Yemeni children

Orphans FAQs

For your convenience, Islamic Relief USA has answered your frequently asked questions about orphans below. For more answers for other topics, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.


How does Islamic Relief define an orphan? Islamic Relief defines an orphan as a child younger than 18, without one or both parents, or whose financially-dominant parent has abandoned the child for a minimum of four years. The orphan may be of any gender, religion or race.

How is an orphan selected for sponsorship? Orphans are selected based on four main criteria: financial need, family size, housing conditions and health. The families with the greatest need—such as larger families with dire financial situations—receive priority for sponsorship.

How is the sponsorship money spent? Sponsorship money is paid to the orphan’s guardian every quarter. Orphans are monitored to ensure that they are receiving the full benefits of sponsorship. This may include health checks and education for school-aged children.

How long will the sponsorship continue? You can sponsor a child as long as you wish, up to the age of 18. If you choose to continue sponsorship after the child reaches 18, you are free to do so. We require a minimum sponsorship time of one year because this allows us to plan ahead and maintain a consistent level of service to the orphan. However, in case of any difficulty, the sponsor may cancel at any time with advanced notice.

Can I write a letter to my orphan? Yes. The sponsor and orphan are free to exchange correspondence via the Islamic Relief office in the USA. Sponsors may mail or email the correspondence to the Islamic Relief office in Alexandria, VA.

Can I visit my orphan? Visits are arranged at sponsor’s expense and must be facilitated by an Islamic Relief representative. Sponsors must arrange the visit one month prior to leaving for travel. Your orphan visit will take place at an Islamic Relief office. In addition, the visit will be supervised at all times by the Orphans Welfare Officer at the country field office. The Islamic Relief child protection policies are in place to ensure the safety and welfare of vulnerable orphans and their families.

I have not heard about my orphan. When will I be updated? All sponsors receive a biography (biodata) on the child upon confirmation of the first donation payment. The biodata is mailed to sponsors typically six to eight weeks after initiating sponsorship. Thereafter, progress reports are mailed to sponsors once a year. You may contact the Orphan Support team at if you do not receive updates.