Tax Breaks & Benefits: How the Gift of Giving Comes Full Circle

The holidays are a time of reflection that inspire multitudes of people to reach out to those who are in need. As the old year ends and a new one begins, we’re reminded of the blessings and benefits we’ve received in the past year, and many of us feel the desire to help others get ahead in the year to come.

Donating to charity is a wonderful way to give back to the people who are the most deserving. Here at Save the Children we feel all children are deserving of good nutrition, good education, and a good start in life. While donating to children certainly comes with the warm fuzzies, there are also more quantifiable benefits to donating to charity – including health benefits and tax benefits. The end of the year is a sign that tax season is right around the corner, and in order to qualify for tax deductions for the current calendar year, you must make your yearly giving contributions by December 31st.

If you’re thinking of making a year-end holiday donation, here are three steps to take advantage of the tax benefits of donating to charity.

2-year-old AJ snacks on an orange slice to promote Healthy Choices on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 in Clay Country, Kentucky.1. Research and Itemize
The first step to receiving a tax benefit on your donations is to itemize carefully. There’s a specific section of your tax returns that is dedicated to listing your itemized deductions. A helpful tip for itemization is to keep track of each charitable donation you’ve made throughout the year by holding onto any receipts and documentation. A spreadsheet can make this process easier at tax time, especially if you make lots of donations throughout the year.

Secondly, it’s also important to do your research on the charity of your choice. The organization you’re donating to must fall under the guidelines put in place by the IRS in order to qualify for deductions. You can find a full list of qualifying guidelines on the IRS website. You may also want to research the charity on watchdog websites, such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and Great Nonprofits (spoiler alert: Save the Children has high ratings on all of these sites!).

2. Check Your Limits and Know Your Expectations
Donating a percentage of your income is a great way to receive tax breaks in April; however, there are limits to the number of charitable deductions you can receive. Typically, this number is capped depending on your income. Rates fluctuate each year, depending on the state of the economy at the time. However, limits tend to fall within the 20%-50% threshold of yearly gross income. It’s also important to know that charitable deductions vary widely based on income. This amount is typically averaged around 3%-6% of a person’s adjusted gross income.

3. Save the Date
As mentioned before, contributions must be made before December 31st in the current calendar year in order to qualify for deductions in the following year’s tax season, so make sure your contribution counts!In order for a deduction to qualify, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your donation has to be taken out of your bank account during the current calendar year. For instance, text message contributions (when you text a code that adds a certain amount to your phone bill) count as long as the text was made prior to January 1st.Credit and debit card charges are acceptable as long as the transaction is made by the end of the year, even if they’re not paid before the end of the year. This also applies to checks that are written and postmarked by the end of the year, even if they’re not cashed until after January 1st.

Making a Difference

2017 Hurricane Harvey- Child Friendly SpaveAs you get into the spirit of giving this holiday season, take a moment to ensure that your donations are contributing the greatest benefit for the causes you care about most. The gift of giving always comes full circle and generosity can be infectious.

If you’re hoping to contribute to a good cause before the end of the year, please consider the children around the world who need your help. Not only would your donation benefit countless children, but you’ll also receive the added benefit of a legitimate tax deduction. With your donation, Save the Children has been able to make meaningful impacts for more than 157 million children around the world, including preventing newborn deaths in Bangladesh, responding to 131 emergencies, giving refugee families food and healthcare, and providing healthy choices in after school programs in 10 states.

Now is your chance to make a difference in the world around you. Get involved and join the cause. Each child around the world deserves a bright future. Donate today to help give a healthy start in life to the children around the world who need it.

The Health Benefits You’ll Receive by Donating to Charity

The season of giving is upon us once again and it’s time to jump back into the hustle and bustle of the holidays. The gift of giving is a wonderful feeling. It’s a happy moment seeing the smile on your loved one’s face as they open each gift you’ve picked out just for them. However, studies show that giving has added health benefits for the giver. Moreover, there are a variety of ways that those who give charitable donations can reap added (and surprising) health benefits while helping those in need.

Whether we are offering emotional support for loved ones, volunteering our time to assist an organization, or donating money to charity, there are more ways to enjoy the health benefits of giving than simply shopping for the perfect gift. Giving to a charity may also help boost your physical health and mental well-being.

Check out these reasons that demonstrate how giving is good for you!

