Sponsorship Helps Mali Father Follow his Passion to Help More Children

Save the Children in Mali

Abdoulaye is a passionate teacher, engaged father and proud sponsorship graduate in Mali. He became a sponsored child when he was 10 years old and his sponsor’s letters inspired him to work hard in school. “If I had not participated in the sponsorship program, I would not have gone to school and my life would be different than today,” he says. He still keeps a picture of his Save the Children sponsor, which reminds him of how his life has changed for the better.

Before sponsorship entered his community, Abdoulaye sporadically attended school, mainly because his parents didn’t understand the value of an education. Children in his community were sick with intestinal worms and anemia, which also prevented them from going to class. When sponsorship moved into Abdoulaye’s community, his parents learned how essential a quality education was to a child’s future success. Abdoulaye started attending school regularly where he received school supplies and deworming treatments, which helped start him on a path to success.

Now, Abdoulaye is a teacher, passing on his love of learning to the children in his classroom. As a father, Abdoulaye dreams for his own children to have bright futures filled with opportunity. Thanks to sponsorship, Abdoulaye is a very active father in his children’s lives, helping them with their schooling and encouraging them to do their best. Abdoulaye is working hard to make sure they get a good education, and is saving money so that he can go back to school and work in the education ministry.

Thanks to support from our child sponsors, Abdoulaye saw first-hand the value of an education. By working for the education ministry, he will soon be able to enact even more change for the children of Mali.

 

Wrist Tying Ceremony

Kayin Wrist Tying Ceremony

Su Yadanar Kyaw

Senior Coordinator, Sponsorship Operations

Save the Children in Myanmar

June 14, 2018

Every year in August, on a day locally called War Kaung, we celebrate the annual wrist tying ceremony in Myanmar. This is a celebration on the day of the full moon, as many of our traditional festivals are, in the fifth month of the Buddhist Burmese calendar, and meant to be a day of loving, kindness, friendship and forgiveness.

It is a very special festival for all Kayin people, an ethnic group which lives mostly in the south and southeastern part of our country, and is a celebration rooted in animistic beliefs. During this festival, young people receive white wrist ties from their elders, which is believed to drive away all obstacles and evil spirits they may face, and bring good luck, health and strength to their body and soul.

“This year, I will go to the Kyauk Ka Latt pagoda with my granddaughter Lay Pyay. She will receive blessings and get her wrist tie. It is meant to protect her from harm and bad luck and ensure to bring back all good luck.” Daw Aye One, member of the sponsorship supported Early Learners committee in her community and grandmother of 4-year-old Lay Pyay, tells us. In her role as a committee member, Daw Aye One helps raise awareness in her community about the importance of early education for children Lay Pyay’s age, encouraging them to send their own children and grandchildren to classes. She also helps oversee the classroom, assisting teachers and making sure the environment is clean and safe for the young students.

4-year-old Lay Pyay and her grandmother, Daw Aye One.
4-year-old Lay Pyay and her grandmother, Daw Aye One.

On the day of the festival, everyone in the community wore their best colorful, uniquely patterned traditional costumes and woven longyi, a type of cylindrically shaped clothe worn around the waist in Myanmar. “It is the time everyone comes back home. But my daughter is not coming back from the Thailand border this year,” Daw Aye One says sadly. In Hpa An, it is very common for parents to travel to nearby Thailand in search of work, and stay for long periods of time, leaving young children and homes in the care of elderly grandparents in order to send money home from time to time. Lay Pyay’s mother has supported her family in this way by working at a factory over the Thailand border for nearly the past 10 years. Both she and her husband return to the village just once or twice a year to see their family.

“We need to put a new roof on and rebuild some parts of our house to prevent this year’s rains, so she needs to earn a lot of money. She promised that she will be back for Lay Pyay’s birthday, which is after 3 months.” she says hopefully.

The annual ceremony starts with lively local music and dance. An elderly couple leads this ceremony and starts by chanting prayers and calling upon the guardian spirits to bless the younger generation.

Seven materials – a glass of clean water, white thread, rice balls, sticky rice, bananas, paw wee flowers and sugarcane are essential for this event. Each one of these materials symbolizes a value, for instance paw wee flowers, which locally grow in any season, even in bad weather, are a symbol for the ability of the community to settle and grow in any place, and the strength and harmony of living together in a multicultural village such as this.

