The First Day of School…in Cuba!

The first day of school is an exciting moment of possibility and potential—and the same could be said for my very first trip to Cuba.

 

Everywhere I went, there was an expectant and hopeful feeling in the air. I spoke with young Cubans who expressed their enthusiasm about greater interaction with the world, including the United States, as an opportunity to broaden their horizons and pursue their dreams.

 

CarolynCuba copyI was in Cuba for the country’s first day of school and was lucky enough to visit with kindergarten students in Havana, many of whom were beginning their formal education for the very first time. It was refreshing to see their excitement and hear them talk about what they’re looking forward to learning this year. As part of the visit, we visited an after-school arts program that started in one school and has scaled up to many, and spoke with officials at the Department of Civil Defense about their plan to help schools and students better prepare for disasters. We also celebrated the completion of a 5-year program led by Save the Children Spain in partnership with the Cuban government to increase participation and quality education for 36,000 children in 92 schools, leading to better outcomes for children.

 

But we know that for children to realize these outcomes in school, they must get the healthy start they deserve. So we visited one of the premier pediatric hospitals in Havana and met the dedicated staff who are making impressive advances, despite the lack of supplies, technology, furniture and enough skilled staff. What this facility lacks in materials they make up for in determination for the children under their care—a sense of compassionate duty that echoes what we saw last summer, when a team of Cuban doctors traveled to Sierra Leone and Liberia to help treat those suffering from the Ebola epidemic.

 

One particular child really stuck with me as I traveled back to the U.S. and recounted my trip. She was a kindergartener named Rena, shy at first but then warming as we placed with clay and made little blue snakes. Though my Spanish and her English were too basic for us to talk much, I saw in her eyes the shining future that Cuba could have, one in which children have a prosing number of opportunities to be all they can.

 

So much about my trip felt like the first day of kindergarten: a different, interesting place; new faces who I hope will become new friends; and so much potential to grow and learn. I hope that Save the Children will be able to continue to get to know Cuba, and find out how we can sharpen our pencils and work together to improve the lives of children and families.

A New Year and a Recommitment to Saving Lives

I can hardly believe that it’s already 2015! This year has stood as a milestone for so much of our work for children in recent years, so 2015 promises to be a mixture of sprinting to the finish in some areas and setting out a new course in others.

 

Today I’m in Washington for the exciting launch of action/2015, a worldwide movement made up of organizations, individuals and groups who believe that decisions made this year are critical for our future. The action/2015 coalition is focused specifically on meeting the Millennium Development Goals (set in 2000 for completion by the end of 2015) and determining what we must do in the next 15 years to reach our goal of ending preventable child deaths and extreme poverty by 2030.

kidswhitehouse

Since 2000, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have had an enormous impact on the lives of children around the world. Perhaps most significantly, today more children than ever before are living to see their fifth birthday. In 2000, an estimated 9.9 million children around the world died before age 5. This number dropped to 6.3 million in 2013. The 3.6 million lives that have been saved during this timeframe is far more than a statistic – it is a staggering and heartening reminder of the power we have to better the lives of children, families and communities throughout the world.

 

While we have a lot to celebrate when we look at the progress made against the MDGs, we cannot afford to be complacent – far too many of the poorest and hardest-to-reach children are being left behind. We need to finish the job of ensuring every child can reach his or her potential, and action/2015 is a fitting forum to further this work.

 

At today’s action/2015 event in Washington, I was delighted to join a bright, energetic group of students – our future leaders – as they gathered together to meet with government leaders and share their dreams and ideas for how we can realize the MDGs by 2030. The students I met with impressed me with their thoughtful, smart ideas, and I was struck by their heartfelt belief that we can better our world if we work together. These students intuitively know that the investments world leaders make now will determine the progress we can achieve in the next 15 years. While individuals, donors, NGOs and the private sector can innovate, partner, advocate, support and ensure accountability, governments must lead the way in order to achieve the MDGs and meet the promise we made to children and families 15 years ago.

 

CarolynSelfieUltimately, events like the action/2015 launch – and particularly the young people I met with today – bolster my belief that we really can realize our goal of transforming children’s lives and changing their future as well as ours. The New Year offers us all the opportunity once again to recommit to our core beliefs and highest aspirations, and I am glad to write that Save the Children remains fervently committed to helping all children. And action/2015 is one way we’re working for children. We’re committed to driving the completion of the MDGs and ensuring that the post-2015 agenda maintains the positive momentum we’ve achieved and spurs further progress. I hope you will join us in this work. You can learn more about action/2015 and the MDGs at www.savethechildren.org and www.action2015.org.

Morganne’s Thank You for trip to Mozambique

Dear Sponsors,

I wanted to follow-up with you on my trip to the Save the Children Advocacy Summit in Washington in April. (I am sorry that this is so late.) 

