A Breath of Fresh Air

Ramatoulaye, Sponsored Child – Edited by Mariam Diaby

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mali

February 14, 2019

My name is Ramatoulaye and I am 12 years old. I am in fifth grade and love to read, and dream of becoming a teacher one day. I enjoy school and I get along with my schoolmates. I live with my family in a community that has been a part of Save the Children sponsorship programs since 2008.

I had a difficult childhood because my parents divorced when I was very young. My stepmother raised my siblings and I. Being the youngest child, the absence of my mother affected me a lot. But, I was still lucky enough to attend school. Being in school and having many friends helps me to forget my mother’s absence.

Our school wasn’t always as nice as it is today, though. Before Save the Children came, children were studying in poor conditions. The classrooms were made with straw and mud bricks, and would easily fall apart during harsh weather. The lessons taught in school were not fun for us either. Our teachers were not teachers by profession and had not had any real training in how to educate us. They didn’t know how to explain things in a way we would understand. Parents could hardly afford school supplies for their children anyway, and many of them did not see school as important. Our parents thought having us work on farms with crops or animals would be better for our families. So, school attendance was very low.

These are some of the new teaching materials at my school.

But since Save the Children came, sponsorship has been a true breath of fresh air. Our school has received school supplies that meet our needs as students but also make learning fun. We now have all kinds of new books, geometry tools, chalk and other teaching materials, and notebooks, writing slates, pens and pencils for me and my friends. The new classroom blocks are also strong and sturdy to survive the rainy season. They have big open doors and windows to keep it cool when it’s hot, with a shaded pathway for us to get out of the sun. The old building was dark and air didn’t move through it like this.

Our teachers also learned how to make the lessons more interesting for us, and how to teach all of us, no matter how well we could read. Save the Children was even able to reduce our school fees by helping to find funding to support the teachers’ salaries, which many of our parents could not pay for.

My friends and I playing in the school yard.

Before we never had more than 15 students in my class. Now there are over 30!

The headmaster of my school said, “Thanks to Save the Children, there has been a positive change because our community has benefited from [new] classrooms and the school attendance has been improved, a real blessing for our community.”

I’m happy I can go to school. I feel safe and welcome there. One day, maybe I can teach in a school like this.

To learn more about how sponsors have changed the lives of children like Ramatoulaye, visit your online account at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount. We have more videos and stories about the changes sponsors make possible there!

Emmanuel Is No Longer Ashamed

Rosemary Nanyonjo

Community Sponsorship Officer

Save the Children in Uganda

February 8, 2019

Schools are a great place for preparing young people academically, however schools can also play a vital role in preparing them to take on life’s challenges and make informed life decisions.

Many children in rural areas of Uganda experience struggles during their adolescence, especially as their bodies begin to change from those of children to those of adults. Information on their growth and development, and especially on sensitive issues like sexuality and puberty, was hard to come by. This is because the conservative local culture shies away from speaking about these issues openly, which has led many adolescents to make regrettable life decisions guided by misinformation.

This is the story of Emmanuel, a 16-year-old boy living in Namayumba, Uganda, with his grandmother and four siblings.

Emmanuel was terrified when his body started to change, as he had no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what to do and was embarrassed to ask my grandmother about it.” Emmanuel told me.

Emmanuel with some health club members from his school.

His friends had said the way to deal with his changing body was to get a girlfriend right away. “This advice left me very confused and worried about what to do… I was not ready to have a girlfriend.” Emmanuel continues.

With so many questions ringing in Emmanuel’s mind, he jumped at the opportunity to participate in a health talk organized by Save the Children one evening at his school. “I learned that actually… it was normal and I didn’t have to be ashamed.” Emmanuel says. He also learned that it would have been wrong for him to start having sex at such a young age, and about the possible negative outcomes which would have followed if listening to the advice of his friends.

Save the Children, through our adolescent development program supported by sponsors, ensures that students like Emmanuel have the right information on reproductive health, and are able to cope with the changes of puberty and make the right decisions in their lives. Thanks to sponsors, we are able to support health workers in visiting schools and organizing health talks with these young people.