Preparing to feast at the annual wrist tying ceremony.
Preparing to feast at the annual wrist tying ceremony.

After the prayers, elder village and family members like grandparents recite the blessings while the seven ingredients are placed on top of the participants’ hands, while tying the piece of white string around the wrist and wishing them good luck and spiritual strength.

People of other ethnic backgrounds like Pa’o, Mon and Bamar also enjoy this festival with the Kayin peoples. “I am Pa’O and I am proud to celebrate this special ceremony of Kayin people. You can see people from different ethnicities coming together and giving best wishes to each other. A beautiful tradition to be part of.” Daw Aye One says.

How do you celebrate special occasions with your family? Is it similar to the wrist tying ceremony in Myanmar in some ways? Consider sharing a family tradition with your sponsored child in your next letter!

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

Gniré survived malaria – twice. Here’s how our sponsors are helping ensure she never gets it again.

12-year-old Gniré lives with her large family in a rural community located in the Sikasso district of Mali. Gniré loves school, especially math. When she’s not studying, she enjoys getting together with her friends and acting out stories, her favorite one being Cinderella.

In the village where Gniré lives, 90% of the mosquitos are female, which means they can carry malaria. This puts children at a high risk of being bitten by a mosquito and contracting the disease. Last year, Gniré was treated for malaria, not once, but twice.

The first time that Gniré contracted malaria, it became hard for her to make it through a day of school because her body was weak, her head hurt and she was cold and shaky. At first, she hid her illness from her parents but after she started vomiting and had to miss school for an entire week, she told her parents she was worried she might be really sick. Her parents immediately took her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with malaria and treated.

Gniré knows that washing her hands will keep her healthy.
Gniré knows that washing her hands will keep her healthy.

Not long afterwards, Gniré became ill again and was treated for malaria a second time. As a result of being sick for so long, Gniré’s growth has been stunted and she’s now smaller than her peers. This has made her self-conscious, especially at school, but Gniré’s future is now looking up thanks to Save the Children sponsors.

Through the Healthy Girls and Boys program, Gniré learned more about malaria and how to avoid it. She also received a mosquito net that she now hangs above her bed. Mosquitos bite at night, which means that Gniré is incredibly vulnerable to malaria without a net protecting her while she sleeps.

When asked what gift she would give to every child, Gniré knew right away that she would want to protect other kids from malaria.

Mosquitos bite at night, which is why Gniré must be protected as she sleeps.
Mosquitos bite at night, which is why Gniré must be protected as she sleeps.

 “If I could give one gift to every child, it would be a mosquito net so that no one else has to get sick.”

Because of sponsorship in her community, Gniré now receives malaria medication that helps to reduce her risk of coming down with the disease again. She also stays healthy by washing her hands frequently and taking vitamins that keep her body strong. “I am thankful that Save the Children is in my community,” says Gniré. “It means that they care about my health!”

Now that she’s feeling better, Gniré is able to attend school every day. She can focus, learn and participate in class. Gniré knows how important it is for her to continue her education and dreams of becoming a doctor so she can help other people when they are sick.

“When you are educated, so many doors open for you!”

Today, Gniré is happy and active.
Today, Gniré is happy and active.

Every day, malaria threatens the lives of children around the world and also prevents them from attending school and learning. Save the Children sponsors are helping children like Gniré to not only survive, but thrive. With World Malaria Day happening this month, it’s the perfect time to consider becoming a child sponsor to help protect children like Gniré.

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

Ways to Help Syrian Refugees

Of all of the conflict-affected areas in the world (and sadly, there are far too many), Syria is ranked as the most dangerous place for children. In Syria, there are 5.3 million children in need of humanitarian aid[1]. According to the United Nations, Syrian children suffer all of the designated Six Grave Violations, even in demilitarized zones. They are denied humanitarian access, subjected to abduction, recruited as child soldiers, and have been robbed of their innocence – and even their lives – due to conditions that plague this Middle Eastern nation.

