Tiyende! Let’s Walk!

Author Portrait_Singilton Phiri, Interactive Radio Instruction SpecialistSingilton Phiri

Interactive Radio Instruction Specialist

Save the Children in Malawi

June 16, 2017

Before the introduction of sponsorship in rural Zomba in Malawi, walking along the dirt roads, lounging in the tobacco gardens, roaming markets in neighboring villages, or taking care of the family goats and cattle were all a part of normal pastimes for children. Very few remained in school.

This spoke volumes to Save the Children, as it recognized that communities unknowingly lived in the dark – unaware of the importance of sending their children to school. Darkness hedged over the next generation, as access to education, care and development were denied innocently to children.

As we began to mobilize community members to support our education programs, I saw that only a few parents allowed their children to enroll in sponsorship, unknowing that this resource would turn into an oasis of development.

As an Interactive Radio Instruction Specialist, I rolled out the Tiyende! program in Zomba, meaning “Let’s Walk!” in the local language, to help combat these barriers. This unique program brings quality educational lessons through radio instruction to children between the ages of 4 and 5, to help ensure they become lifelong learners by fostering a love for learning at an early age. The lessons help children grow to their full potential, engaging them in fun activities and vigorously preparing them for primary school. Since most children have never seen or heard a radio, this program attracts them to the community-based child-care centers, supported by sponsorship in their community, in order to participate.

Tiyende! radio programs helped Rodrick be better prepared for primary school
Tiyende! radio programs helped Rodrick be better prepared for primary school.

At the child-care centers, children sit together and listen to the Tiyende! radio program, which helps them learn shapes, numbers and the alphabet while listening to fun and lively audio prompts. For example, to help develop literacy skills, children are asked through the radio to write in the air or in the sand, as classes may be held outside, the letters they hear spoken. Radio sessions are a half hour long.

When enrolling at the sponsorship supported centers, children also have access to teacher-guided lessons that stimulate their physical, social, language and cognitive development. In addition to the interactive radio programming, thanks to sponsors these centers offer colorful learning materials and storybooks to help children get excited about learning, along with teachers trained on other interactive, child-friendly teaching methods.

In no time, the interactive radio programs began to yield positive results, as children were no longer seen wandering the market places but were in school during the day. Over 230 community-based child-care centers have been reached. Nearly 6,000 children from ages 4 – 5 years old have benefited from interactive radio programs in Zomba, and an estimated 2,000 out-of-school children returned to school as a result. Noticeable were increased enrollments at the child-care centers, even beyond Save the Children’s area of work, as the radio program is aired through a community radio available to anyone in listening range. There indeed was new horizon in sight for Zomba.

Children preparing to listen and learn with a Tiyende! radio broadcast in Zomba.
Children preparing to listen and learn with a Tiyende! radio broadcast in Zomba.

It gives me optimism as I see Tiyende! transitioning children each year to primary school, where child-care center graduates take the lead in their classes and have greater achievements than those that go straight from home directly to primary school.

Among the many learners who have benefited from Tiyende! is 13-year-old Rodrick, a seventh grade student. He started learning how to read and write while at the community-based child-care center in his village of Nkundi. He shared proudly, “I do well in primary classes because I started reading and writing at the [community-based child-care] center,” said Rodrick. He added that, “When I grow up I want to be an Immigration Officer so that I can protect my country,” Rodrick is usually top of his class and is just one among the many former Tiyende! participants doing well in school.

The saying that “the darkest hour comes before dawn,” is true. I am extremely happy to see that sponsorship has brought a great irreversible change in the lives of the children and communities here. Please accept our greatest thanks, from the Malawi sponsorship team in Zomba.

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

 

Linh’s Fairy Tale

Author Potrait_Nguyen Thi Nga, Field Project AssistantNguyen Thi Nga

Field Project Assistant

Save the Children in Vietnam

June 9, 2017

 

Working in sponsorship, every journey makes an impression on my life.

