Providing for an Entire Extended Family in Yemen – A Mother’s Story

Drawing to illustrate the blog post provided by Sukaina Sharafuddin, Save the Children’s Communications Officer based in Yemen. Photo credit: Takayo Akiyama | Save the Children, Feb 2019

Illustration by Takayo Akiyama, Save the Children

This is the third of a three-part blog series written by a mother named Sukaina who is living and raising her young son in Yemen. Sukaina works for Save the Children in her home country, which has been at war since 2015. 

The war has changed everything for me, my family and families across Yemen. So many have left.

My husband used to have a good job, but he lost it when the economy crashed. He has a degree. He speaks English well, but right now he goes out every day trying to find a job that pays. It has been more than two years since public servants, public school teachers and doctors have been paid. 

My brother is a dentist, but now he teaches Biology at a high school. We are just glad he found a job at a private school that gives salaries to teachers. My cousin used to have an excellent job as a Finance Officer. The company had to shut down when the war started. Now it has been four years and he is desperate to find any kind of job to look after his wife and two daughters. I worry about him – his face has gone pale and he is just exhausted, worrying every day about how to feed his girls.

People like me, who are lucky enough to still have a job, support their whole extended family. I support my parents, my brother’s family, my grandmother, and my cousin’s family. Although the support I provide them is very basic and is barely enough, it is better than nothing. Everything in the shops is so expensive. I used to buy diapers without thinking about it. Not now. They are a luxury item. Many families use plastic bags or cloths in children’s underwear for their newborn babies, because they cannot afford the price of diapers.

Transport, hospital, schools, nurseries – everything is breaking down.

Over past six months, I’ve taken my son to seven different nurseries. Often, it is overcrowded. He comes home dirty, because there is only one carer for every 10 children. I’m looking for a new nursery, but I want it to be close to my work, because when the airstrikes start, I need to be able to run there to get him to a safe place.

A few months ago, we had the chance to leave Yemen. My husband traveled to Malaysia and found a great job. I was planning on joining him. But in the end, I asked him to come back. I’m sure you’re wondering, ‘Why?’

Everyone keeps abandoning Yemen. I can’t. I am the provider for my entire family. I can’t abandon them. I can’t abandon my country. I figured that it will be mentally exhausting for me and I will find no joy living elsewhere, knowing that my country and my family and friends are struggling to survive.

That is why I am still here.

What hurts the most is the feeling that we have been neglected by the outside world. I am grateful to Save the Children and their supporters for not forgetting us. Seeing the work we do in Yemen is a great relief for me.

 

To learn more about the work Save the Children is doing in Yemen, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN YEMEN. PLEASE DONATE TO THE YEMEN CHILD’S RELIEF FUND TODAY!

Giving Birth as Bombs are Falling – A Mother’s Story

Drawing to illustrate the blog post provided by Sukaina Sharafuddin, Save the Children’s Communications Officer based in Yemen. Photo credit: Takayo Akiyama | Save the Children, Feb 2019

Illustration by Takayo Akiyama, Save the Children

This is the second of a three-part blog series written by a mother named Sukaina who is living and raising her young son in Yemen. Sukaina works for Save the Children in her home country, which has been at war since 2015. 

 

When I think about my son, I get tears in my eyes. He is three and all he has ever known is war.

This is what happened the night he was born.

It was midnight when my contractions started. We had to go to three different hospitals before we found one where they had electricity. There were airstrikes all around – it was so scary. In the end, I needed a C-section and I asked to have a general anesthetic because I didn’t want to hear the sound of bombs when my son was born.

So war has been part of his life, right from the start. I feel like it has stolen his childhood away. He is three years old! He wants to go out and explore, but we have to keep him indoors where it is safer. He can’t play with water outdoors because he could get cholera. Or play football in the street because it is too dangerous.

This isn’t what I want for him.

Before the war, we used to have big family gatherings. I loved them. Everyone would eat together. The kids would play – it was such a happy time. Now, all we talk about is the war.

We are exhausted. We are tired of crying. We are tired of war. All we want is to have a safe life where our children could live an ordinary life.

To learn more about the work Save the Children is doing in Yemen, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN YEMEN. PLEASE DONATE TO THE YEMEN CHILD’S RELIEF FUND TODAY!

