The meaning of “satisfaction”

Raul PinedaRaúl, Sponsorship Manager

Las Mesas, El Salvador 

 June 29, 2012

Not many tourists come to El Salvador.

This is not a surprise: our crime numbers are a potent deterrent for any foreigner who would like to know more about this country.

But there are some visitors who are not looking for “tourism” or to just have another check on their list. These are the committed child sponsors who wish to have more contact with the children who send them letters and pictures through Save the Children.

Not too long ago we had the pleasure of bringing Ms. Elizabeth to the field to visit the community of Las Mesas in the western part of El Salvador. While there, she was able to interact with community members and families living there.

First and second graders at school

It is extremely difficult to explain what we do in the field through reports, brochures, or simple statistics, and the positive change that is being achieved. BUT, when real contact happens and all those reports turn into living faces and extraordinary stories, then the real development journey begins.

It is then that Ms. Elizabeth’s nodding signal has a meaning; she has come to understand the effect of
sponsorship and how her contribution is changing the lives of children and their families in this part of the world. And for us, it is the signal we need so we can continue our work. This kind of satisfaction does not fit in a report. I share with you this experience as I see it in hopes that you will also feel this
satisfaction because your contribution really DOES make a difference…

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

What it means to have friends abroad

Bolivia headshotElena Morales, Basic Educator Program

Save the Children, Boliva

June 8, 2012 

My name is Elena Morales and I am an educator working in the “Wawakunawan Purina” program, which means “We Walk With the Childhood”. This is a sponsorship-funded program implemented in the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

I support the School of San Francisco, located in the neighborhood Villa Sebastian Pagador. This neighborhood has a high migrant population, most residents come from other cities in Bolivia. The school has 926 children, many of whom are sponsored through Save the Children.

The children are very happy when they find out they are going to have a friend abroad and many wait for their sponsor’s letters with great anticipation.

One example is of a 12-year-old girl named America. This year she received a letter from her friend in the U.S. When she read the name of her new friend she shouted, "I have a friend in the United States!" The other children asked her why she was so excited. With pride she explained that her sponsor wrote a letter and that he knows her by her picture. This makes America feel special.

Elena Morales and America

What fills me with such great satisfaction is that "Wawakunawan Purina" allows boys and girls to have the opportunity for a better education and integrated formation without any type of discrimination.

This is how Save the Children contributes to each child, community, and country: through the creation of capable citizens who can reach their goals in life.

Watch America and her friends jump rope

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

Sponsorship Site Undergoing Maintenance

Amanda headshotAmanda Gundell, Social Media Intern

Westport, CT

June 6, 2012

Hey guys,

Writing to let those of you who sponsor children know that our online sponsorship portal is being renovated to include some really terrific new features and functionality.

We have a temporary site up in the meantime, so bear with us and come back on June 18th to see the new and improved Sponsorship portal!

If you have any questions, please contact our Donor Services Team at 1-800-728-3843 between 8 AM and 5 PM EST or email

Connecting people across cultures and space

Mali spon headshotDougoutigui Coulibaly, Save the Children Sponsorship field worker

Sikasso District, Mali 

May 31, 2012

Countless sponsors have told us over the years that one of the most rewarding aspects of being a sponsor is developing a personal connection with a child whose life is being changed by their generous support.

This is a shared sentiment, as children in Mali feel the same way. Ask them what they like most about sponsorship and many will mention the relationship that develops with their sponsors over the years.

They really love to learn about their sponsors. Letters provide them with a unique source of joy, pride and a feeling that somebody cares and values them. They particularly appreciate words of encouragement and praise for their school efforts. A couple of weeks ago, an eleven year-old girl told me, “encouragement from my sponsor always pushes me to do more in school”.

Mali spon and kid Many children do not believe their eyes when I visit their schools and homes with letters. Often I read to the younger ones; hearing me read their letters is a fun and rewarding moment for them. Our sponsors come from all walks of life and their messages reflect this. They write about their education, work, hobbies, families, pets and general advice on being a good citizen. As I read the letters I can see the children’s feelings on their face, from broad smiles to laughter, to surprise and more.

