Girls of West Showa

Zewge Abate

Internal Communications Manager

Save the Children in Ethiopia

November 8, 2018

In a small rural village in West Showa, Ethiopia, lives 10-year-old Kebene. Now in 3rd grade, she tells me her favorite subjects are Science and Oromiffa, the study of the local language. Most families work as subsistence farmers, although parents hope for better lives for their children.

In this area, subjects like menstruation, reproductive health and family planning were traditionally not openly discussed by parents with their children, even considered taboo. Girls would be completely unprepared when getting their first period. They would run home from school, embarrassed and unsure of what to do.

Luckily, teachers like Getaneh are working hard to prepare students like Kebene for the challenges of adolescence.

“We help them to prepare for the changes they start to experience,” says Getaneh.

Kebene (standing far right) leading an adolescent development lesson with her peers.

He acts as point person for the community, working with Save the Children staff to ensure he and the other teachers learn how to discuss health matters with adolescents related to their reproductive and personal health skills, in particular issues that affect girls.

In addition to training teachers, students are able to discuss harmful traditional practices, like early marriage or female genital mutilation, in a more comfortable and open setting – such as outdoors sitting in a group with peers and friends.

Getaneh learned that even though she was still just 10, Kebene’s father already had plans to marry her off to someone she had never met.

Luckily, thanks to the adolescent development programs now available at her school, she considered early marriage as something harmful, that restricted her from experiencing childhood and having choices in shaping her future as an adult.

“I am too young to marry and I don’t want that to happen to me. All I need is to continue my education and become a Science teacher in the future.”

Zewge with some West Showa students in class.

Kebene went to her school director for help, and now he and Getaneh are working to invite her father to discussions at the school, as well as meeting with community elders and local administration to help convince her father to change his mind. Though they are still meeting with him, they are confident they will soon receive the good news that she will be able to continue with her education.

 

Kebene and her friends can now learn how to educate their families about why these traditions are detrimental to both their lives as children as well as the future of their village. By discussing these issues, they raise awareness on how they feel about their rights as children and as girls. In this way, knowledge is cascaded through the community.

Thanks to sponsorship, now that these topics are taught at schools in child-friendly and relaxed settings, girls no longer feel too ashamed to go to class or fear speaking up about their hopes and goals.

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

Priyanka – Defender of Children’s Rights

Md. Hasan Iqbal

Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communication and Data Quality

Save the Children in Bangladesh

October 29, 2018

18-year-old Priyanka is in tenth grade in Meherpur, Bangladesh. She is confident after finishing her final exams next year, she will be the first member of her family to go to college.

Her mother works maintaining their home for her and her two siblings, a brother and a sister, while her father resells wholesale fish for a small profit at their local market. Neither of her parents were able to finish their education or attend college, and like many families in this poverty-stricken area, they struggle to provide for their children’s basic needs, like food and clothing, on a daily basis.

In this part of Bangladesh, usually only about half of students complete their primary education, and even those that did could not read fluently. Traditional practices like early marriage affected over 70% of girls between the ages of 12 to 15, further limiting the amount of children finishing their education. Schools were not friendly places for children to learn, with physical punishment still used in some classrooms and not enough learning materials for the students to get a good quality education. Mechanisms for reporting abuse like child labor or trafficking were insufficient or not utilized properly by parents, children and community members.

Priyanka helping her mother with chores around the house.

Priyanka first joined sponsorship 10 years ago, in 2008 when she was just 8 years old, and has steadily seen changes related to the attention given to children’s rights as she’s gotten older. Now as a young adult, Priyanka not only continues to benefit from sponsorship programs herself by participating in a group called the National Children’s Task Force, or NCTF, but also helps to spread those benefits to even more children in need.

The NCTF was created by the government because of a national initiative to prevent the abuse of children, and to provide a forum for children themselves to communicate issues related to children’s rights to the government. Save the Children supports in providing NCTF child participants with trainings on how to communicate with the government through this forum, report abuse and lead discussions with their fellow students. Save the Children also helped children like Priyanka set up a website platform to share news related to children’s issues online. In this way, citizens are held accountable for reporting instances of abuse and the government is held accountable to take action after reports have been received.