I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with Linh, a 10-year-old girl enrolled in our sponsorship programs, as she welcomed her sponsor for a visit to her small village in the mountains of Vietnam. Here, in Phong Hai commune of Lao Cai province, people live high up in rural mountain villages and rely on agriculture, growing crops such as maize, rice, cassava or tea, to support their families.

I still remember the happiness that filled her face when she expressed her feelings about the day her sponsors would arrive. Her eyes lit up and she smiled brightly, and I felt a warmness touch my heart.

It was a rainy day, and she was playing with her friends while waiting for the exciting arrival. Suddenly, she caught the smile of her sponsors. She recognized them immediately – they had included a photo of them in their first letter to her which she cherishes.

Linh and her sponsors making gu cakes.
Linh and her sponsors making gu cakes.

What an amazing thing! Thanks to sponsorship, she was able to get acquainted with her two foreign friends, coming from a faraway country on the other side of the world – Italy. Their names are Federica and Manolo, a married couple who have been getting acquainted with Linh through letter writing over the past year as her sponsors.

She felt unbelievable, almost like a little princess from the fairy tales her mother had told her when she was younger. She felt one of those stories had become her real life when she met her sponsors, as they came to her school and met with her teachers, friends and her family.

“Hardly did I have [such a] memorable time like that. We talked to each other and played special games, like badminton… Then, we made traditional cakes.” These special cakes, called “gu cake”, is a traditional dish of the Dao ethnic group, an ethnic minority of Vietnam that lives in this area. It is made by wrapping a mixture of purple sticky rice, green beans, salt and pork in banana leaves and bamboo strings, and then boiling for a very long time, up to 5 or 6 hours. They are made to celebrate the Tet holiday, or the Lunar New Year, in Vietnam, and traditionally are placed on an alter to worship ancestors.

“It was also my first time to make these cakes by myself. It was such an interesting experience with my sponsors. What a pity! I could not speak with them a lot to express how glad I was because of our languages and my shyness. Perhaps, no words could ever describe my happiness at that time.” Linh said to me later, when reflecting on the visit. “I am truly a lucky girl to have met my sponsors in my life. Despite [the] far distance, they came to visit me with kindness and friendliness. I honestly appreciate their coming and love for me.”

Sponsorship staff member Nga, Linh and her sponsors, Federica and Manolo
Sponsorship staff member Nga, Linh and her sponsors, Federica and Manolo.

It was with a saddened voice when she spoke about saying goodbye to her sponsors. I would like to express my sincere thanks to those sponsors that visit our programs. It is such a unique and amazing opportunity to make a connection across distances and cultures. Thanks to our sponsors for their kindness in helping disadvantaged children in Vietnam and the world over. After participating in this visit, I have more motivation and passion about my work at Save the Children, with the big mission to better the life of children.

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

Oubeida’s Summer Break

Child Portrait_Oubeida
Mossi Hamadou

Sponsorship Operations Officer

Save the Children in Niger

June 2, 2017

Oubeida is among the first children to get a sponsor here in Maradi – an area with the poorest populations in our country of Niger. She was so cheerful when she received the exciting news that she had a sponsor of her own. Although she is just in fourth grade, she already has quickly come to understand the importance of Sponsorship in her community. Even in this short time, she shares happily that she has received many letters from her sponsor, and responded, telling her sponsor about her life, for example how she spent her vacation from school.

Oubeida and a friend outside at their village.
Oubeida and a friend outside at their village.

This year like every year, the rainy season coincides with school vacations in Niger, generally from June through September. Because the rains are so heavy, and many roads poor, travel is difficult during this time. Vacations are normally a period of ease and entertainment for students, but Oubeida decided that her vacations should be spent other ways. Today, with Oubeida’s help, we would like to share a typical summer break from school for the children of Niger with our sponsors.

Oubeida helping with the house chores.
Oubeida helping with the house chores.

