashes of rain hit the windshield. As I look out the window, the tip of Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world, is obscured by clouds as we travel to Patutan to meet with the families of Camino a la Esperanza Association, ChildFund’s local partner.

I am here in Ecuador with members of our board of directors who are reviewing programs and hearing directly from children, youth and family members about the benefits they have received through ChildFund sponsorship.

photo of map

Community risk map

The parents are excited to share their community’s story of transformation. They start with a huge red map, showing us how the area has been grouped into small clusters of families with a community member assigned to track needs, concerns and risks of that group of families. They point out community risk sites on the map — a house where a mean dog is a threat to children, the home of a recent widow, who is especially vulnerable, and a dangerous, abandoned well. The map is a tool — a kind of safety net for ensuring risks are known and addressed.

As we discuss the map, the parents share that only a few years ago, unemployment was high in this area and children were abandoning school. Many in the community felt hopeless; others began leaving Patutan for opportunities in the city. In response, ChildFund led the community through a process of identifying the greatest risks to children and developing a plan for addressing those risks.

One of the greatest needs was improved access to clean water. Women were traveling as much as 6 kilometers (more than 3 miles) to get water that might meet their needs for two days. Collecting water ruled their day, and the chore fell primarily to girls, often interfering with school attendance.

Board of Directors photo

The ChildFund Board of Directors visits the community's water tank.

ChildFund worked with the community, organizing members to partner with the local municipality to bring a water tank to Patutan. The result — high on a hill with the beautiful Andes in the background — is a water tank and treatment facility run by a volunteer water council.

Water is now pumped directly into the homes of 600-plus Patutan families, saving time, keeping girls in school and uniting the community around the management and maintenance of the water facility.

As we leave the water tank site and continue our community visit, we learn that ChildFund’s assistance with small loans is another source of community employment and stability. With modest loans, families have started a variety of successful small businesses.

Carnations photo

Carnations everywhere!

We stop to visit one — a hothouse where carnations are grown for sale and export. Workers show us how they are grown, clipped and packaged for market. We meet a family whose prospects have greatly improved through their small flower business. They tell us of their plans and hopes to expand.

Photo of rainbow

Cheri Dahl, vice president of Communications and Public Affairs, and Laura Thornton, director of ePhilanthropy and Marketing, enjoy the rainbow.

As we listen, we are drawn to the many colors and varieties of carnations they have grown. We buy 10 bunches to boost today’s sales.

Just as we’re leaving, a huge rainbow appears in the sky.

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