Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christmas Package Received: Anna Marie!

Anna Marie's package arrived at her agency office almost three weeks before Christmas, but she did not pick it up until January 7! So she'll have to wait until next Christmas to enjoy some of the holiday-themed items included. Interestingly, I received the response packet BEFORE I received her CW letter (which I am still waiting for).

She is just as lovely in these photos as she is in her annual photo! She hasn't grown much in the past couple years, though--she is wearing that same shirt in her 2011 annual photo. Hopefully her Birthday and Easter gifts will be clothes, so she has some variety!

My friend Minie saw these photos and excitedly told me that she was from the same Service Area as Anna Marie! What a small world! She commented on the collage, which she has a small photo of still.

Anna Marie's thank-you letter is straight-forward and formal--unsurprising, since hers is a new Sponsorship for me and we haven't had the chance to get to know each other at all yet. She writes:

Dear Ms. Dillon,

A pleasant day to you. I hope and pray that you're in the best of everything.

I just want to say thank you for the package that you gave to me. These are Christmas card, toothbrush, best friend necklaces set, 2 pack tissue paper, 30 pcs hair elastics, comb, washcloth, a pair of colored sock, 3 bar soap, 1 pack pentel ball pen, and 6 pcs Marry and Co pencil pack, 6 pcs pencil, calculator, 2 pad post it, small spiral notebook, 2013 calendar, and 1 bar wylar light juice. I'm so happy to receive those things and I'm so very proud for having a generous sponsor like you.

Thank you very very much to all the things and support specially in my studies. May God shower you his blessings for your kindness.

Your sponsored youth,
Anna Marie

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christmas Package Received: Maria

Maria received her Christmas DP on December 6th, in time for Christmas! I love that she is wearing the Santa hat in all of the photos! The comments on the report state:

Maria Cristina was so surprised upon learning about the package sent by the sponsor. More so after seeing the gifts inside the package. This is an early Christmas gift for this young lady which she never expected. The school supplies will be of great use on Cristina's schooling same with the hygiene kits/items most especially that Cristina is now a young lady. She needs to dress up properly and appropriately. She is so excited wearing the Santa hat after opening and while sorting out the things inside the package. Cristina and her family appreciated much the gifts and thankful for the blessings shared to them. The spirit of Christmas is truly felt [by] the family members.

Interesting to note that Maria is referred to repeatedly as Cristina in the comments--I had read that children whose names were written "Ma. Cristina" often went by their second name and not by Maria, but I had always assumed that since she spells it out fully, she went by her first name. I'll have to ask her about that the next time I write to her!

Her thank-you letter says:

Dear Sponsor,

Greetings of peace and a prosperous new year to all of you.

I feel so greatful upon receiving your package with different items you've send to me. Like the school supplies, santa hat, book to color, calculator, toothbrush, and comb, hairbrush, 2 magic towels, ordinary towel, hand tissue, bar soap, set of hair soap clips, Christmas card, mountain majesty calendar.

These are of great help to me and to my family. I will take good care of these and use for my studies especially the school supplies and calculator.

I am so much thankful for those special gifts may the God Lord showers you with more blessings and wonderful life to share.

Very truly yours,
Maria Cristina

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spotlight Children of the Week: 1/27/2013

Meet Jenifer Mariela! She lives in Guatemala with her parents and two siblings in an adobe home with dirt floors. The family is fortunate to have a private well for their water needs, but their electricity is tapped illegally. The family of five is struggling to survive on $117 per month. Jenifer only speaks Cackchiquel--since she is four years old, she is too young to have started school. She enjoys playing with dolls, and counts singing among her talents.

This is seven-year old Precious from Zambia. She lives with her parents and one sibling in a concrete home with a corrugated metal roof. Electricity is not available in her area, and she must get her water from a community faucet. The family of four is struggling to survive on a mere $50 per month.  Precious enjoys playing with her sibling and her friends, and she has a particular fondness for playing with toy cars. She shows an aptitude for sports. Precious does attend school, and she speaks Nyanja in addition to her native Tonga.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christmas Package Received: Jasmin!

I've received the follow-up photos and thank-you letter for the package I sent to Jasmin for Christmas! She continues to be just too adorable for words in the accompanying photos. According to the report, Jasmin received the gifts two weeks before Christmas--perfect timing to allow her to enjoy the holiday-themed goodies!

Interestingly, Jasmin's thank-you letter was written by her older sister Louvie (age 16) instead of her mother Lea! She writes:

Dear Ms. Shannon,

Hello! How are you? We hope and pray everything is fine with you!

In behalf of Jasmin Jane, I am her sister writing to you. Jasmin would like to thank you for the wonderful gifts you've sent her. She was very happy when she got the gifts. She also would like to tell you that she was very fortunate she has a sponsor like you. She would like to greet you a merry Christmas and a happy new year! Jasmin hopes to write you all by herself soon.

