One of the effects of the pandemic on Compassion's program is that children have not been able to write and send letters to their sponsors as usual.
We have asked those responsible for Compassion's work in 9 countries to tell us about the situation, with special focus on letter writing. On this page you can read about their challenges over the past two years and how they work to get communication going and functioning normally again.
59 136 sponsored children in
220 Compassion centers
"The last two years have been difficult for our country and mainly for our children and their families. The pandemic impacted in a huge way the cities and our communities. Compassion’s priority was to take care of the children and supply food for the families. Thank you for trusting Compassion and for your patience to hear from your sponsored children during these two years.
It has been a huge challenge to send letters to the communities we serve during the pandemic. The communities we serve use a physical courier to send the letters to the Compassion Mexico National Office. Volunteers travel into the cities using public transportation to send packages back to the office. Due to the huge numbers of Covid infections and deaths that we were experiencing in different communities in Mexico. We made the difficult decision to stop processing paper letters
During these two years, we continued to send all the sponsor’s letters to the churches so they could be delivered to the children. We believe that the sponsors have the heart and the words to encourage the children during these difficult times.
We wish to keep children and sponsors in contact, but it has been very hard. Not all the centers are having their normal activities, some others are having small groups. There is still fear about covid as not all the communities have had access to vaccinations, only the big cities. Some fathers have moved, looking for income for their family and they are waiting to come back to the communities when the situation could be normal again.
Because our technology for printing the stationery your children write on is located at the National Office, we must be in person to print stationery to send to the centers. In February 2022, staff was able to return to our National Office in limited quantities. Thousands of pieces of stationery have been printed. These packages are then sent through courier and will take a month to arrive to all the communities where churches are working with children, and at least four months to get them back to the office.
We are hopeful that within the next few months communications from your child will be more regular."
The Compassion Team in Mexico
96 248 sponsored children
298 Compassion centers
"In Colombia, the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted some of the difficulties families in poverty had to endure, and in some cases, it even made it worse. Some of these difficulties are lack of employment, which affects children’s nutrition; lack of access to clean water, which in rainy seasons creates displacements of communities because of the flooding-with the risk this implies for the children; the violence some of the most vulnerable locations of the country have to deal with and the recent challenge of the attention to Venezuelan immigration.
Due to local restrictions and to protect children, youth and families from Covid-19 and its variants, the church partners we work with had to adjust program. Some were able to have classes online, through printed learning material or radio. Based on a survey, only 35.7 % of children and youth have Internet access and a computer or tablet. The center staff found out-of-the-box ways to keep serving those children while keeping them safe.
The center staff have worked on safety and health protocols, which has been approved in most cases by local government and the local health authorities. The children are now returning to have in-person program activities. Some centers have started to serve children in small groups, and they have kept other types of contact during the pandemic.
In the last month alone, Compassion and the local churches have delivered over 40,000 food packs and over 12,762 hygiene kits. This has been happening all throughout the pandemic thanks to your support.
We are aware that not receiving information from the children you sponsor generates uncertainty; we know you miss reading their letters and hearing from them. Therefore, in Compassion Colombia we are strongly working to reactivate communication promptly.
Because our technology for printing the physical letters your children write on is located at the National Office, we must be in person to print stationary to send to the churches. In February 2022, our staff in the Colombia National Office were able to return to in-person work at the office and began printing thousands of letters to send out to church partners.
As the number of letters sent to the centers is quite big, we expect to take 2-3 months for the local churches to process and send them back for translation, which may take an additional 2-3 months. We are hopeful that within the next 6 months communications from your child will be more regular."
The Compassion Team in Colombia
15 623 sponsored children
80 Compassion centers
"The technology for printing the physical letters your children write on is located at the Sri Lanka National Office and we must be in person to print stationary to send to the child development centers. Due to local restrictions, our staff was unable to visit the office regularly from March 2020 through October 2021.
Since November 2021 onwards, we were able to slowly come to the office in smaller numbers and still, we only have a maximum of 20 staff coming to the office.
Sri Lanka is facing a financial and economic crisis and there is concern. Fuel shortages are also being experienced, and are expected to worsen, contributing to increasingly longer and more frequent power outages, connectivity issues, and communication disruptions, amongst other critical service disruptions (e.g., public transportation, long power cuts, etc.). But by the grace of God, we are still able to come to the office to continue the in-person tasks.