In this role, Priyanka acts as a leader amongst her peers, encouraging conversation related to the challenges or abuse children face in their communities and at school. For example, she works to increase awareness with her fellow students about how child marriage increases dropout rates for girls, and lowers their academic achievements. She hosts weekly discussions with the other kids and listens to their difficulties at school or at home, such as how they feel about the condition of their classroom, and shares her findings directly with government representatives every month. In this way, Priyanka not only helps report children’s rights issues to the government herself, but also spreads awareness on how to report child abuse amongst her peers.

Priyanka participates in the National Children’s Task Force in her community.

Sponsorship also helped Priyanka learn how to communicate the needs of her school in the National Children’s Task Force. She shares “Our school did not have enough classrooms or computer labs. I informed a local member of parliament of the problem, and finally we have got labs and classrooms.”

She even received a national scholarship award for her talent and leadership qualities.

Mohan, Pranaka’s father, shared how inspired and impressed he was by the leadership skills seen blossoming in his daughter.

Priyanka added thoughtfully, “When I was young, my village had many problems. Now, many changes happened through awareness. After Save the Children leaves our village, the knowledge and consciousness will remain with us forever.’’

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

 

When You Teach with Heart

Yasintha Bere

Data Quality and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Indonesia

October 22, 2018

“Becoming a teacher is no longer merely a job. It has become a calling!” Solvi, a third grade teacher at an elementary school in Sumba, Indonesia, said enthusiastically in an interview with me.

Solvi is a passionate teacher who jumped right into her career after graduating with a teaching degree several years ago.

The commitment to dedicate one’s life to teaching children is not a desire that suddenly pops up. It takes many long years of focus and growth. When she graduated, the world of teaching, particularly to younger students, had been so intriguing and challenging. Who could miss the opportunity to work and play with children or to help them pursue their dreams? What a contribution to the future of this country a teacher could provide through this role. It was a mix of idealism and adrenaline the young teacher possessed as she entered the classroom her very first day.

Since then, she has learned that time can sap away your idealistic values and energy. Life may have not been as simple as expected. Solvi, a once passionate teacher felt she may have reached a breaking point, where she found herself reflecting on whether becoming a teacher was the right decision.

She found that most of her early grade students were still unable to read fluently or construct words, and that generally literacy skills were lacking for whole communities all around their island. Teachers tended to be impatient when students struggled to read, meeting their challenges with the traditional teaching methods that did not allow for flexibility in lessons to teach children at different reading levels. Without child-centered or fun activities incorporated into the classroom, younger children were bored and frustrated in class, and not interested in learning. Parents, either due to their own illiteracy or due to time spent out of the home trying to earn a living, were unable to support their children’s education outside of school.

9-year-old Anastasia, one of Solvi’s students, saw the change in how her teacher treated her.

After a few years dealing with these challenges, Solvi was close to giving up. She had changed from her formerly patient self, easily becoming angry with her students who were unable to understand the lessons. Likewise, her students felt awkward, uncomfortable and even scared in the classroom.

Then came an invitation for a series of trainings conducted by Save the Children for teachers of early grades. Solvi jumped at the opportunity to participate.

One specific training left a deep impression on her, on the topic of effective learning. She learned about how to realize and celebrate the different abilities of the children in her class. “We are taught that no child is stupid. They are all smart on their own. It depends on how we, as teachers, recognize their potentials and maximize [their abilities] for learning,” she said. Solvi and the other teachers learned different skills to use in the classroom setting, and how to deliver activities in fun and friendly ways for children.

Solvi then came back to her school with a fresh perspective, determined to improve herself in her role as teacher. The first thing she did was to provide additional tutoring in her home for students who could not construct words and read fluently. “Starting something new needs strong commitment and I am ready for this challenge for the sake of my students.” she said.

She had learned how to utilize the strategy of peer learning. Through this method, teachers pair students who are strong readers with those who are not. Using group or partner work in lessons not only helped make learning fun, but also benefited both struggling and strong readers with extra reading practice.

Within months, after applying the knowledge she learned from the trainings, her students’ performance began to improve. Before trying her new teaching methods, only 6 of Solvi’s 27 students could read fluently. By the second semester of utilizing the new methods, almost all her students could.