Staying Calm for the Sake of Her Son – A Mother’s Story

Drawing to illustrate the blog post provided by Sukaina Sharafuddin, Save the Children’s Communications Officer based in Yemen. Photo credit: Takayo Akiyama | Save the Children, Feb 2019

Illustration by Takayo Akiyama, Save the Children

This is the first of a three-part blog series written by a mother named Sukaina who is living and raising her young son in Yemen. Sukaina works for Save the Children in her home country, which has been at war since 2015. 

 

It is morning, but as I write this blog post, I am already thinking about what will happen tonight. Will there be airstrikes? It was quiet for the past couple of months, but lately airstrikes have resumed.

I remember how excited we were when we moved into this apartment – me, my husband and my son. It’s on the ninth floor! Which means that we have to take the stairs every now and then because electricity is not always available. My apartment views over Sana’a (that’s the capital of Yemen) are amazing, but then the airstrikes started again on the night we moved in. There were four airstrikes that targeted the same neighborhood where my mom and my handicapped grandmother lived. I called my mom and I asked her to stay away from the windows and to be careful. I couldn’t sleep and I was worried about her, until she texted me three hours later saying everything was OK.

Now, whenever the airstrikes happen, I lie with my little boy – he is three years old – and his one-eyed cuddly sheep and we cuddle until it is over. We stay where we are because this building has no shelter. Even if we ran down the stairs – nine floors, remember – there would be nowhere to go.

Sometimes, we put on headphones and play loud music to drown out the noise.  At other times, we just listen to the sounds of the planes overhead. My little boy is so funny. He actually loves planes and carries a small orange airplane everywhere he goes. Every time an aircraft hover over, he gets all excited and jumps up and down. He says, “Whoah, let’s go see the airplane!” but I pull him away from the windows, because we don’t have any functioning airports here, so I know airplanes mean one thing: bombs. When I hear them approach, I think, “This might be the end”.

I try to stay calm for my son. On the inside, I’m completely panicking, worrying about how on earth we will get out of here if we get hit. Somehow children always feel your stress. My son tells me, “Mummy smile. Mummy, be happy don’t be sad!”

So be happy  is what I try to do. Even though my country is at war, bombs are falling, and people are going hungry, I try to smile and be happy for my son.

Think of us tonight when you go to sleep – without the sound of airstrikes or the fear a bomb will wipe you out.

 


Civilians fleeing violence face life-threatening risks the moment they embark on their journeys. The most immediate dangers are death or injury due to explosive weapons, which have been used indiscriminately by all parties to the conflict with little regard for their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict.

If displaced families manage to survive their dangerous journeys and avoid airstrikes and shelling to reach relative safety, they face further difficulties in strained host communities or in camps lacking in adequate food supplies and basic sanitation and hygiene. This puts young children at risk of malnutrition and disease in a country where the health system has all but collapsed and some 14 million people are on the brink of starvation. Save the Children estimates 85,000 children have already died from extreme hunger and disease since 2015.

To learn more about the work Save the Children is doing in Yemen, visit our website.

YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN NEED. PLEASE DONATE TO THE YEMEN CHILD’S RELIEF FUND TODAY!

An elementary school teacher sits with her students as they hold up their favorite picture books in their Kentucky classroom. They are part of Save the Children's in school emergent reader program which provides training, tools and support schools need to accelerate reading growth for struggling readers.

Helping Kids Read Across America

Read Across America Day, an annual reading motivation and awareness program initiated by the National Education Association, calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2. It’s no coincidence that March 2 is also the birthday of Dr. Seuss, a celebrated children’s author whose books continue to inspire and delight readers young and old. 

Save the Children knows that fostering a love of learning early on is key to improving literacy in America and ensuring our children’s success in school and life. That’s why we offer effective school-based child literacy programs to children living in poverty right here in the United States. Our child literacy programs and expanded curriculum in science and math help elementary school children across the country from kindergarten through sixth grade stay on track developmentally and grow as readers and learners. Here is the story of two such students. 

 

Five-year-old Preston isn’t too sure if he’d ever eat green eggs and ham, but he is certain the Dr. Seuss classic that features this peculiar food pairing is his favorite.

“My favorite book is ‘Green Eggs and Ham,’” he said. “I like books that are funny,”

These days, the east Kentucky kindergartner is confident in the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding sounds. This wasn’t the case at the start of the school year, however, when he was struggling to develop his early literacy skills. But with the help of Save the Children’s in-school literacy program, his abilities are growing every day.