As the war in Syria enters its eighth year, conditions are far from improving. An estimated 5.4 million Syrian men, women, and children have made an exodus from their homeland,[2] seeking refuge outside its borders in the hope of a better, safer life. Now is the time for us to take action and help these refugees in their time of crisis.

You may be asking yourself, “How can I help Syrian refugees from halfway across the globe?” The good news is that there are organizations that have made it their mission to provide assistance to the people of Syria. Take a minute to look through our guide on the Syrian crisis to learn how you can help donate and aid Syrian refugees during this time of grave need, and see through the eyes of Syria’s children what it’s like to have to endure the conditions they have known for most of their young lives.

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Background on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Syrian crisis began in the wake of political upheaval that occurred in March of 2011. Conditions have swiftly declined, resulting in war, sickness and famine. Bombings have become part of daily life for Syrian families, resulting in a mass dispersion of refugees who seek shelter and safety since their homes and land have been destroyed. Unfortunately, many host countries fear that taking in these refugees will result in political and social unrest in their own nations. This leads to the pivotal problem of millions of people having nowhere to go – no place to call home.

The result of this fear has been devastating for the people of Syria. A child’s future is largely determined within the first few years of their lives. Without adequate care, the conflict is redefining what it means to be a child in Syria. You can help make a difference in these children’s lives in order to ensure they can reach their full potential. Although there are some countries that have implemented travel bans or other restrictions, there are still many other ways to help Syrian refugees.

Donate to Help Syrian Refugees

Donations to world aid organizations like Save the Children will go a long way toward providing necessary aid to the children and families of Syria. As a zone riddled with conflict, the area has become a major priority for organizations to provide food, water, medicine, education and shelter to displaced refugees. For the millions of children who need help around the world, a small contribution can go a long way. Donate to help Syrian children today.

Connect with Syria

Listen and share their stories. Many refugees have shared their personal stories with the world. They have felt fear as they hear bombs exploding overhead. They have felt hope for the war to end so they can go home and be reunited with loved ones. They have felt the desire for safety in times of insecurity and loss. Providing refugees with your hope and support can provide comfort in times of need. Social media can work wonders connecting people from around the world. Be sure to send your support to the people of Syria by raising awareness, connecting with refugees through social media, and even listening to and sharing their stories of hope.

Sponsor a Refugee Child

Through a child sponsorship program, you, the sponsor, can be a hero in a child’s life and in the lives of other children in the community. Your monthly support can help provide refugee children with access to a variety of resources that will help better their lives, their communities and their futures. You’ll influence young lives by supplying healthy food, health care, education, and helping to foster a productive and safe environment to grow. Newborns are provided with a healthy start. Children are given a strong foundation in education. Teens and young adults can learn the skills needed for empowering future careers. Choosing a refugee child through a sponsorship program can make a world of difference.

 

[1] http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7998857/k.D075/Syria.htm

[2] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNICEF_Syria_Crisis_Situation_Report_2017

What is Child Sponsorship & How Does It Work?

Child Sponsorship 101

As we step into the new year and reflect on the joys and blessings to come, it’s important to remember that there are children around the world who are suffering and in need of our help to have the future they deserve.

A child’s future is determined – to a large extent — within the first few years of their lives. You can help make a difference in these lives in order to ensure these children reach their full potential. For the millions of children who need help around the world, a small contribution can go a long way.

We can provide newborns with a healthy start, give children a strong foundation in education, and empower teens with the skills needed for promising careers. Choosing a child through a sponsorship program can make a world of difference in one person’s life and to the lives they touch as they grow.

So, where do you begin? You likely have a lot of questions as to how you can help and how sponsoring a child through Save the Children can help positively impact a person’s life — through childhood and beyond. Read on to learn more about how you can make a difference.

Basic Education - Indonesia

 

What is child sponsorship?

Through the child sponsorship program, you the donor can choose a child whose story has touched your life in a special way. Even if you’re halfway around the globe, you may see some similarities between yourself, your loved ones, and a child you wish to sponsor. Each month, your sponsorship helps provide children with the necessities for a healthy and successful start to their life – nutrition, early childhood and adolescent development, education and school health.. Over the course of months – or even years – your sponsorship will continue to make an impact on this child and his or her community.

