I received this drawing from a 9 year old girl from Nepal. The letter tells me she lives in a house made of bamboo and mud, with a slate roof and a dung floor. The family use straw for cooking and get water from a bore hole - collection takes around 5 minutes. This girl goes to school, but her family use an open field for a latrine as they have no toilet.
I have been a sponsor with Plan for nearly 10 years. Recently my sponsorship with the first child (also from Nepal) ended when Plan decided they had done enough in that community - R was now a teenager, and they moved my sponsorship and their efforts to another area. It was kind of sad to lose R - so I decided to write her a final postcard, and also an introductory one to my new sponsored child, S.
Plan go into communities in 'developing' countries. Through sponsorship, they set up a link with an individual - and over the years there has been an exchange of photographs and drawings (from her), postcards and the odd gift from me. All correspondance is sent through Plan, so there are no direct details of addresses or contact, but roughly once a year you receive a small piece of post, a message and a photograph from the family - and likewise you can send them a message or a small gift (although they may have stopped that now due to costs?).
I must say as it went on I found it harder to write, once initial formalities had been exchanged - and I think the main cause of this was just overwhelming guilt - news from my world seemed so priviledged that I found it uncomfortable to talk about my life.. even a simple laptop like the one I'm using now would be 'out of this world' for my sponsored child. So mostly enquiries are made to the health and happiness of the family - and perhaps the thought is really what counts.
It is lovely to receive post from someone you have never met, but have this strange link with, and makes the transaction more human than charity. It's rather humbling.
Plan tell me that in R's area of Nepal they helped to install 1159 wells, 1341 toilets for families - they also support schooling, education and health education in the sponsored areas.
If you are interested in the scheme, Plan can be found here.