1. I just made the decision to sponsor a child, what do I do next?
You can set up your automatic sponsorship payment by filling out the remittance envelope in your profile packet, or online at raisetheroofacademy.org/donate. Once you begin your sponsorship, we will notify your sponsored child that they now have a sponsor and are able to begin school.
2. How do I get started with writing letters to my sponsored child?
3. What should I write about?
Raise the Roof Academy children regularly think about and pray for their sponsors. You are investing in their lives, and they consider you family. Write as if you are. Please be sensitive to the child’s economic situation. Avoid discussing the material aspects of your life, and please do not include your address, phone number, or email.
4. What should I avoid?
5. Why can’t I include my address, phone number, or e-mail in my letter?
Your cooperation by not including this type of information within the letter allows us to protect your privacy. You may put your return address on the outside envelope because we discard those after we process your letter and label it.
6. How often will my sponsored child write to me?
The school year runs from the first week of February through the first week of December with three school terms and three school breaks. Sponsored children write to their sponsors once per term. Depending on when your sponsorship begins, you should receive three letters per year.
7. Can I send a special gift to my sponsored child?
We will notify you when you can put together a personal Gift a Gallon bag full of goodies that will be hand-delivered to your sponsored child. For the shopping list and more information about collection dates and sites, go to raisetheroofacademy.org/gift-a-gallon.
We also have a Giving Catalog for you to pick out gifts for your sponsored child. Gifts are purchased locally by our Raise the Roof Academy Uganda Team and given to your child. Your child will be told the gift is from you. You may purchase gifts online at raisetheroofacademy.org/giving-catalog or write a check with the specific gift in the memo line. Your name is “attached” to your sponsored child’s name in our database, so we can properly track gifts, letters, and your monthly sponsorship.
8. Can I visit my sponsored child?
Yes! Every Raise the Roof Academy mission trip is designed to offer you an exclusive, educational, and hands-on experience. Based at RTRA, mission teams are given a unique opportunity to see a thriving school and poverty-alleviation projects in action. The team will interact with students daily providing them with a complete understanding of how the lives of marginalized young people in Uganda are being transformed, and how native leaders are steering their communities out of poverty. The highlight of the trip is meeting your sponsored child and visiting their home. For more information about Raise the Roof Academy mission trips, visit raisetheroofacademy.org/rtra-trips.
9. May I send photographs to my child?
Certainly! We recommend you send a picture of yourself in the first letter and lots of pictures after that. You can send landscape photos, artistic pictures, pictures of your pets, the town you live in, your family and friends, etc.
Please avoid sending pictures that may accentuate the economic differences between you and your child (e.g., homes, cars, etc.). Be aware of what is in the photo’s background.
If you happen to send a photo that our country staff considers inappropriate, we will return it to you.
Please remember to include your sponsored child’s name and your name on each item you send.
10. Do you have any suggestions for increasing the chance that my questions get answered?
Our younger children require teacher assistance. To help them recognize that you expect an answer to the questions:
11. I’m writing as part of a group. Can group members take turns writing letters?
Your group can write the letter together, or can take turns writing, but it’s best to have the same person consistently sign each letter. It’s far less confusing for a child to talk with one person than to a group of people.
12. Are my letters really that important?
Yes, your letters are life-changing! They matter as much as your financial generosity.
A child who understands his or her true value to God has taken the first step in overcoming poverty. And the easiest way for you to help your child take that step is to be involved in his or her life by writing letters.
As a sponsor you are in a position to model Christ’s love. Your letters establish you as a significant person in your child’s life. You are acting as a mentor.
Sponsored children treasure every letter they receive, and many children read their letters repeatedly, eagerly sharing them with visitors. Regardless of cultural and age differences, everyone grows stronger with consistent messages of love and support.
Plus, letters are an important part of your child’s development. Exchanging letters improves your child’s basic literacy skills and his or her self-awareness and ability to put thoughts and feelings into words. And keep in mind that topics you consider uninteresting, or that you feel you’ve discussed before, are viewed differently by a child in the developing world.
Every day poverty tells children, “You don’t matter.” But that is a lie, and your letters demonstrate that. They say, “You do matter, Betty.” “I care about you, Denis.” “Jesus loves you, Winnifred.”
13. How long does it take for my child to receive my letter?
Correspondence between you and your child is not “overnight mail,” but it is efficient — given the remote areas many of the children live in. Delivery may take a few weeks, but we are committed to a quick turn-around time.
14. What should I expect from the letters I receive?
Your child is living and learning under circumstances much different from those in the United States. Sometimes letters are written as part of a class exercise and may seem a little impersonal or formal. And cultural differences may cause your child’s letters to seem excessively pious or grateful.