As of 2016, Save the Children and the sponsors we are fortunate to work with have benefitted over 2.5 million children worldwide, in 43 global communities, and have contributed over $70.7 million to enrich the lives of these children.

What does it mean to be a child sponsor?

The primary goal of sponsorship is to help provide children with their best chance for success. Through the sponsorship program you will develop a strong and important relationship with the child through letters, birthday cards and photos. The most important aspect of being a child sponsor is the impact you will have on the community as a whole. Your contributions will directly affect the education, health care, recreation and safety of others within the community, as well.

How much does it cost to sponsor a child?

You can help change the lives of children all over the world for just over $1 a day. Sponsorship starts at $36 per month, and you will be changing the lives of more than just one child.[1] Your contributions are combined with other sponsors and donors in order to help better entire communities. This ensures that children in these communities still benefit from the programs and support even if they do not have a sponsor of their own. If you’re able to give more than $36 per month, your donation will help achieve greater goals for the children of these communities.

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What impact does sponsoring a child have on the community?

The positive impact on the lives of these children can’t be measured in money alone. Thanks to our network of generous sponsors like you, we’ve been able to help treat 418,000 children for parasitic infections (often due to unclean, unsafe water in their regions), making sure their childhood is as healthy and happy as possible. We were also able to equip 37,000 parents with the tools they need to support their children’s early development. And we’ve helped train 6,000 teachers to give children in impoverished parts of the globe the education they need to build a better life for themselves and their community.

Your contributions help lift entire communities and assist not only the children, but also the families, caregivers, and other people in a given area. Depending on which program and age group you wish to sponsor, you’re able to help a wide range of people [2]:

  • Babies & Expecting Mothers: Even before birth, you’ll improve the lives of expectant mothers and provide them with the health and nutrition services that will ensure their babies begin life happy and healthy.
  • Toddlers & Young Children: You’ll be able to provide children with early learning opportunities that will lay a strong foundation for educational success. You’ll be able to improve the overall learning experience for all children in the community ensuring the quality education they deserve.
  • Teens & Pre-Teens: Adolescence is a time of intense change that shapes future opportunities. With your assistance, you will help pre-teens and teenagers build lasting life and work skills to build a better community.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. With millions of children living in poverty, it is the primary goal of Save the Children to connect children in need with people like you who want to become involved and make a serious impact. Sponsorship provides these children with the necessities for a successful and healthy start to a bright future. Through sponsorship, you’ll be able to support these children as they learn and grow.

If you’d like to sponsor a child and make a tax-deductible donation today, please connect with us for more information.

[1] https://support.savethechildren.org/site/SPageNavigator/sponsorship.html 

[2] http://www.savethechildren.org/atf/cf/%7B9def2ebe-10ae-432c-9bd0-df91d2eba74a%7D/2016%20CHILD%20SPON%20YEAR%20IN%20REVIEW_DIGITAL_FINAL.PDF 

Refugee Sponsors Are Changing Lives

VicHeadshotWEB
Victoria Zegler

Multimedia Storyteller

Save the Children in Egypt

March 20, 2018

“How does it make you feel to be a representative of your school, Aseel?” I asked.

She froze, hesitant to answer.

Then she admitted that she didn’t want to sound “arrogant,” so I reassured her, “Confident, Aseel! Not arrogant.”

It was at that moment she took a deep breath and let out the most genuine response I could have hoped for.

“As an ambassador, I feel that I have a nice talent,” she said. “They chose me from the entire school, they chose me from among 800 students! I cannot believe this!”

10-year old Aseel participates during a letter writing activity within Save the Children's refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.
Aseel participates in a letter writing activity within our refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.

As the war in Syria enters its eighth year,  there are still children who are out of school, and most are up to six years behind in their reading and math skills. This, I cannot believe!

For refugee children, war has put their educations – and therefore their futures – at risk.

Back in October, I was able to visit Save the Children’s refugee sponsorship program in Egypt. I witnessed firsthand the impact being made in the lives of children who, at one point, were without an education.

During my visit, I was given the opportunity to meet our four child ambassadors – Aseel, Mohanad, Malak and Karim. Each of these inspiring children expressed their gratitude for having Save the Children in their community school and felt honored to be chosen as a representative among their peers.

