Not sure what to write?
We encourage you to write to the student you sponsor to learn more about them and their families. You are welcome to write up to four times a year. Your words motivate and encourage the student as they study, learn, and grow. We offer these tips to help guide healthy communication between sponsors and students. You’re welcome to choose a few topics below each time you write. Please keep your letters brief as these students are learning English as a second language.
If you wish to send a letter with the East Hill Rwanda team, we ask that you place your letter in a small Ziplock bag with your sponsored student’s name and sponsorship ref code written on the outside of the bag and included on a piece of paper inside the bag along with the sponsor’s name. Along with a letter, you can also include up to three individual 4×6 photos of your family (with names and ages written on the back of each photo) in the bag. Drop off bags with Clarisse in the East Hill lobby.
Below are specific tips for writing to your sponsored student. Click on a question below to see its answer:
- Let your sponsored student(s) know how you are doing specifically in regard to health and safety during this pandemic.
- Encourage them as they face uncertainty and many new challenges, in addition to their already difficult circumstances.
- Encourage them to read and study while at home.
- Encourage them to respect their local authorities, and to honor and listen to their elders as they are sheltering in place.
- Encourage them to continue washing their hands diligently, and share that you are doing the same, to prevent contracting or spreading the virus.
- Share Scripture or quotes that uplift you in this season.
- Thank them for praying for you and let them know you are praying for them, too.
- Your family: children, parents, siblings, cousins, etc.
- List their names and ages
- Share age appropriate stories about your family
- Hobbies, activities, or sports you enjoy
- Your own childhood (include some favorite memories or funny stories)
- Your job, or if you’re a student, what you’re learning
- Describe where you live, the climate, interesting facts about your city or state
- Tell them you’re thankful for them and explain why
- Let them know you care for them and their future
- Encourage their character by promoting kindness, peace, and love
- Encourage them to live a productive and purposeful life
- Encourage them to serve their communities
- Express your pride in their accomplishments
- Reiterate the importance of education
- Encourage them to invest time into their studies and to do well in school
- Encourage them to respect and honor their elders
- Talk about your relationship with Jesus
- Remind them that there is hope in Jesus for their future
- Ask if they have prayer requests and share your own
- Remind the student that you pray specifically for them
- Talk about your own faith journey
- Tell them that Jesus cares deeply for them and encourage them to seek Him
- Encourage them to pray and read their Bible everyday
- Share the importance of the church body
- Share Bible verses (include notecards with some of your favorite verses that the student can keep)
- What is your favorite subject in school?
- What are you learning at church and at school?
- What are some of your favorite Bible verses and/or Bible stories?
- What are your prayer requests?
- What do you like to do outside of school (favorite sports or games)?
- What are your parents’/guardians’ and siblings’ names?
- What chores do you have at home?
- What is your favorite food?
- What do you want to do after you complete school?
There are topics that might make the student feel uncomfortable or create unintentional expectations. Please avoid the following:
- Sharing personal contact information
- Do not share your phone number, email, or address.
- Do not connect with your student via email, phone, or social media platforms. (This helps us protect both you and the students from inappropriate or confusing situations. Students sign an agreement upon registration and can be removed from our program for violating this policy.)
- Asking about the Rwandan Genocide or their ethnicity
- Discussing politics of any kind (U.S., Rwanda, etc.)
- This is an inappropriate topic because it could cause alarm, concern, and discomfort for the student. Sponsored students are from a different culture and context. Because students in our program are minor children or young adults, they do not have a framework for understanding politics, especially in countries outside of Rwanda.
- Making any promises
- Circumstances often change unexpectedly and we do not have control over every aspect of life. Do not make a verbal/written commitment you may not be able to keep (e.g. promising future support, visiting them in the future, paying for their post-secondary education).
- Suggesting they visit you or the United States someday
- In Rwandan culture, this sounds like a promise that you will sponsor them to visit or study in the U.S. We want our students to remain focused on their education and on helping transform their own communities. We do not encourage students to travel to the U.S., nor do we facilitate such visits. If you would like to meet the student you sponsor, please consider a joining a Team Trip to Rwanda.
- Elaborating on possessions
- The student needs your educational sponsorship because they live in extreme material poverty; always practice sensitivity by not focusing on materials things.
- Using slang or colloquialisms that are difficult to translate or understand
- Describing pets as family members (animals are not viewed with the same level of affection in Rwanda as in the U.S.)
Write a letter online to your sponsored student in Rwanda by clicking here!
Do you still have questions regarding communication? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.