She tells us, “Every morning, I wake up at 7 o’clock. I have my bath and I help my mother with the household chores. I first sweep the compound then I wash dishes and I help my mother grinding millet for the meal. I seek water and then we go to the farm. There, I help my mother working in her okra plot. In the afternoon, before we come back home we collect grass to feed the animals. At night, we meet with my friends at the village public space, where we play ‘chalele’ (a game of singing and dancing).’’

How did you spend your summer? Do you also have animals that need to be cared for? How is your life different from Oubeida’s? How is it the same?

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

The Great Light of Hope

Author Portrait_Boukary Jigo, Community Volunteer
Boukary Jigo

Community Volunteer

Save the Children in Niger

May 24, 2017

My name is Boukary, I am a Community Volunteer with the Sponsorship program in Maradi. I’d like to start by saying that I am very proud that my community is one of the 25 communities in which the Sponsorship program implements its activities. The fact that we had been honored as such was the first key element in my commitment to get involved in this program. We believe in the importance of education, we want our children to be educated. And Sponsorship is here to support us in the education of our children. When a child is educated, it’s all the community that benefits so I am excited for my community and its development.

Boukary with Fati, a sponsored child, at her home in Maradi.
Boukary with Fati, a sponsored child, at her home in Maradi.

As a volunteer, I help the Sponsorship team in monitoring children that are enrolled in programs to ensure their participation and benefit. In doing so we follow up on their school and class attendance. We also help with reaching out to children and parents not yet involved to explain how Sponsorship works to help their children. We are even honored in helping deliver sponsors’ letters to children.

Smiling Zahaina & Sailouba, girls in our Sponsorship programs in Maradi.
Smiling Zahaina & Sailouba, girls in our Sponsorship programs in Maradi.

The problems with quality of education is really a great issue in Niger, particularly in rural areas. Four children out of five cannot read or write a short paragraph, but we strongly believe that the Sponsorship program will positively change the situation. We already have school supplies that have been brought to the schools, reading camps that are set up and running, trainings that are being given to teachers and parents in charge of school management, and even bringing in more volunteers. It’s a great light of hope for parents and children.

Thanks so much to all our new sponsors in Niger, the most recent addition to our worldwide Sponsorship family. We can’t wait to share with you more successes as our work in Niger continues to grow!

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

 

“I’m a hero because I’m… smart!”

Malachi Blog - USP -1
Save the Children USA

May 17, 2017

In Southern Kentucky, 7-year-old Malachi is excited to send a personal note to his sponsor. This thoughtful little boy puts a lot of heart into the words he chooses. “I’m a hero because I’m… smart!” he writes. He then adds a colorful drawing of his mother, wearing a pink cape — an example of his very own super hero.

Growing up in Kentucky has not been easy for Malachi and his mother. Their small, rural community struggles with the all too familiar challenges of poverty – lack of teachers and materials for quality schooling, few jobs that pay a living wage, and high unemployment.

With his teacher’s help, Malachi is able to practice reading and get the writing support he needs to thrive.
With his teacher’s help, Malachi is able to practice reading and get the writing support he needs to thrive.

Malachi is lucky, however. He has a very close relationship with his mom – a single mother who is working her hardest to create a good life for her family. She has been able to find jobs, but their two-person family has faced significant financial setbacks in recent years, and she cannot meet his basic needs. On top of this, Malachi has had difficulties focusing on his studies in school.

But while they may not have many material possessions, they are grateful for the richness of the love they share and their strong bond. Malachi’s mom has been an advocate for Malachi and a strong supporter of his education.

“Malachi has expressed how much he enjoys the after-school program. I feel that he is safe and well taken care of,” says his mother. “I have to work, and it gives me a chance to better our lives.”

Before being sponsored two years ago, Malachi was tracking behind the average literacy expectations for kids his age. He didn’t always turn in his homework and struggled to focus in the classroom, more than his peers.

Since joining the sponsorship program, his word recognition, basic literacy skills and reading comprehension have all shown improvement. Paying attention in class is no longer a struggle.

