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Monday, 23 April 2012

Letter from Ladan


I got my first letter from Ladan today :)

It is written in English and searching on Google it appears Enlgish is the national language of Uganda. I will write to Ladan and check he understands English, there's so many more paper gifts I can send him if he does.

The letter tells me about his family and his favourite things. Apparently if he could travel anywhere he would go to Kabale town to see big cars.

The message on the back tells me it is very hot in Uganda at the moment and they need prayers for rain.

He's also had a go at drawing me some pictures. Helpfully they've labelled what they are meant to be, though teaching 5 year-olds at school I was pleased I could work some of them out for myself.

Letter from Beatriz


I got a letter from Beatriz today :)

I was written in mid-December and thanks me for her Christmas gift. She bought some ballet shoes with the money. They had a Christmas party at her Compassion project. Apparently they made Easter eggs as part of the celebrations. It seems a few months early to me, but she enjoyed attending and they played lot of games as well.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Spring Harvest Letters

I spent the 10th -15th April at Spring Harvest in Skegness. Spring Harvest is a cross-denominational, all age, evangelical Christian conference, teaching and concert event that happens at Easter each year at two of England's seaside holiday camps.

I wrote to my sponsored children to let them know a bit about what we were studying. I got four notelet cards for each child - one for each study day. Each card has a picture and a bible verse that fitted in with that day's theme. I printed off two photos from the week for each child. Sunita also got some more of the fairy sticker scene book. Beatriz also got more of the old house sticker scene book, Roses also got some press out and make vehicles. Ladan also got some pages and stickers out of a magazine.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Letter from Sunita

 
 
I received a letter from Sunita. It was written on her behalf by one of her Compassion project's workers. It thanks me for my letter and says she is always learning new things. It mentions a picture, but there wasn't one in the envelope. It's written in English, with the letter on one side and the alphabet on the other side. I'm not sure what the alphabet is there for, it might have something to do with the missing drawing a guess.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Need to avoid book shops, or any shops that sell books

I think I need to avoid going anywhere that sells children's books for at least the next 6 months.



I popped into town with a friend today to buy snacks for Spring harvest and found 3 books.

A giant colouring book that has some great colour pages to tear out and send. A baby animals book, full of puzzles, push out masks, drawing pages and activities (I picked up two of these for the boys). Also a doll dress up book with premade cardboard dolls to dress up and press out clothing and accessories to go with them (I picked up two of these for the girls). For anyone in the UK, the books are available in Aldi for £1.99 each at the moment.

I also found the website of the publishing company that make the colouring book and the excellent press out and make books I found in Tesco a few weeks ago. It's Autumn Children's Books, they've got a great range on their website including Bible stories.

How to prepare a Compassion package

OK first of all some disclaimers. I know the following tutorial is teaching a lot of you something you know. However I don't think a lot of sponsors know this information. If you'd have asked me a few months ago how to send anything with my letter, or how to write on different paper, I wouldn't have been able to help you.

Also it is more important that you write to your sponsored child(ren) regularly, rather than what you include in the parcel. Do not feel you have to wait until you have something to send before you send a letter out. Your child(ren) want to hear from you, the rest is optional.

Compassion have to pay to send the letter halfway around the world. If you include too many extras in each mailing it adds too much to the cost. You might just want to send a colouring sheet or sticker sheet with your letter in between sending bigger parcels. Or even just send the letter on it's own. The pictures below show a lot of extras, as it gives me chance to show how you might package them.

Writing on your own stationary or including paper gifts in your letter is easy when you know how. Here is a step by step photo tutorial of how I sent my latest parcel.




Select your stationary. You can write your letter on any paper or card you like. Just make sure there is enough room for your letter and the translation.

Usually I print my letters on normal printer paper, and add an image template to the paper using my letter.

Today I decided to write using notecards to show my sponsored kids what rural England looks like.



