Treasure Box

author-portrait_rosmery-mendoza-villca-sponsorship-operations-assistant

Rosmery Mendoza Villca

Sponsorship Operations Assistant

Save the Children in Bolivia

December 9, 2016

 

What is it like when a sponsored child receives a letter?

Hi, I’m Rosmery and I work as a Sponsorship Operations Assistant for Save the Children in Bolivia. I am very lucky – every day at work I experience beautiful stories of children who receive letters from their sponsors.

I want to share with you Jazmin’s story. She is a ten-year-old girl who has benefited from our Sponsorship programs, such as those that work to improve the quality of education at her school, since 2011. Today, I was able to visit Jazmin at her home in Cochabamba and give her a letter her sponsor had sent her.

 Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

I could see her bright smile and a twinkle in her eye while she carefully read every word of her friend’s (as many children call their sponsor) letter. I asked her how she felt and she replied, “Very happy. I have a friend with a big heart and she is very important in my life, like my parents are.”

As I watched her get ready to write back, I thought to myself, how would her sponsor feel if she could see her smile and gratitude? Does her sponsor also feel the same way when she reads Jazmin’s letters?

Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.
Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.

After she finished writing, Jazmin showed me all the letters she had received over the years, that she lovingly stores in the ‘treasure box’ she built, to keep her letters safe and with her.

In one of her letters, her sponsor told her that she came to Bolivia and adopted a little Bolivian girl, just like her! She is all grown up now, and has 3 children of her own, Jazmin told me. We agreed that her sponsor must truly have a really big heart.

For those of us working in Sponsorship, we hope that every sponsored girl and boy could receive notes from their sponsors, so that we are able to bring smiles to their little faces and have more stories like this one.

There are still many people in the world who selflessly help children like Jazmin improve their self-esteem and gain access to a better quality education. We call those people our sponsors. The children call them their friends.

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

Save the Children supported girls recovering from the emotional trauma of trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels and support abused teen moms, we ran a self-esteem workshops and provide psycho-social support to help girls overcome years of violence or sexual abuse. We also taught teen mothers first aid, child care and other essential skills so that they can take care of their own children.  With training, the girls can earn become qualified to professional child care providers in private homes or quality preschool settings. Other girls pursue the Bolivian-equivalent of a GED or attend vocational schooling to learn baking or hair-dressing school.  Under supervision of the safe house staff, girls practice child care skills and take care of the other girls’ babies while they are in training or school.  It is a very cooperative and supportive environment. The girls all nurse their babies and like to eat nutritious food. They all look healthy and clean.     As seen in the photo, the girls’ rooms are bright and clean, creating a safe positive environment for them and their babies.

The Terrors of Child Trafficking

Fear of child trafficking causes a nearly constant undercurrent of terror in Bolivia’s parents.

Sylvia* Sylvia grew up under the hazy red lights of a brothel run by her stepfather. Her 2 ½ month old baby boy was conceived when she was raped. Her baby boy smelled of innocence, even though she was robbed of her own. Her mother and father were very violent alcoholics and they moved around a lot. Her father would abuse her and her brother, threatening them with beatings for even minor misbehavior such as not finishing their supper. She lived in constant fear, particularly for her brother who took the brunt of the abuse. After a while her parents separated. Things seemed a little better for a while after her step-father came into the picture. At least the beatings had stopped. Then the more insidious abuse began. Sylvia couldn’t remember exactly how old she was when it started. In a life that revolved around running a brothel, sexual lines blurred and were very confusing for a little girl. She dropped out of school at nine years old. She was forced to work. She did not want to talk about it. “If kids didn’t get work, they didn’t get food,” Sylvia said. Eventually, the law caught up with Sylvia’s family and they were convicted of trafficking. Sylvia was then referred to the safe house. Sylvia showed me her bright sunny room, girlish and pretty like she is – like any other teenager’s room except for the bassinet. She and the other girls were so proud of their rooms and baby clothes. “I sleep well here, I feel safe” she says with a wide smile. Sylvia now goes to night school to finish her studies. She dreams of becoming a hairdresser. She wanted to say “thank you to the people who support our safe place. Life is much better here. I want to make my son happy and give him what I never had.” Save the Children supported girls recovering from the emotional trauma of trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels and support abused teen moms, we ran a self-esteem workshops and provide psycho-social support to help girls overcome years of violence or sexual abuse. We also taught teen mothers first aid, child care and other essential skills so that they can take care of their own children. With training, the girls can earn become qualified to professional child care providers in private homes or quality preschool settings. Other girls pursue the Bolivian-equivalent of a GED or attend vocational schooling to learn baking or hair-dressing school. Under supervision of the safe house staff, girls practice child care skills and take care of the other girls’ babies while they are in training or school. It is a very cooperative and supportive environment. The girls all nurse their babies and like to eat nutritious food. They all look healthy and clean.
Trafficked child Sylvia* and her son
by Penelope Crump, Save the Children US

