For three or four years now I have been ‘sponsoring a child’. What this actually means is that I give a regular donation to a charity (Plan UK) and they use this money to help different communities (building infrastructure, establishing water or electricity supplies, training healthcare professionals, etc). And a child living in one of the communities they work in becomes your penpal. (I am glad this is how it works as then the money goes further, rather than giving money to one person/family, but their friends and community remain in poverty).
The penpal aspect of it is actually really interesting, as you get to know a little bit about someone living in a country and culture very different from your own. My penpal’s name is Zuwela and she is from Ghana. When we first started writing to each other she was only 10 years old. Now she is 13 and she recently sent a photo of herself and I was moved to see the change from the shy child I saw several years ago, to a blossoming teenager who was smiling.
In my reply I wrote lots of ‘the usual’ sorts of things we talk about, but also wanted to send her something, now that she is growing up and entering womanhood. I thought for a while about what I could send as I wanted it to be personal and special, but also appropriate. In the end I chose a simple but pretty handmade necklace I found in a Red Cross secondhand shop. I think it will suit her and hope she likes it. I also sent some 3D bookmarks for herself and her brothers, as they all enjoy school and cool bookmarks are always good to have!