During the past three months, the team was able to print thousands of letters and the responses for those can be expected within the next month or two.
The backlog is large and now only we are partially functioning and visiting the office to do in-person tasks."
The Compassion Team in Sri Lanka
70 206 sponsored children
219 Compassion centers
"The last two years have been very challenging for us. The Dominican Republic experienced one of the strongest and most extended curfews and stay-home orders globally. Still, in August 2021, the country faced stay-home orders from 6 pm to 6 am, and 2 pm to 6 am on weekends. These were strict stay home orders; one could get in jail for 24 hours for violating government rule. During this time, we have focused all our energy on ensuring that there was enough food on the table of every single family that you support.
Schools closure was one of the longest globally with 171 days. The average country's education closure worldwide was just 95 days. The government re-started the school year in October 2021, and only half of the students were allowed to attend school.
Some churches attempted to re-start services before the official school opening, but still, the government required those centers to close, and Compassion was unable to start receiving students at the centers until the local government released for students to go back to schools. As a result, sponsored children couldn’t write letters.
In November 2021, we restarted the physical letter-writing process. We currently have more than 26,000 letters from children that have already written but are still in the translation process, and between April and May, we will receive more than 8,000 additional letters from sponsored children.
We are increasing our translation capacity so we can get these letters to you as soon as possible."
The Compassion Team in The Dominican Republic
101 254 sponsored children
290 Compassion centers
"Due to the pandemic, the Ecuador National Office has faced many closures over the last two years. Because our technology for printing the stationery your children write on is located at the National Office, we must be in person to print stationary to send to the churches. In July 2021, staff was able to return to the office and by September thousands of letters had been processed, but the backlog was still great.
Unfortunately, we still have centers that are unable to have in-person activities at the church. They are contacting children via phone and online.
In February 2022, we had printed and sent stationery to all church partners in Ecuador. Regularly scheduled printing activity will occur each month and we have hired a contractor through the end of the June to add extra support to this process."
The Compassion Team in Ecuador
87 079 sponsored children
260 Compassion centers
"When the pandemic arrived here, we worked with our partner churches to prioritize a plan to provide food supplies, medical care and Covid-19 prevention tools to children and families. Since the restrictions were very severe, the help we could provide to children and their families was critical. We would have not been able to do this without your faithful support, so we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for it.
Now, we are starting to return to normal. In-person classes at school are back and some centers are holding small group meetings, after all this time only being connected in virtual ways.
At the beginning of the pandemic in Peru in March 2020, we were forced to pause the processes of letter-writing in the child development centers, because the processes were 100% manual and face-to-face. However, the program for children continued remotely, and the priority was medical attention and food assistance. This lasted until approximately June 2021.
In May-2021 we restarted the communication processes progressively. At the beginning of July 2021, more than 70,000 children hadn’t been able to write a letter to their sponsors for more than 8 months.
65% of our church partners are now providing face-to-face interactions with the children in small groups. We have restarted the printing of stationery at the National Office so that the children can prepare their letters.
We have been continuing to deliver letters from sponsors to children. Since 2020, the sponsor letters have been distributed virtually. Once the Church receives the sponsor’s letter, it proceeds to send it to the beneficiary through a virtual way or print them and deliver them in a physical way during a home visit.
Our commitment is to regularize Sponsor and Child Communications as soon as possible because we know that sponsors are waiting to hear from their children, for this reason, we are working even more to complete the process of preparing letters in the following months."
The Compassion Team in Peru
40 094 sponsored children
175 Compassion centers
"The last two years have been a time of uncertainty bringing unprecedented challenges to all of us. We were unable to facilitate letters from your sponsored child due to movement restrictions of Covid-19. Center staff have been in touch through mobile phones, home visits or courtyard meeting to be in touch with children as the local context permitted. Families of sponsored children had the need for food security and improved hygiene. We ensured that food relief and hygiene supplies were provided to them. Also, we have been focusing on enabling partners to ensure family-owned food security initiatives like poultry and kitchen garden, income generation support through provision of goats and small business, and importantly promoting savings groups to build on their household resilience. Child protection, physical health and hygiene with mental health protection orientation was given to parents, children, and youth, wherever possible either through home visits or courtyard meetings.