On my recent visit to Bolivia to gather stories of our work there, I talked with lots of parents. I spoke to subsistence farmers working in the lowlands to provide for their families. I talked to street merchants in the desolate high plains. I even listened to the ladies at a trendy coffee shop who reminded me of my mom friends back home. They all had one thing in common – they were terrified that their children would be kidnapped and trafficked.

Bolivia’s parents told terrifying stories about babies snatched and sold for illegal international adoptions. About children taken and traded for drugs or forced to labor in the silver mines or picking cocoa leaves. About girls, especially vulnerable, sold into brothels. Country girls who are lured into big cities with the promise of a job in a shop or as a nanny, only to be forced to work as prostitutes. With guards standing at the door, these girls are raped, abused and drugged. They’re forced to sell their young bodies for less than $2 a client, and after paying brother owners, they barely survive day-to-day.

In Bolivia, my Save the Children colleagues help girls recover from the terrors of trafficking. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels, we run programs at safe houses and community centers to help these girls rebuild their lives. For those who are pregnant or have babies, we teach first aid, child care and other essential skills, so they can take care of their own children and qualify to work as nannies or daycare providers. We empower girls to imagine a future for themselves and their children far from the red light districts. But we need to reach more of them. We need to ensure Bolivia’s parents no longer have to fear the terrors of child trafficking.

As dusk began to fall on our way to the airport on my last day in Bolivia, I could still see the red lights glowing in the rearview mirror.

 

You Can’t See Her Face, But You Can Imagine Her Future

From the terrors and trauma of the red light district to a safe place where Sylvia can dream of a better future.

Sylvia* grew up under the hazy, red lights of a brothel, run by her stepfather. Still a child herself, she has a 2-month-old baby boy, conceived when she was raped. Her baby smells of sweet innocence, even though she was robbed of her own.

Sylvia’s early childhood was scary and unstable. Her mother and father were alcoholics, physically abusive, and the family moved around a lot. Her father would threaten to beat Sylvia and her brother for even minor misbehavior, such as not finishing their supper. She lived in constant fear, particularly for her brother, who took the brunt of the abuse. Then, her parents separated.

Things seemed a little better for Sylvia after her stepfather came into the picture. At least the beatings stopped. But then a much more insidious abuse began. Sylvia can’t remember exactly how old she was when it started. But in a life that revolved around running a brothel, sexual lines became blurred, which was very confusing for a little girl like Sylvia. At age 9, she was forced to drop out of school and work in the brothel. She didn’t want to talk about it, except to say, “If kids didn’t get work, they didn’t get food.”

Eventually, the law caught up with Sylvia’s family, and they were convicted of trafficking. That’s when she was referred to a safe house where Save the Children runs programs for girls like Sylvia.

Save the Children supported girls recovering from the emotional trauma of trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels and support abused teen moms, we ran a self-esteem workshops and provide psycho-social support to help girls overcome years of violence or sexual abuse. We also taught teen mothers first aid, child care and other essential skills so that they can take care of their own children. With training, the girls can earn become qualified to professional child care providers in private homes or quality preschool settings. Other girls pursue the Bolivian-equivalent of a GED or attend vocational schooling to learn baking or hair-dressing school. Under supervision of the safe house staff, girls practice child care skills and take care of the other girls’ babies while they are in training or school. It is a very cooperative and supportive environment. The girls all nurse their babies and like to eat nutritious food. They all look healthy and clean. As seen in the photo, the girls’ rooms are bright and clean, creating a safe positive environment for them and their babies.
The room at the Save the Children safe house that Sylvia shares with her son.