The health talks encourage openness and the free flow of accurate and much needed information. Save the Children also helps train health workers in how to deliver youth-friendly services, by communicating with teens in a way that makes them feel comfortable and respected.

Emmanuel and other club members listening to a health talk led by Fred, a Namayumba health worker.

Likewise, in these programs children are encouraged to speak to health workers when they face challenges or difficult questions. Adolescents learn about the services that are available for them at health facilities so they are comfortable going there when they need help or guidance. They are also encouraged to share what they have learned with their friends and fellow students, further spreading the good information. In particular for girls, important guidance related to how to manage their menstruation cycle is provided during these health talks. Boys also learn about the different needs of girls and how to respect those differences.

After attending the health talk, Emmanuel was motivated to help his peers confidently approach puberty. Save the Children helped schools establish health clubs, so children could have more learning opportunities as well as a voice, spreading the information they have learned through music and drama at community events for other children and family members.

Emmanuel is grateful to Save the Children for empowering him with knowledge to make great choices for his life. Thank you sponsors, all the way from Uganda!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Bonaventure and Mom Learn How to Stay Healthy

Paul Musole

Sponsorship Field Facilitator

Save the Children in Zambia

January 31, 2019

In a small village in Zambia lives Bonaventure with his mother, father and eight siblings. At 10 years old, he is in his fifth grade. While most families around Bonaventure’s village depend of fishing and small-scale farming, his parents only grow a single crop, corn, to earn their living. Usually, they only have two meals a day because his parents cannot afford to feed him and his siblings three meals.

Despite all this, Bonaventure considers himself fortunate because his home is located near a small health clinic. Other families must hike for over an hour or more in the hot sun, crossing streams and along bumpy roads, in order to reach their nearest health services.

Before sponsorship, his school did not have safe drinking water or facilities for children to wash their hands during the day. Their old water source was a borehole, a type of well dug in the ground, that was old and rusty. There were no latrines specific for children, and the adult-sized latrines that were available had no handwashing facilities. Likewise, children didn’t know ways to help maintain their health, like by washing their hands.

Thanks to sponsors, learning about how to stay healthy is easy (and fun!) for Bonaventure and his mom.

This increased the number of sick children in his village, which also delayed their learning, as children were often absent from school because they were too sick to attend.

“We used to have such overwhelming cases of diarrhea in the past that sometimes we would completely run out of medical supplies.” shared Kasonde, the officer of the health clinic near Bonaventure’s home.

Save the Children helped to organize a meeting with the community to discuss the problem. Parents, teachers and health and nutrition experts came together to discuss possible solutions.

They decided to form a school health club that could focus on improving the health knowledge of the students and allow children to learn from each other. These club members were trained by Save the Children health and hygiene experts on how to help monitor the personal hygiene of their fellow pupils and younger students.

For example, club members help manage handwashing facilities by ensuring children line up to take turns before returning to class after break or before having lunch. They also make sure that each handwashing area has soap and remains clean during the school day.

Save the Children staff also supported school assemblies and handwashing demonstrations to teach children how to wash their hands properly. Learning materials like informational posters, illustrations and pictures with descriptive images were shared, to help show what good hygiene skills look like to students in a visual way. The school also now has new and clean latrines that are safe and easy for even young children to use.

“I make sure I wash my hands all the time,” Bonaventure said proudly.

“Thanks to Save the Children, we were given some chlorine which the village head and I used to chlorinate the wells around the village. [Diarrhea] cases have tremendously reduced.” says Kasonde happily.

Bonaventure and his friends now enjoy using a clean latrine and drinking safe water during the school day. The handwashing facilities stationed at the corner of the school buildings are never short of water. “I make sure I wash my hands all the time before eating and after using the latrine.” Bonaventure shared proudly.

These lessons have also rippled through the community, to parents of students. Bonaventure’s mother shared, “Because I have so many children, it is costly to nurse any of them if they get sick. I [now] take the preventive measures very seriously.”