-Check out that big smile! Thanks to sponsorship, Malachi now loves to read – and it shows!
Check out that big smile! Thanks to sponsorship, Malachi now loves to read – and it shows!

“After-school I go to Bulldog Club,” said Malachi, beaming. “My favorite thing to do there is read!” Malachi’s favorite books are about dinosaurs and he takes great pride in the fact that he can now read confidently.

The after-school program is funded by sponsorship and includes reading practice, writing support and listening to stories read aloud. Malachi’s mother is just one of many parents who has seen the after-school program make a significant difference to her children and in their close-knit community.

Save the Children’s literacy program helps give children growing up in America’s poorest communities a the opportunity to learn. Children in these places have the potential to improve their knowledge and boost their confidence — the stepping stones for a successful future.

Empowering Women in Egypt

Author Portrait_Amal Abdallah Mohammed, Former Community Health Worker
Ayman Abdel Hafeez

Sponsorship Health Assistant

Save the Children in Egypt

May 10, 2017

Amal is a 60-year-old wife and mother to two boys, Haytham and Islam. She is also a former community health worker at a family health unit in Abnoub, Egypt. After graduating, she delivered sessions about health topics like how to have a safe pregnancy and the dangers of improper nutrition for young children. She also conducted home visits with new mothers and their infants, and introduced local women to the health unit’s medical services so they knew when to come and what was available for them there.

However, she never received a word of praise from her managers and colleagues for her hard work. To make things worse, she was even faulted for pouring her heart and soul into her job.

“I almost hated my job, and my life,” stated Amal. “It was a very dark period,” she said. “I felt gloomy, which negatively impacted my relationship with my family and husband.”

Amal meeting with a local woman about her livelihoods project.
Amal meeting with a local woman about her livelihoods project.

Everything turned upside down and life began to smile back at her after the head of Sponsorship’s health programs in Egypt, Mr. Fouad Montaser, paid her a visit. He was blown away by her work.

“I was on top of the world,” she remembers fondly. “Finally I met someone who pushed me to help others, someone who believed in me and is interested in my work,” explained Amal.

In recognition of her efforts, Mr. Fouad nominated her to be in charge of raising health awareness in the local community. Through home visits and community-based sessions, she covered topics like proper breastfeeding, how to address respiratory system infections in children and manage personal hygiene for the benefit of whole families.

Additionally, through the “Arab Women Speak Out” Sponsorship initiative, she taught local women important life skills, like how to effectively manage conflict with their husbands and family members. She also helped women start their own small businesses by using simple and available resources, for example buying cheap home appliances and reselling them to make a profit, or how to successfully raise and care for a chicken flock at home. Since culturally women in this area are not encouraged to travel or work outside of the home, our programs are helping them to become active members of their society for the first time.

Amal visiting a participant of Arab Women Speak Out in her shop
Amal visiting a participant of Arab Women Speak Out in her shop.

Today, Amal has and continues to promote local women’s sense of worth by empowering them to become active agents in the social development of their communities. By encouraging groups of women, ranging in ages from 15 to 45, to speak about problems related to their domestic life, social status, health and hygiene, together they are able to come up with durable solutions.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, real change is being made not only through our educational programs that reach children, but also those that empower their parents and community members to implement change themselves. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your partnership!

 

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

For the Mothers and Babies of Abnoub

Author Portrait_Samar Abdel Fattah, Health Worker
Samar Abdel Fattah

Health Worker

Save the Children in Egypt

May 3, 2017

25-year-old Samar lives in Abnoub, Egypt and worked as an unpaid volunteer for the Community Development Association for Orphan Care, known locally as CDAOC, for a full year. However, she felt that she could do even more to help children in need. She wanted to prove herself and also showcase the work she was already doing to help local children. She took on a number of health projects initiated and funded by local foundations and government entities, including the Ministry of State for Family and Population Affairs. In these projects she conducted health-awareness campaigns, for example spreading messages on the importance of keeping a clean home and properly disposing of garbage to reduce the spread of disease, among community members.

