Have you ever wondered exactly how your letter reaches your student in Nepal and your student’s letter gets back to you? In a third world country without a door-to-door delivery system like the US Postal Service, it is a long and often arduous journey. Since the earthquakes of April 2015, and the ongoing political upheaval in Nepal, the delivery of letters has become even more difficult, but here is how it works in general…
You mail your letter to ANSWER’s PO Box. It is collected, sorted, recorded and boxed with the other 650+ letters and then shipped half way around the world to Nepal. The ANSWER Nepal staff re-sort the letters by school and plot their travel schedule to schools in the central, east, west, mid-west and far west villages of Nepal – over 125 schools in all. The timing to visit each school is dependent upon the individual school schedules, when exam results and report cards are distributed, when national and religious holidays are occurring (and there are many in Nepal), what the current political situation is, and what weather related issues are occurring at the time — such as mud slides or heavy snow. There are few paved highways in Nepal. The staff generally travel by rented jeep often over rough terrain (or since the Indian blockade they have had to travel by public bus – hanging off the sides or riding on the roof). To reach some schools they fly in small planes that many Americans would never dare to experience. And, in some cases, after enduring an all-day uncomfortable journey in a bouncing jeep or airplane, they then trek on foot for two to three days into the most remote villages in the far west.
Once the Nepal staff arrive at a school they gather the ANSWER students together and present them with their sponsor letters. The students are always wide eyed with excitement and very disappointed if they do not receive a letter. The students read their letters out loud so the staff can determine how well their English language skills are progressing. As the students are writing their reply letters, the staff meet with the teachers and principals to discuss each student’s progress. They collect report cards, special drawings, and take new photos of the students. If a student is having a difficult time in school they often arrange for a home visit to meet with the parents to try to resolve the issues. The staff collect the reply letters, say their farewells and are off to the next school. Once back at the Kathmandu office the photos need to be developed and matched up with the letters, drawings and report cards. Then they are shipped back to Grand Rapids, where they are re-sorted by sponsor, recorded, individual letters by grade level are inserted, report cards are reviewed, invoices are created and enclosed if money is due, often special notes are enclosed regarding individual student circumstances, and then the envelopes are weighed, stamped and mailed out to sponsors..
This entire process from start to finish takes 6 months, which is why you receive a letter from your sponsored student twice per year. One of the best ways you can help is to get your letter in by the deadline as there are often other delays, like late monsoon rains, unexpected strikes, lost parcels, etc… On average we receive only 50% of sponsor letters by the deadline and spend much time sending reminders, replying to late requests, and printing out e-mailed letters from sponsors who missed the deadline. Your timely response makes this incredible journey go much smoother and reduces administrative expenses!