When I visited Save the Children’s safe house, Sylvia proudly showed me her bright, sunny room, girlish and pretty like she is. It’s a typical teenager’s room – except for the bassinet. Finally, thanks to Save the Children’s supporters, Sylvia has a caring, secure place to call home. “I sleep well here, I feel safe,” she says with a wide smile. Now Sylvia can dream of a better future.

 To learn how you can help children like Sylvia, visit our website.
*Name changed for child’s protection.

By Taking Care of My Teeth, I Take Care of My Health

Robin

Robin Quiroga Calderon

Sponsorship Program Implementation Facilitator

Cochabamba, Bolivia

May 18, 2015

 

Hello Friends. I am Robin Quiroga and I am the Sponsorship Program Implementation Facilitator here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I want to share with you my experience working with the sponsorship program of School Health and Nutrition in one of our schools.

Kids

Juan David, Jhoel Alex & Yimer showing their dental hygiene kits

First, Save the Children provided children with dental hygiene kits, comprised of toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a water cup. We also joined with parents in requesting the help of the Faculty of Dentistry, from the University of San Simon, to teach children proper dental hygiene.

This effort turned into a "Dental Hygiene Campaign" during which 50 students from the Faculty of Dentistry helped in training children from pre-school up to sixth grade on dental hygiene, brushing techniques, prevention, and dental care. They did this using participatory and hands-on methodologies, such as theater sketches, puppet shows, paintings, and games. Additionally, children practiced brushing their teeth in their classrooms, using their new dental hygiene kits. Faculty of Dentistry students even performed teeth cleanings, with fluoride, in order to prevent cavities.

Class

Dentistry students Anahi and Ronaldino explaining toothbrusing techniques

All in all, this was a fun day for children who were excited to learn how to care for their teeth. Some had never visited the dentist and for them, this was an extra special experience.

School teachers were very happy and grateful to Save the Children and the students of the University of San Simon for working together to improve dental hygiene for so many children. This effort reminded me, once again, of the importance of coordinating our activities with parents and other partners, and of the successes we can achieve by doing so!

How old were you when you learned proper brushing techniques? Who taught you? Consider how difficult keeping your mouth feeling clean and healthy must be if your family could not afford a toothbrush! In honor of the generosity and time of the University of San Simon dentistry students, we ask you to consider an extra special donation to support more clean mouths and happy children!

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

Walking to School

Pilar Cabrera Sponsorship Program Facilitator Cochabamba Bolivia

Pilar Cabrera Barriga, Sponsorship Program Facilitator

Cochabamba, Bolivia

August 27, 2014

 

Sponsored child Andrés, a charismatic 9-year-old, takes a journey each morning to school with his mom. In meeting him, he said, “I wanted to share my daily walk to school with you.” While this is just a small part of his daily routine, this is an important part of his day!

My mom walks to school with me because the road to my school isn’t very safe. There are many cars that pass by and there aren’t any sidewalks. There are lots of stray dogs, garbage, and crime. My mom is a seamstress and works at home so that she can be near us. The school is about 1 km. away from my house and it takes us 20 to 30 minutes to get there.

I live on a hill and from there I can see part of the city. While I’m walking to school I see the landscape. On this walk I take advantage of talking with my mom about my studies and the support we receive at school from Save the Children. Also walking to school, I talk with my mom about the letters I get from my Save the Children’s friend. I am very happy to read letters from my sponsor who writes to me from so far away and in my replies I tell my sponsor about my school and my family.  Andres and his mom walking to school thru Phalta Orko neighborhood

I like to study all subjects. I got a best student diploma thanks to the Save the Children’s workshops that my teacher took. I think that all children must go to school to learn new things and become good professionals.

I consider myself a lucky boy because I have my parents who support me and I want to take advantage of the opportunity I have to attend a school that has Save the Children’s support. I will continue participating so that I can continue being the best student in my class.

I also want to say thanks to all the sponsors for the support they give us children in Bolivia!