She had changed the way she approached her students. She learned how to understand and communicate with them based on their character. She set a good example with warm greetings and sweet words, to make her class somewhere all students felt welcome. She became much more patient and attentive to students with specific needs, building close relationships with each of them.

Today, Solvi’s students look forward to seeing her every morning.

Anastasia, one of her students, told me that she was surprised by her teacher’s transformation. While before she would be scolded for failure in class, now Solvi treats her more patiently. “I am sure my Ibu [honorable local term for female teacher] loves me.” Anastasia shared. “How we miss her terribly every time she is away from school. We cannot wait as the morning approaches to see her,” she smiled.

Solvi reflected, “I am very grateful Save the Children implements their program in our school so I can be a part of it. With all the training, coaching and mentoring sessions, I have become a good teacher for my students. I now have come to realize that this is the role I am meant to be filling – playing, learning and having fun with children!”

Today, Solvi believes that if the teacher can create a comfortable learning environment, students can easily grasp and understand whatever lessons they learn. She told me, “When we teach with heart, we transform love and intelligence!”

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

“I have a friend from faraway”

Edwin Antonio

9-year-old Sponsored Child

Save the Children Mexico

October 15, 2018

Hello everyone! My name is Edwin Antonio and I am 9 years old. I live in a beautiful and colorful little town called Chemax in Yucatan, Mexico. I like it because we have nice green areas where I can play with my friends. In the mornings, I go to elementary school. I am studying in fourth grade, and I am very excited, as soon I will be in fifth grade – just like a big boy!

At school, we learn how to read using fun games and songs.

My school is also very pretty, green like my favorite color. I love it because we have a courtyard where my classmates and I play every day after class, and sometimes we ride our bikes there. As it is very sunny and hot over here, we drink lots of water from the filter we got thanks to our friends from Save the Children. Clean and fresh water that we can enjoy at any moment – this is something we did not have before. We had water at the school, but without the filter, we drank directly from the tap, which had unclean water and made us sick.

I like it when our friends from Save the Children come to visit us and we do nice activities that helps us to learn and have fun at the same time. For example, we learn how to read and sing songs from our books, and play games that help us learn how to talk about our emotions using puppets and other toys. We always have a great time when they come and we look forward to their next visit. My teacher says they have earned our

There are lots of kids like me that have friends that send them letters. We love it!

whole school’s love and appreciation.

There are days when I feel even happier because I get letters from my friend from far away. My sponsor is a very good person. In her last letter, she told me that she is a lawyer and she has a kitten named Berry. I like her so much so I sent her a nice letter made all by myself with a lot of colors and a drawing, I’m sure she loves it.

Having a friend like her is incredible because, even though I don’t know her in person, I know she thinks of me and always helps me in the ways she can. I am sure she is also happy to have me as her friend.

Many kids like me have friends that send them letters at our school. We are very happy to know we can count on great and kind people like my sponsor and Save the Children.

Did you know you could communicate with your sponsored child by email? This not only helps us save on postage and get even more money to our programs that benefit children, but also will help you get a faster reply from your sponsored child! Consider sending an email today by visiting your online account, at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount.

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

Day of the Girl

By Olivia Schilder, Sponsorship Retention Marketing

Every day throughout the world, girls and women face discrimination solely because of their gender. They are forced to leave school to work, exposing them to dangerous situations at a young age. Many parents believe that if girls become educated, they will no longer perform household chores and will inevitably delay marriage. Because of this, it is customary that girls leave school as early as 7th and 8th grade. With the right kind of help and guidance, girls can overcome gender discrimination and change the course of their lives.

Adolescence is a time when children begin to shape their views and behaviors on the world around them. Thanks to our child sponsors, we implemented our groundbreaking Choices, Voices and Promises program in Nepal. This innovative program helps young girls and boys discover alternative, positive views of conventional gender roles and behaviors. Empowering youth is an approach to community development based on the belief that children can be actively involved in their communities, speak out about issues, communicate openly with one another and help solve community problems. We teach children advocacy skills and encourage leaders to mobilize resources to help create a more child-friendly environment. By giving children a voice, we are building the foundation for a future generation of thoughtful leaders.  

16-year-old Sonu holds onto her school textbook inside of her home.

