I want to visit the project I am supporting. How should I proceed?
It is better, not to visit the project during local school holidays. We ask you to please inform either the Aide et Action team in the field or our Donor Relations department in Geneva at least two months before your trip, so we can give you advice on how to prepare for your trip and organise your project visit (however, in no case whatsoever can we cover the costs of your visit). You are welcome to visit any Aide et Action project at any time. Such a visit will allow you to meet and get to know the children that benefit from the project you support and to learn how Aide et Action and its partners work in the field. Once you are back in Switzerland, do not hesitate to share your experience with the people you know!
I want to send a present to the sponsored children. How should I proceed?
To begin with, a present should not create any disparities or injustices amongst the children. Therefore we recommend that you send neither personal nor valuable gifts. It is better to think in collective or pedagogical terms: dictionaries, atlases, maps, etc. are better suited. One should not necessarily think about what the children are lacking, but about what we can share with them: how would you like to show and explain your land and culture to a stranger? Beware, consumer goods often reach their destination in less than optimal conditions and should therefore be avoided. We recommend that you send your present (weighing no more than 1,2 kg) in a small, padded package. This is preferable to a parcel, as you save yourself a considerable amount of administrative effort and you will not have to pay excessive custom fees. Moreover, as with your letters, there is no need to give personal details. The reference of your sponsorship dossier suffices to ensure that your package reaches the right destination and our team in the field will confirm its arrival.
What eventually happens to the children that I have supported?
In most cases, the children still live with their families or are serving an apprenticeship in a small business in their village or neighbourhood. Thanks to the skills and knowledge they acquired in school, these young adults are now better suited to meet the challenges of adult life and can help improve the quality of life of the entire family.
I have to face an unexpected event. Can I end my sponsoring? What then happens to the project?
Sponsoring is a long-term commitment that you can end at any time, simply by requesting it. All you have to do is inform us by post at Aide et Action Suisse, 11 rue des Pâquis, 1201 Geneva or by email at email@example.com. We will then end your sponsorship (in cases of direct debiting, we appreciate being warned before the 20th of a given month, so that your request can be taken into account straight from the following month). Sponsored children remain at school, of course. The programme continues to run as initially planned, thanks to our sponsorship pooling system – one of the great strengths of Aide et Action – which allows us to honour the commitment we made with communities. This leaves you free to take a decision that might be otherwise difficult to bear.
How does supporting a project, a school or a class work?
You accompany the implementation of a project or the daily routine of a class. In any case, our team in the field will keep you informed and up to date about the activities of Aide et Action in the region. In the opposite direction, your correspondence will contribute to widening the horizons of every single student. The sponsors’ letters, postcards and photos are often used by the teachers as an educational tool.
What are the criteria for selecting schools?
Schools where Aide et Action intervenes are selected according to most urgent needs assessed, especially in terms of primary schooling; as well as according to the motivation shown by local populations. Aide et Action then chooses, as a general rule, to sponsor the quasi totality of children in each chosen school in their first year.
How often should I pay for my sponsorship (once per month, quarter, year, etc.)?
You can freely choose the frequency of your payments. We do however prefer regular payments, as this facilitates our budgetary and long term planning, as well as reducing our operating costs.
I do not know what to write...
We strongly encourage a dialogue between the sponsors and the country where the project they support takes place. The strength of a sponsorship also lies in this regular exchange and show of solidarity. A postcard, a photo of your surroundings, a poem or a cut out newspaper article are all ways to show your interest. Think about how you want somebody to discover your country and culture. These exchanges also a great opportunity for the teachers on site to raise the children's curiosity and develop a learning process.
Is there an ideal time of the year to write to the children?
Sending your letters shortly before a "reading session", where the children read the letters together, helps to engage them more fully in the correspondence and encourages them to answer your questions.
Therefore we recommend that you send your letters in the following times of the year:
- West Africa, Madagascar and the Caribbean: September/October, January/February, April
- India and Tanzania: November/December, March/April, July/August
- Southeast Asia (sponsorships only): no ideal time of the year
Can I obtain the contact details of the school or project I sponsor?
Most often, your school/project is located in an area bereft of postal services. Our local on-site teams are therefore tasked with conveying mail at regular intervals.
Why do my letters sometimes arrive late?
The day-to-day management of the sponsorships is handled by the local populations themselves. Our on-site teams regularly hand over the sponsors' correspondence, but they cannot travel to the project site for every single letter. As far as the most isolated regions are concerned, the journey to reach them can be very long (as much as a full day!). Our teams must collect the children's responses after the "reading sessions", sort out the letters and check for significant changes in the children’s situations (regular absences, drop-outs, etc.). Moreover, the local postal service can be very slow at times. This whole process takes time and we sometimes have to deal with problems (difficult or impassable, depending on the time of year, access roads, strikes, etc.) that are not of our making.