In Mali, gratitude and reciprocity are an integral part of the social mores. Sponsored children want to be true to these values and return the kindness by replying to their sponsors. Often they are unsure what to write, but a few words of encouragement from parents or teachers are usually enough to egg them on to open up and enthusiastically share their own stories.

Like sponsors, children love talking about their families, friends, school and sports. More importantly, they like asking questions and are curious to know everything from food eaten in a sponsor’s country to the type of bed they sleep in.

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

Bridging love and hope from one country to another

Pailyn TanPailyn Tan, Sponsorship Assistant

South Central Mindanao, Philippine

May 18, 2012

You know that warm feeling when you give or receive a gift from an important person in your life? That is how wonderful I feel every time I open a package, process it and deliver it to a sponsored child.

I’m quite new to the sponsorship team and my job is to receive letters, gifts and packages from sponsors and deliver them to sponsored children. This means I not only get to read sponsor’s letters and children’s responses, but also get to be part of the exchange of love and smiles.

I never received things like this before. Thank you not just for these things but also for the friendship,  Gerald to sponsorGerald really values his personal relationship with Uncle John, his sponsor. Every time we deliver letters to his school, he always waits in a corner, hoping. If he is lucky enough to receive a package or letter he is so joyous that he almost never believes it’s actually for him and that he is actually being loved and revered by a person from a place far, far away

When Gerald receives something from Uncle John he immediately sits in a corner, pulls out his pen and carefully writes his reply. He answers all of Uncle John’s questions and shares his own perspective. Then Gerald reviews his reply many times and flattensout the paper to make sure Uncle John receives it clean and without creases.

Through his drawings, Gerald hopes to take his sponsor not just in their home but also in their life

Gerald’s dream is to become a marine engineer and he is inspired by his Uncle John’s words.

Witnessing this bond that transcends distance and culture, and being part of the bridge that does so, is elating. I feel the sharing of love and joy. It is empowering to be a part of something so inspiring and to actually witness change in someone’s life – in the lives of the faces of our future.

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

Behind the Sponsorship Scene: Egypt

Mohamed Zanati

Mohamed Zanati, Education Officer

Assiut, Egypt

May 4, 2012

On the way to a small village located 30 miles north of Abnoub you can take the time to appreciate the beautiful scenery; the flowing Nile, fields of green and the mountains off in the distance.

This village, like many others in Upper Egypt, has suffered a lot and is deprived of many basic services. While right next to the Nile River, it only recently received clean water. There’s no youth center for children to exercise and play sports and a local health unit was only recently opened (but is still waiting for equipment). 

Egypt 5-4post picThere is only one elementary school and no secondary school; the closest is in the neighboring village almost five kilometers away. Yes, this is how much people in Upper Egypt, especially children, are still in need.

In villages like this, Save the Children provides integrated programs for children to improve their health, education and economic opportunities.  Although there is still a long way to go, these programs, which you support, are saving lives and improving the quality of life for Egyptian children everyday.

My visit was to monitor the quality of activities of our local partner, Community Development Association. As soon as we arrived I could see the smiles creeping onto the face of the children, and with a signal from their teacher they began singing to us in welcome. I was extremely happy when I found the children in the first grade so happy in class and that they’ve managed to learn the alphabet.

It’s the first time in this village’s history that every school age child is enrolled; last year the figure was just 80%. The increase is a result of our strong partnerships and advocacy activities with partner CDA’s, the Ministry of Education, the educational administration and the school’s board of trustees.  

As an Egyptian and an employee of Save the Children I would like to thank all of the people who care enough to donate to these children in need.

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

All my dress, books and notebooks were burnt in the fire

Junima ShakyaJunima Shakya, Nepal Sponsorship Manager

Kimichaur, Nepal

May 1, 2012

Blog_02.28.12.After the fire incidentOn the evening of January 27 a fire started in an animal shed in the village of Kimichaur, in the Pyuthan district in Western Nepal. The fire swept through the village, damaging 14 houses and leaving the villagers desperate for help. Fortunately, there was no loss of human life, but the fire destroyed homes, prized cattle and stored grains.