Sonu first heard of Choices, Voices and Promises in 2015 while she was enrolled in the adolescent program at her school and quickly filled out an application to join. Initially, Sonu’s parents were hostile and questioned her choice about wanting to have involvement in the program. After some time observing Sonu within the program, they began to participate and were given videos to watch of parents with their children within their own community. The videos portrayed instances like a father helping his daughter with her chores so she has more time to study. It was after this that their mindset began to change.

Before the Choices, Voices and Promises program came into Sonu’s life, she was afraid to ask her older brother Ganesh for help with the household chores. She would wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to begin her day. Sonu began to find her voice through the program and felt more at ease speaking to   Ganesh about needing his help around the house. Ganesh has learned that simply helping with a few chores truly benefits Sonu’s future; he now helps his sister with the laundry and washes the dishes while she is at school during the day. “My hope for my sister’s future is that she completes her education, as I did not complete mine.” Sonu now feels comfortable speaking to her father and brother about her studies and her future. “Without the Choices, Voices and Promises program, my life would be very different. I would not be able to express myself as I do now or address my father and brother. I would also have been married by now, only completing my studies until grade 8 or 9.”

“I want to spread awareness to help girls like myself pursue their dreams.” – Sonu

Sonu currently attends 11th grade and has one more year left of school. After school, she hopes to study to become a social worker. “I wish to continue my studies to become a social worker because there are so many girls who don’t have the opportunity to pursue their education. I want to spread awareness to help girls like myself pursue their dreams. My hopes and dreams for girls in my community are that they are sent to school. I want everyone to have an education.”

The Girl Who Keeps on Giving

LJ Pasion

Communications and Media Officer

Save the Children Philippines

October 8, 2018

Twelve-year-old Beauven lives with her parents and older sister in a small house in the city of Caloocan in the Philippines. She enrolled in sponsorship in 2013 and has benefited from Save the Children programs ever since. Her father runs a small business selling meat and other food items, while her mother cares for her, her sister and their home. While they don’t have much, this doesn’t prevent Beauven from sharing what she has with those less fortunate than her. She is a shining example of helpfulness and generosity to other children.

Beauven is a consistent honor student, and a regular in school competitions. She has already won several of these, from spelling bees to science quizzes to newswriting contests. But, Beauven is not one to brag about her achievements. “When you help [others], you get more blessings in return,” she said.

In urban communities like Beauven’s, improving health and hygiene are big concerns for children.

“When I see street children begging, I usually spare some change for them,” she said.

Caloocan is one of the largest and most urbanized cities in the area, home to 1.4 million Filipinos sharing a packed 20 or so square miles of land. It has been labeled as one of the most crowded cities in the Philippines, and even the world. Because of the dense population, classrooms can reach up to 70 or even 80 students. Likewise, slum-like conditions in some neighbors make the spread of disease harder to control.

Today, Beauven serves as the president of her school’s student government.

In order to help combat these issues, sponsorship started the Child Health Promoters program in Caloocan schools to spread health and hygiene knowledge. Through the Child Health Promoters, Beauven found another outlet for her generosity and desire to help others.

In her role as Child Health Promoter, Save the Children trained Beauven on how to mentor and coach the younger kids in her school, and how specifically how to pass on important health information and skills to the first and second grade age group. In addition to the trainings, Save the Children also provides these student health leaders with teaching materials, such as colorful images that show the parts of the mouth and how to clean them.

 “We teach proper handwashing, tooth brushing and nutrition,” she said. By teaching children about personal hygiene and nutrition, she is not only improving their health but also helping the young students’ pursue their education, since healthy children are able to attend class and engage more with their learning than sick ones.

Being a sponsored child of Save the Children gave Beauven even more drive to share her knowledge and skills. She said she learned a lot ever since she became a part of sponsorship.

“I learned how to communicate well with other people, and how to take care of children who are younger than me,” she said, adding that she also made many friends in the process.

Today, Beauven serves as the president of her school’s student government.

Her confidence in herself also changed. While she has always been bright, before her work as a Child Health Promoter Beauven was shy and didn’t know how to express herself very well. As she became more active in school activities, her confidence and public speaking skills skyrocketed. Today, she serves as the president of her student government at school, and attributes her trainings from sponsorship as a big factor in shaping who she has become as an adolescent.