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Thanh Meets His Sponsors

Hoang Dieu Linh

Sponsorship Intern

Save the Children in Vietnam

January 28, 2019

I’ve been supporting the child sponsorship program in Vietnam for about 6 months, working mostly on facilitating the letter writing relationship between our loyal sponsors and the children Save the Children supports in Vietnam.

This February, for the first time, I went on a sponsor visit and saw with my own eyes that the love between sponsors and their sponsored children is much more than just the simple words in the letters they exchange.

We went to see a 6-year-old boy named Thanh, attending his final year in a kindergarten in Bao Thang, Lao Cai. His school has been a part of sponsorship since 2014, and things have been changing a lot since then. Thanks to sponsors’ donations, reading corners have been created with a wide selection of books to choose from to boost children’s literacy and math skills, and many toys have been provided for both indoor and outdoor play, making the school more cheerful and welcoming for its young students. Before the school hardly had any toys or learning materials.

Thanh’s family and his sponsors taking a photo together.

We’ve learned through experience that planning sponsor visits with children Thanh’s age can be difficult, because they are too small to talk very much or too shy to express themselves in front of adults, let alone foreigner strangers. However, from the moment we were welcomed with hugs and kisses from the Italian sponsors, I knew that we would have a wonderful and memorable trip.

Our sponsors were a couple, husband, Giuseppe who speaks English pretty well, and his wife, Fara, who spoke French in addition to Italian but not English. I prepared myself to help support the language barrier during our visit.

Once we arrived at the school, we were greeted by a cheerful reception of children in colorful traditional clothes and gifts of beautiful handmade bracelets for each of us. We introduced ourselves to teachers and school staff, and explained the purpose of our visit to the crowd – to show Thanh’s sponsors what they were supporting through Save the Children in Bao Thang. Giuseppe and Fara also wanted to see how Thanh was doing and learn more about him than they ever could through their letter writing.

The children showing off their bamboo dancing skills.

Thanh himself at the beginning didn’t talk much, so we had to get acquainted with his grandparents first to help him open up. They showed us all the letters that had been exchanged between Thanh and Giuseppe, and slowly, Thanh began to recognize that this stranger before him was the very same one he had shared so many letters with.

Not long after that, Thanh was happily being carried in the arms of Giuseppe as we continued to tour the school and meet with teachers. For fun, together we all made “chung cakes” – a type of sticky rice cake traditional of the Dao people, a culture prominent in this part of Vietnam – and “rom cakes” – a kind of stuffed sticky rice ball. Children also performed the local traditional bamboo dance for the visitors.

As the trip came to an end, we were all feeling comfortable and looking like good friends – myself and the other Save the Children staff with us; Thanh, with his family and his sponsors; and the teachers and other students that spent the day with us.

Thanks to this opportunity, now I know that love can be transcended from just simple letter writing, and distance or different cultures means nothing when people care about each other.

Did you know you could visit your sponsored child or the programs Save the Children helps support? Contact our team at ChildVisits@SaveChildren.org to learn how to plan a trip!

The Great Little Storyteller

Su Yadanar Kyaw

Senior Coordinator, Sponsorship Operations

Save the Children in Myanmar

January 14, 2019

 “… and the three little pigs finally chased the tiger away. The end!” Bhone, a 4-year-old boy, wraps up reading the story he learned from school with his friends and cousins, and is ready to play another game on the playdate.

Bhone is a preschooler living in Hpa An, in Kayin State in Myanmar, with his grandparents, aunty and two cousins. Bhone’s mother has been living in Bangkok as a migrant worker for over 10 years now. Just like other parents from this area who move to Thailand for work, she sends her earnings back to support her family. Hpa An is close to the Thailand border and jobs there tend to pay better than those in Hpa An, where the majority of opportunities are in low-paying farming or agriculture work. For this reason, many parents do the same to support their families, sending money to children and relatives in Myanmar. As a result of this migration, many families left in Hpa An are made up of young grandparents, or young uncles or aunts, who raise the children.

Before sponsors started supporting this community, little kids like Bhone played in the mud and dirt all day long. Most children did not have any games, toys or books of their own, in particular those that help with their learning skills. Play items were what was available to them – usually leaves or discarded plastics. Grandparents found it difficult to take care of children and used mobile phone games to keep them busy and distracted.