Next check your stationary is the right size. The width dimension needs to be under 8.5 inches or you need to be able to fold it. If you are writing on card it can be difficult to fold. These notecards are easily small enough, so I don't need to worry about folding them smaller.



I used to handwrite all my letters. The problem was I could never remember what I'd written. I now type all my letters so I have a copy of what I've said on my laptop. It seems more impersonal, but with my handwriting it's probably easier for the translators.

If you do type your letter, remember to leave enough space for translation. You may be able to fit a lot in the box using a small font, but the translator has to fit the translation into the space you've left. If necessary I type in a smaller font to half fill my side and give the translator more room.

How to type your letters on a picture background like this will be in a later tutorial.



Next I had to cut out my writing page and my translation page and stick them in the notecard. Alternatively I could have hand written on one page and left the other page blank for translation.

Don't forget to date your letter.



You need to make sure that your letter is clearly labelled with your child's name, your child's reference number and your Compassion reference number. If you do not know any of these you can find them on letters from your child, the writing paper Compassion send you, off your MyCompassion page or by phoning or emailing Compassion.

Some people use stickers. I just wrote the information on the white space on the back on the notecard. If you want to get fancy you can make your own Compassion barcode. but it's really not necessary, Compassion will add one if needed.



Next prepare any gifts for mailing. They must be paper or card and smaller than 8.5 inches x 11 inches. UK people note, this is smaller than our standard paper size! Laminated items are fine. These bookmarks have a plastic coating on the front that allows a 3D moving effect. However the tassels are not acceptable. In order to send the bookmarks I had to remove the tassels. If you don't do this Compassion will cut them off if they spot them, otherwise your letter and all the other sponsors' letters in the same mailing will get held up at customs. Compassion mail items as paper documents only.



I made sure each bookmark, minus tassel, was labeled with the child's name, the child's number and my Compassion reference.



I'd found this paper airplane kit on Amazon to send to Roses.



I opened it up to look at the contents and decide how to send it. I discarded the box. I could have folded it flat to send, but I don't think it will be that useful to Roses and it would be very bulky even flat packed.

The instruction booklet and airplane paper can be sent.

There are staples in the airplane book. According to the US Compassion blog, staples are acceptable.



You need to check the thickness of what you are sending. There's a lot of paper there. Luckily it's thinner than the 0.25 inch thickness limit.



Also check the width of what you are sending. Luckily I think this kit was aimed at the US market. The paper inside is less than 8.5 inches x 11 inches and will not need to be folded. If it was larger and needed folding in half, it would be too thick to send all in one package.

I had to discard the black airplane shape as it was made out of plastic. Paper gifts only can be sent.



You cannot unfortunately send the front covers of any books. One reason is such items may disappear in corrupt countries. Another reason is Compassion mails items as documents, they can therefore have no value.

If you don't rip the cover off, then Compassion will do it. I know, I know, as a teacher I do not like to destroy books,  I shuddered too when doing it! However I want Roses to get it, so the destruction was necessary.

Compassion will not translate books. Make sure you pick one that needs no translation.



Label the sheets of paper. Personally I write the child's name, the child's number and my Compassion reference on every sheet. Others label one sheet and staple or paper clip the lot together. Some people put the items in an envelope or folder and label the front of that.



Collect all the items together with the letter. In this case I've got the letter, the bookmark, the instruction booklet, the stickers and the paper all collected together. At this point it's a good idea to check the thickness again and make sure it is under 0.25 inches. Although I did read somewhere the thickness guidelines was per item, I try to get the whole package under 0.25 inches thick.

Usually I put the items in a thin plastic wallet. This package was too big so I tried paper clipping instead. After they pinged off for about the tenth time, I found a thin plastic sandwich bag and put the whole lot in there.

Rose's package is now ready to go in the envelope.



Next I moved onto Ladan's package. It's his birthday in three months, so it was time to send out his birthday card.