While she is not completely decided on what she wants to be when she grows up, one thing that Beauven is sure of is she wants to be successful in order to help other people. She is very thankful for all the support she receives, and this is what inspires her to do her best in life. She sees her new knowledge as blessings that should be shared with even more children.

“The help I receive, I want to share with others,” she said.

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

A Teacher in the Making

Nasir Sarwary

School Health & Nutrition Assistant

Save the Children in Afghanistan

October 1, 2018

Hedayatullah, 17 years old, is a student in eleventh grade in a village situated in the beautiful mountainous range of Gorziwan District in Afghanistan. He lives in a small house made of packed mud, with his parents and five siblings. His father is a teacher in his school and his mother cares for their home and the children. His life is similar to that of any other boy his age in his community.

Before Save the Children started supporting their community, like many other children in their village Hedayatullah and his siblings were often sick and had to miss school. Medicine was costly for their family, especially with so many children to care for and such frequent illness. Attendance rates in the schools were low as children stayed home due to cough, fever and diarrhea.

In June 2006, sponsorship started health and nutrition programs in Gorziwan to help address these challenges. Save the Children found most people, especially mothers and children during their time at home, were not aware of how to keep up with their personal and environmental hygiene, and how simple steps like always using soap when washing hands could help keep their whole family healthy. In this area of Afghanistan, 90% of parents are illiterate and likewise their knowledge about health, nutrition and hygiene was very low.

Hedayatullah shared, “Before Save the Children programs, we did not wash our hands before taking meals and after using the bathroom.” He explained that they weren’t aware that good personal hygiene could help keep them from getting sick. “I didn’t even cut my nails regularly,” he remembered.

Hedayatullah leading a hand washing lesson for Hekmatullah and Samiullah.

Since he was 10 years old, Hedayatullah has been an active member of a Save the Children supported child-focused health education group. Through these groups, children learn how to adopt healthy practices, as well as promote and spread those healthy practices amongst their family and the community.

By being truly child-focused, the health groups utilize the way children think, learn and interact with each other to not only help children help themselves stay healthy, but also to use children as a resource to create change in their communities. This is not only a cost effective way to transfer knowledge, but also deeply involves community members and children themselves in shifting behaviors and norms, making those changes more sustainable. Save the Children supports by training group leaders and facilitators on problem solving, teaching methods and discussion techniques, and providing teaching materials for them to use, such as handout activities, storybooks with related lessons and posters.

While he happily learned in these groups from the age of 10, now as a teenager he volunteers as the group’s leader.

In this role, Hedayatullah spreads health messages to a group of friends and younger students in a casual way, using their local language and personal relationships to make learning fun and relate to each other during the lesson. The boys use games, songs, storytelling and role-play to make sure everyone feels involved.

Hedayatullah and his child-focused health group send their thanks to sponsors.

Since they are learning with friends, experiences and ideas are shared more freely. The environment feels more intimate and relatable than it would if an adult was leading the discussion.

As a participant in these programs for almost a decade, Hedayatullah has seen for himself how today more children practice good health and hygiene, for example regularly washing their hands with soap or boiling water instead of drinking straight from the river.

His experience leading the child-focused health group has even inspired Hedayatullah’s future aspirations. Since his role as group leader is similar to that of a teacher, he hopes to become a teacher one day to be able to work with students as a profession.

He concludes with a thoughtful smile, “I feel proud when all the group follows me and want to learn from me.”

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

Distance Means So Little, When Someone Means So Much

Pham Thu Trang

Communications Assistant

Save the in Vietnam

September 24, 2018

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who has walked into your life, said “I’m here for you,” and proved it.

This is exactly how I would describe the friendship between Konrad and his sponsored child, Nguyen. They had only been able to get to know each other through the many letters they sent over a year, until the day they met face-to-face.

After coming all the way from Poland, Konrad next had to endure the long and tiring car journey from Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – to Thai Nien commune in Lao Cai province, where Nguyen lives high in the mountains. Despite coming such a long distance, Konrad didn’t seem to feel exhausted at all. Perhaps the excitement made the way seem shorter.

