When you become a sponsor/penpal to a child you are going to make a difference in a South African child’s life!

Life for many children in South Africa is tough. South Africa has one of the highest gun related murder statistics of many countries. Crime, gangs, HIV, child rape and not having a father are all daily issues that children face. The innocence of childhood does not happen if you grow up in the disadvantaged areas of South Africa.

What makes Metro Kids penpal programme unique?

Here at Metro Kids we encourage a close interaction between you and the child. When you send a letter to a child we will ensure you receive a letter back. This means the more letters you send the more letters you will receive back. The penpal programme goes beyond a yearly update and Christmas card.

Metro Kids as an organization remains closely connected with the child and their family. Staff and volunteers make weekly home visits and children attend the weekly Sidewalk after school programmes. The Sidewalk programme provides Christian based values and life skill lessons in a fun interactive way. For many children attending Sidewalk it is the highlight of their week.

What can you do to make a difference to a child?

Metro Kids goal is to “help children create a better future”. South Africa has enough young people who have committed murder, are in jail, on drugs and involved in crime. It needs young people to rise up and be different in their communities. We are here to help children to decide to be different. We would love you to partner with us in achieving this.

Your commitment to becoming a penpal will make a huge impact on the child’s life. Becoming a penpal can provide opportunities to nurture the spiritual and physical needs of the child through a personal relationship and assist Metro Kids in continuing with much needed programmes that your penpal child will attend. Knowing someone cares about him or her can make a huge difference to a child.

Why penpal rather than sponsor?

We use the term penpal to the child, rather than sponsor, as the term sponsor implies to many families that the sponsor meets all needs. Eg school fees, clothing and food.

Penpal is a term used to encourage a writing friendship.

How does Metro Kids choose the penpal child?

We believe in the dignity of the children we work with and so ask that you trust us to choose a child to suit you rather than posting photos of the children on the website. This works with the child protection policy we have and preserves their safety and dignity. Children who attend the Metro Kids programmes will be invited onto the penpal programme with the agreement of their families. You may choose the age of the child and if you would like a boy or girl.  Children who are available for joining the penpal programme are aged between 4 and 16. We like to partner you with a child aged 10 and under so that you have a longer time to be a penpal with one child.

Why does Metro Kids ask for a monthly donation?

We do ask for a monthly payment of $25/£25. This donation makes a huge difference in a child’s life. The Sidewalk after school programmes the children attend are life changing. They are taught positive Christian based values, which encourage them to believe they are significant and valuable. Most children we work with do not have fathers. They can be passed around various family members and never feel part of a real family. The Sidewalk after school programme is the highlight of their week and as well as bringing necessary and valuable lessons provides laughter and enjoyment to a child who needs to know the simple pleasures of good fun.

The child also receives a weekly home visit from Metro Kids staff and volunteers. This is an incredible support for them and they get excited to see their mentor visit them each week.  This is something unique to the Metro Kids child penpal programme. The children are given a lot of input.

Of course this costs in staff salaries, a vehicle needs to be maintained to transport staff to the children’s homes and the programmes need finances to be of a high standard. We feel these children are ignored and undervalued so often that we want to provide them with a fantastic programme full of fun and worth. To do this we need finances!

This is why we do ask for a donation as this helps a child receive much needed support.

How much does it cost?

$25 or £25 each month or $300/£300 per year

What should I write in a letter?

You need to write simple letters. English is the child’s second language so they will not understand long letters. You can write about your family, what you do and your hobbies. Ask them questions about school, their favourite thing they like to do, who their friends are and about their family. One page is a good guideline for how much to write. Children love photos and postcards of your town.

Can I write a letter in German?

No. We do not have German translators working full time at Metro Kids so letters need to be in English. However, English is the second language for the children so it needs to be simple English. Only a few lines are needed as the children would not enjoy reading long letters in their second language.

How does a child receive letters?

You the sponsor post or email a letter to Metro Kids. The email address and postal address are all in the child profile pack you receive when you sign up for the programme. Once a letter arrives here in South Africa, Metro Kids staff take the letter out personally to the child’s house and deliver the letter.

The child then writes a letter and gives this to the Metro Kids staff after one or two weeks.

How long does post take?

Post arriving to South Africa can take 6 to 8 weeks. Post from South Africa can take 2 to 3 weeks.

Can I email a letter?

Yes! Letters and photos can be emailed to janet@metrokidsafrica.org

These are then printed out and delivered to the child.

Can I send gifts as well as letters?

Yes! Children love to receive presents. When your child profile pack arrives there is an extensive information booklet. There is a Second Mile Opportunity leaflet, which gives examples of how much to give, and what to give. This is an extra to your monthly donation.

If I send a gift how do I know if the child receives it?

When a letter or parcel arrives we send you an email to let you know this.

How long am I a penpal?

We do ask for a commitment for at least 1 year. After this you may decide this is not for you and you would like to stop being part of the programme. This is fine. Obviously we would love you to partner with a child for longer. The child is removed from the programme after they leave school, which normally happens around the age of 18, depending when their birthday falls. Children finish school in South Africa in November of their Grade 12 year.  If a child has had to repeat a grade they will finish school when they are older so they would then stay on the penpal programme until they finish school.

Can I visit?

Yes! We love people to visit their penpal child. Just send an email with your dates whilst here in Cape Town and we will organize a visit.

What happens if my child moves out of the area?

It is typical of homes where there is poverty for children to move around a lot. Often they go to live with different family members, as the burden of a child upon a family is great. If the child is moved to an area where Metro Kids has no programmes, sadly, we do have to remove the child from the penpal programme, as we can no longer keep in contact with them. You are then given the option of a new penpal child.

What do I do now?

If you want to sign up and make a difference in a South African’s child’s life please email janet@metrokidsafrica.org

You can ask further questions and you will be helped to decide if this is the programme for you.

Then you are asked to make a payment. We do ask for the first payment to be made before we send a child profile out to you. The reason for this is we have experienced people receiving the child profile but fail to follow up with their commitment, this causes more disappointment to a child who has been disappointed and let down by people all too often.

How do I make a payment? 

Please follow this GIVE link. There are on-line –giving opportunities or for those that prefer direct debits or cheques can be given to the bank in your country.