I watched plays orchestrated by local Save the Children staff to promote hygiene in a fun and inclusive atmosphere (think big toothbrushes constructed out of cardboard and plastic straws!). I heard the excitement in the children’s voices when they talked about attending summer camp and art exhibits. It made me smile knowing that our sponsors are giving vulnerable children the education and support they need to succeed.

Global Sponsorship Multimedia Storyteller Victoria Zegler takes a selfie with children participating in Save the Children's refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.
Global Sponsorship Multimedia Storyteller Victoria, takes a selfie with children in our refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.

After meeting each of these children and hearing their stories, I couldn’t help but notice their sense of self-awareness. All of the incredible support we receive from sponsors like you allows refugee children to thrive in a safe environment, one where they can focus on learning and just being kids again. These children recognize what is happening in the world, even though they may not understand it. They realize that they have been given a second chance, and they know they have to work hard. Because of your generosity, refugee children are able to continue their educations and dare to dream of their futures.

It moved me to see these young children serving as leaders within the community and talking about their hopes for the future. This is what your generosity is doing. You’re helping provide the care and support these children desperately need to pursue their dreams.

Thank you for making a positive difference in the lives and futures of refugee children like Aseel.

Within our impact area of Greater Cairo, Save the Children responds to both short-term and long-term needs of vulnerable refugee children and their families by offering child protection, education, health and livelihoods support, counseling and psychological support. Learn more and find out how you can help at SavetheChildren.org/RefugeeSponsorship

Shohayeb’s Dreams Come True!

Author Portrait_Md. Hasan Iqbal, Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communications and Data Quality
Md. Hasan Iqbal

Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communications and Data Quality

Save the Children in Bangladesh

March 19, 2018

Shohayeb is a 12-year-old boy studying in 7th grade, at a sponsorship supported school in Meherpur, Bangladesh. He was enrolled in the child sponsorship program in 2011 when he was only 7, although sponsorship has been working in his community since 2006.

During this time, Shohayeb has gained motivation in his studies, knowledge on good practices in his personal life, for example how to wash his hands properly and how to eat healthy, and learned about the many benefits of a strong education. His community has also become strengthened and more aware through sponsorship, realizing too the importance of education for their children, healthy living practices and how the prevention of early marriage benefits the long term development and prosperity of their community. Shohayeb’s community has also received material benefits like vitamin and iron supplements for malnourished children, and school infrastructure development such as safe water treatment, hygienic latrines and new learning materials like books.

In August of 2017, Shohayeb had the great excitement of meeting his sponsor, Hyeona from South Korea, for the first time, who has been sponsoring him since 2013. They spent two days together, talking, reading, drawing, taking photos with each other and just getting to know one another.

Shohayeb with his friend and sponsor, Hyeona.
Shohayeb with his friend and sponsor, Hyeona.

During this time, Shohayeb even got to celebrate Hyeona’s birthday with her, as it took place during their visit. It was an amazing journey with friends. Hyeona visited his school and met with his teacher and classmates. She saw how now, thanks to sponsors, classrooms have print-rich learning materials and posters, instead of blank walls. She even witnessed a vision screening test at his school, a service that wasn’t available to children with vision problems until sponsorship came to his school. Later, they spent time together making arts and crafts, playing ball games with Shohayeb and his classmates, and even dancing!

Shohayeb tells us he will never forget those memories. He shared many things about himself and his family with his friend from so far away. Hyeona also shared stories about herself and her experiences, so Shohayeb not only gained a close friend but also learned many new things.

Shohayeb shared after the visit, “Now I can look to the future and hope to fulfil my dreams. My friend [sponsor] supports me a lot, and encourages me in her letters. Sponsorship has done much more for me, my family, and my village. Thank you my friend, Hyeona Kim.”

It was a wonderful moment for both. During their farewell, Shohayeb expressed his feelings, “I never thought that I could meet my friend. Over the last two days I talked to my friend, we ate together, played together… I became very happy. But, she will go soon… I cannot see her more. I hope that we could meet in future. I wish that one day after I grow up, I will go to Korea to see my friend.”

