Home Visits and Gifts

What should I expect?

The goal of the home visit is to learn more about your sponsored child and what life is like for them.  The focus of the visit should be on relationship.

  • Before the visit, ask the FH staff person what to do and what not to do, or what to say and what not to say.
  • You may have to walk a far distance to visit your sponsored child as many of our families live in remote areas.
  • While you may be treated like royalty, don’t go inside the house or sit until asked. If you are given the only seat in the house, graciously accept it. You are their guest and they want to give you their best.
  • The house may be cramped or smell differently.  Make sure your mannerisms are communicating respect to the family.  Be aware of your body language and facial expressions – smile!
  • Bring appropriate photos of your own family to share. Come prepared with questions to ask the child and family.  Here are a few examples:
    • Tell me about your family.
    • Tell me about your work or job.
    • How old are you? (To siblings)
    • What do you enjoy?  (“Favorite” does not always translate.)
    • Ask about the “chore” listed on your sponsored child’s profile.
    • How are you doing in school?
  • Your sponsored child and their family may be shy and quiet. This does not mean they are not happy to have you in their home. You are probably the first foreigner to visit them, and they are taking in the new experience.  It may be awkward, and there may be extended periods of silence, but your presence is one of the strongest ways the child and the family are going to know God’s love. Sharing photos or playing with bubbles can be a nice ice breaker.
  • Take the food that is offered to you.  FH staff has communicated to the family about what visitors can be served.  If you are still in doubt, discreetly ask the FH staff person that is with you.
  • Give the opportunity for the family to ask you questions.
  • Pray for the family at the conclusion of your visit.
  • Pictures should be taken at the end of the visit.  Ask the family, and wait until the family has agreed, before taking pictures.
  • The family may give you a gift like a chicken or blanket. While this may seem like too much or you have no use for it, graciously accept it. By accepting the gift, you are allowing the family to express their gratitude to you for your sponsorship, and it gives dignity to the family.  (If an animal is given, FH staff will know the best use for it.

A Note about Gifts

While it is nice to be able to give a gift as part of a home visit, the gift should not be the center of the visit.  The relationship should be the focus of the visit.  In-country staff will determine if and when a gift is appropriate.

An appropriate gift would be something small that can be shared among the family and will not create jealousy in the community.  Items that can be given would include plastic dishes and educational supplies such as pens and notebook.  If you are bringing your own gift, do not bring colorful gift bags or wrapping paper.  We recommend using clear, one-gallon Ziploc bags for gifts.  Please show your gift bag to your team host prior to your home visit.  In some countries, like Bolivia, Guatemala and Nicaragua, if a sponsor wants to give a gift, they must purchase a home gift basket from in-country staff, rather than bring their own gift from home.

Gifts that should NOT be given include the following:  toys that need batteries or electricity to operate, any toy that can be a choking hazard, medicine, items that are violent or war-related (guns, army figurines, etc.) or soccer balls (balls of any kind should be given to FH staff to share among the community at school).  Please do NOT give money to families or any community member.  This creates jealousy and reinforces dependency in the community.

In many places, to ask is to promise.  To ask about a child’s education or beds for sleeping, you may be creating an expectation that the family will receive the items.  If you have a concern or desire to provide additional help, please talk to your team host in private.  They will know the priorities for the community and can talk to you about appropriate ways to support the community.

Quotes from FH Field Staff >>

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