Momo CapOn Wednesday, I spent the day in the Youth Summit, where we learned how to advocate, kinds of messages to use and how our voices as children advocating for children are so important. There, I met, while working in groups, a lot of very interesting people: a 17 year old ex-gang member who now supports the Boys and Girls Clubs, kids that started school clubs to help develop their small rural towns and other kids that share my experience in going into poorer countries to build shelters or work with children.  Through these encounters I learned the hard work and tools it takes to get the message out.  In the afternoon I went to the White House where several of President Obama's advisers on foreign aid and US development gave the administrations' vision of what could be done to help children worldwide and how advocacy can help.  One of the most exciting moments of the day was in the evening when I attended the Board of Trustees cocktail party, because I got to meet Vice-President Joe Biden!!

On Thursday, I spoke as part of the Youth Advocating for Youth Panel.  My mom filmed the panel discussion, but unfortunately she had her hand over the microphone so I have pictures but no sound.  I spoke in front of over 300 people and shared my opinions based on my experiences about how a 14 year old can help others.  In the afternoon, I went with a group to the Capitol to meet with three House of Representative staffers (all representing Legislators from the state of New York) to discuss why the Legislators should support setting up a National Commission on Children and also why they should co-sponsor H.RES 135 supporting frontline health workers worldwide.  

The Summit was two full days worth of learning and action.  It helped me realize that we all need to advocate for change.  It taught me how small actions can make a big difference in children's lives. I learned so much, and had an absolutely incredible experience!  

I just want to thank you again for your support for my trip to Mozambique.  While I have learned so much from the entire Save the Children experience, the most important thing is that I've seen how the money you donated is working to help children in need worldwide.  Thank you!

Sincerely,

Morganne

Morganne’s Thank You for trip to Mozambique

Dear Sponsors,

I wanted to follow-up with you on my trip to the Save the Children Advocacy Summit in Washington in April. (I am sorry that this is so late.) 

Momo CapOn Wednesday, I spent the day in the Youth Summit, where we learned how to advocate, kinds of messages to use and how our voices as children advocating for children are so important. There, I met, while working in groups, a lot of very interesting people: a 17 year old ex-gang member who now supports the Boys and Girls Clubs, kids that started school clubs to help develop their small rural towns and other kids that share my experience in going into poorer countries to build shelters or work with children.  Through these encounters I learned the hard work and tools it takes to get the message out.  In the afternoon I went to the White House where several of President Obama's advisers on foreign aid and US development gave the administrations' vision of what could be done to help children worldwide and how advocacy can help.  One of the most exciting moments of the day was in the evening when I attended the Board of Trustees cocktail party, because I got to meet Vice-President Joe Biden!!

On Thursday, I spoke as part of the Youth Advocating for Youth Panel.  My mom filmed the panel discussion, but unfortunately she had her hand over the microphone so I have pictures but no sound.  I spoke in front of over 300 people and shared my opinions based on my experiences about how a 14 year old can help others.  In the afternoon, I went with a group to the Capitol to meet with three House of Representative staffers (all representing Legislators from the state of New York) to discuss why the Legislators should support setting up a National Commission on Children and also why they should co-sponsor H.RES 135 supporting frontline health workers worldwide.  

The Summit was two full days worth of learning and action.  It helped me realize that we all need to advocate for change.  It taught me how small actions can make a big difference in children's lives. I learned so much, and had an absolutely incredible experience!  

I just want to thank you again for your support for my trip to Mozambique.  While I have learned so much from the entire Save the Children experience, the most important thing is that I've seen how the money you donated is working to help children in need worldwide.  Thank you!

Sincerely,

Morganne

Sign our Petition to Keep America’s Kids Safe

In 1987,  Congress created a National Commission on Children tasked with assessing the status of children and families in America.  This three-year Commission created some of the most meaningful and influential policies for children in modern American history, including the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

 

But 1987 is no longer “modern”—and while the policies crafted 25 years ago are still helping millions of children, they aren’t sufficiently meeting the needs of children growing up in America in 2013.

 

Today’s kids are facing new kinds of challenges including threats of violence, increasing natural disasters and persistent poverty.  These should not and must not be hallmarks of the modern American childhood.

 

That’s why we’re calling on President Obama and Congress to establish a new National Commission on Children, along with First Focus, Children’s Health Fund and other partners, to ensure the safety and well-being of every child. 

 

I hope you will join us as you sign our petition and add your name to a growing list of Americans who are demanding a better future for our kids.

 

Today, The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart echoed our call in this article, urging President Obama and Congress to establish the Commission, take a stand and make children—so often referred to as our most precious resource—a national priority.