Improved Self-Esteem and Self-Worth

Donating is a selfless act. One of the major positive effects of donating money to charity is simply feeling good about yourself. Being able to give back to those in need helps you achieve a greater sense of personal satisfaction and growth. Instead of putting money toward a gift someone may look at once and never use again, you can donate that money to a charity in need on your loved one’s behalf or send a symbolic gift (check out Save the Children’s gift catalog for ideas). This leads to a feeling of self-worth knowing that you’re offering much-needed resources to a great cause for those in need. As an added benefit, you and your loved one will both feel good about giving back to others.

Positive Moods and Low Depression Rates

With positive self-esteem and self-worth comes a genuinely more optimistic mood and outlook on life. Studies show that donating money to charity has been proven to have a positive impact on the brain. These effects are similar to activities people usually associate with joy and happiness such as eating, exercising, or affectionate gestures like giving someone a hug. Different chemical reactions can lead to an ongoing pattern of improved mental health and well-being. Keep this in mind the next time you’re having a bad day and need something uplifting to draw from. Donating can help better somebody else’s life and lead to a healthier you.

Longer Life Expectancy

As much joy as the holiday season brings, it also brings with it a great deal of stress. It’s no surprise that stress, depression, and anxiety can lead to a number health issues, headaches, insomnia, and high blood pressure (which affects 30% of all Americans). One of the reasons why giving is good for you is that it acts as a way to de-stress your everyday life. With the simple act of charitable giving, not only are you assisting the world as a whole, but you receive the added benefit of a more relaxed holiday season. As an added bonus, some studies show that the gift of giving and unselfishness is an altruistic personality trait that is closely aligned with people who live longer.

Improving the World Community

We’re all trying to make the world a better place. The holidays are a time where we can appreciate the people and causes we hold dear. One person’s charitable giving can help the greater good of humanity, positively impacting more people than a giver may ever comprehend their donation could reach. In many parts of the world, others are not so fortunate. Charitable communities help foster a happier and healthier world by improving the quality of life for those around us as a whole.

Make a Difference

The gift of giving always comes full circle. Giving is receiving and generosity is contagious. So, the next time you’re thinking about treating yourself, instead remember the positive benefits on your health that donating to charity can bring about, as well as the positive change you can help bring about around the world. Why not start now? Get involved and join the cause. We believe every child around the world deserves a bright future. Make a donation to Save the Children today to help give a healthy start in life to the children who need it most this holiday season.

Save the Children Now Accepts Donations Using Venmo

Looking for a fast way to give while you’re on the go? Save the Children is excited to announce that supporters can now donate using Venmo.

No_Logo_Venmo_Social_Share_Card2We continue to use new and innovative ways to make it easy for supporters to help children around the world, and because of this, we are excited to be among the first charities to offer Venmo on mobile web. Since we know Venmo users are a digitally engaged and mobile-first audience, we hope that offering this new payment option will make the donation process more aligned with the fast checkout experience they’re used to on their mobile device.

“We are thrilled to partner with Braintree on this innovation to accept Venmo as a new payment method for our next generation of donors,” said Ettore Rossetti, Sr. Director, Social Business Strategy & Innovation.

Offering Venmo to our supporters isn’t the first time we’ve expanded out digital payment options for charitable giving. Save the Children has also been an early adopter of PayPal, Apple Pay, Bitcoin, PaySafeCard, G2A Pay Wallet, YouTube donate cards and Facebook donate buttons. We will always continue to look for ways to adopt to consumer demand and provide a variety of ways for supporters to help make a difference for children in need.

Venmo payments are possible on Venmo app versions 7.5.0 or later for iOS and Android devices. To donate to Save the Children on your mobile device using Venmo, visit www.savethechildren.org/venmo.

A Letter to Save the Children

Author Portrait_Victoria Zegler, Multimedia Storyteller
Victoria Zegler

Multimedia Storyteller

Save the Children U.S.

June 19, 2017

“Thank you for helping refugees for us!” 7-year-old Miriam from New York wrote in her letter to Save the Children back in January. Miriam and her younger brother Simon, 6, both wrote letters to the organization thanking them for the work they do for refugees.

“I wanted to write to Save the Children because I am thankful for the people who help the refugees,” said Simon.

Simon and Miriam have two older brothers and a baby sister. The family was living in London at the time the Syria crisis began to pick up a lot of media attention, but has since moved back to the United States. After the more recent attention in the public eye on the Syria crisis grew even more, their mother Jo, felt compelled to do something.

