How Can We Build Hope for America’s Kids?

Traveling in rural Arkansas, you can sometimes forget where you are. The long stretch of bumpy highway, surrounded by cotton fields and rice paddies, could be in one of a dozen countries I’ve traveled to recently. And, unfortunately, the poor families I met could have been from any of those countries too—rather than living in the richest country on earth. The kind of poverty you find these days in America is shocking, and it makes me wonder what’s happened to cause so many families to be left behind.

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.

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.

Unlimited Curiosity

Anoymous womanNora Katz

Washington, D.C. 

April 2, 2012


Nora is a high school Senior from Pennsylvania who will attend Carleton College in fall 2012. She hopes to study political science, history, and literature. She participated in the 2011 Rustic Pathways summer program in South Carolina as a student volunteer and mentor with Save the Children’s U.S. Programs. This year, Save the Children and Rustic Pathways will host summer programs in South Carolina, Kentucky and the Dominican Republic.

When, recently, a friend asked me what the greatest thing I ever learned was, I replied easily with the answer of learning to read and write. This is such a basic gift, such a seemingly simple idea, that we often forget that in South Carolina, for example, 15 percent of adults are functionally illiterate. The downward spiral begins in elementary schools and, with this in mind, Save the Children created an enriched summer program at Foster Park Elementary School to help bring struggling students up to speed with their peers.

Nora Katz cropUnemployment abounds Union, a former mill town where thirty percent of children live in poverty. Most recent Census numbers suggest this alarming statistic will only continue to grow as these kids face the risk of being trapped in a cycle of teen pregnancy, gang violence, drug abuse and the lack opportunity. Save the Children brought 16 high school students to this program to teach and to provide good role models for kids who will eventually end up in a high school with a county graduation rate of only 55 percent. 

The kids I had the privilege of knowing came from different backgrounds and had different abilities, but they were never limited in their curiosity or ability to love. Every day, I was moved by their resilience as they dealt with challenges at home, their success in reading more and more difficult books, and their desire to learn about the world outside of Union. I am so blessed to have been able to know these kids, who constantly surprised me with new questions and new ideas. I am so blessed to have been able to know their teachers, who work for six weeks every summer for very little pay simply because they care. I am so blessed to have been able to meet 15 other high school kids who truly believe in the value of education.           

While I received my own, very different education, I constantly thought about whether or not I made the slightest bit of difference in the lives of the kids I mentored for those two weeks. The greatest issue that I face is knowing that those kids may never think about getting a post-secondary education and may never leave Union, South Carolina. But, as I reflect, I realize that there is a glimmer of hope. If my presence in their lives can make just one of these bright kids crack open an SAT book or dream about going off to college or want to travel beyond the Palmetto State, I have done something marvelous. As I move into a future that these kids may never know, I am comforted by the fact that one child may, someday, remember Miss Nora who taught some math lessons and who desperately wanted to help her global community. And, maybe, just maybe, that child will desperately want to do the same thing.

Catching up with Drummer Boy Boubacar

Philippe6Philippe Nia-An Thera, Early Childhood Coordinator

Bamako, Mali

March 1, 2012


Two years later, Boubacar is still playing with the drum. But as a first grader, there are plenty of new things he can do.

It’s impossible not to remember Boubacar, a boy we met in Mali two years ago.

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We heard him before we saw him. He was furiously tapping away on a drum strapped around his waist – transfixed in the discovery that his tiny hands could create sound and rhythm with an object he had never seen in his life.

At age four, he had just started attending preschool at a Save the Children-supported early learning center in the village of Ifola. This center is one of 40 supported by Save the Children in the Sikasso and Yorosso Districts of Mali.

Before coming to the center, he spent his days at home in this impoverished village. With no access to toys, he created things out of mud.

That changed after his mother, Haby Sanago, decided to send him to the preschool. There, Boubacar discovered not just his beloved drum, but a whole new world of playing and learning.

Boubacar is applying what he has learned in his early years to where he is now: first grade in primary school.  He is continuing to learn how to read, write and draw. “A happy student who participates in class,” his teacher says.

He is an active child, often seen playing soccer in the school yard, and still “visits the early learning center where he can play with the drums,” says Philippe Nia-an Thera, Save the Children’s early childhood development coordinator in Mali.

Haby, who never went to school, is delighted and grateful. She says, “The change I saw in my child shows how much Save the Children’s early learning program benefits the children.”

“I do not miss any occasion to discuss with the other women in the village what it has done for my child. I tell them that as soon as my daughter, Tjimono, reaches the age of three, I will also send her to the early learning center,” she adds. “If it were up to me, all the children in this village would go there so they can start learning early.”