“My hard-earned money, 30,000 Nepali Rupees (about $380), inside my saving box was burnt to ashes,” shared Chetman, a local villager.

The day after the fire, Save the Children, in coordination with its partner organization in Pyuthan, began providing relief for the affected families with rice and a blanket for each family.

Blog_02.28.12_Children receiving student supportTwenty-seven children, including 15 sponsored children, were affected by the fire. “The children lost their books, bags and all their school supplies”, reported Umesh, a Program Coordinator. We immediately dispatched new supplies. Each student received a new school uniform, school bag, notebooks and other stationery. We focused our relief efforts on the children as it is so important for them to feel safe and secure after such a traumatic experience.

“Support for the community was provided by several relief organizations. But the community was very happy that their children were prioritized with special support and materials,” said Suraj Pakhin, a member of Save the Children staff in Nepal.

“My dress (school uniform), books and note books were all burnt in the fire. I thought ‘I won’t be able to go to school again.’ But I got a new school dress, books and supplies and I can join the school once again”, says a sixth grader .

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

The New Year festival (Nauroz) in Afghanistan

AfCO March 2012 Blog Post Author Photo with children 2Dr. Sohail Azami, Sponsorship Manager

Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan

April 20, 2012

Nauroz, the New Year Festival, takes place on the first day of the Afghan month Hamal. Nauroz, which means “new day”, has been celebrated in this region for at least 3,000 years. It marks the start of the solar year and the first day of spring. The festival is rooted in the Zoroastrian religion, a major religion once practiced here.

Today, Afghans celebrate Nauroz with family and friends, enjoying traditional foods. Special to this holiday is haft mewa, or seven fruits. Haft mewa includes almond, pistachio, walnut, raisins, apricots and dates which are soaked in water overnight.

Another holiday dish is Samanak, which is made from wheat germ and slowly cooled until it becomes a creamy and sweet pudding. For New Year’s dinner, an Afghan tradition is to prepare seven types of food whose name start with the Afghan letter of “Seen”, the “S” sound. We call this special meal haft seen, or seven “S”.

AfCO Sponsorship Blog Post - Photo 3 - March 2012Many cities in Afghanistan host festivals to celebrate Nauroz. In Mazar-i-Sharif, the biggest city in northern Afghanistan, thousands gather at the historical shrine of Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and the fourth Caliph of Islam. Famous for its Blue Mosque and centuries old history, the shrine is deeply respected by Afghans. T Mazar-i-Sharif also hosts a Red Rose Festival, named for the red roses that naturally grow in the deserts nearby.

New Year’s Day is right after the schools’ winter break and on the 3rd day of the year the schools reopen. To celebrate the holiday, children receive new clothes and enjoy picnics with their families. They also enjoy playing soccer, volleyball, playing music, singing songs, dancing and flying kites.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

For the Future, For Haiti

Alex Treyz, Manager Global Sponsorship OperationsAlex Treyz, Manager, Global Sponsorship Operations

Maissade, Haiti

April 9, 2012 

Fortunately today the river is low. Out my window I see men and women wading in the knee-deep waters, steadily fording the river or hand-washing clothing by hand.  Children cross this river every day to reach their schools on the other side. During the rainy season, which begins in May, this river will rise and the swift current will render it impassable. I remember the ease of my bus ride to school when I was in elementary school and compare it to this journey across the river. Fortunately we’re in a 4×4 vehicle and the river is low, but I ask myself, what if I had to make this journey on foot, during the rainy season? What if I had to wade across a river every day to get to school?