Simon and Miriam wrote letters to Save the Children, thanking them for their work with refugee children.
Simon and Miriam wrote letters to Save the Children, thanking them for their work with refugee children.

Simon and Miriam first learned about refugees in 2015. Word got around their school about the viral photo of the 3-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan, who drowned as his family tried to flee from Kobani to Europe. The image shows the young boy, dead, washed up on the Turkish coast. This image began to raise questions in the family home.

“It’s important for me to know what’s going on in the world,” said Jo. “I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.”

“I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.” shared Jo, Simon and Miriam’s mother
“I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.” shared Jo, Simon and Miriam’s mother.

After writing their letters to Save the Children, the family received a letter back, introducing them to the kind of work Save the Children does for refugees.

“We got a letter from Save the Children and it had a picture from one of the girls at the refugee camp,” said Miriam.

The family hung this photo, along with the child’s drawing, on their refrigerator next to their family photos.

“I felt happy to know that all of them were happy and were having fun at the refugee camp,” said Miriam.

With Save the Children’s unique refugee child sponsorship model, a number of sponsors may be matched with the same child, who represents the many refugee children who will benefit from our sponsors’ generous donations, providing access to low-cost, high-impact programs that are the best chance for success for these children.

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

Born On The Run: Young Iraqi Mothers Fleeing ISIS Give Birth Anywhere They Can

With the battle for West Mosul still raging, and ISIS increasingly using civilians as human shields as coalition airstrikes continue, many expectant mothers are fleeing for their lives – in some cases even giving birth on the run.

Layla* is just three days old and was born in the ruins of an abandoned house, with shelling and shooting all around. Her 17-year-old mother Rehab* was just days away from her due date when the fighting in her neighborhood got unbearable and forced her and her family to flee in the middle of the night.

Rehab fell repeatedly as they tried to escape and went into labor hours into the journey.

“I went into labor on the road. I was very scared for me and my baby but my mother and another older woman helped me,” said Rehab. “It was very quick, maybe just 15 minutes. We rested for about another 30 minutes and then we started running again.”

The family is now in Hamam Al Alil reception center, the main focal point for those fleeing Mosul, where more than 242,000 have been registered since the offensive began.

Most people are relocated quickly, but with thousands arriving every day and more than 320,000 people displaced since the Mosul offensive began six months ago, families, many with young children, are falling through the gaps.

Save the Children is distributing water, toiletries and newborn kits in the camps and have built and continue to clean latrines in the reception center.

Twenty-day old Lubna* has been in the center for almost two weeks. Her 15-year-old mother Reem* was in labor for more than two days but could not get medical care due to the fighting raging outside. The second she was strong enough, her and her mother Masa* fled with several other members of their family.

“Her delivery was very hard, very hard indeed, but there was nothing we could do because of the fighting. We wanted to leave Mosul,” says Masa.

“My brother has been killed and we wanted to go but Reem was too weak, so we stayed for five days and then we left and walked to safety. Thank God Lubna is healthy but we are very worried about her and that she will get sick in a place like this.”

Marwa*, 5 months, at Hamam al-Alil IDP camp in Iraq. Marwa*s mother Ashna* and her father Salar* fled fighting in Mosul with their six young children, including Marwa*. Marwa* said: "The journey was hard and me and the children were very scared. But all I could think about was how we needed to get to safety and how I needed to keep my children safe – so that drove me and kept me going even though the children were very hungry and they were crying a lot. My older children were able to walk but we had to carry the younger ones in our arms – I carried Marwa*, while my husband carried my son and my uncle my other daughter. Marwa* is sick. Ten days ago she got a high fever and bad diarrhea. We were given medicine but it is not working and then, about two days ago, she got a bad cough that is getting worse. Luckily she sleeps at night, but her diarrhea never stops. It is very difficult to deal with this here. There is no privacy at all. Neither me, nor the baby, have had a shower since we arrived 20 days ago and I have five other young children to look after. We all have to sleep on the floor in the tent with many other families. It is noisy and dirty."
Marwa*, 5 months, at an IDP camp in Iraq. Marwa*s mother Ashna* and her father Salar* fled fighting in Mosul with their six young children.

Save the Children’s Deputy County Director Aram Shakaram says:

“The situation inside the reception center is extremely poor and there is a widespread shortage of food, water and blankets. Whole families sleep on nothing but cardboard, huddling together for warmth at night.

