Yes, but please use discretion and wisdom…and consider alternatives which don’t involve mailing/shipping (see below). Your student is very blessed to have you as his/her sponsor, but many others in our student body are still waiting for their sponsor. Children and young people all over the world are the same…when one student receives a gift, students without sponsors sometimes will respond in jealousy.
There are also various culture factors at work, and “having a sponsor” to an East African child can be a different experience than it is for a child in another culture. There is a tendency, for the students, to understand sponsorship in a way that can begin to revolve primarily around gifts. That is something we want to avoid at LOJA.
Therefore we suggest you offer gifts only on special occasions: birthday, graduation, etc. We have also found that giving smaller gifts to entire classes or groups of students can be another great way to bless your student, and many others. Following are some practical suggestions:
Donate a book/books to our student library in honor of your student.
Your student will enjoy the book every week during library time.
Donate a toy/toys to our student play room in honor of your student.
Your student will enjoy the toy every week during play time.
Donate school supplies for your student and his entire class.
Keep it simple, like pencils or erasers. Students use these supplies every day in the classroom.
Also, it is often much more wise and practical to arrange to send funds to Tanzania and have a gift purchased there for your student. We do this regularly and it not only avoids very high shipping costs and potential import taxes (which are sometimes more costly than the gift itself!), but often the gift can be more culturally appropriate and sometimes even cheaper when purchased in Tanzania. And that doesn’t even take into account all the reliability issues inherent with international shipping.
We can help you make these arrangements…contact us. Our Tanzanian staff can help and they are very reliable and responsible.
If you do send a gift please carefully observe the instructions under, “I’d like to write a letter to my student,” directly above. Failing to follow those instructions are almost guaranteed to result in import taxes which may be more costly to the student than the value of the gift.
If you have additional questions about gifts, just ask!