IMG_5982Our 4×4 bumps and splashes over the river bed and 20 yards later we are across the other side, one river river-crossing closer to Maissade. We will cross 5 rivers today on our journey from Port-au-Prince to Maissade, a town of 60,000 people nestled in Haiti’s Central Plateau region, where Save the Children has been working to improve the lives of children and their families through Child Sponsorship for 27 years.We are way past the point when the pavement has ended and the dirt roads have begun. About an hour ago, three hours into our trip from Port-au-Prince, the number of vehicles dropped off; the primary modes of transportation we see now are foot, donkey, andthe occasional motorbike. As we arrive in Maissade, the river waters have dried off and our 4×4 vehicle is covered in a thick layer of chalky dust. I am rattled from the bumpy ride, but thrilled to be in Maissade, the area of our Sponsorship programs.

Every day, Save the Children staff ford these rivers and bump downthese dirt roadsto deliver letters to your Sponsored children. During the rainy season, our staff often leave their vehicles behind to swim across swiftly moving rivers, walking the rest of the journey to your Sponsored children in Maissade on foot. In their hands are your letters to your Sponsored children, sharing your generousgreetings and stories of your lifeto the children of Maissade. Your letters, birthday cards and greetings bring joy and curiosity to these children.

Copy of IMG_6080Our journey takes us to Céverine School, 20 minutes from the center of Maissade. On our way we pass homes painted in bright hues of Caribbean pink and green and children playing soccer in the dusty main square. The homes we pass have electricity for only eight hours a day, so when we pass through this way again tonight, it will be completely dark. We cross several smaller creeks to reach Céverine School, which Save the Children has been supporting since 2002. The school bustles with energy and productivity and I observe children paying apt attention in the beautifully built classrooms.The day is dry and hot and I am grateful for the shade the classrooms provide. Our team visits a class of 6th graders and asks the
students why it is important to learn how to read and write, to which one student replies, “For the future and for my country” and another replies, “To help the community – if I have knowledge, I will be able to share it with others.” Thanks to the generosity of our Sponsors, these children have the opportunity to learn and growat this school and to one day become leaders in their community.

Later in the afternoon we visit the temporary location of CoeursUnis School, meaning “United Hearts.” Save the Children is currently constructing a beautiful new schoolfor the children of this community, who in the meantimeare studying in the open air under a tree. The new school is due to be finished any day.When the rainy season comes, these children will find shelter and an environment conducive to learning in this school. IMG_6059

Our day in Maissade ends with goodbyes to children, teachers and parents and the crossing of one more river. I am heartened by what I have seen today in the schools Save the Children Sponsors support. Despite many challenges, these children are learning skills and knowledge every day that will help to build them a brighter future. All of this would not be possible without the dedicated support of our Sponsors.

Thank you for all that you do to support the children of Maissade, Haiti through your Sponsorship!


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

“It works!” says the NY Times

January 27, 2012

Westport, CT


In Nepal, 8-year-old Himal now has a favorite book – discovered through Save the Children’s Literacy Boost. In Malawi, Literacy Boost helped 11-year-old Beatrice learn to read, although she is blind in one eye. Amazingly, she now volunteers as a reading mentor for fellow students.

A model learning initiative, Literacy Boost was featured in the New York Times on January 19, 2012, in an article entitled “A Boost for the World’s Poorest Schools.” 

With your invaluable support, this innovative program is making it easier for children in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean to master the reading skills so necessary for a successful future. In 2011, Literacy Boost reached nearly 66,000 children. This year, we hope to reach 59,000 more.

Designed for young readers in grades 1-4, Literacy Boost lets everyone – from parents to teachers, to community volunteers to older children like Beatrice – get involved. Learning materials are often made locally and are in sync with the local language and curriculum. Books are loaned out to encourage reading at home. Songs, games, reading camps and reading buddies make sure learning is not only educational, but fun!

Does it work? Absolutely! Assessments, a regular part of the program, show that students who participate in Literacy Boost make significantly more progress in reading than students who don’t participate. Even better, Literacy Boost participants attend school more often – and they do better in math as well as in reading!

We hope you’re as proud of these results – and of your part in making them possible – as we are! To read the New York Times article, click here.