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Tip Tuesday: Dissecting Group Letters

This week we’re talking about group sponsorships, but many of these tips would apply to any sponsor who wants to effectively write to their sponsored child.

First, if you sponsor this child as a group, make sure your explanation of the group is clear. Simply mentioning the group’s name (The Blend class, The Explorers, The Bible Adventure Club) won’t be enough, and it may make the translator’s job even harder. Try phrases like this:

We are a Sunday school class that studies the Bible together, prays together, and eats meals together. We meet once a week, and we are excited to sponsor you.

OR We are called the Bible Adventure Club, and we learn Bible stories and memorize scripture together. All the members of this class are either 11 or 12 years old, basically your age. Do you have a class like the Bible Adventure Club?

Also consider making your letters as simple as possible. Often we are so excited to begin sponsorship that we want every person in the group involved. And yet some tactics are good in theory but make translation extremely difficult. What are they?

Group letters: if each person in the group writes a few sentences on the stationery, this can create a lot of confusion. Translating from one language to another is hard enough, but adding several different writers, topics, and questions to it makes it even more difficult. Here is a version of a group letter -- would you find this difficult to follow?

Hello Samuel,
My name is Miss May and I teach the Lion group in Crusaders.
We learn Bible stories together, and we are very excited to sponsor you.
We hope you and your family are well, we pray for you each week. God bless!
Hello Samuel, my name is Brandon and I am in the Lion group. I am nine.
Is New Delhi a very large place? We live in a small city, it is nice.
Hi Samuel, my name is Sarah. I am a Lion. Do you go to church?
Samuel, I’m Matt. I am ten and I am in Lions. What grade are you in?
Hi, my name is Samantha and I am new. I don’t know what to write you.
My name is Daniel. How are you and your family? Do you go to church?

Although the writers have great intentions, the letter is quite confusing. How can we improve it? First, a little more explanation of what Crusaders is would be helpful, and then maybe clarify that your group is nicknamed the Lions. That way, when someone writes, “I am a Lion,” the translator has a better chance at explaining that the writer is not an actual lion, but participates in a certain group.

Another issue is that when several people write, each person tends to ask a question. Will your sponsored child understand that you want an answer to each question? What if the same question is repeated? Should the child answer it twice?

It may help to remember that letter writing is not a common practice in many of the countries where One Child Matters works. (For more information on this, check out this letter-writing series.) 

It takes time for a child to realize that we consider letters a form of conversation. Maintaining a conversation with twelve people at once would be difficult even if you are face-to-face, so electing one person to act as your group’s writer would be best.

We want to encourage you to ask your sponsored child questions – just not all at once. One good idea is to talk it over as a group, decide on what questions you want to ask, and have the group's writer ask the questions. We recommend asking no more than three questions per letter, and it helps if they are about the same topic.

One Child Matters has several group sponsors – some are children’s Sunday school classes, some are adult Bible studies, others are businesses. Tomorrow we’ll share some great examples of how to make sure that every person in your group gets a chance to encourage your sponsored child in fun and easily translatable ways. Be sure to come back – you don’t want to miss these great ideas!

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