Bhone and his aunty, Daw Zar, who benefit from sponsorship programs together.

To help caretakers and give young children access to an engaging learning environment, in 2014 Save the Children started working with community members in Hpa An to establish early childhood learning centers. In addition to safe and reliable child care, these preschool programs provide children ages 3 – 5 years old with skills that prepare them for primary school, for example in early reading and math, which better sets them up for academic success as they get older.

Bhone is the first of the children in his family to receive any kind of early childhood education, since these kinds of opportunities did not exist before.

According to Bhone’s aunty Daw Zar, Bhone was a difficult boy before attending the preschool. He was stubborn, sometimes behaving violently with his aunt when she did not pay heed to his requests. He did not play much with his cousins either, but mostly kept to himself.

As a part of opening the early childhood learning center in their community, Save the Children also messaged out information on child care techniques, and offered to train parents, grandparents and other caretakers like Bhone’s aunty Daw Zar on how to take care of their children in ways that nurtured their development, for example how to select nutritional food options.

One key activity of these parenting education sessions was the promotion of a storytelling culture in children’s homes. Sponsorship presented the art of storytelling as a simple and beautiful way caretakers, and children, could share a memory, talk about their day, or read together from a book.

Through Save the Children, caretakers learned how storytelling is one of the first language experiences for a child and thus has several advantages in stimulating their growth, such as exposing them to new vocabulary, improving their listening and comprehension skills and promoting creativity. It also creates and preserves culture and enhances family bonds, which in turn improves children’s self-esteem.

Bhone storytelling during a playdate with his friends and cousins.

Like all children at the early childhood learning center, story time is one of Bhone’s favorites at school. He has now become a good storyteller himself, remembering almost all of the stories he learns from his teacher and sometimes creating his own.

“[Now] Bhone asks me to tell stories every night. But, I do not know many stories so he is the one who tells me stories every night. I love his creation and imagination.” Daw Zar proudly says, “The great little storyteller returns home every night.” 

“My favorite story is [about] a big bad tiger and three little pigs. I want to be smart like the three little pigs and make all the bad guys run away. Maybe I can be a police officer when I grow up” Bhone says excitedly.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

A New School in Zomba

Margret, Sponsored Child

Edited by Memory Mwathengere, Sponsorship Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Malawi

January 8, 2019

Although receiving a primary school education remains a basic public service in many countries across the world, for most children in Malawi, the chance to attend a good school is something very special, and millions of children in Malawi will never get the chance to experience this at all.

My name is Margret. I live in Zomba, a rural area in Malawi, together with my parents and three siblings. I am 18 years old and in my first year of secondary school.

I think of myself as one of the luckiest children in Malawi because I am in the sponsorship program. I joined sponsorship in 2008 when I was 8 years old.

Before joining sponsorship, I didn’t have any exercise books or pens for school. Our school was always way too small for the number of students trying to go there. Sometimes, we could have 200 of us crammed into one room. When there wasn’t enough space, I remember we needed to have classes outside, and we used to be disturbed by the noisy people and cars on the road nearby. When we were inside, the classrooms were bare and dull, without any print rich materials on the walls or tools for the teachers to use like books and chalkboards.

Margret on her bike ready to ride home from school.

Then one day, sponsorship came and built a new school block.

Now, there are enough classrooms for all of us! We still may have up to 60 students in a class, but this is much better than the hundreds trying to all learn together before.

Classrooms are now stocked with textbooks and exercise books, and other learning materials like pens, pencils and chalk for the teachers. We also have the opportunity to participate in all kinds of afterschool activities. For example, we can learn about the arts or leadership skills through peer-to-peer sessions, so that we can learn with our friends. We never had these kinds of groups available to us before, and wouldn’t continue with our studies after school. Our teachers also know better how to make learning fun and interactive for the students, including for children with a diverse range of learning needs.

This inspired me to go to school every day with hope.

Margret sharing some laughter with a friend.

