Now Christine Can Go to School

01
Madrine Amuge

School Health and Nutrition Senior Officer

Save the Children Uganda

October 21, 2016

Christine, a nine-year-old girl and second born in a family of five children, lives with her parents and is enrolled in the Save the Children Sponsorship program in Uganda.

In the past, Christine was often sent away from school, not able to attend without the basic requirements like paper and books. When she was permitted to stay in class, she was not able to take any notes because she had no notebook to write in, preventing her ability to learn.

senior-officer-madrine-helps-christine-compose-a-letter
Senior Officer Madrine helps Christine compose a letter.

“Before I joined Sponsorship, I would feel sad going to school without exercise books, pencils or anything to color with. I would often be sent home from school because I didn’t have a book for a particular subject,” remembered Christine quietly.

As a result of Sponsorship funds, the community has been provided with enough scholastic materials to ensure all children are able to go to school and learn. Today many more children, including Christine, enjoy being in school thanks to this funding.

Christine was very excited to receive a pack of books, lead pencils and colored pencils from Save the Children, which has enabled her to develop a love of learning. In addition to the scholastic items, Christine receives frequent correspondences from her sponsor that she happily replies to. We’ve found that letter writing increases children’s interest in reading and writing and their engagement in their studies. This is certainly true for Christine, whose reading and writing skills have greatly improved – she proudly boasts her handwriting is the best in her class.

Christine proudly holds the letter she’s finished for her sponsor.

Also through Sponsorship program interventions, Christine has learned how to stay clean and healthy while at school, by keeping her fingernails short and by washing her hands with soap before eating food and after visiting the latrine.

Christine is very optimistic that she will finish school and achieve her dream of becoming a nurse one day. She is very grateful for her sponsor’s support and encouragement. Her sponsor’s words help motivate her to continue being dedicated to her studies.

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

Sponsorship Comes Full Circle

Formerly sponsored child, Gloria
Formerly sponsored child, Gloria.

Save the Children U.S. Programs

October 12, 2016

Gloria has accomplished much in her 57 years on this earth. Born in 1959, she continues to live in the land of her birth. She has raised 2 children, and now has 4 grandchildren, 2 of whom she also raised herself, Anthony and Anfernee. The twin boys, now 19, and their successes are her greatest testament to a life well lived.

Gloria is the perfect example of Save the Children’s work coming full-circle. She was a sponsored child herself growing-up, and has many fond memories of corresponding back and forth with her sponsors. That relationship left a life-long impact on Gloria. Her sponsors’ encouragement to pursue her education led her to be one of the few in her community to go on to college.

Gloria reads a story to children during our literacy programs.
Gloria reads a story to children during our literacy programs.

Growing up in Arizona, the east coast of America might as well have been another country, but Gloria’s sponsors – a couple who sponsored her jointly – painted vivid pictures through their words in letters to her, so that she could imagine such a place. They talked about pets, school and what Gloria’s life was like with her family on the reservation.

Today, Gloria is proud to be the Save the Children Program Coordinator for one of the schools we partner with. She has over 9 years of experience in that role, and truly grasps the fundamental importance of Sponsorship programs, and their ability to enhance children’s lives.  She has also been working as the Sponsorship Liaison for 2 years, and enjoys facilitating the relationship between sponsors and children through letter correspondence, as this was the very relationship that she enjoyed so much as a child herself.

Gloria works with Sponsorship programs to help children develop a love of reading.
Gloria works with Sponsorship programs to help children develop a love of reading.

Gloria’s daughter was sponsored, as were her twin grandsons. Anthony and Anfernee participated in Save the Children literacy programs and went on to graduate high school this past year. Their success is Gloria’s success, and our success! Gloria’s personal relationship with sponsorship is so special to the rest of the U.S. Programs team, and the children we work with too – a living story of sponsorship success!

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

The Joys of a Letter Shared with Friends and Neighbors

Author Portrait_Nazma Akter, Sponsorship Program OfficerNazma Akter

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Bangladesh

August 23, 2016

“It’s for the first time. A letter to such a little child is not only a new experience for us, but also a great joy for us.” said Sufia, age 27. Her two-year-old son Sabbir has just received a letter from abroad, sent to him by his sponsor.

Sufia is a home-maker and her husband, Delowar, age 32, works as a day laborer. Sabbir is their only child. Together they live in a slum settlement in the Rayerbazar community of Dhaka North city.

Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father
Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father

Enrolling children between the ages of 1 and 3 in Sponsorship has been recently introduced in Rayerbazar, in 2015 through our new Maternal and Child Health programming. Despite that this is a new initiative for Save the Children, the team in Bangladesh has already seen Maternal and Child Health has made sponsors excited. Sabbir received his first sponsor right after being enrolled in Sponsorship in August, and received his first sponsor letter immediately after that, in September.