Hyeona is proud to be Shohayeb's sponsor.
Hyeona is proud to be Shohayeb’s sponsor.

Hyeona also shared her experiences about her visit to the sponsorship programs in Bangladesh, “I feel very happy to have met with Shohayeb. He is a very nice person. I feel really proud of this good boy. He will be a very gentle man in the future. We enjoyed very much our time together. He drew a picture for me – that was wonderful. We took photos together of our memorable moments. I will never forget Shohayeb. I think he will remember me. And also I feel very cheerful because my support is effectively received for children’s wellbeing. After this visit, I understand how successfully and hard Save the Children has been working for the children.”

Where does your sponsored child live? Would you like to learn more about what life is like in that country, and how your sponsorship is changing the lives of children there? Consider making the big trip to visit. Contact our team in Fairfield, CT at ChildVisits@SaveChildren.org to learn more!

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

Working with Local Government

Author Portrait 1_Carolyn Alesbury, Education Specialist
Marianne O’Grady and Carolyn Alesbury

Education Specialists

Save the Children in Afghanistan

March 9, 2018

As the spring flowers brought color to the gardens, and the trees were waking up after a long and cold winter, we flew into Faryab to visit the sponsorship program. The trip was long overdue and as representatives of the technical team, we were delighted to see the high quality programming happening in Faryab and Sarepul.

The early childhood, school health and basic education programs in Afghanistan are strong, highly necessary and innovative. The sponsorship staff are team players, dedicated, focused and so engaged.  With Faryab and Sarepul under new and crippling security strains, the staff face extreme challenges reaching some communities – something that must now be factored into their planning to ensure programs still reach children. Our teams partner closely with the local Ministry of Education department to provide educational activities in areas that the government cannot access. Save the Children sponsorship programming is there to support children in preparing for and transitioning to primary school, as well as ensure they are healthy and able to stay in school once they get there.

Early Learners (left to right) Mursal, Atila and Zuhra.
Early Learners (left to right) Mursal, Atila and Zuhra.

In Afghanistan, the ministry is working to get national preschools in every village, but currently only a few early learning centers are in place and functioning in Kabul. Since we know that stimulating children’s cognitive, social, language and even reading and math skills at an early age is important to set them up for success as students later on, sponsorship has been working hard to address these challenges.

We are successfully modeling community-based early learning programs for these young students, usually ages 4 – 6, throughout the country, and in Faryab and Sarepul, the local ministry officials even came to Save the Children and asked us to incorporate these programs into the primary school curriculum. This innovative approach demonstrates our strong partnership with the local government.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit one of these early learning centers during our trip. The children were both excited and shy to sing and read with us, and to show off on the high quality playground equipment sponsors had provided here.

Early Learners benefiting from sponsorship in Faryab.
Early Learners benefiting from sponsorship in Faryab.

Another example of our close partnership with the local government could be seen in the health team’s recent visit. They provided blue prints for toilets that are low cost, high quality and long lasting. After much review with local ministry officials, sponsorship teams and village partners have built some of these new toilets at primary schools that had no toilets before or not enough to accommodate the number of students.

We are so proud of the program in Afghanistan and want to remind our sponsors, our members and our technical advisors that Afghan children are still in need.  We are working in some areas where other NGOs and the local government cannot reach – we hope that the inspiring and impactful efforts of our colleagues in Faryab can continue until all those needs have been addressed!

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

The Community Volunteer Experience

Author Portrait_Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín, Community Volunteers in Cuyagualo, Sonsonate
Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín

Community Volunteers

Save the Children in El Salvador

March 2, 2018

 