The new school blocks also have toilets that make both boys and girls comfortable, and clean water spouts. This is especially important for the girls, because without bathrooms stocked with the materials we need we would feel embarrassed or even have to miss class during our time of the month.

One of my favorite things in sponsorship is receiving cards from my sponsor. It makes me feel really special because it shows me my sponsor remembers me.

Normally, even teenagers my age are not able to read and write as well as I am able to now, because of the changes sponsorship has made in my school. Because I had such a strong start in school, I feel much more confident to face the future and become a teacher one day.

Viva sponsorship!

Viva Save the Children!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Children’s Rights in Haiti

Yamileh M. Theodore

Sponsor Servicing Coordinator

Save the Children in Haiti

December 27, 2018

The idea of children’s rights is quite utopian to a child’s mind, but when summarized and explained in a way children can understand, it becomes more tangible.

Being conscious about this, the sponsorship team in Haiti met with governmental groups such as the Dessalines City Hall, departments related to social well-being and other local partners. Our goal was to have children’s participation in celebrating Universal Children’s Day last November, and help them reflect on their rights as children. We wanted to do something special where the children themselves would be the promoters of their rights within the community. Involving local groups and stakeholders was important too, in order to ensure community members feel an ownership of the programs we help start for children, and to prepare them to manage activities on their own one day and ensure sustainability of our work.

Children advocating for their rights as children on Universal Children’s Day.

The children prepared for weeks for the celebration. With their friends, they learned about children’s rights at school, engaged in group discussions and shared stories and drawings that helped them reflect on what their rights are. For example, what education did they have a right to as children? They came to see that they not only had the right to attend a good school, but also the right to eat healthy meals, to play and enjoy their time as children, to not fear physical punishment or abuse, and the right to grow up in a clean environment.

Over 70 schools and 12 youth clubs participated. During the grand celebration, students presented their thoughts, through drawings, posters and creative writing, with the support of Save the Children staff.

Davidson, a 9-year-old fourth grade student, was one eager participant. He found himself inspired by a little girl from his neighborhood who worked as a restavèk, a child domestic worker who goes to school in the afternoon, only after the day’s work is finished. He said until learning about children’s rights, he thought it was normal for her to be in that position, since she was orphan.

Now, he sees that little girl is a victim. “People don’t give restavèk children enough food to eat, they don’t let them sleep early even though they are the ones to wake up first in the morning.’’ He explained, “Thanks to Save the Children now I know that even children in restavèk must have the right to sleep, to go to school and the right to have three meals a day.”

Children dancing during Universal Children’s Day celebrations.

By advocating for children’s rights like access to school and health services, sponsorship is helping to raise awareness and shift local cultures to see these kinds of traditional practices as harmful to society.

Dessalines is really grateful for sponsors like you because many children like Davidson now know their rights as a child and will advocate to help parents, teachers and other community members to respect them. Today, they know that they can be anything they want when they grow up, thanks to your continuous support!

What is your understanding of children’s rights? How are they different from the rights of adults? How do they need extra protection? Visit SavetheChildren.org today to learn more about how you can help us advocate for the rights of children!

Nar Hari’s Child Club

Nimma Adhikari

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

December 17, 2018

A couple of months back I was visiting the schools of Ganeshpur, one of the many communities in Kapilvastu district, where Save the Children works in Nepal. In their small village, most live in extreme poverty, earning their living by farming but struggling to make enough to support their families.

I had the opportunity to meet a young boy, Nar Hari, 16 year old and in eleventh grade, follow him to his school and learn from him how Save the Children’s sponsorship program was helping him and his friends. I learned this was not only through school, but through many other ways that he and the others hadn’t thought possible.

Since 2009, Save the Children’s sponsorship program has worked with communities in Kapilvastu to create safe and healthy environments in schools and at homes for children so they can learn and grow like every other child.

In order to ensure our programs solve the biggest challenges children and communities face, and ensure sustainability of our work, Save the Children in Nepal partners with a local NGO called Kalika to help organize and run our programs. Nar Hari remembers when he started seeing these visitors at his school, “We had visitors from Kalika who would come to teach us things that were completely new to us.”