Again, Jasmin would like to thank you for all the blessings, especially the early Christmas gifts she received. God bless!

Respectfully Yours,

I am so excited that Louvie mentioned Jasmin writing all by herself soon--I can't wait to get that first precious letter!

The tee-shirt I sent to her was a child's size small ... and it looks like she will be SWIMMING in it. I hadn't really grasped exactly how tiny she is until I saw this photo! Fortunately, she will grow. Hopefully she is able to wear it soon!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Joining a New Group: Paola

Paola is something of a celebrity in the LiftOne community. She holds the honor of having been the very first group-sponsored child in the Children International program. Her group of Sponsors has been very active, and they have posted all sorts of wonderful blogs and photos about her.

Today, the lead Sponsor of the group posted a blog announcing that they were looking for two new Sponsors to join Team Paola. The timing was perfect--just last night I had been wishing I could join! So I sent a quick message to Mack, asking a couple questions about the logistics of the group--I'm already in Cristine's, of course, but each group handles things slightly differently. Answers came quickly, and Paola's group gained a new member!

I can't wait to send my first letter and some photos to her, and also to get to know the other Sponsors in the group!

Mack maintains another blog about the group's journey with Paola; you can see it here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Heart-Melting Response from Joyce

I received the thank-you packet for Joyce's Christmas DP, and I have to say it brought tears to my eyes! Enclosed in the envelope were her thank-you letter, the report from her SOA, and FIVE photos! I love that one of the photos shows her writing the letter. She's left-handed, like me! She wrote:

Dear Sponsor,

Good day to you, to your best friend Melissa and to your family. I hope that you and your family are in a good condition and good health.

By the way thank you for the package that you had given to me. I am so very happy when I saw it. Thank you for the school supplies that I will use for schooling, ordinary towel, super soft socks, magic towel, hand tissue, toothbrush, elastic hair bands, pink lemonade, electric calculator to solve my mathematical homeworks, comb, bar soap, calendar, and especially a Christmas card and best friend necklaces.

The necklaces that you given to me is very beautiful. My best friend will be happy to see it. We'll take care of it and we will wear it every day to show we are best friends forever.

Ohpps...! I'll tell to you about my studies. I am top 1 in our class. My mother was happy when my teacher announced the top 15 in our section. My friends, classmates and my best fried was congratulating me. My best friend is very happy for me. My best friend's name is Daisy. She is beautiful, friendly and helping to others like me.

Thank you very much for the package that given to me. And I will always be grateful for all your support to me and my family. I hope that this Christmas you, your family and especially your best friend are happy.

God Bless ... I love you and please take care.

Sincerely Yours,


In addition, the report from the SOA said: Joyfulness and astonishment filled Joyce's face upon receiving the gift provided by her sponsor. She was completely flabbergasted with all the useful and wonderful stuffs that the sponsor had given as additional Christmas gift. She articulated that she will share these blessings to her siblings and best friend. The gifts particularly the best friend necklace set was very meaningful to her. It will always symbolize the sponsor's love for her and their family. The sponsor is her source of inspiration and strong motivation to be someone she desires to be in the future.

WOW! I mean ... just ... wow. I don't even know what to say, how to articulate the feelings this response has brought to me.

Friday, January 18, 2013

First DP Reply: Yulliana!

I found two exciting envelopes in the mailbox today, both bearing the beloved CI logo! One proclaimed, "Enclosed is a special message from your sponsored child, Yulliana." The other was the same type of envelope, but without any indication on the front of its contents. It felt thicker than the average letter, too, so I was curious and I scurried quickly inside to open it.

"Photos!" was my first ecstatic thought. This second envelope turned out to be from Yulliana, as well, and contained the photos and thank-you letter for her Christmas DP!

She writes:


Dear Shannon,

Hello! I received the direct package you sent me. Like, Chistmas card, coloring book, comb, socks, t-shirt, pencils, calculator, towel, magic towel, mini notebook, rubber eraser, juice, tissue paper, crayons, tooth brush, ball pen, ruler, shoe lace, soap, calendar and play rack. I am very happy with these items. I am so excited to use it and share it to my family.

I am grade two now. Merry Christmas!

Thank you for gift to me.

Love, Yulliana Nicole

I think it's so sweet that she will share her goodies with her family!

I'm not entirely sure what "play rack" is referring to! "Magic towel" are those towels that are scrunched up real tight in different shapes, and expand out to a normal washcloth when you put them in water for the first time. "Tissue paper" is actually the little pocket-size pouches of Kleenex--I was confused by that at first!

I am happy to see in one of the photos that the tee-shirt will fit her--if anything, it might be a tad too big, but she's still growing, so it should fit perfectly soon!