“Letters are the most important thing I have learned this year,” Preston said. “I hardly knew any of them when school started.”

He can also now identify rhyming words, and is articulating words more clearly when he speaks.

Preston is one of thousands of kids across America that Save the Children’s literacy programs are supporting every day, strengthening their literacy skills to help ensure they have the best possible start in life. During the 2017-18 school year, children participating in these programs read an average of 102 books. Their literacy improvement, on average, was also equivalent to an additional six months of schooling.

This includes children like 9-year-old Kaley from eastern Tennessee, who was reading at least a grade level below her peers when she started second grade last school year. Now in third grade – and in her third year participating in Save the Children’s in-school literacy program – she’s caught up to her peers in reading, and loves to read on her own.

“I like to read books about dogs and cats,” Kaley said.

Dr. Seuss has those topics covered too.

To learn more about the work Save the Children has done to support child literacy and help set children up for success, visit our website.

The Beginnings of Change

Mossi Hamadou

Sponsorship Operations Officer

Save the Children in Niger

March 1, 2019

The Hausa people make up an ethnic group that represents over half of the population in Niger. These traditional communities are characterized by the strong habits and customs of families that carry on from generation to generation, such as their traditions in agriculture, small trading and migration.

Among these traditions is one that sees education as unnecessary for young girls, and distracts them from supporting their families. Most girls from these communities pass their school years by, instead spending their time selling cakes or cola nuts in local markets and along roads.

Making parents’ feelings about girls’ education even worse, the schools were in poor condition, with little to no teaching supplies in the empty classrooms. In communities like these, a sixth grade student may still not be able to read or write.

It is in such a context that Sahiba, a 10-year-old girl, started to see major changes in her own life and in her community.

Sahiba and friends at the reading club.

Born in a family of 16 members, her parents are barely able to afford food and clothing for all the children. The family’s only means for income is their harvest after the rainy season each year, so Sahiba and all her brothers and sisters count themselves lucky if they get two meals a day.

Nothing about her home life predisposes Sahiba to perform well at school. Her father and mother are both illiterate.

In spite of her parents’ aversion to educating their girls, Sahiba kept on going to school. But without any extra support, class was hard for her. After her first two years at primary school, she still felt very shy with her teachers and fellow students and did not participate in class. At 10, she could hardly read one-syllable words and was at the bottom of her class.

In 2015, Save the Children representatives started to appear in their community, first hosting meetings for parents and teachers to discuss how education for their children could help their community in the long run.

Next, the school environment started to improve, with new books, rulers and teaching guides for teachers. Where children used to sit on the dusty floor, they now had chairs to sit on. Brooms and soap were also been provided to keep the environment at the school clean and healthy. Classrooms were set-up to feel welcoming and inviting for children, and help keep them focused and engaged in their lessons.

Then, so children had the opportunity to learn outside of school too, reading clubs were set-up in the community. The reading clubs not only provided plentiful books for a variety of reading levels, in particular for struggling readers, but they also allowed children to play games while learning. Guided by a Save the Children trained community volunteer, the clubs use songs, puzzles, word and spelling games to make the club a child-friendly space, that’s a little less formal than school.

Sahiba’s teacher saw that she was a student who could benefit from the extra reading support from the reading clubs and suggested she start attending.

Hamsou, a community member who volunteers with the reading clubs, witnessed the change in Sahiba herself. “When she first started attending the club, she was very shy, but little by little, she enjoyed the games and songs and easily got involved, and has become good at reading and writing. I see her quick change as a miracle!’’

Sahiba washing her hands at school.

Just two years later, Sahiba is now in grade four and at the top of her class.

Sahiba now dreams of becoming a teacher, to help other children in her community. Now that she can read and write, her confidence in herself has grown and she has new hopes for her future.

Her mother and her father are all full of praise for Save the Children. They are seeing for themselves how education can open up big opportunities for their daughter, and how a new learning environment can really impact children’s ability to learn.

Sani, her father added, “We thank Save the Children for all that they did for our children,” and then smiled, “We only urge Save the Children to keep on this way. Long life to the organization!”

Thanks to sponsors, Save the Children in Niger is shifting attitudes about educating girls.