Nar Hari posing in front of the wall magazine he created with the child club.

He had learned through sponsorship and Kalika staff visiting his school that there was a new opportunity where he would be able to learn with his friends and develop important leadership and life skills, like those related to health and hygiene, at club with his friends outside of school. He decided to join.

At the Save the Children supported child clubs, students can learn about how to wash their hands and why handwashing is so important to help prevent the spread of diseases. Before Save the Children started health programs like the child club, children would not wash their hands before eating or would only use water with no soap, making them sick all the time.

Nar Hari also told me about how he and his fellow students started interacting with teachers in class more often after Kalika and Save the Children started coming. When he was younger, corporal punishment was still used in the classroom, and generally teachers always seemed angry with them. Today, teachers have learned how to be more patient with their students, and how to set a more kind and welcome tone in the classroom. This is due to teacher trainings offered through sponsorship, that show teachers new child-friendly methods to create engaging and active lessons in class, that don’t feel intimidating or put too much pressure on students.

Now everyone is healthier, and children both can and want to come to school more.

After learning those first important lessons, Nar Hari and his friends set to work to continue spreading these important health messages to other children and families in their community.

They decided to write a play that would make people understand how bad hygiene and sanitation practices could lead to many diseases – diseases that could spread between people and even to other food items in their households.

Nar Hari working on a school science project with friends.

“We would write scripts for awareness dramas and our facilitator from Kalika would review them and help us improvise.”

He and his friends also created a wall magazine to spread more useful messages to their peers, a kind of periodical run on a notice board with articles, drawings, poems and other creative writing from Nar Hari and his fellow club members.

With a little support from Save the Children, Nar Hari’s child club and many others in Nepal are working hard to cascade good health practices from one home to the next. They also recently were able to show local families how to construct toilets using whatever local resources are available, whereas before there were hardly any toilets near homes or in the community.

Nar Hari attributes the skills he has developed as a young adult to his involvement in the child club. “Conversing with people, differentiating right from wrong and being able to discuss in front of other people as well – this is what Save the Children gave me,” he says.

Child clubs are formed for children ages 10 – 18 to come together to learn about children’s rights, health and personal hygiene, and develop important life skills like how to be a good leader. Many thanks to our sponsors, all the way from Nepal!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

 

Ahmed Starts a Business

Mr. Helmy

Community Development Association Coordinator

Save the Children in Egypt

December 10, 2018

Ahmed, 15 years old, lives in the rural farming community of Assuit in Abnoub, Egypt. His family consists of his father, mother and two siblings, Mahmoud and Sara. As with most of the local families living in Ahmed’s low-income community, his father pressured him to drop out of school to help support their family’s basic needs. Without another resource to support their livelihood, their family wouldn’t be able to afford food or clothing.

“My father asked me to quit school. Obeying his wish, I started working, as he does, as a local worker, leaving all of my dreams behind,” Ahmed remembered. His father made a small income by knocking down walls or parts of houses prior to construction projects.

Many children in Assuit feel this threat to continuing their education, and suspend their ambitions.

Through a Save the Children volunteer working in his community, I heard about Ahmed’s situation. I visited Ahmed’s house and urged his father to let his son continue his education. I explained that through our program, Ahmed could learn how to obtain a small loan and how to start his own business project. He could participate over the summer, learn how to earn money and still return to school at the start of the next academic year. Though he refused at the beginning, I was able to convince Ahmed’s father to enroll him in our adolescent development program.

Ahmed with his brother Mohamed and cousin Mahmoud proudly sitting on their very own plot of land.

Our work aims to build teens’ life skills, by providing career counseling and livelihood activities so they can explore labor and local market needs and be prepared to make informed career choices. They also learn how to develop projects using local resources. Through these activities, adolescents are given the chance to play an active role in their society. Without them, they would have had no career options except to follow in the footsteps of their parents, finding work in low-paying local labor.

“I still remember how helpless I was before Mr. Helmy’s visit. All I knew was that I would end up with a chisel and a hammer just like my father,” said Ahmed.