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

How Save the Children support schools: A Parents Point of View

Mario Chungara. Asistente de Comunicación de Patrocinios. Cochabamba - Bolivia

Mario Chungara Yugar, Sponsorship Assistant

Bolivia

May 2014

 

 Because of the nature of my work, I am constantly in contact with members of the community. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak about Save the Children with a local school board president. Here’s what he told me:

 

“Hello, my name is Gumersindo Fuentes Ramirez. I am the parent of 4 children and have participated at my children’s school since 1996 when I became school board secretary. I’ve been president for 13 years.”

  Gumersindo helping out a sponsored child with her correspondence

“Save the Children came to our school with the proposal to improve the quality of education for our children. We started working together in August 2011. For us parents, the arrival of this organization has been a blessing.”

“Save the Children has given teaching skill workshops for teachers, and we have noticed that teachers seem more motivated and filled with new knowledge that is applied in their classrooms. We also had vitamin supplementation and children were taught the proper way to wash their hands. The presence of Save the Children has been very beneficial and valuable, creating significant change in our children’s lives and education.”

“We parents have been trained on children’s rights, against violence towards children and against family violence. This is very important because parents are changing the way they treat their children and are more understanding and caring.” Mom's at Family Center prepare nutritional food for their children

Gumercindo also pointed out the importance of Family Centers, implemented to promote development of children under 4, promoting bonding between mothers/caretakers and children. At the centers, children learn to be better prepared to transition into school, and mothers learn how to prepare nutritional food for their families. 

 

 

 

How does Save the Children support the Schools it works in?

Veronica Gonzales Quiroz Sponsorship Assistant

Verónica Gonzales Quiroz, Sponsorship Assistant

Bolivia

May 2014

 

 Interview with the Oruro School’s Administrator

My name is Veronica Gonzales Quiroz and I am a sponsorship assistant here in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with one of our school’s administrators, Roberto Chapana Villegas, who wanted to share his opinion on the support provided by Save the Children since it started working with his school in August 2012.

School Administrator Roberto Villegas next to first aid kitMr. Chapana has been the administrator for Oruro Educational Unit School for more than 19 years. He told us he has gotten to know the work Save the Children carries out in various schools in Cochabamba.

Schools sign an agreement with Save the Children. The institution will provide support in order to improve the quality of education, by providing workshops where teachers can learn new teaching techniques that will be applied to children in their school.

Mr. Chapana remarks “I think it was a very wise decision, which we have felt and touched, both in theory and practice.” He also wanted to share with us that he participated in a “Handling and Use of First Aid Kits” workshop [first aid kit donated by Save the Children], since he is responsible for the school’s first aid kit.

He also commented that, since the school’s teachers and personnel have attended these workshops, he has seen an improvement in the quality of the education at his school, a strengthening of teaching skills and the use of new teaching methodologies such as Cuisenaire rods and the Doman Method. This change and improvement is ultimately reflected in the school's children who are now more interested in learning and participating in the classroom.

Teacher Betty Coca using the Doman Method with her students

Last year, Save the Children carried out various activities such as the celebration of Children’s Day and holding a children’s drawing contest. This is done in order to awaken talents and discover children’s abilities. These activities have pleased parents and made them aware of the benefits their children receive from Save the Children’s programs.

 

What Becomes of a Save the Children Formerly Sponsored Child When they Grow Up?



Fidelia Condarco Photo

Fidelia Condarco, Sponsorship Assistant

Oruro, Bolivia

June 2013



Sandra Veronica Velasquez Layme is one of the many success stories of former sponsored children who are now adults and have broken the poverty cycle.

Sandra Veronica Velasquez Layme at home

A sponsored child from Francisco Fajardo School in Oruro, Sandra participated in Save the Children sponsorship program from when she was young. She was part of the School Health and Nutrition program and, in 7th grade, became part of the adolescent program "Making Decisions." We interviewed her about the impact of sponsorship programs.

How did the Sponsorship program help you?
After many years, Sandra said, she finally understood the benefit of receiving Ferrous sulfate and vitamin A, which helped her in school and in her development. She also mentioned that her participation in our Dance Festivals helped her be more sociable with classmates.

What obstacles did you overcome?
With the help of our programs, Sandra overcame her shyness and started to think differently. At first, she felt uncomfortable, but later on, she enjoyed sharing with other teens and started improving her social skills and making friends. This prepared her to make decisions in a thoughtful way. She also told us she used to have difficulties speaking with her parents, but Save the Children helped her overcome this problem, and she now enjoys a strong relationship.