Today, we can still hear Boubacar tapping away on that drum. What we don’t hear is the sound of the step he takes every day as a first grader in Ifola  – the quiet sound of progress that can take him farther than his parents have ever gone.

Keeping the American Dream Alive for Thousands of Children

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 15, 2012


Meet Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, three bright-eyed, all-American girls daydreaming of what they’ll grow up to be some day. Alicia, 11, from New Mexico, is the oldest of the three. She aspires to own a home and a business one day. Jurnie is an 8-year-old from Nevada who loves to care for people and wants to become a nurse when she grows up. Savannah, also 8, lives in Kentucky. She adores animals and dreams of becoming a vet. Living thousands of miles apart, these girls may never cross paths, but their road to success has one detrimental obstacle in common: poverty.

Usp blog ss of doc

All three are from dwindling small towns in rural America, where, according to the latest Census report, one child out of four lives below the poverty line. Alicia is from a sleepy, poverty-stricken village, which counts a small convenience store among its only sources of income. Jurnie lives with her grandfather and younger sister in a low-income community of 800 some residents on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. And in Savannah’s remote hometown more than a third of the population, including her own family, is poor.

The number of Americans living in poverty jumped to historic highs. Bearing the brunt of this crisis are 16 million kids, the highest number since the War on Poverty began in the early 1960s. This means that more families than ever are scrambling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. For children like Alicia, Jurnie and Savannah, growing up poor in America means having your dreams, however humble, stolen from you.

Like most children living in poverty, the three girls are falling behind educationally. When she started fifth grade, Alicia was reading at the level of a second-grader. Jurnie comes from a financially struggling, unstable home environment and often has to endure long stretches of time without seeing her parents. This lack of stability and support has led to frequently missed school days and poor performance in class. While eager to learn, Savannah scored poorly on reading assessment tests and her school didn’t have the resources to provide her the extra help she needed to work through the challenges and succeed.

Kids who aren't learning and advancing in school are likely to remain in poverty as adults. To protect America’s future and security in the face of historic childhood poverty rates, we must invest in our children. Save the Children works to break the cycle of poverty through education and health programs designed to help kids in some of the poorest parts of the country overcome barriers that stand in the way of their dreams.

We helped Alicia, Jurnie, Savannah and thousands of other children who know all too well what it means to go without. After going through our education support programs, all three are now able to read at grade level and continue to make great strides toward academic and future success.

Learn more about child poverty in the United States and what Save the Children’s school-based programs are doing to help.

Photos courtesy Save the Children

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Grade-Schooler with These Books (ages 9-12)

This is the third post in our “Love to Read” series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

February 2, 2012


This is the third post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader!

Only about one third of American fourth-graders are proficient in reading, according to the results from Reading_by_level_age_9-12 the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress. Make sure your grade-schooler reads at or above grade level by going to the library together every week. Start by checking out a few of these 10 tried-and-true book selections for your child (but don’t forget to lead by example and take out a novel or two for yourself):

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign.

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Grade-Schooler with These Books (ages 6-8)

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 31, 2012


This is the third post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Reading_by_level_age_6-8Latest findings by the American Educational Research Association reveal that a student who can’t read at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than his reading-proficient peers. Practice makes perfect, so help keep your child’s reading skills on track through regular reading sessions. Here is a list of 10 recommended books you can enjoy together:

  • Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
  • Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff
  • The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst
  • Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign

Spread the Love of Reading to Your Preschooler with These Books

Ajla

Ajla Grozdanic, Manager, Marketing and Communications, U.S. Programs

Washington, D.C.

January 27, 2012


This is the second post in our "Love to Read" series which highlights fun and educational books that will help your child develop into an avid reader! Be sure to check back later in the week for recommendations for older children.

Did you know that less than half of children under 5 Reading_by_level_age_3-5are read to every day by a family member? Ensure your little ones get their daily dose of reading with these 10 expert-recommended book selections:  

  • Best Friends by Charlotte Labaronne
  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
  • Mine! Mine! Mine! by Shelly Becker
  • Sharing How Kindness Grows by Fran Shaw
  • Sunshine & Storm by Elisabeth Jones
  • I Accept You as You Are! by David Parker
  • The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
  • I’m in Charge of Me! by David Parker
  • I Love it When You Smile by Sam McBratney
  • I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas

Looking for other ways to spread the love? Get your limited-edition Valentine's Day cards and support Save the Children’s education programs in the United States. Learn more about our Love to Read, Read to Live campaign.