Your sponsorship is an opportunity to mentor your child. As your relationship slowly develops, your consistent presence fosters trust and tells your child “I care about you and want to be a part of your life.” Your relationship should improve over time, as your child matures and learns to write more personal letters.
15. Why do my child’s letters seem impersonal?
Communicating between cultures is difficult. And this is especially true with written communication. It becomes even more apparent when the written communication is between an adult and a child in different cultures.
Many children in developing countries can’t imagine that anyone would be interested in the details of their lives (e.g., how tall they are or how much they weigh). They may not think the sponsor really wants to know, or it may be considered vain to discuss personal things.
A child may be reluctant to open up because sharing is emotionally risky or the child may fear a cultural stigma or repercussions. However, children are encouraged to discuss their faith and to share what is happening in their lives and the lives of their families.
Developing trust in a relationship is difficult enough without having to cross cultural, geographic and age boundaries. Your consistent letters and your messages of love and support are invaluable and immeasurable. Your words of encouragement give inspiration and hope to a soul living with despair and rejection. As a mentor, your letters plant seeds that will bear fruit in your child’s life and in the lives of your child’s family and friends.
16. Why doesn’t my child answer my questions?
Many children in the developing world do not immediately grasp the concept of “conversations” by mail and must be trained to develop the skill. Your love, understanding and encouragement should help you see progress over time as the child’s writing skills mature.
Often, when a child receives a letter from his sponsor, he takes it home to show his family and then saves it in a “special place.” The staff schedule a time for children to write letters to their sponsors and the children may not have the last letters with them and may not be able to remember the questions that were asked.
Sometimes a teacher will sit down with a younger child and write on the child’s behalf. Questions can sometimes be overlooked or forgotten because of this.
17. How do I convey personal issues like death and divorce to my sponsored child?
Honesty and openness invite a child to a deeper, more personal relationship with you. Euphemisms, such as “passed away” in reference to a death, do not always convey the message you intend.
When discussing personal issues such as death and divorce, the best approach is to state the fact — “My mother died” or “Susan and I are getting divorced” — rather than explaining the details or using indirect expressions.
Because your child’s perspective is different from yours, based on his or her culture, age and personal experiences, the child might not ask additional questions.
18. How do I ask personal or sensitive questions, like those related to health, without offending the child or his or her family?
Personal issues require great sensitivity, particularly when communicating through letters and across cultures, and when the questions deal with health matters, which can often carry strong cultural stigmas.
Whether or not you should ask a particular question depends on your relationship with the child and the nature of the question. If you are uncertain, please consider delaying the question until you have built a stronger relationship with the child or have a better understanding of the culture.
Invite your child into a deeply personal relationship by modeling trust and honesty. Share with your child first. Allow him or her to see your courage and to take the first step.
Remember you are a mentor. Show your child you care by being patient, open, inviting and, most important, involved.
19. How do I tell my child that I cannot continue to sponsor him or her?
Speak to your child honestly and clearly. It is not necessary to go into detail about why you cannot continue the sponsorship. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. For example, you may consider talking about:
20. Why is my child’s name spelled in different ways?
When children are registered, they are often too young to spell their own names. A guardian, who is often illiterate, will spell the name for the child, as best as they can. In time, the spelling may be determined to be incorrect because a family member learned how to spell it correctly or the child’s birth certificate has been found (if there is one).
Additionally, in many cultures there is more than one correct way to spell a name; therefore, a child’s case study may give different spellings each time it is processed.
21. Why was my letter not delivered?
We reserve the right to decline to forward any letters and materials that we view as incompatible with our approach or might be considered inappropriate in the child’s culture.
22. How long will I be able to sponsor the same child?
When you sponsor a child through Raise the Roof Academy, our prayer is that you will grow in relationship with your sponsored child over the full course of their education. Our program includes Nursery School (Baby, Middle, Top), Primary School (Primary 1 – Primary 7), Secondary School (Secondary 1 – Secondary 6), and Vocational Training and University for continuing education. When you sign up as a child sponsor, we consider that your commitment to donating monthly, or annually, for your sponsored child. We know that circumstances change and ask that you notify us if you would like to consider co-sponsorship, or if you are no longer able to sponsor.
Occasionally, circumstances arise that mean a child must leave the sponsorship program. For example, a child’s caregiver may move them out of the community to an area where they are not able to continue in the program. In the event this happens with your sponsored child, we will notify you and ask you to consider sponsoring another child on our waiting list.
23. Do others sponsor the same child?
Each child is matched with only one sponsor unless you choose to co-sponsor a child. You will get to know your sponsored child through letters, photos, progress updates, and more. You can even visit your sponsored child and see first-hand how your support is helping transform their life.
24. What if I have other questions?
If you have additional questions, please contact us at 615-686-9085 or email us.