Samar conducting a training with local nurses.
Samar conducting a training with local nurses.

Despite her efforts to document and share her successes, Samar didn’t feel that her work was well recognized. Until one day, the senior supervisor of health projects from Save the Children paid her a visit. Samar jumped at the opportunity to connect with the organization. She introduced him to her work, and he went on to spread those successes in improving health and hygiene in communities to other governorates all over the country. After that, when Save the Children was looking to select new health program team members, they chose CDAOC to partner with and specifically reached out to Samar.

Samar began conducting workshops to train female village leaders, community representatives, mothers and nurses on Sponsorship’s evidence-based and innovative programs, which spread health messages to local women using tools like educational videos and play-acting to keep them engaged. Topics include how to recognize dangers signs during pregnancy, the health benefits of breastfeeding infants, the importance of vaccination, basic first-aid for accidents in the home, and much more.

Samar with participants of one of her health sessions, and their children who will surely benefit!
Samar with participants of one of her health sessions, and their children who will surely benefit!

She also received trainings in what Sponsorship calls “Kangaroo Mother Care”, an initiative which imitates the way the kangaroo carries her baby. This improves mother-to-child attachment, providing newborns with continuous affection and tenderness that aids in a healthy upbringing. Through these sessions and other trainings, Samar learned how to examine a new-born child, as well as deliver community- and home-based meetings for pregnant women and mothers of newborns on skills for the healthy nutrition and care of their babies.

Today, Samar feels fulfilled in her life. She is now a certified trainer of the Assiut Health Directorate, thanks to her work with Save the Children, and possesses countless health certificates. Her name glows next to the names of university professors, doctors and hospital managers on training materials that are shared nation-wide. We are very proud to have her as a partner!

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

A Person of Great Importance

Author Portrait_Kelvin Mulenga, Information and Communications Officer
Kelvin Mulenga

Information and Communications Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

April 27, 2017

Walking along one of the paths in a small community called Nkana, I cannot help but notice the very jovial little girl who smiles despite needing a wheelchair. I am curious about her, and my curiosity leads me into a discussion with her and her mother, Rose.

I learn that this child is Celine, a 12-year-old girl and third grade student at one of the Sponsorship-supported schools in Lufwanyama. She is the last born of her family of 12. She tells us she loves fruit and shares her favorites, “I like oranges, bananas and apples because fruit provides vitamins to my body.”

Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.
Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.

Despite her physical challenges, Celine is passionate about attending school. However, like many disabled children, she was not able to go. She suffers from a spinal disease called scoliosis, which crippled her ability to walk. Though her school is just a short distance from her home, without transportation she was forced out of classes for a full year. In addition to her physical struggles, her family also could not afford to purchase school materials like books and pencils.

After being enrolled in Sponsorship, Save the Children field staff began to look for ways to help Celine attend school. They advocated for Celine to gain access to a wheelchair from one of the local churches in the community, to help her get to school. She also received exercise books from her school, provided through Sponsorship funds.

“I love Sponsorship, as Save the Children is now helping my school with a lot of things, and I am given some of these like books.” Celine said with a smile.

Today, Celine is back in school and tells us she wishes to work in an office one day, where she will be a person of great importance, “When I finish school, I would like to work in an office where I should be signing on documents, that they bring to my office.”

Celine back in class and ready to learn.
Celine back in class and ready to learn.

However, her dream will not be realized without her community continuing to embrace the importance in protecting the health and education of every child, as a fundamental human right – that every child is entitled to enjoy learning regardless of their physical abilities.

Save the Children has been implementing its non-discriminatory programs to help children like Celine attain education despite the many hurdles they face in their life. Continue to dream big, Celine, and we will continue to support you!