Konrad arrived at the school where 13-year-old Nguyen is studying, and was greeted warmly by Nguyen’s teachers, friends and his father. When being asked to find Nguyen among his classmates, at first it was a challenge for Konrad to find the little boy he had only seen through photos. Over the past year, the little Nguyen had grown into a good looking teenage boy with tanned skin, but his smile remained the same. Konrad recognized him after a few seconds.

Nguyen and his friends in their sponsorship supported youth club.

Nguyen was a little bit embarrassed at first when they caught each other’s eyes. As for Konrad, I felt like this full grown man turned into a shy and clumsy boy when standing in front of his friend, whom he was meeting for the first time. “I know Nguyen is shy because I also feel nervous,” said Konrad.

However, the barrier of shyness was broken as soon as they danced and played shuttlecock-kicking, a game in which players use their feet to keep the shuttlecock from touching the ground. Konrad found himself embarrassed again when being asked to dance in Nguyen’s classroom, but he overcame his hesitation and danced for everyone! I never thought that he could dance like this! A real dancing machine. He was also pretty good at playing shuttlecock-kicking. Sports really have the power to bring people together!

It’s also true that food unites people, bringing us together and bridging gaps. After some time spent playing games, Konrad joined a cooking class and helped Nguyen and his friends make a traditional Vietnamese salad. The salad is made with banana flowers, green papayas, carrots, boiled pork, lean pork paste, crushed peanuts and a special sauce which is made with fish sauce, sugar, lemon or kumquat, chilly and garlic. The class was divided into 3 teams and Konrad was nominated as a judge of their cooking contest. While everyone was focused on the competition, Konrad enjoyed talking with Nguyen as if nobody was around. They talked about their favorite sports – bicycle riding for Konrad and soccer for Nguyen – as well as shared experiences, memories and just had casual conversation about their lives.

Konrad and Nguyen together in the cooking class.

As a teacher, Konrad has a great concern for education, especially for the school where Nguyen is studying. During the visit, the head teacher showed him around the school and provided detailed information about matters that he was concerned about. Konrad was impressed, and asked about the child-centered teaching techniques being used and about the youth club available at the school, all supported by sponsors like him. The youth club is a great place for adolescents to share knowledge and learn about sexual and reproductive health, and other problems faced by teenagers. Konrad was even able to participate in one of the youth club meetings, and was happy for the opportunity to share his viewpoints about the importance of friendship. He made an example of the friendship between him and Nguyen – a friendship without borders.

Konrad is an energetic man but his voice was shaky and barely covering a sob when saying goodbye to his dear sponsored child. A handshake, a hug and a best wish from Nguyen was a priceless farewell gift that warmed his sponsor’s heart. “Thank you for visiting me. I hope you are happy and healthy every day,” Nguyen said to his sponsor. Konrad promised to come back and I’m really looking forward to that day, when we can make the best memories together again.

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

After School for D’Miya

Melissa McCaughan

Sponsorship Communications Specialist

Save the Children U.S. Programs

September 17, 2018

D’Miya is 8 years old and lives in Mississippi. She is entering third grade and participates in the after-school program supported through Save the Children in her community. Once a shy child, she now beams with confidence. Her smile lights up a room and she has blossomed, because of sponsorship.

D’Miya comes from a very low-income area. Jobs are scarce and many people can’t afford the basic educational resources, like books or school supplies, needed to support their children’s education. D’Miya’s grandparents inquired about the after-school program because they felt it could help her be more successful in school. Her basic reading skills were not quite where they needed to be for students her age, and she was having difficulties with writing as well. She also generally wasn’t excited about school or her classes, and didn’t feel motivated to participate in lessons.

Since entering the program and receiving the additional support outside of school that she needed, D’Miya has made new friends and her test scores in reading have improved. D’Miya’s teacher describes her writing as excellent and notes improvement on her literacy assessments too. She is now able to read more books and has the opportunity to use computers in the afterschool program. D’Miya now describes school as “fun!”

D’Miya writing to Laura and her students at the Primrose School.

“You get to read in school!” smiles D’Miya. She has a positive attitude now and has become more active in class discussions and activities.