“Very young babies, many just days or weeks old are living in these conditions and their mothers, some who are as young as 15, are not getting the support they need.

“With 325,000 people still displaced since the Mosul offensive began and thousands still fleeing every day, it is imperative that we get more funding to support new mothers and their extremely vulnerable children who are starting their lives off in camps.”

Save the Children provides education and psychosocial support to children displaced from Mosul and our child protection teams work in the reception centers to identify cases needing urgent assistance, like unaccompanied minors.

Since the offensive began, we have distributed 3,740 newborn care packages, which have reached almost 11,500 infants. We have also distributed 7,000 rapid response kits that have reached almost 33,000 people and contain essentials like food, water and toiletries for the newly displaced. In addition we are also working to provide clean drinking water and basic sanitation to tens of thousands of people who have fled from Mosul.

To learn more about our response to the refugee crisis and how you can help, click here.

*Names changed for protection

The Situation in Iraq: Children Shot at and Blown Up By Landmines

6-month-old baby girl *Sara cries at Dibis checkpoint near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
6-month-old baby girl *Sara cries at Dibis checkpoint near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

by Mike McCusker

A dusty police station in northern Iraq is a strange sort of paradise.

But that is what it is to the eight families crammed in here on the hard, tiled floor. Babies are crying and young children are sleeping where they collapsed from exhaustion.

They have walked over 60 miles, and scaled a mountain last night, to escape territory held by the Islamic State group.

Many did it barefoot, including a five-year-old. But they survived. “I have come from jail to paradise,” one mother says to me, surrounded by her five children. “I am finally home.”

The Nour* family arrived at Garmawa IDP camp in late 2014, displaced by the fighting between armed groups in Iraq. The youngest of their six children, Sera*, was only 11 months old at the time and suffering from malnutrition and a host of subsequent health issues. Save the Children Child Protection staff identified her case when the family arrived and arranged access to medical treatment for Sera and her mother. Save the Children is still working with the family to ensure that they are accessing health services, as Sera’s health is still fragile. Sera's* mother says: "We arrived here on 15 November 2014, all eight of us together, from a village near the Mosul dam. In the family we are two parents with six children – five girls and a boy. When we arrived Save the Children helped us, they gave us clothes and milk. At the time Sera was only 11 months old. I was trying to feed her but it wasn’t enough and she was suffering from malnutrition. She was so thin. I knew something was wrong with Sera before but we were in the village. It was right on the frontline and there were no doctors or hospitals. Once we came here we were able to find treatment for Sera. We got medicine and food from the health centre and Save the Children provided us with transport to and from the hospital in Dohuk. The medical tests cost money that we had to borrow from another family, and a doctor made a donation, so we couldn’t afford transport costs as well. I’ve already sold my sewing machine to pay for the treatment. Sera still has problems. She is still very small, only 7kg, and for her age that’s too small. But she has grown a lot and has eaten a lot of food. The Save the Children staff member who found us is always checking in with us, many times he visited us and took us to the health centre. He is wonderful. The other children go to the Child Friendly Space here and they love it. They like the colouring activities. We don’t know how next year will be. The doctor says we must visit every two months for follow-up appointments. It would be difficult to manage without Save the Children. We would like to go back home but there is still fighting, so we don’t know when we will be able to return."
The Nour* family arrived at Garmawa IDP camp in late 2014, displaced by the fighting between armed groups in Iraq. The youngest of their six children, Sera*, was only 11 months old at the time and suffering from malnutrition and a host of subsequent health issues. Save the Children is working with the family to ensure that they are accessing health services, as Sera’s health is still fragile.

Shot at as they flee

These parents tell me that they are lucky. They show me graphic images of families who did not make it on their cell phones.

Pictures of children who dodged IS snipers and checkpoints, only to step on land mines sown into fields and mountain paths. Others collapsed and died on the journey after running out of water.

One woman says she paid thousands of dollars to smugglers — only to be pointed in the vague direction of freedom and then abandoned with her family to stumble down deadly routes in the dark.

I hear stories like these every day.

Families are growing increasingly desperate to flee with their children before the final assault. And they’re ready to risk capture and execution by IS fighters.

“I tried escaping on four separate occasions,” one woman says. “But each time I was caught and sent back, and my husband was brutally beaten.”