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

 

Healthy Living for Robinah

Author Portrait_Madrine Amuge, Senior Officer of School Health and NutritionMadrine Amuge

Senior Officer of School Health and Nutrition

Save the Children in Uganda

April 20, 2017

Robinah is 10 years old. She is in grade six and resides in the Lutisi community in our Sponsorship impact area of Wakiso, in Uganda. She loves to go to school, and she tells me her favorite subject is Science. Robinah also shared she would like to become a doctor in the future, to help sick people get better.

Even with a dream that is in the field of health and hygiene, there was a lot that Robinah didn’t know about ways to prevent sickness before joining Sponsorship. “Before Save the Children came to my school, my friends and I didn’t wash our hands after visiting the latrine because we had no source of water, and we also didn’t know how.” says Robinah.

Teachers George and Jennifer, Robinah (third from left), Linda, Gift & Kefa with the schools new cleaning materials.
Teachers George and Jennifer, Robinah (third from left), Linda, Gift & Kefa with the schools new cleaning materials.

Through the School Health and Nutrition programs that our sponsors support, Robinah’s school received a water tank, handwashing facilities and lessons on how to wash their hands properly, in order to kill germs that cause disease. This keep students healthy so they don’t have to miss classes due to preventable illnesses, as well as keeps them more comfortable during the school day. Children who have already received handwashing lessons are becoming champions for spreading better health practices to their friends, families and throughout the community.

Apart from personal hygiene, a clean environment is also very important for schoolchildren like Robinah to be able to study and learn well. Thanks to our sponsors, Robinah’s school now has cleaning materials, garbage bins and the knowledge of how to manage disposal of waste. Already there has been a reduction in sick children, as garbage bins at school are now properly managed and free of disease spreading vermin and insects.

Robinah washing her hands using a handwashing facility provided through funds from sponsors.
Robinah washing her hands using a handwashing facility provided through funds from sponsors.

“I am confident while washing my hands, because I have learned why and how to wash my hands with soap and water. I also learned how to keep my school clean to avoid being sick. I now teach my brothers and sisters at home about the good practices I have learned in school,” shares Robinah.

Robinah is thankful for Save the Children and the Sponsorship program for choosing her community and for teaching her and her friends good hygiene practices. She believes that she can help her community with this knowledge and also be good doctor in the future. Even today, she already has stayed true to her goals in the health profession by sharing her skills with her family members.

Imagine a school where the floor, desks and chairs are covered in dust and dirt, but you still must sit and work at them. In your classroom, children all around you are coughing and tired because they are sick. In the corner of the schoolyard, a mound of garbage is piled high and circled with flies. Could you learn and play in an environment like this? Would you want to go to this school day after day?

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

Breaking Out of Her Shell

Author Portrait_Sharon Johnson
Sharon Johnson

Community Liaison

Save the Children U.S. Programs

April 13, 2017

Dayla is in the 1st grade and participates in our sponsorship and in-school literacy programs in her town in Mississippi. Dayla is normally quiet but gets very excited when she hears from her sponsors. Reading the letters and drafting her replies have helped to expand her vocabulary and improve her reading skills. She loves that her sponsor encourages her to do well in school.

1st grade student Dayla is gaining confidence at school thanks to sponsorship.
1st grade student Dayla is gaining confidence at school thanks to sponsorship.

This is Dayla’s first year being enrolled in school and Save the Children programs have been a big help with that transition. Since participating, she’s became more eager to go to school and especially to attend the programs. She has begun talking and participating more in class. Dayla has also been paired with a Foster Grandparent which provides another supportive relationship. And we all know how important supportive, caring relationships are to children’s development. Dayla is excited to improve her reading skills and has made many new friends in the programs.

Dayla enjoying reading a story.
Dayla enjoying reading a story.

Dayla’s self-esteem has improved dramatically since she began school. She has become much more confident and has a positive outlook about school. Her mom is pleased with her progress. Her mom shared, “Save the Children has really been a great help for my child. My child used to be very quiet and not eager to read, but now she’s participating more in class and improving her reading skills.” Dayla has had a successful first year of school thanks to the support of sponsorship and in-school literacy programs.

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