Sabbir is still too young to understand what makes this letter so thrilling, but the happiness and excitement is greatly shared by his parents, despite that neither of them are literate. His mother explains, “We don’t know reading and writing. But we have loved reading the letter and replying to the sponsor with the help of [Sponsorship] staff. This letter has made us feel proud, as only Sabbir in our [entire] slum got a letter. We have shared the letter with our neighbors also. We are very thankful to the sponsor.”

In addition to making this connection with Sabbir’s sponsor, Sufia benefits from sponsorship support by attending early stimulation parenting sessions regularly. Our early stimulation parenting program is implemented through regular home visits or monthly group sessions with parents of newborns and toddlers. During these sessions, parents are taught how to aid in their young children’s development with playtime, language and communication, gentle discipline, healthy hygiene practices, feeding and nutritious foods. Parents and children alike learn with helpful learning materials, like illustrative cards and colorful picture books.

Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement
Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement

Sufia tells me, “Previously I didn’t know how to take care of a young child. But now, I have learned about the needs and care, including hygiene, food and nutrition required for Sabbir’s growth. Now, I can take proper care of him. We are happy to get Save the Children’s support.” Sabbir’s mother understands the importance of the Sponsorship program in helping her community, and how sponsors’ contributions directly benefit her child and family’s wellbeing.

Sufia wants Sabbir to have a good quality education. She wants his sponsor to keep writing to Sabbir, so that he too can learn from these letters and one day respond to them on his own. She is happy to know that her son has the opportunity to grow up with Sponsorship in his life.

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

Bourama at work in the clinic

Bourama Rises to the Occasion

Bourama at work in the clinic
Bourama at work in the clinic

Located in north-western Africa, Mali is a land-locked country where families and their children often suffer in the face of inadequate social services. In particular, children often experience difficulty accessing basic healthcare and quality education. Sponsorship has been operating in Mali for almost three decades helping to lift children out of extreme poverty. Bourama was one such child, born in the Ivory Coast 22 years ago. In 2000, he and his family moved to Mali.

 

Living as a young boy in Mali, Bourama faced many of these same challenges before entering the Sponsorship program. Given his family’s limited resources, he had been unable to purchase school supplies which caused him to regularly miss class. “I wasn’t interested in education. But that changed thanks to Sponsorship,” he shared. Without Sponsorship, it’s unlikely that Bourama would be where he is today – providing life-changing medical care to his local community.

The picture of his sponsor, kept close all these years
The picture of his sponsor, kept close all these years

Bourama was sponsored through Save the Children from 2001 to 2008. He remembers his sponsor’s name, the correspondence they sent back and forth, and the good advice she gave him. He still has a picture of her which he proudly shows visitors.

Picture of Bourama in 2006
Picture of Bourama in 2006

During that time he also benefited from extensive sponsorship-funded activities, such as access to clean drinking water and essential deworming and vitamin A supplements. This crucial support enabled Bourama to stay in good health and to complete his education, which then opened the door to new and exciting possibilities.

22-year-old Bourama today

 

For the past three years, Bourama has worked as a nurse’s aide in a private health clinic where he manages the treatment room. He loves his job and says it allows him to stay in contact with people and help them to relieve their suffering. He also aims to pursue higher education in hopes of moving on to a more specialized role within the medical business.

 

 

Still, Bourama always looks back in appreciation of his Sponsorship experience. As Bourama revealed, “I am what and who I am today in large measure because of Sponsorship programs.”

 

Sometimes, support from a caring sponsor can make all the difference in the world – something to keep in mind in your next letter!

 

To sponsor a child like Bourama, please visit our child sponsorship site

Child Satisfaction Matters Most

Agnes

Agnes Zalila

Sponsorship Manager

Lufwanyama Communities, Zambia

August 31, 2015

 

When we sit at our tables every day, developing strategies, writing reports, and completing many other management and programming procedures, we rarely realize what matters most in all the things we do. How does the child feel about all we do? What matters most to them? 

Group (1)

A group in the Lufwanyama communities.

This year we had our first Country Office review here in Zambia. The staff on my team were all very anxious, especially since the review team was comprised of very high powered Save the Children officials. Everyone wanted to prove and show that they were doing the right thing and following the guidelines.

On the other hand, I realized children did not really care about what everyone thought but wanted to have fun and enjoy their school and outside sessions as usual.

So it was after two days of meetings that it was time to meet the communities and children we are working with. Our group began the long drive to the Lufwanyama communities, winding and bumping along difficult roads. After hours of driving we met with core group members, teachers, and center care givers. Yet the most fascinating and humbling of the people waiting were the small beautiful faces of children.

After exchanging greetings, the children quickly forgot the strangers in their midst and went back to their usual sessions. They sang songs, danced, and spent time with their teachers.