 

Sign our petition here.

Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy: Coming Together to Protect Children

Save the Children has worked to ensure the safety and well-being of children around the world for nearly 100 years. We work with children all over the world who have been dramatically affected by war, crisis and violence. We believe that every child has the right to a safe and vibrant childhood. We applaud President Obama’s efforts to curb gun violence in the United States, and we join him and others in advocating for tighter laws, particularly around the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

 

We recognize that this is a complex issue requiring a comprehensive approach. We are working with the Administration and Congress to increase access to mental health services and begin a national conversation about the glorification of violence in our culture. It is urgent we come together as a nation to prevent more tragedies like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

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A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

I spent last week at the Clinton Global Initiative and the UN General Assembly meetings in New York. There was much talking about issues of international development, about the rights of children to an education, about stopping children dying from preventable things like pneumonia, about making sure that the world is free from hunger. But in the midst of all this talking, I noticed that there was simply not enough of one thing—not enough shouting. We need louder voices to make changes on what really needs to be done for poor children and families around the world. Simply put, we need more people to care and speak out. Loudly.

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What can you do in three seconds?

DhheadshotDave Hartman, Social Media Specialist

Washington, D.C. 

March 22, 2012


We gathered more than 90 kids this past week in Washington D.C. as part of our 10th annual Advocacy Summit. The kids met with their members of Congress and wrote blog posts, made videos and visual media to help spread the word about the nutrition crisis that children are facing around the world. Here’s what they had to say:

What can you do in three seconds? You can “LOL” to your “BFF”. You can sign on to Facebook. Did you know that a healthcare worker saves a child’s life every three seconds in a developing country? It’s true.


 

 Salif is one of these health care workers who helped save the life of a 3-year-old girl named Barandje who was suffering from malnourishment. By feeding her Plumpy’nut, a high nutrient food similar to peanut butter, her health steadily improved. Thankfully, she was saved before her poor health was irreversible. Sadly, there are not enough health care workers to provide services to everyone. By clicking on this link, you can help make nutrition-based programs more accessible so that children like Barandje will not have to suffer. Make the next three seconds count.

 “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in the same room as a mosquito” – African proverb.

Is healthy an option for kids? Make it an option!

DhheadshotDave Hartman, Social Media Specialist

Washington, D.C. 

March 22, 2012


We gathered more than 90 kids this past week in Washington D.C. as part of our 10th annual Advocacy Summit. The kids met with their members of Congress and wrote blog posts, made videos and visual media to help spread the word about the nutrition crisis that children are facing around the world. Here’s what they had to say:

Imagine looking at a banana and not knowing what it was. This is how Colby felt before he joined Save the Children’s after school program. Colby is one of 3.6 million kids that live in “food deserts,” areas where there is no fresh food.

Thanks to Save the Children’s after school program each year, 16,500 children, like Colby, have an opportunity to be exposed to healthy foods. However, there is still more work to be done! Children living in remote and rural areas have to drive twenty or more miles to a grocery store, or have to shop for all their food at a local gas station.

 

Save the Children held their 10th annual Advocacy Summit to inform and give youth tools to influence friends, family, and members of Congress to address this malnutrition epidemic. How can you help? Call your local member of Congress and tell them to protect funding for critical nutrition and health programs for children in the United States and around the world. Congressmen aren’t scary! Give them a call.


 

  Check out these personal messages from the authors of this post:

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“I came to the Advocacy Day because I feel that awareness of global issues like malnutrition is the first step to making changes to how Congress responds to the massive funding needs.” ~ Chris Bertaut – Garland, TX

 

Photo (26)“I am interested in the issue of malnutrition in America because I feel that even though America is supposed to be this great power where everything is possible and the people are healthy, malnutrition is a preventable problem that is being ignored by this country’s leaders.  I have been taught to expect more from US.” ~Elena Crouch – Chevy Chase, MD

 

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“I came to the Save the Children summit to be a part of the solution to ending malnutrition in children around the world.  I am being a voice to the voiceless and lending help to the helpless.” ~ Helena McCraw, Chicago, IL

 

Photo (25)“I came to Save the Children’s youth advocacy day because I am doing work around food justice and this will give me the opportunity to learn more about malnutrition. I feel like our country is falling and there needs to be a change!” ~George Walley-Sephes, Philadelphia, PA

 Join these youth advocates, click here to urge Congress to make child nutrition a priority  

Do we really have to choose THIS??

As I celebrated Thanksgiving with my extended family this weekend, eating from a huge spread, sharing updates and stories and generally catching up at a big family gathering, I also thought about the many kids and families Save the Children works with all around the world and right here in the United States. I knew their lives were totally different from my own three kids’ and those of my many nieces and nephews. My sons and