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

 

Matano Wins a Contest

Simone Jussar

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

February 28, 2019

In the Barragem community, in the Nacala area of Mozambique, lives the little Matano. He is 13 years old and in sixth grade.

Though he had managed to learn to read and write at school, he had always struggled. He could read a little but not very well, and could not count properly.

13-year-old Matano lives in Barragem, in a rural part of Mozambique.

When Save the Children started to train teachers in Barragem about how to foster their students’ confidence in the classroom, everything started to change.

Before sponsorship came, teaching methods had always been focused on the teacher, without incorporating interaction from students into the lesson. Students like Matano did not feel encouraged to participate in the lessons themselves, and instead just sat quietly, often causing them to lose focus.

When Save the Children started teacher training in Barragem, teachers learned how to use student-focused activities, like games, puzzles and group work, to make lessons more fun. Teachers now know how to encourage students to keep trying even if they are having trouble, for example by giving praises after an answer is given even if it was not the correct one.

With the dedication of his teacher and the personal commitment from the little Matano, his grades began to improve. As Matano improved, he came to inspire the other students in the class who had also been struggling.

Matano was the winner of a reading and writing competition covering the whole district!

Later that year, the district education offices organized a competition between all the schools in Nacala to honor the best students and help motivate children to work hard at practicing their reading and writing skills. Matano first won as the best student at his school, and then went on to win the district competition! Children were scored on their ability to pronounce words, read passages aloud and write words with correct spelling and sentence structure.

Matano said “I am very happy. I did not know I could win this competition as the best student. I saw many students who know how to read well, but I won,” and added again thoughtfully, “I am very happy.”

Now that sponsorship has helped show teachers a new way of engaging their students, Matano and his friends have big dreams. “I want to be a teacher so when I grow up, I can teach the children here in the community,” said Matano proudly.

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

A Breath of Fresh Air

Ramatoulaye, Sponsored Child

Edited by Mariam Diaby, Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mali

February 14, 2019

My name is Ramatoulaye and I am 12 years old. I am in fifth grade and love to read, and dream of becoming a teacher one day. I enjoy school and I get along with my schoolmates. I live with my family in a community that has been a part of Save the Children sponsorship programs since 2008.

I had a difficult childhood because my parents divorced when I was very young. My stepmother raised my siblings and I. Being the youngest child, the absence of my mother affected me a lot. But, I was still lucky enough to attend school. Being in school and having many friends helps me to forget my mother’s absence.

Our school wasn’t always as nice as it is today, though. Before Save the Children came, children were studying in poor conditions. The classrooms were made with straw and mud bricks, and would easily fall apart during harsh weather. The lessons taught in school were not fun for us either. Our teachers were not teachers by profession and had not had any real training in how to educate us. They didn’t know how to explain things in a way we would understand. Parents could hardly afford school supplies for their children anyway, and many of them did not see school as important. Our parents thought having us work on farms with crops or animals would be better for our families. So, school attendance was very low.

These are some of the new teaching materials at my school.

But since Save the Children came, sponsorship has been a true breath of fresh air. Our school has received school supplies that meet our needs as students but also make learning fun. We now have all kinds of new books, geometry tools, chalk and other teaching materials, and notebooks, writing slates, pens and pencils for me and my friends. The new classroom blocks are also strong and sturdy to survive the rainy season. They have big open doors and windows to keep it cool when it’s hot, with a shaded pathway for us to get out of the sun. The old building was dark and air didn’t move through it like this.

Our teachers also learned how to make the lessons more interesting for us, and how to teach all of us, no matter how well we could read. Save the Children was even able to reduce our school fees by helping to find funding to support the teachers’ salaries, which many of our parents could not pay for.

My friends and I playing in the school yard.

Before we never had more than 15 students in my class. Now there are over 30!

The headmaster of my school said, “Thanks to Save the Children, there has been a positive change because our community has benefited from [new] classrooms and the school attendance has been improved, a real blessing for our community.”

I’m happy I can go to school. I feel safe and welcome there. One day, maybe I can teach in a school like this.

To learn more about how sponsors have changed the lives of children like Ramatoulaye, visit your online account at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount. We have more videos and stories about the changes sponsors make possible there!