At another level, we also had the partnership opportunity to support families who were affected by a major cyclone, “Amphan”, with housing construction, housing repairs and toilet constructions, so that children and youth have a safe place to live securely.
From March 2020- September 2020, the Bangladesh National Office was closed. Because our technology for printing the letters your children write on is located at the National Office, we must be in person to print stationery to send to the child development centers. In September 2020, we arranged transport (as public transport was too risky) for 6 staff members to split time in the office. In that time, we were able to print thousands of letters. During this time, child development centers had begun to gather in small groups and guided children through letter-writing and other activities. Although the letter process was delayed, it was happening slowly. But from March 2021, the situation started to get worse again, and a country-wide lockdown was enforced by the government.
The National Office was closed again from March 21 – August 21. In September, staff began going to the office by rotation once again.
During pandemic we couldn’t manage to do some of our regular work as we worked from home. Without access to the necessary technology, the letter processing work cannot be done from home. We tried to process letters coming to the office by rotation. But the local courier system in Bangladesh is not satisfactory in many cases and not modern like many other countries, and during the pandemic the courier services were shut down.
We will be continuing to print stationery with a hope that the pandemic situation will get better and better in the coming days by God’s grace. But in case you have not yet received any letter thus far, we request you to bear with us until we get back to the normal rhythm."
The Compassion Team in Bangladesh
58 709 sponsored children
200 Compassion centers
"Each Brazilian state has its own ordinances and operating permits regarding the protection against Covid-19. Because we serve more than one hundred small cities in six different states, we have managed different ordinances and permits concerning the opening of the church activities. Today, in April 2022, thank God, the situation is much more stable, and the 207 church partners can resume their activities in the communities, their services, and the centers they conduct in partnership with Compassion serving the kids. Last year, we identified many Compassion centers that would be able to write letters with children even though they were unable to come to the center. In those centers, all sponsored children during that moment, received one letter to write. However, they faced more difficulties because the omicron variant started to impact their communities.
During the pandemic, your support was simply vital in helping local churches care for children and their families. Your contribution was literally the food on your sponsored child's table for many months and in most cases the only source of meals for the families we serve. Our team has taken every opportunity to help families, communities and your sponsored child in all areas that could bring them safety and health. We have strengthened our child protection, with interactive campaigns to help beneficiaries report any type of abuse they might have suffered during lockdown season and how they can ask for help.
At the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 we had a huge wave of Omicron variant that impacted all our church partners. Many Compassion centers that were restarting activities in October and November, had to close again during December and January.
We have one concern that is related to Brazil courier service. Currently, it is a governmental entity that does this kind of delivery, and they are presenting a lot of issues, including lost packages and/or very long delays to deliver. The main issue is that as the communities we serve are in rural areas, their logistic is very bad. Unfortunately, we cannot contract a private courier, because by Brazilians law this kind of document (letter) is only delivered by them.
Today, we continue to print thousands of stationery for the sponsored children to write on and we are distributing these to the child development centers. If all runs well over the next few months, we plan to process letters more regularly from July on."
The Compassion Team in Brazil
54 808 sponsored children
178 Compassion centers
"Despite a challenging journey during the last two years of the pandemic, the majority of the Compassion centers have currently resumed their new-normal activities while keeping children’s safety as a priority. We would like to praise God that we experienced His faithfulness during the pandemic. We have seen our church partners playing a critical role during this pandemic. Staff worked tirelessly to disciple children holistically and they also ensured children and their families had enough food and basic consumption during the lockdown in Thailand.
Since November 2021 until today, Compassion Thailand has been greatly affected by COVID-19 including the Thailand National Office as well as our church partners.
Because our technology for printing the letters your children write on is located at the National Office, we must be in person to print stationery to send to the child development centers. We have had some letter backlogs because work at the office went on and off. With limited number of staff allowed, the team must take turns to go to the office.
Many church partners are also unable to meet in person currently due to the local restrictions. The center staff stay connected with the children via mobile phones and we are encouraging them to write on the child’s behalf at this time instead of waiting."
The Compassion Team in Thailand