Kirkuk, Iraq. 16th October, 2016. A group of mothers sit with their children at Dibis checkpoint near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
A group of mothers sit with their children at Dibis checkpoint near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.

An exodus of one million 

We have already seen at least 150,000 people flee their homes in recent weeks, and more are on the move every day.

When the final push for Mosul comes, the U.N. and aid agencies like us on the ground are expecting an exodus of a million, maybe more.

What we’re witnessing now in areas recently captured from IS by the Iraqi army, suggests they will need everything — water, food, shelter and psychological first aid.

“We have nothing but our clothes!” one man shouted out to us when we arrived with help.

The only memories some young children have is of a long and brutal two years of IS rule. Families told us they had resorted to desperate tactics to feed themselves under IS rule, some even cooking grass to eat.

A group of mothers sit with their children at Dibis checkpoint near the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Save the Children is providing emergency water supplies, dried food, soap and other items to newly displaced families.

600,000 trapped children

Every family I meet has their own harrowing tale.

As the offensive fast approaches, Save the Children is gearing up our response plan to cope with the incredible level of need we expect will flood out from the city. By our estimates there are 600,000 children trapped inside right now.

Within 12-72 hours from the call to deploy, we aim to get emergency supplies to those that need them.

And we aim to provide proper care for children traveling alone, reuniting them with their families where we can.

But across the board there is a shortage of funding. The UN has raised less than half of the money it needs for what is likely to be the biggest humanitarian crisis for many years. We need more help.

In the violence of this assault, children must be kept safe while they are fleeing — and protected if they make it out alive.

Mike McCusker is Save the Children’s Field Manager in Baghdad

Learn more about how you can help us protect vulnerable children caught in the crossfire.

Ownership and Sustainability are Foundational in USAID’s Policy Revisions

By Gloria Steele, Senior Deputy Assistant Adminstrator, USAID

Children in a reading camp in the Philippines. Photo Credit: Save the Children: Philippines
Children in a reading camp in the Philippines. Photo Credit: Save the Children Philippines

On September 7th the US Agency for International Development (USAID) released full revisions to the Automated Directives System (ADS) chapters 200 and 201. For those unfamiliar with the ADS, it articulates USAID’s policy and procedures on a wide range of topics. From USAID’s hiring process to how Missions negotiate and develop multi-million dollar bilateral agreements with foreign county governments, the ADS contains all the rules of engagement. These recently updated chapters provide policy for USAID’s internal policy development process, as well as strategic planning, project and activity design, monitoring, evaluation and learning.

For the average American, the ADS revision might not be the most exciting reading material. While policies and procedures can be boring to read, putting them into action is not. New policies will give USAID Missions and their staff the authority to improve development practice and make lasting change in countries around the world—something the average American can get excited about.

A topic that is foundational to the revised policy is promoting sustainability through local ownership. Local ownership is vital for effecting enduring change. As the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia and the former Philippines Mission Director, I fully recognize the importance of local ownership, sustainability and systems strengthening.

During my time in the Philippines, I encouraged my team to embrace local ownership and change the way we work with Filipinos. There is significant capacity in the Philippines to achieve lasting development results, and USAID should continue to look towards local actors to drive development. The commitment of local CEOs under a partnership that we had with the Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) resulted in a collaboration between local businesses and the academe in transforming the relevance of university curricula. This has significant implications for fostering inclusive growth by addressing the phenomenon of “jobless growth rates “in the Philippines.

While many Missions around the world are already supporting local ownership, the revised ADS will formalize existing efforts and require all Missions to change the way they work. A few highlights from the new ADS can illustrate how shifts in policy may change the way USAID operates around the world.

Per ADS 200, USAID development policies should now be grounded in four principles: evidence-based, inclusive, sustainable, and coherent. While all are important principles, I can’t stress enough the importance of inclusive and sustainable. Our programming should always encourage participation of local actors, including those often marginalized, and give them decision-making power. This inclusiveness can help ensure that our programming is sustainable and valued by the citizens of partner countries.

Revised guidance for Program Cycle Operational Policy, reflected in ADS 201, also lays out four foundational principles for successful program implementation, one of which is to “Promote Sustainability through Local Ownership”. The principle goes on to say:

“The sustainability and long-term success of development assistance ultimately requires local ownership and strengthening the capacity of local systems to produce development outcomes at the regional, national, sub-national, or community levels, as appropriate. USAID should seek out and respond to the priorities and perspectives of local stakeholders, including the partner country government, beneficiaries, civil society, the private sector, and academia. These processes should be inclusive of the poorest, most marginalized populations and women and girls. USAID assistance should be designed to align with the priorities of local actors; leverage local resources; and increase local implementation to sustain results over time.”