Emmanuel Is No Longer Ashamed

Rosemary Nanyonjo

Community Sponsorship Officer

Save the Children in Uganda

February 8, 2019

Schools are a great place for preparing young people academically, however schools can also play a vital role in preparing them to take on life’s challenges and make informed life decisions.

Many children in rural areas of Uganda experience struggles during their adolescence, especially as their bodies begin to change from those of children to those of adults. Information on their growth and development, and especially on sensitive issues like sexuality and puberty, was hard to come by. This is because the conservative local culture shies away from speaking about these issues openly, which has led many adolescents to make regrettable life decisions guided by misinformation.

This is the story of Emmanuel, a 16-year-old boy living in Namayumba, Uganda, with his grandmother and four siblings.

Emmanuel was terrified when his body started to change, as he had no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what to do and was embarrassed to ask my grandmother about it.” Emmanuel told me.

Emmanuel with some health club members from his school.

His friends had said the way to deal with his changing body was to get a girlfriend right away. “This advice left me very confused and worried about what to do… I was not ready to have a girlfriend.” Emmanuel continues.

With so many questions ringing in Emmanuel’s mind, he jumped at the opportunity to participate in a health talk organized by Save the Children one evening at his school. “I learned that actually… it was normal and I didn’t have to be ashamed.” Emmanuel says. He also learned that it would have been wrong for him to start having sex at such a young age, and about the possible negative outcomes which would have followed if listening to the advice of his friends.

Save the Children, through our adolescent development program supported by sponsors, ensures that students like Emmanuel have the right information on reproductive health, and are able to cope with the changes of puberty and make the right decisions in their lives. Thanks to sponsors, we are able to support health workers in visiting schools and organizing health talks with these young people.

The health talks encourage openness and the free flow of accurate and much needed information. Save the Children also helps train health workers in how to deliver youth-friendly services, by communicating with teens in a way that makes them feel comfortable and respected.

Emmanuel and other club members listening to a health talk led by Fred, a Namayumba health worker.

Likewise, in these programs children are encouraged to speak to health workers when they face challenges or difficult questions. Adolescents learn about the services that are available for them at health facilities so they are comfortable going there when they need help or guidance. They are also encouraged to share what they have learned with their friends and fellow students, further spreading the good information. In particular for girls, important guidance related to how to manage their menstruation cycle is provided during these health talks. Boys also learn about the different needs of girls and how to respect those differences.

After attending the health talk, Emmanuel was motivated to help his peers confidently approach puberty. Save the Children helped schools establish health clubs, so children could have more learning opportunities as well as a voice, spreading the information they have learned through music and drama at community events for other children and family members.

Emmanuel is grateful to Save the Children for empowering him with knowledge to make great choices for his life. Thank you sponsors, all the way from Uganda!

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

Bonaventure and Mom Learn How to Stay Healthy

Paul Musole

Sponsorship Field Facilitator

Save the Children in Zambia

January 31, 2019

In a small village in Zambia lives Bonaventure with his mother, father and eight siblings. At 10 years old, he is in his fifth grade. While most families around Bonaventure’s village depend on fishing and small-scale farming, his parents only grow a single crop, corn, to earn their living. Usually, they only have two meals a day because his parents cannot afford to feed him and his siblings three meals.

Despite all this, Bonaventure considers himself fortunate because his home is located near a small health clinic. Other families must hike for over an hour or more in the hot sun, crossing streams and along bumpy roads, in order to reach their nearest health services.

Before sponsorship, his school did not have safe drinking water or facilities for children to wash their hands during the day. Their old water source was a borehole, a type of well dug in the ground, that was old and rusty. There were no latrines specific for children, and the adult-sized latrines that were available had no handwashing facilities. Likewise, children didn’t know ways to help maintain their health, like by washing their hands.

Thanks to sponsors, learning about how to stay healthy is easy (and fun!) for Bonaventure and his mom.

This increased the number of sick children in his village, which also delayed their learning, as children were often absent from school because they were too sick to attend.

“We used to have such overwhelming cases of diarrhea in the past that sometimes we would completely run out of medical supplies,” shared Kasonde, the officer of the health clinic near Bonaventure’s home.

Save the Children helped to organize a meeting with the community to discuss the problem. Parents, teachers and health and nutrition experts came together to discuss possible solutions.