When parents and teachers were asked about the impact of sponsorship programs, one parent proudly said “My child now teaches us hygiene as she learns from school which she never did before now.” Another proudly spoke about how the parents were working together to ensure that they built a permanent shelter for their children to learn in.

Dancing

Dancing in the Lufwanyama communities.

But what do you think the children said, on what they loved most and what more they wanted? “I like it when the teacher teaches me how to dance and sing”, or, “I like playing with my friends at school”.

While you and I are thinking of big, expensive, visible, and tangible physical development, that is not what matters most for the children we serve. For the child, what we may think is very small matters most to them.

All the way back to the office I could hear everyone talking about their favorite child’s song, or how they all enjoyed dancing with the children, and how we all remembered our own childhood. Even the CEO could not help but sit and be swamped with the many children who wanted to just sit with him. Those are the little things that really matter, to put back the smile on that child’s face. Learning must be fun. Our role is to make it so.

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

The Dream Weavers

Mona

Mona Mariano

Sponsorship Manager

T'bolis Village, Philippines

August 24, 2015

 

In one of the southern parts of the Philippines where Save the Children works, you will find the colorful tribe of the T’bolis. Upon visiting their community, you will notice the assortment of distinctive and colorful clothing against the green backdrop of the hills. The native clothes of the tribe, made of T’nalak, make the brown complexion of the people shine. 

Group

A group of young girls wearing their T'nalak to school.

The T'nalak cloth comes from the leaves of abaca, dyed and meticulously weaved. The intricate interlacing of bold colors is a recognized community craft. The cloth is revered and can be seen in special ceremonies throughout a person’s life span, such as child births and weddings. 

The typical T'boli textile is history in itself. The unique patterns of the costumes are born from deep-rooted rituals that are passed from generation to generation. The weaving is a tedious job and would take women several months to finish one complete design. The patterns conceived by the weavers are believed to be imparted to them in dreams from their ancestors and from the spirit of the abaca called Fu Dalu. Because of this, the T’nalak makers are also known as the “dream weavers”.

Only women are allowed to lace the T’nalak. Men are forbidden to handle the abaca fiber until the weaving process is complete. There is also a saying that the weaver should not couple with her husband during the weaving time because it may cause the abaca to break or destroy the design sent across a dream. 

Twosome

Two young girls from lake Sebu are encouraged to wear their traditional costumes at lea.

T’boli communities observe the T'nalak festival annually in July, during the foundation anniversary of their province of South Cotabato. During this festivity, colorful street dancing can be seen throughout the cities with performers decked in native costumes of the various tribal groups.

As a people who value rich cultural heritage, T’boli women and men learn to adorn themselves with their native costumes from early childhood. Aside from their wonderful T’nalak outfits, men wear turbans and women are garlanded with hair accessories, combs, and colorful beads. In their very simple lifestyle, these traditional adornments markedly stand out and are a source of community pride.

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

A Recent Graduate Joins Our Mission

Fransheshca

Fransheska Quijada

Staff Member

Panama

August 17, 2015

 

My name is Fransheska Quijada and I grew up in El Salvador, a country located in the middle of Central America. I went to the U.S. in August of 2012 to obtain my Masters in Public Policy at the University of Kentucky (UK). I wanted a graduate program that included field practice because I wanted to prepare myself to become a specialist in the planning, execution, and management of public education and community development initiatives. It was through my Master’s internship program that I had the opportunity to join the Head Start team at Save the Children the following year.

Boys

Christian and Robert enjoying U.S. Programs

Through my internship with Save the Children, I had the chance to work with a dynamic, multidisciplinary, and passionate group of people. At the end of the day their mission is, “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives”. Everyone involved with the U.S. sponsorship team, from the Director in Lexington, KY to the sponsorship liaisons operating in schools nation-wide, is committed to enhancing children’s lives in the present and creating a brighter future for them in the years to come.

Hearing the sponsorship team talk about sponsors with such reverence and appreciation truly helped me understand that it is the sponsors who are indeed the driving force of bringing positive change to the lives of the children we work with. Without them, Save the Children’s reach would not be nearly as vast or impactful as it is today.

Hanging

Christian and Anabella enjoying U.S. Programs

I still recall when Amanda Kohn, Director of U.S. Programs Sponsorship, came to UK and spoke to us about Save the Children’s work. I could feel the passion and commitment that she felt for her job. Amanda spoke about her team, coworkers, their work environment, and the high level of commitment that all of them have. It was in that moment I knew that I wanted to work for such an organization. A few short months later, I was the newest member of their team.

Currently I am living in Panama, another country located in Central America, working to transform communities through educational and health projects. My experience working with the sponsorship team at Save the Children helped me realize that when dynamic, positive, and passionate people get together to change the world, they can do it!