Ahmed started participating in our Tomohaty program, meaning “Ambitions” in Arabic, in May of 2017. He learned how to start, manage and finance his own start-up business. He even motivated his brother and cousin, Mahmoud, to join, who was also in a similar situation with his own hardworking father, hungry family and personal desire to finish his education.

Together through the program they were able to receive a loan to rent a small plot of land. The boys started cultivating a farm with mulukhiyah, a vegetable plant common in Middle Eastern countries and a main component of traditional dishes in the area. The farming skills they already had learned from their grandfather, so now with the loan and the skills learned on how to manage their expenses and goals, they were ready to try something new.

By the end of the summer, they were able to successfully grow three harvests of the crop to sell, covering all of their expenses and helping their families.

Ahmed learned how to manage a business project through sponsorship.

“I am now self-confident. I feel like I’m able to reshape my future. I feel powerful.” said Ahmed proudly.

With the extra money made over the summer, Ahmed was able to return to school. Today, his next big dream is to finish high school.

Without sponsors, many children would remain as Ahmed was before sponsorship, deprived of any ambition, dreams, hopes or goals. “One of the reasons I feel proud of being part of Save the Children is our ability to create new opportunities for children.” said Ahmed, with a worldly understanding beyond his years.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Samantha Melody’s Love for Learning


Miguel Angel Corpa Cespedes

Sponsorship Assistant

Save the Children in Bolivia

December 3, 2018

Meet Samantha Melody, a lively and happy third grader from Cochabamba, Bolivia. Who could imagine that just a few months ago, Samantha Melody was a very shy girl who didn’t have any friends in school, mainly a result of her difficulty pronouncing words and organizing her thoughts to be able to communicate her feelings to others.

Most children like Samantha Melody need encouragement to start opening up and be confident in social situations at school or in the classroom. However, in the past teaching methods in Bolivia had always been based on repetition and rote memorization. As a result, lessons were not fun for students – leaving them feeling bored and unmotivated to participate during school.

To help address this need, Save the Children trained teachers at Samantha Melody’s school on new teaching methodologies that not only make sure children learn in fun, interactive and innovative ways, but also take into consideration their emotions and feelings.

8-year-old Samantha Melody (center) with friends Yuliet and Gissel Jazmine.

Ana Maria, her teacher, has worked closely with Samantha Melody since the start of the school year. She explains, “Our work starts by giving our students the necessary encouragement, kind words and patience. All of this is the key for their success.” She adds, “There isn’t any better satisfaction when a student like Samantha Melody starts learning and enjoys it.”

After participating in these trainings, Ana Maria worked hard to apply Save the Children’s literacy strategy in her classroom to motivate Samantha Melody and other struggling learners to enjoy reading. Through sponsorship, teachers learn to work with their students in participatory and game-like activities, like using reading aloud sessions and dramatizing the stories they read in class to make the books come to life, for example by using role play with the students or acting out characters’ voices in the story themselves. Reading cards are another tool provided by Save the Children, an exercise allowing children to pull important information from the story and write it on a card to deepen their understanding of the story and lesson.

These new approaches to teaching help children develop a love for learning and the necessary cognitive skills required to interpret what they read or hear, and to discuss it with their peers. All of this helped Samantha Melody develop her communication skills to be able to express herself with confidence.

After just a few months, this hard work has paid off. Today we find a more outgoing Samantha Melody who enjoys going to school every day. She not only has been able to make friends but also has started to love reading. She shares “I like the stories we read like The Four Corners of the Planet.”

Samantha Melody loves reading stories on her own and at school with her teacher and classmates.

Once she was able to finish her first few stories on her own, she was motivated to read more and more. As her skills improved, she was able to understand the words and began visualizing the fantasy worlds from her books with her imagination. She began to participate more and more in class. Samantha Melody concludes with a huge smile in her face, “I like being able to act, read stories and tell stories to my friends.”

What was the first book you remember really enjoying? Sharing a favorite story with your sponsored child is a great way to get to know them through letter writing. Consider writing a letter to your sponsored child today by visiting your online account, Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount