Your Letter Writing Guide

Getting to know your sister can be one of the greatest rewards of sponsorship. The correspondence between you and your sister is an important element in the Sponsorship Program. Letters are an excellent source of support and inspiration for your sister. And, seeing the sponsors' letters and their sisters' letters moving through our offices are some of the most valued moments for our staff at Women for Women International. Although it can take time to get a letter, we assure you it is well worth the wait.

We encourage you to write to your sister monthly, and your sister is encouraged to respond to the letters she receives from you. The time needed for translation, mail service and delivery in the countries we work in often increases the time it takes for a letter to reach you or your sister. It may take up to two months for a letter to reach its recipient. We encourage you to continue writing even if your sister is unable to respond.

Getting Started

Feel free to be creative when sending your letters. We encourage you to send a greeting card or post cards from your town, design your own stationery, or send photographs.

You can mail cards or photos with paper letters, or you can easily attach digital photos to letters sent through the Online Login Area.

Corresponding with Your Sister

In order to ensure that your letters can be delivered to your sister, we ask that you include the following information at the top of each letter:

  • Your full name
  • Your sponsor ID number
  • Your sister's full name
  • Your sister's woman group
  • Your sister's ID number
  • Your sister's country

This information is included in your New Sponsor Kit, and for your convenience it can also be found in our Online Login Area if for any reason you do not have access to the original kit.

Please also keep in mind:

  • Do NOT include your address, phone number or e-mail address in your letter in order to protect your privacy.
  • In an effort to help our translators, please send only one letter per month.

back to top

Sending Your Letters

You can send letters to your sister either online or through the post.

The Online Login Area is the fastest and easiest way to send letters to your sister. After you submit them online, these letters will be sent to our chapter offices electronically, and then printed and translated in-country.

If you choose to use the Online Login Area to send your letters, they will be auto populated with all of your sister's information for you. Get started here!

Of course, paper letters are always appreciated as well, and can be mailed to us at:

Women for Women International
2000 M Street, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

To send a paper letter to your sister you will need to ensure that your complete sponsorship information is listed on the top of each page:

  • Your full name
  • Your sponsor ID number
  • Your sister's full name
  • Your sister's woman group
  • Your sister's ID number
  • Your sister's country

back to top

Letter Content

Often, sponsors contact us to ask what they should write to their sister in their first letter. The best types of letters are the ones that tell your sister something about yourself and your life. You can write about your family, where you live, where you work or what you do in your free time. Any specific cultural information is also interesting to your sister. You can tell her about any significant traditions your family follows or about certain foods you eat or make for special occasions, or are special in your family. Participants also enjoy receiving pictures of their sponsors and their families. Feel free to ask about your sister’s daily life, her family and where she lives. You can also ask your sister about what she is learning in Women for Women International’s programs and what topics she enjoys.

Please do be sensitive to cultural differences, particularly as your sponsored sister may have suffered persecution because of her class, race, gender, or ethnicity. One of the best parts of the Sponsorship Program is learning about these differences and teaching others to respect them. If your sister is a survivor of conflict, please do not ask about the atrocities committed against her and her family. As time goes on, she may disclose these things to you if she feels comfortable sharing. Please be sensitive to your sister’s background and the variety of experiences she may have had.

Due to the time it takes to translate the letters and distribute them, there may be times where letters cross in the mail, and it may take time for your sister to answer your questions and receive your letters. Our staff does its best to ensure the timely delivery of letters to you and to your sister. If you would like more information about how letters get from you to your sister, please see the “Path of a Letter” section below.