I got this personalised at Moonpig.



As with all letters, I had to leave plenty of room for translation.

I wrote Ladan's name, his number and my Compassion reference on the back of the card.



Ladan likes football. I found this trading cards lying around in my teaching supplies box from a previous topic I taught on the World Cup. I wrote my Compassion reference, Ladan's name and his number on the back of each card and collected them together in a small thin plastic sandwich bag.



I had found this make your own football stadium book for Ladan on Amazon.



I took out the staples and discarded the pages explaining the history of football. Compassion wouldn't translate them all and they aren't important in making the stadium.

I had to keep the cover this time though as the inside cover is a major part of the stadium and it wouldn't work without it. It's precut and thicker carboard, so I couldn't just photocopy a replacement page. I've folded it separately, showing the stadium side and not the cover side. Luckily the cover is smaller than 11 inches x 8.5 inches.



Inside I kept the colouring pages to make the movable characters and scenary for the stadium.



These sheets are smaller than 8.5inches x 11 inches and so could be sent like this. However I don't know if Ladan has easy access to a pair of scissors, so I cut them all out for him.

I folded the tabs on the line to make it easier for him. I've also labelled all the tabs with his name, his number and my Compassion reference



I collected all the pieces together and put them into the envelope that came with his birthday card.


I wrote his name, his number and my Compassion reference on the front of the envelope.



There was another cardboard page in the book. This page did not need cutting out as the pieces push out. However the flaps on these pieces need gluing. As I do not know if Ladan has easy access to glue, I covered these flaps in double sided sticky tape.


I collected together all the stadium pieces, the football trading cards, his birthday card, his bookmark and the letter.



After checking it was less than 0.25 inches thick I slipped everything into a thin plastic wallet to keep it all together.

Ladan's package is now ready to go in the envelope.


I had found this sticker book for Beatriz. It shows an old fashioned house and has furniture and object stickers you can arrange on the room pages. It reminded me of the stately home I went and looked round.



Unfortunately the pages are too big and need to be folded to make the size limits. Anything over 8.5 inches x 11 inches must be folded down.



I had to cut the pages in half, due to the way the rooms were laid out in the book.



I then folded half the pages in half. When folded I can send half the book with this letter and half the book with the next letter I send. Each document needs to be under 0.25 inches thick.



I labelled each of the pages with her name, her number and my compassion reference.



On the main room planner I labelled each room with the date I was sending them. Half the rooms are marked 07/04/2012 and half are marked 21/04/2012.



I collected all the items, the letter, the bookmark and the sticker book. I put the items all together and slipped them inside a plastic wallet.

Beatriz's parcel is now ready to send



I labelled the rest of the pages and folded them ready to go inside the next package.



I had found this fairy sticker book for Sunita. It has 48 pages of backgrounds and 1000- stickers to arrange on the background pages.



First step was to remove the binding of the book so I could remove the pages.

Luckily this book has small pages that easily fall within the 11 inches x 8.5 inches size restrictions.



I found the book was probably best split into three chunks for mailing.

Chunk one has half the background pages and the stickers that go with them.

Chunk two has the other half of the background pages and the stickers that go with them.

Chunk three is extra sticker pages, without matching background pictures.



I then labelled the back of every sticker page with Sunita's name, number and my Compassion reference.

The background pages were easier to label as they were glued securely together. I only had to label the front page of this section.



I collected together the fairy sticker book pages, the bookmark and the letter and slipped them inside a plastic wallet to keep them together



Here are all four letter packages. I mail all my letters in the same envelope. CompassionUK use a freepost mailing address (they pay the postage), so I think it is cheaper for them to receive everything all in one envelope.



Here is the envelope ready to send. If you are not sure of the Compassion address in your country then look on the writing paper Compassion send you, phone Compassion or ask on OurCompassion.

CompassionUK sponsors can just drop their parcel in a post box, you don't even need to vist a post office.