According to the new ADS, the existing Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) process continues to serve as the platform for implementing development policy in the field. CDCS’s must “Promote the principles of aid effectiveness, including partner country ownership, strategic alignment with partner country or regional development priorities, harmonization with other donors and mutual accountability”. This will continue our efforts to build strategic plans that align with citizen’s needs and achieve results that stand the test of time.

Having worked many years for USAID, I can say we have come a long way. Over 10 years ago, donor countries and developing countries met in Paris and committed to supporting local ownership of development. Agreements in Accra and Busan deepened and strengthened that pledge. However, those commitments made by the US government, and many other donor countries, lacked a tangible accountability mechanism. The revised ADS 200 series illustrates how those high-level commitments are trickling down to where it counts- the operational level where real change happens. And that is absolutely something to be excited about.

 

 

 

A Teacher’s Process

Author Portrait_2_Mirvat Mahran, Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher
Mirvat Mahran

Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher

Save the Children Egypt

September 1, 2016

 

I’m Mirvat Mahran, a teacher at one the preschools supported by Sponsorship, in a village called Arab AlQadadeh in Egypt.

My preschool takes part in Sponsorship’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program, which targets children under the age of 6. This program focuses on the development of young children to ensure they enter primary school with the skills they need for school success. Through activities like interactive games, songs, storytelling, social interaction and outdoor play, we help make sure children grow and thrive. In remote areas, where this important stage of life is often neglected, the ECCD program helps get children excited about education and thus increases enrollments in primary school.

On a regular work day, I perform activities with children to help build their social skills and teach them the basics they need to be ready for school. We welcome everybody, and in particular give special care to children with disabilities.

One of the children who joined us a while ago is Rania, a 5-year-old and very sweet little girl. Her mother tells us that before enrolling in ECCD, Rania always refused to talk or express herself. She wasn’t able to count to ten, didn’t know names of familiar animals, wasn’t able to identify names of many common objects to her surroundings and wasn’t able to put sentences together correctly. Her mother came to realize that she was significantly behind in language development.

Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat
Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat.

As a mother, she was willing to do whatever it took to help her daughter. She thought that a preschool might be the answer, and so decided to enroll Rania in a Save the Children supported preschool. As Rania’s new teacher, she explained to me her child’s issues and that she believed Rania had lost her self-confidence due to the laughter and criticism she endured from her peers. My biggest challenge with Rania was that I needed to avoid the same thing happening twice, so I had to welcome her very carefully, building her capacity using ECCD’s multi-activities package which is designed to promote the cognitive, physical, language and psycho-social skills of children her age.

I talked to her about the activities that the children here do to figure out what she loves best. She asked to play in the art corner and after she’d finished her drawing I asked her to describe it. I encouraged her to talk by giving her the impression that I understood her comprehensively. Gradually, I started to correct her and teach her the proper pronunciation of letters. In this way, her language skills developed as did her comfort in the classroom.

She began participating in our classroom’s reading corner, where she enjoyed reading and acting stories out in front of the other children. With her self-confidence rebuilt, she started to take part in the collective games, like playing with, and sharing, blocks and preforming plays with the other children.

Rania presents in front of her classmates
Rania presents in front of her classmates.

Now, Rania is able to clearly communicate and understand the others. I feel so happy for having a positive impact on her life. I felt responsible for her since the moment her mother came to me asking for help. I doubted myself at times, but the trainings I had received with Save the Children built a solid foundation that I relied on, and continue to rely on. Many of the mothers in our village turn to me whenever they face problems with their children. Now, I’m proud to say that Rania is looking forward to moving onto primary school next year!

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

Why I Sponsor a Child in the Philippines

STC_Elisha_WhyISponsor

By Elisha-Rio Apilado, Child Sponsor

This post originally appeared on Medium.

Before, finding your happiness used to be “Find what you love to do and do it often.” Well that was early adulthood me. Now, diving head-first into another milestone age, it’s gradually become:

“Do what you love to do, do it often and use it to help another person find their own happiness.”