As our office works many hours to accommodate our ever-increasing number of sponsors and participants, we currently do not have the resources to dedicate to thoroughly screening all of the letters that pass through our office. This also means that, while our translators overseas take great care in providing our sponsors with accurate English representations of their sisters’ letters, there is the possibility that some letter topics may be unsuitable. In the rare case that you do come across any letters that you deem inappropriate, please understand that this is unintentional. Also, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns at (202) 737-7705 or sponsorship@womenforwomen.org

back to top

Sending Gifts

We understand that many sponsors want to share above and beyond the sponsorship funds and letters they send each month. However, due to customs duties and the high cost of overseas shipping, there is a limit to what you can send. Feel free to send any of the following flat, paper items:

  • Photos: Send your sister photos of you and your family, your house, your town, a holiday tradition, or another special moment in your life. Please limit your photos to two per letter.
  • Postcards: A postcard from a recent vacation or even your hometown can give your sister a great idea of where you live.
  • Greeting cards: You can send a greeting card to your sister in place of a letter to convey your sentiments.
  • Drawings: Share your children's creativity and get them involved too! One 8 by 11 inch or smaller picture per letter please.
  • Maps: An 8 by 11 inch or smaller map of your hometown, state, or country. Please check to make sure your address is not on the map.
  • Stationery: Send 5-10 sheets of small stationary or note cards that your sister can use to write you. Envelopes aren't necessary, since all mail goes through our offices.

If you do send any of the above items, please label them with your sister’s full name, woman group and country to ensure delivery to her. Please attach the gift securely to your letter and make sure your letter is also clearly marked with your sister’s full name, woman group and country.

Please DO NOT send jewelry of any kind, books of any kind, clothing or pieces of cloth, hand-knitted small items, cosmetics, seeds, food or candy, toys or any other non-paper, non-flat items. They will not be sent to your sister or returned to you. We will donate all undeliverable items to local women's charities.

back to top

Path of a Letter

Many times sponsors ask us how letters get from themselves to their sisters overseas, since many women live in rural areas, or in areas where infrastructure has not been completely rebuilt. Although it may take up to 8 or more weeks for the entire letter exchanging process, we assure every sponsor and participant that their letters will reach their final destination, provided all information is provided. The following details what goes into the letter exchange process, and explains why it can sometimes feel like it takes forever for a letter to be delivered.

Step 1: Jane, a new sponsor, receives information about her sister in the mail. After reading a little bit about her sister Rose, Jane decides to write a letter.

Step 2: Women for Women International receives Jane’s letter by mail, and it is entered into our database so it can be tracked. It is then sent to the appropriate country office in a DHL package twice a month, with other sponsors’ letters.

Step 3: Jane’s letter arrives at the correct Women for Women International Country Office. Jane’s letter is either given to a translator to translate her letter into Rose’s language, or Jane’s letter is kept at the office for when her sister arrives for her regular meeting.

Step 4: Jane’s translated letter is either given directly to Rose to read, or Jane’s letter is read to her sister before/after her regular meeting if Rose is illiterate.

Step 5: Ideally, Rose writes a letter back to Jane. Sometimes participants will bring letters home with them and take some time to respond to a letter. Other times participants are so excited that they will write a letter before leaving the office. Many times participants will have friends or family members help them write a letter if they are unable to write themselves, or they will dictate their letter to a Women for Women International staff member.

Please remember that some women in our programs may have circumstances that make it difficult to write, and may not feel comfortable writing immediately. However, we encourage you to continue writing letters, as they do give your sister emotional support and give her the knowledge that someone is supporting her efforts to rebuild her life and create change for herself and for her family.

Step 6: Rose gives her letter for Jane to the Women for Women International Country Office to have her letter translated into English, if necessary.

Step 7: Once a month, Women for Women International Country Offices send DHL packages of participants’ translated letters to the DC office. The staff then enters Rose’s letter into the database for tracking purposes and files it for the monthly mailing.

Step 8: Once a month, Women for Women International staff and volunteers participate in the Monthly Sponsorship Mailing. Here, Rose’s letter gets put into a labeled envelope for Jane, and is mailed out along with thousands of other letters from participants to sponsors.

Step 9: After writing her first letter, Jane receives Rose’s letter in the mail. When Jane responds, the process begins again.

back to top

 
Close