Sandra became a facilitator for the program and, finally, a mentor, growth that "clearly marked my life." Sandra Veronica Velasquez Layme portraitShe also was part of our Youth Zones program at the Yugoslavian Health Center. Today, Sandra is president of a children and adolescent organization called Q’ANRRAYKU (¨thinking of you¨ in quechua), which she says started thanks to Save the Children and the potential of teens in the Making Decisions program. 

What does she do for a living?
Sandra decided to teach because she wanted to share her knowledge with other children. She graduated in 2010 and became a psychology and philosophy teacher. Now, she’s studying to finish a pedagogy major and also to become a public accountant.

Says Sandra, "Save the Children helped me a lot – helped me to dream, to fly and to establish goals. Today, I am a confident, determined, professional and able to contribute to positively change my society. Save the Children, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to be part of you and to grow so much."

 

If you are not already a sponsor, become one today!

A Mother’s Perspective: Feliza Asteti

Crispin AcostaCrispín Acosta, Basic Education Facilitator

Cochabamba, Bolivia

October 12, 2012



My name is Crispín Acosta and I work for the Wawakunan Purina Program (We work with the children) as a basic education facilitator at the San Nicolás School in Bolivia. My work offers me the
opportunity to work closely with the entire school community – children, parents,teachers and the authorities. Through my work I recently had the opportunity to talk with Mrs. Feliza Asteti from Oruro in the Challapata Province.
Feliza and her daughter Daniela helping to find words in the dictionary

The Asteti family moved to Cochabamba 16 years ago. They live near the Nicolás neighborhood and like many in this area they suffer from deficiencies in basic services such as water, electricity, sewerage, telephones and transportation.

During my conversation with Feliza she clearly showed how happy a mother gets, knowing that her daughter Daniela is sponsored and has friends in other countries.

With a beaming face she asked me how to pronounce Daniela’s sponsor’s name in English and explained how happy and excited Daniela is to receive and send letters and drawings to her sponsor.

 TCrispin and Felizahe education materials delivered on behalf of Save the Children are also a great source of joy for both the students and parents. “I have seen the materials that were delivered to the school. Bookshelves and many books, balls, toys and materials so they learn better, like calculators. I also participated in a workshop on how to speak with my family and how to treat my children. This was very helpful and I want to continue participating in this type of workshop,” shared Feliza.

A parent’s emotion and satisfaction of being able to rely on educational materials of equal or better quality than well-funded city schools, and seeing the results of their children improving their learning skills, is expressed by Feliza: “I have said that before we never had anything at school, but now new materials are arriving for our school and my daughter no longer wants to miss school, therefore I am very happy and I thank the friends, sponsors and Save the Children.”

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

What it means to have friends abroad

Bolivia headshotElena Morales, Basic Educator Program

Save the Children, Boliva

June 8, 2012 


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

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

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

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

Elena Morales and America

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

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

Watch America and her friends jump rope

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

Culture Snapshot: Bolivian Music

Carmen Escobar Headshot

Carmen Escobar, Sponsorship Manager

Oruro, Bolivia

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Sponsorship gives you the unique opportunity to connect with a child. By building a friendship with a sponsored child you have the opportunity to learn a variety of new things about the child and area that you help support. 

Time and again sponsors rave about how fascinating is to learn about other cultures! This short series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. We hope you enjoy and will visit again in the coming weeks to learn about each region.

_______________________

Rosario and Yveth are best friends and love to play music. The 13-year-old girls play a variety of Bolivian instruments such as the quena (bamboo flute), zampona (pan pipes), tarka (traditional flute of the Andes) as well as sheep hooves, used as castanets, and Spanish guitar. Rosario says, “Our identity is in our instruments. I think that Bolivian music should be valued by young people.”

Rosario playing the tarka
Rosario and Yveth started composing their own music and lyrics. Music has become a way to express their feelings. As Yveth puts it, “The melodies we create are ours and playing them can be described as something magical.”

Listen to a clip from a performance at Bolivian Heritage Festival:

Over the next few weeks we hope you will come back to read about cultural information from all of our sponsorship regions! Coming up next, a recipe for green chili chicken enchiladas from our Western Region office in the United States.

 _______________________

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