A dedicated nurse helping to improve the health of people in need, and a devoted teacher shaping the minds of future leaders. Those were the dreams of Rosa and Carolina, two sisters who have been community volunteers with Save the Children’s programs for nearly 8 years now. Unfortunately, when they were just teenagers a tragedy struck their family – their father passed away and their mother found herself overwhelmed with 6 children. Rosa and Carolina’s mother took the difficult decision of taking them out of school so they could work and help with the family income. Rosa and Carolina desire for their own children, and for all children in their community, the educational and development opportunities they couldn’t have for themselves. With their work, they are making Save the Children’s vision come to life: a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Before Save the Children came to our community, our leaders used to think only about projects to improve the infrastructure, mainly paving dirt roads. So when Victor, Save the Children in El Salvador’s Community Mobilization Coordinator, presented sponsorship programs to us, people were at first not very interested because it was about education, health and protection for children and adolescents, more than direct and more tangible improvements like new roads. Some people even told us that Save the Children was evil and they would steal the children in our community. Ignorance and indifference dominated people’s minds. It wasn’t easy, but after attending the community mobilization sessions, the leaders came to understand that Save the Children had to involve the entire community in these programs in order to implement them, and that no decisions would be made without their input. In these sessions we also discussed the importance that having a strong educational foundation, and skills in personal hygiene and health, would have for our children. Little by little, the minds of community members began to change.

Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!
Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!

We’ve been community volunteers for almost 8 years now. Back when we started, we had just one group of 5 – 10 children in our Early Learners programs. Today, we have seven active groups with nearly 30 children each. We’ve reached the hearts of so many mothers over those years, and now they know the importance of starting learning very early, before children enter primary school. Even the teachers are happier and satisfied, because children already know things such as how to hold a pencil, colors and vowels when they start kindergarten.

Another success has been changing people’s minds about the future of adolescents. In the past, adolescents would only study until 9th grade, then opt for the traditional, and considered easier, path of becoming a farmer, security guard, getting married or even joining a gang. Now, adolescents don’t want that anymore. They want to finish high school and go to college. With sponsorship support, our community management group has learned how to create projects and opportunities for adolescents. So far, we’ve managed to get 18 scholarships for students to continue higher education in high school or college this year. Our community now has adolescents with technical studies in computer engineering, who have become role models for the younger ones. Adolescents are also part of the community management committees.

Rosa with her niece, Idania.
Rosa with her niece, Idania.

The only regrets we have? All the wasted years without the knowledge we have now, the early childhood education we couldn’t give to our own children because we didn’t know anything about it. Our own children are grown-up now, but with our younger nieces and nephews we have put into practice all the strategies we teach to the other women in the community. We know for sure the Early Learning programs work, because we’ve seen the success in our niece Idania. She is just 18 months and can already say 55 words! Even the doctor is surprised with that!

We could share so many stories about the work we are able to accomplish in our community thanks to Save the Children, but in the end all of these success stories make us proud because we consider them our little triumphs!

Without dedicated community volunteers like Rosa and Carolina, Save the Children’s programs would not be possible. Children and families in their community are sure proud and thankful for having them, and being a part of their community’s growth themselves!

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

 

Through Viona’s Eyes

VicHeadshotWEBVictoria Zegler

Multimedia Storyteller

Save the Children in Indonesia

February 25, 2018

10-year-old Viona lives in a remote community tucked away in Central Sumba, Indonesia. She lives in a small village that does not have access to electricity or

Viona is now able to explore herself in sponsorship programs by learning how the importance of a healthy lifestyle!
Viona is now able to explore herself in sponsorship programs by learning how the importance of a healthy lifestyle!

running water. Poor hygiene is common in remote areas where Viona lives and children like her are faced with it every day. Prior to sponsorship, Viona did not understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and how it contributes to her success in school. Just last year, Viona suffered from malaria due to the lack of awareness of the illness and not being able to identify her symptoms.

In 2016, Viona was given the opportunity to become a Little Doctor at her school. The program, which is an innovation from the School Health and Nutrition program, enforces healthy lifestyle choices through peer-to-peer educational activities, an approach to help promote health within student groups. These activities include washing hands and monitoring the cleanliness of their classrooms, latrines and the school environment. “My favorite person is a doctor,” Viona said. “When I get older I want to be a doctor because they not only help sick people but many different people.”

Viona sits outside of her home where she lives with both of her grandparents and younger sister.
Viona sits outside of her home where she lives with both of her grandparents and younger sister.

Today, when Viona comes home from school, she now knows the importance of eating a healthy meal. She then takes a bath in the river by her house after learning the importance of staying clean to promote good health. Thanks to you, Viona can look to her future with hope. With your support, we can help more children like Viona understand the importance of pursuing a healthy lifestyle and how it contributes to their future success.