The report included with the photos and letter listed all the items in the package, and also said that Yulliana received her gifts on December 13th ... it arrived in time for Christmas!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Spotlight Child of the Week, 1/14/2013

There are no new indigenous children listed this week, so instead I will feature the child who has been waiting the longest.

This is Nayely. She lives in Chile with her parents and two siblings in a house with wood floors and walls and a corrugated metal roof. The family is fortunate to have running water and electricity in their home. Nayely enjoys playing with dolls and counts dancing among her talents. She will celebrate her eighth birthday in February, and she has been waiting for a Sponsor for 1153 days! Give her an early birthday gift and end her wait!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Letters from the Philippines

It's a weekend of letters! First, I received word from Holly that a letter had arrived from Cristine, once again addressed to me! Then I found a CR letter from Joyce in my mailbox this afternoon.

 Dear Miss Shannon,

Hello! Thank you for nice card and letter to me! Last Halloween we just stayed home with my family yes in our tradition we celebrate the all soul’s day and all saint’s day. We usually go to the cemetery to visit the tomb of our loved ones, offer candles and flowers and then pray we also have trick or treats and Halloween parties here but I seldom joins. I am now in grade four and learning a lot in school. We are now on third grading.

Thank you for your continuous help to me. May God Bless you always! Take care!

Your sponsored child,

Dear Ms. Dillon,

Hi! Good day! I hope that you and your family are in good condition. May you are in good health.

I thank you for all the benefits you had share to me. I really appreciate them. I'm so very proud to have you in our life, because you continue to support me till now. You are big help not only to me but also to my family.

By the way this month of October I joined a Dance crew. I meet a friends in a crew that I joined. They are kind and they take care of me.

Then we dance in a place that have a fiesta on any occasion that have in our Locality and we joined in a dance competition. We practice every day for it to make our performance to be beautiful and to be a winner in a competition and I promise to you I always study hard to my all lessons to my future goal in my life.

Once again thank you very much for the continuous support for me. I'm praying that God will always give you guide and protection. Take care always. God bless.

Sincerely yours,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Two New Sponsorships!

I was working on this week's Spotlight Child of the Week blog--the first of 2013. I intend to focus this year's Spotlight on the minority and indigenous children in the countries CI serves, and so I was browsing specifically for these children in the Waiting List, opening each child's profile in a new tab as I found them. As I started to assemble them into order for the blog, I found myself thinking that two of the Mayan girls must be from the same area--their clothes were very similar. Then I noticed that each of their family incomes was listed at $78. And then I noticed that everything else about their family and home matched. "Siblings!" I thought excitedly.

Then I noticed that they will both celebrate their seventh birthday on January 18th. "OMG, TWINS!" I've been intrigued by the idea of sponsoring twins for quite a while, and so I was fairly bouncing off the couch with excitement.

Two quick clicks of the mouse, and two new Sponsorships were born. Smile

Without further ado, allow me to present Sandy Fabiola and Cindy Fabiola!

Sandy (left) enjoys playing with dolls, and her listed talent is drawing. Like her sister, Cindy also enjoys playing with dolls, and her listed talents are drawing and painting. The girls live with their parents and one other sibling--a younger sister named Natalia--in a concrete block and corrugated metal home. They have water and electricity, and they both attend school.

I can't wait to write to them, and to receive their first letters!

I love their outfits--they're so pretty! Green is my favorite color, and their blouses caught my attention long before I even had a notion that they might be related. Smile

Spotlight Children of the Week: A New Year

Being a linguist, I have always been drawn to the children on the waiting list who speak one of the minority or indigenous languages of their country. In 2013, I plan to focus my Spotlight on these special children. Preserving their culture and language is a cause near and dear to my heart, and I would love to see these children receive the support of Sponsorship.

The largest minority population among Children International's children seems to be the Mayan children in Guatemala. They are usually easy to identify: they speak the language Cakchiquel, and the girls wear traditional blouses and skirts:

Yenifer, Age 3
Leslie, Age 4
Damaly, Age 7

In Zambia, the clothing of the children isn't useful as a clue to their heritage, and so I have to rely entirely on the listed languages that they speak. Nyanja and Bemba seem to be the majority languages, so I look for others (Tonga, Lozi, and Luvale are the three I have found so far):

Gladys, Age 5. Luvale.
Nayawa, Age 5. Lozi.
Mariot, Age 8. Tonga.

Ecuador has Otavaleno children and children who speak Quichua (sometimes spelled Kichwa).

Alex, Age 16. Quichua.

  The primary languages of Children International kids in India seem to be Bengali and Hindi, however India also has children who speak Santali and Urdu. 

Md, Age 3. Urdu.
Nabed, Age 7. Urdu.
Mohammad, Age 16. Urdu.

Chile has Mapache children, none of whom are currently listed.

This isn't a comprehensive list--I'm still exploring and learning about the countries Children International serves. But this gets us off to a good start for the new year!