D’Miya also enjoys writing to her sponsor and seeing the pictures that her sponsor draws. “I feel very, very thankful,” says D’Miya, in regards to having a sponsor who writes her. She likes having someone to write to that she hasn’t met, who can tell her about life outside of her community. It makes her feel good to receive a letter.

D’Miya’s sponsor, Laura from the Primrose School, sends her birthday cards and drawings. Laura’s young students in the toddler room she teachers in also write special messages to D’Miya. She receives letters from Laura every couple of months, and responds telling her about her newest favorite books. She also loves drawing pictures for her sponsor.

Outside of school, D’Miya enjoys playing on the swing set at the park, swimming, running and riding her bike. Her hero is her daddy who plays with her and shows her how to fix things.

When D’Miya was little, her mother passed away, and although she has great admiration for her father he isn’t always around to take care of her. She now lives with her grandmother and grandfather. Without any brothers or sisters, D’Miya can get lonely. However, writing to her sponsor has fostered an emotional connection for her that she would not have had otherwise.

D’Miya’s grandmother hopes that D’Miya will “succeed in life to the fullest and have the opportunity to go to the college of her choice.”

D’Miya reading with friends at the afterschool program.

The sponsorship coordinator at D’Miya’s school, Deanna, said, “I believe she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. She is determined and driven when it comes to completing a task, so she has great potential to do big things. I feel as though her love for helping others will be seen throughout her future in one way or another.”

Deanna describes D’Miya as having a bubbly personality and a great sense of humor. “She has opened up more to others rather than staying more to herself. She has grown as an individual, and made great improvements in school,” said Deanna.

Long after Save the Children moves out of her community, D’Miya will benefit from the impact it has made in her confidence and her success in school. Likewise, the connection she has formed with her sponsor will benefit her for a lifetime.

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

Gerald Gets Healthy

By Sam Labu

Community Sponsorship Officer

Save the Children in Uganda

September 14, 2018

Gerald is a 10-year-old boy from Kakiri sub-county in the Wakiso District of Uganda. He is in 3rd grade and is an active member of his school health club, which was set up through the sponsorship program in his community. The goal of this club is to provide an avenue for children to learn and participate in improving their personal health and hygiene.

In Uganda, school pupils face a number of challenges related to poor hygiene and sanitation. Before Save the Children started working in Gerald’s community, children did not have access to safe drinking water at school.

Drinking contaminated water from the nearby wells and harvested rainwater was the order of the day for pupils. This caused many diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid which caused students to miss school a lot. “I used to miss school because of diarrhea and stomach aches, I didn’t know that it was because of the water we were drinking at school,” says Gerald.

Through Save the Children’s Healthy Girls and Boys program, our goal is to improve the health and education status of children to enable them to learn and develop to their full potential. School health clubs were set-up in every school reached by sponsorship to empower the pupils with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy. In Uganda, we’ve reached over 80 schools with this type of health education program, including mentoring and training for nearly 3,000 girls and boys.

The pupils and their teachers as well were educated on the dangers of drinking unsafe water. Along with that, access to safe drinking water was provided to the schools. For example, sponsorship provided SODIS devices, which stands for solar disinfection of water, and safe water tanks to store boiled drinking water in. The teachers in each of the schools were also trained on how to incorporate health education into the classroom, for example teaching children how to use and maintain the new water tanks. Gerald’s school received spouts which use a ceramic water filter – a type of filter which purifies and disinfects water using a layer of silver nitrate.

Gerald, as a member of his school health club, has also learned how to guide the other students in where to access the clean water and encourages them to drink it, to keep themselves hydrated and avoid needing to drink from the dirty water sources. “I always remind my classmates to drink the safe water from the spout because it will help them not fall sick and miss school.” says Gerald. He and his fellow club members are also responsible for keeping their school compound and classrooms clean and orderly, as well as maintaining handwashing facilities at school and assisting the younger students in washing their hands.

With access to safe drinking water in the schools, the pupils no longer miss school because of diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid. They are healthier and more eager to learn.

“Thanks to Save the Children, I am healthy, I go to school every day and I am working hard to be a lawyer in the future.” Gerald said with a hopeful grin.

With support from Save the Children through the school health clubs, Gerald and other pupils know the dangers of drinking unsafe water and are empowered to be great advocates for better sanitation and hygiene practices in the community.

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