For many people, Christmas is a time of celebration and thanksgiving. It is a time filled with family and steeped in tradition. It is a time of praise and gratitude as we reflect on the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
For a child in poverty, Christmas can be very different. It can reinforce the hopelessness they experience daily; it can be a vivid reminder to parents that they are unable to provide for their children. In many ways it can be a day to get through instead of a day to look forward to.
Thanks to your love, thousands of children around the world who live in poverty do know of the hope of Christ and wait, just like any other child, in anticipation for Christmas day.
Christmas for children registered in a Compassion International program is filled with celebration. Compassion’s centers usually have programs filled with Christmas plays and music. At the end, children are given special gifts which are purchased through the Christmas Gift Program. When the children are presented with these gifts, they are told that the gifts are from YOU ~ their sponsors.
Of course, not every child registered in a Compassion program has a sponsor. There are many children still waiting for someone to choose them. But the Christmas Gift Program ensures that every registered child, sponsored or unsponsored, receives a gift at Christmas. Unsponsored children are told that the gift is from someone who cares about them very much.
With that said, is there any difference at Christmas for a sponsored child and an unsponsored child?
The answer is yes.
Unsponsored children still attend the celebration held at the center and they receive Christmas gifts. Technically, unsponsored children receive all the benefits a sponsored child receives…
Except a Christmas Card.
Many of you know that writing your sponsored child truly makes an impact. Your letters and words of encouragement are used by God to pierce the darkness of hopelessness and to dry up the lies that attack your child.
How much more could your words mean during a season which celebrates the birth of our Savior?
I asked our country office staff and staff from our child development centers in Ecuador who work closely with the children, about this.
“What is the reaction of unsponsored children when they don’t get a Christmas card unlike the sponsored children who do get Christmas cards?”
Each person had a similar response:
“They wonder why they don’t get a letter or a card. Of course we explain the situation to them and tell them it’s because they don’t have a sponsor, but that’s not enough for a child. This is something that makes unsponsored kids feel very sad and even discouraged. They start to say things like, ‘Why can’t I get a letter too?’” – Yovi de Racines – Secretary of “Camino de Santidad” Mission (This mission includes several child development centers in the Coastal Region of Ecuador.)
“They feel frustrated and wonder why other children get a card and they don’t. This is really frustrating because it creates an evident difference between unsponsored and sponsored children.” – Betty Estacio – Country Office staff from the North Region of Ecuador
“They feel left out and suddenly they find themselves wondering why they don’t receive anything. That’s when we explain the situation to them. We tell them it’s all because they don’t have a sponsor, but we also tell them they will receive special things in the near future. Of course that’s not totally enough to them, but at least makes them feel better. They feel sad until they finally forget about it.” – Maricruz Garófalo – Center Director of Puerta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) student center in Ecuador.
Now, with this in mind, let’s take a look at the flipside.
“How do the sponsored children feel when they do receive a card from their sponsor?”
“They feel extremely excited and that excitement is the result of knowing someone cares for them in a genuine way. They think and feel that other people who live so far away care for them through the distance. “ -Betty Estacio.
“First of all, they feel a rush of joy. They feel happy and very important. Generally, all the children show their cards to their friends.” -Yovi de Racines.
“It is thrilling to see the joy in the little kids’ faces because many times the sponsors write about the things they do on Christmas and some of them are way different from what we do here.” – Mireya Benalcázar –Secretary at (I Puerta del Cielo (Gate of Heaven) student center in Ecuador.
“Christmas is the most special time of the year for the children so I believe greeting cards are a huge motivation to them, especially when they come from their sponsors. Like I just said, this simple detail can really motivate a child to keep on writing letters to his/her sponsor and make him/her feel loved and taken care of.” –Romel Cerda – Center Director of New Jerusalem student center in Ecuador.
We know the impact a Christmas card can make on the life of a child, especially on a child still waiting for the love of a sponsor.
If you are a sponsor and you have written to your sponsored child and/or you have contributed to the Christmas Gift Program, thank you. The hope and joy you will be bringing to a child in need this Christmas is immeasurable.
As for the hundreds of unsponsored children who will not receive such a card, will you help us bring hope and joy to them this year? We’re partnering with (in)courage and DaySpring to do just that.
We’ll tell you how you can help tomorrow.
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By Brianne Mullins, Compassion International