There’s always a personal reason behind why we do the things we do. What we believe in now is greatly affected by the experiences we’ve had — both the good and bad — and it is always changing. How we want to carry ourselves, what we want to invest in, the people we socialize with and the organizations we want to be a part of; they’re all affected by life events.

5 years ago, if you asked me about children, I’d probably give you this “Please stop talking to me” look and carry on with my career-art-driven life. But since then, things happened — both the good and bad — and something changed my perspective on what I want to bring about in the world, my purpose and my intentions. I had been involved with local homeless shelters since as long as I can remember and did pro-bono design projects for not-for-profits, but there was still something I wanted to do, I just hadn’t found it yet…well until recently.

STC_Elisha_Drawing
Drawing of a child beggar in the Philippines by Elisha-Rio Apilado

Within the past year, I’ve been dedicating myself to understanding my Filipino roots, the culture and values, learning Tagalog so I can break that language barrier with my pamilya (family) back home and being more mindful of the lifestyle there. My recent Philippines trip really helped guide where I’m at this very moment

My revelations and travels really came down to one thing: helping somebody overseas.

I had been contemplating the past year on sponsoring ang bata sa Pilipinas (a child in the Philippines) and did a lot of research. I’m really happy to have found the right fit with Save the Children and super excited to help out a child in need, especially back in the homeland.

I truly believe everything that happens in your life builds up to a particular moment when you realize a piece of your purpose — and I can say this is one of the outcomes from past challenges and realizations I’ve had. I’m not ready just yet to have a child or adopt one, but so glad there are foundations like these that I can still contribute to.

A drawing + letter from my sponsored child, Kyl
A drawing + letter from my sponsored child, Kyl

I’ve been in contact with the young girl out in the Philippines through emails, letters and drawings. She keeps me updated on her schooling, her friends and family. It’s also been really great practicing my Tagalog writing to her (excuse the beginner style you may see in these photos!) Save the Children also keeps me updated on how my contributions are helping not only her family, but the community she’s in.

Hand-lettered by http://punkpost.co/
Hand-lettered by http://punkpost.co/

I’m hoping to go back to the homeland next year and finally meet this sweet girl. *fingers crossed*

Until then, I’ll keep doodling and being her pen-pal 🙂

Building Relationships with Communities in Zambia

6a0120a608aa53970c01b7c85d2188970b-120wiDanny Chimpengele

Community Mobilizer

Save the Children in Zambia

May 17, 2016

As I looked around my new area of assignment in Lufwanyama, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind but the need for development was clear. Save the Children had yet again identified a community where we can greatly help children develop to their fullest potential. Thanks to Sponsorship, neighboring communities have seen more children attending school, being provided a much needed meal during the school day, gaining access to medical care and making improvements in their literacy skills. Now, it is time for us to bring these successes here.

I met with a 43-year-old volunteer, Evelyn, to see how our relationship with this community was forming. She has children of her own enrolled in the Sponsorship program, and was selected as a ‘Child Minder’ for her community. For Evelyn, this means going door-to-door to help children respond to their letters from sponsors and also talking to parents about the importance of education. Building this relationship between community members and our programs is a very important part of our process. In this way, we increase parent and caregiver involvement in their children’s studies, strengthening learning outcomes for children by encouraging parents to provide additional support in the home.

Expecting me, Evelyn smiled and pointed to a wooden stool nearby and asked me to make myself comfortable while she finished up her work. I quietly observed while she enrolled another child into the Sponsorship program, collecting necessary background information, consent forms from his parents and educating the family on what benefits our programs provide.

Evelyn conducting child enrollments into Sponsorship
Evelyn conducting child enrollments into Sponsorship

When she was done, I asked her why she had chosen to be a volunteer for her community. She told me, “I love children so much and I wanted to be a part of the team that contributes to the development and good quality of education I have seen in other communities [where Sponsorship works]. I feel it is my responsibility to teach the children the importance of education in our time.”

She couldn’t emphasize enough the joy parents here had expressed towards the programs. I was amazed to learn that even one of the children of the village Chief had been enrolled. He had shown a keen interest and appreciation for the program, an invaluable relationship to build in order to solidify and promote our ongoing work here.

Evelyn has enrolled over 50 children in our Early Childhood Care and Development programs, and over 70 in Basic Education, spanning the ages of 3 up through 14. Her goal is to extend the program to even more children and families, and she expresses her gratitude for Save the Children sponsors for making all this possible. Thank you, from Evelyn in Lufwanyama, sponsors!

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