They decided to form a school health club that could focus on improving the health knowledge of the students and allow children to learn from each other. These club members were trained by Save the Children health and hygiene experts on how to help monitor the personal hygiene of their fellow pupils and younger students.

For example, club members help manage handwashing facilities by ensuring children line up to take turns before returning to class after break or before having lunch. They also make sure that each handwashing area has soap and remains clean during the school day.

Save the Children staff also supported school assemblies and handwashing demonstrations to teach children how to wash their hands properly. Learning materials like informational posters, illustrations and pictures with descriptive images were shared, to help show what good hygiene skills look like to students in a visual way. The school also now has new and clean latrines that are safe and easy for even young children to use.

“I make sure I wash my hands all the time,” Bonaventure said proudly.

“Thanks to Save the Children, we were given some chlorine which the village head and I used to chlorinate the wells around the village. [Diarrhea] cases have tremendously reduced,” says Kasonde happily.

Bonaventure and his friends now enjoy using a clean latrine and drinking safe water during the school day. The handwashing facilities stationed at the corner of the school buildings are never short of water. “I make sure I wash my hands all the time before eating and after using the latrine,” Bonaventure shared proudly.

These lessons have also rippled through the community, to parents of students. Bonaventure’s mother shared, “Because I have so many children, it is costly to nurse any of them if they get sick. I [now] take the preventive measures very seriously.”

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

Thanh Meets His Sponsors

Hoang Dieu Linh

Sponsorship Intern

Save the Children in Vietnam

January 28, 2019

I’ve been supporting the child sponsorship program in Vietnam for about 6 months, working mostly on facilitating the letter writing relationship between our loyal sponsors and the children Save the Children supports in Vietnam.

This February, for the first time, I went on a sponsor visit and saw with my own eyes that the love between sponsors and their sponsored children is much more than just the simple words in the letters they exchange.

We went to see a 6-year-old boy named Thanh, attending his final year in a kindergarten in Bao Thang, Lao Cai. His school has been a part of sponsorship since 2014, and things have been changing a lot since then. Thanks to sponsors’ donations, reading corners have been created with a wide selection of books to choose from to boost children’s literacy and math skills, and many toys have been provided for both indoor and outdoor play, making the school more cheerful and welcoming for its young students. Before the school hardly had any toys or learning materials.

Thanh’s family and his sponsors taking a photo together.

We’ve learned through experience that planning sponsor visits with children Thanh’s age can be difficult, because they are too small to talk very much or too shy to express themselves in front of adults, let alone foreigner strangers. However, from the moment we were welcomed with hugs and kisses from the Italian sponsors, I knew that we would have a wonderful and memorable trip.

Our sponsors were a couple, husband, Giuseppe who speaks English pretty well, and his wife, Fara, who spoke French in addition to Italian but not English. I prepared myself to help support the language barrier during our visit.

Once we arrived at the school, we were greeted by a cheerful reception of children in colorful traditional clothes and gifts of beautiful handmade bracelets for each of us. We introduced ourselves to teachers and school staff, and explained the purpose of our visit to the crowd – to show Thanh’s sponsors what they were supporting through Save the Children in Bao Thang. Giuseppe and Fara also wanted to see how Thanh was doing and learn more about him than they ever could through their letter writing.

The children showing off their bamboo dancing skills.

Thanh himself at the beginning didn’t talk much, so we had to get acquainted with his grandparents first to help him open up. They showed us all the letters that had been exchanged between Thanh and Giuseppe, and slowly, Thanh began to recognize that this stranger before him was the very same one he had shared so many letters with.

Not long after that, Thanh was happily being carried in the arms of Giuseppe as we continued to tour the school and meet with teachers. For fun, together we all made “chung cakes” – a type of sticky rice cake traditional of the Dao people, a culture prominent in this part of Vietnam – and “rom cakes” – a kind of stuffed sticky rice ball. Children also performed the local traditional bamboo dance for the visitors.

As the trip came to an end, we were all feeling comfortable and looking like good friends – myself and the other Save the Children staff with us; Thanh, with his family and his sponsors; and the teachers and other students that spent the day with us.

Thanks to this opportunity, now I know that love can be transcended from just simple letter writing, and distance or different cultures means nothing when people care about each other.

Did you know you could visit your sponsored child or the programs Save the Children helps support? Contact our team at ChildVisits@SaveChildren.org to learn how to plan a trip!