Countries around the world are in different stages of the pandemic. For some, things are starting to unlock, but for others the situation has never been more critical. You can find out more about how the pandemic is affecting each of the countries where Compassion serves here.
The difference in pandemic stages and the uncertainty of the current situation might be leaving you with lots of questions. Questions about health, about the future, about what we can be doing to help. We’re all longing for answers to questions that aren’t very black and white.
During this time, you might find yourself wondering about the safety and health of your sponsored child. Maybe you’re longing to communicate with them — ask how they're doing, tell them that you’re praying. These are great questions to be asking. They reveal your heart for children in poverty. That’s why we’d like to give you a few tips for writing letters to your sponsored child during this time.
Writing to your sponsored child during a crisis, such as the Coronavirus pandemic, requires a little extra thoughtfulness and sensitivity. This pandemic is a new challenge for our world, but crises are not.
In this post, we’ll give you some tips on how to ask your sponsored child appropriate questions, how to be sensitive to the situation, how to encourage him or her and how to pray through the season.
But first …
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we want to answer a couple of the letter-writing questions you might be asking right about now …
Will my letters be delayed?
With the constant changes across the globe due to COVID-19, letters to and from your sponsored children will likely be delayed. However, we ask that you please continue to encourage him or her. And letters are a great way to do just that. They will serve as a huge gift once your child can receive them. We typically recommend that a sponsor sends at least 2-3 letters per year, so if you haven’t sent one in a few months, consider sending a letter today!
Will my child receive gifts I send?
Due to the temporary closures of many of Compassion’s global offices, the delivery of gifts to your child and their family will be delayed. However, we encourage you to continue sending birthday and other monetary gifts to your child during this time, if you are able. The gifts will likely be vital to the families after a long period of time in quarantine.
If you have any other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this page.
COVID-19 is a unique health crisis affecting the whole world. However, there are many other types of health crises that regularly take place — crises that people living in poverty are especially vulnerable to. For example, in the last year, there have been outbreaks of dengue, Ebola and other viruses in countries where Compassion works. Health crises happen, and it’s especially important that we know how to talk to our sponsored children about them in this season.
Ask. To protect the privacy of the child and their family, keep all health-related questions high level. Don’t ask for specifics. If your child is facing a health crisis, here are a few questions you could ask …
- How has your family been doing lately?
- Have you been learning hand washing tips?
- Have there been any recent changes in your community?
Be sensitive. There’s no need to be afraid to write about a health crisis like Coronavirus in your letters, but it is incredibly important to know how to talk about it appropriately. Child protection and privacy is incredibly important, so we suggest that you do not ask directly about the ways your child or their family have been affected. However, there are a few ways you can sensitively write about a health crisis:
- With a health crisis that you can understand or relate to — like COVID-19 — feel free to share about your experience. How has your family been doing? How are you feeling? This might make your child feel safe enough to share more openly about his or her experience.
- Remind your sponsored child that you are praying for him or her during this health crisis. Write out your specific prayers for your child’s health and safety.
- If your sponsored child chooses to share openly about illness or loss, then it is appropriate to address the issue and its effect on him or her directly.
Encourage. If your sponsored child shares about an illness or health crises, share a story about a time you were sick and recovered. Remind him or her that God can bring us healing and strength. Infuse your letters with hope!
Pray. Tell your sponsored child that you are praying for their healing or their family’s healing. Remind him or her that you regularly pray for them? — especially throughout this crisis.
Family-related crises can be especially traumatic. The loss of a loved one, the loss of a home, the separation of parents — none of these are easy. Most of us — including children living in poverty — will experience family crises in our lives. For some of you, a crisis like this might have happened recently. If you or a loved one are dealing with illness, job loss or even death in this season, please know that our hearts break for you. We are praying for you. It’s so important that we care for each other well in this season. And, that’s why it’s more important now than ever to know how to talk about family crises in your letters …
Ask. If your sponsored child has recently experienced a family crisis, ask questions like …
- How have you been doing lately?
- Have you been able to talk to someone from your Compassion project about your recent loss?
- How can I be praying for you and your family in this season?
Be sensitive. Like other types of crises, do not ask directly about the loss unless your sponsored child has shared about it with you. Respecting his or her privacy is important. But if you do know about a recent loss in the family, here are a few key writing tips:
- Be gentle as you write. Think carefully about all your words. Ask yourself what kinds of questions you’d be comfortable answering during a family crisis.
- Ask about feelings, rather than experiences. This way, your sponsored child doesn’t have to write about recent, potentially traumatic experiences — unless he or she chooses to.
- Include your specific prayers for your sponsored child during his or her family crisis.
Encourage. Tell your child that though you don’t know exactly what they are going through, you do know about pain and grief. Maybe even share an experience of your own, if you feel comfortable, as well as what helped you get through that time. Remind your child that he or she is not alone — and that you are thinking of and praying for him or her often.
Pray. Let your sponsored child know that you are regularly praying for the specific family crisis they shared with you. Tell him or her that you are praying for their family members by name (if you know them).
Most of these tips — especially the ones about health crises — can be applied directly to the global COVID-19 crisis our world is facing right now. These are hard days. Please know that we are praying for you and your family. Crises like these are no surprise to God — let us find comfort in this truth!
We all need a little extra encouragement these days, so send some to your sponsored child today!
A version of this blog was originally published by our friends at Compassion International.