Have you had a similar inspirational moment in your life? Think of a time when you worked with a group of committed individuals who were passionate about the project at hand. We would love to hear some of the ways you have seen dedicated work pay off in your community, home, or work environment. Here at Save the Children sponsorship we believe loving what you do is very important!

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

A Traditional Wedding in Rural Afghanistan

Naila

Najzla Arzoo

Education Officer

Saripul Province, Afghanistan

August 10, 2015

 

Let us take you to Saripul province, one of the northern provinces of Afghanistan where we are implementing sponsorship funded programs, for a glimpse at a rural Afghan wedding.

Typically, the boy’s family together with some relatives will go to the girl’s house to get the formal positive response, which is confirmed by the receipt of a basket of decorated artificial flowers and a tray of candies and chocolates. This arrangement will then be taken to the boy’s house, accompanied by family members playing music and dancing, where more relatives have already gathered to wait for the basket. This becomes the engagement party. After the meal is served the family will continue playing music and dancing.

Bread

Girls baking bread for a wedding party

The night before the wedding ceremony there is another party called Henna which is commonly celebrated in the girl’s house or in a hotel. There will be around one hundred relatives and friends of both families. Guests first go to the home of the family that invited them to the party, before all gathering at the girl’s house together. Except for close relatives there will usually be separate halls for men and women to sit, be served their meal, play music, and dance. Henna, dye from the henna plant, is applied to the groom and bride’s palms after the meal. The bride and groom do not see each other at these gatherings prior to the wedding, but are permitted to meet on other days.

In rural areas, wedding parties are not celebrated in wedding halls but directly in the bride’s house. The wedding begins with the gathering of a few girls in the groom’s house for some pre-wedding preparations. Girls and women from both families will design and decorate the bride and groom’s room. They prepare silky curtains, bed sheets, and other handicrafts. Usually hundreds of guests are invited to the wedding. In most cases, men will be invited for lunch and women will be invited to join them in the evening. After dinner, the bride and groom, in their specific wedding attire, will be accompanied by their close relatives and friends to a special decorated camp for all guests to see.

Gift

Preparing a trunk of gifts for bride in Eid

The couple’s faces are then covered by a shawl and a family member places a mirror under the shawl, symbolizing the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time through the mirror. Then with help from close friends or relatives, the bride and groom cut the cake. They will hold each others’ hands and give the special sweet water prepared of sugar and water, or juice, to each other to drink. This is followed by hours of celebration with music and dance, only breaking for guests to give gifts to the bride and groom.

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

Mangane, an Example of Community Leadership

Mengos

Mr. Mengos

Basic Education Coordinator

Mangane, Mozambique

August 3, 2015

 

Mangane is one of the impoverished communities in Mozambique where the majority of people have no job opportunities, and resort to farming as their daily activity for survival and to sustain their families. Luckily, it is a community where sponsorship programs such as Basic Education, School Health and Nutrition, Early Childhood Care and Development, and Adolescent Development are all being implemented.

School

Mangane Primary School before Save the Children intervention

Prior to Save the Children sponsorship, the school dropout rate had been increasing because parents and caregivers did not value education. A total of 283 children were enrolled in school in 2013, and in 2014 that number has increased to 392, demonstrating an increase of nearly 40%. The sponsorship program helped community mobilization and bringing community leaders to play a role in children’s education. Mangane had only three poor classrooms, both uncomfortable and with unsafe conditions for both children and teachers. However now with the help of sponsorship funds, the community has four new conventional and furnished classrooms and an administrative block, as well as improved and separate latrines built for girls, boys, and teachers. Save the Children is also providing sports equipment to ensure that the school environment is fun and friendly!

Abacar Fadil, is a community leader from Mangane, testified in his own words, “… My name is Abdul Fadil, I am a community leader and also a school council member. I know for sure and see how fast Mangane Primary School changed. A high number of children at school is now visibe from the time [Save the Children sponsorship] came to implement programs in our community. Awareness on parents and caregivers was raised in order to make them understand the importance of school.

School_kids

Mangane Primary School after Save the Children intervention

I remember the time when parents were suffering a lot, every year rearranging the classrooms with local materials, children used to be with no lessons, during the rainy and windy days. Now everyone in the community is happy with what is happening, thanks to SCI programs and I would like to see this happening in other communities to help more children in need.”

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

Durga Puja, Worship of the Goddess Durga

Moazzam

Moazzem Hossain

Senior Manager Basic Education

Meherpur, Bangladesh

July 27, 2015

 

The culture of Bangladesh reflects the way of life for the people of the country. Festivals of different religions and cultures is one of these reflections. Durga Puja, for example, is one of the most important events in the Bengali society's calendar, meant to epitomize the victory of Good over Evil. This festival is widely celebrated in Meherpur, across the Hindu community. Relatives from different parts of the country or from neighboring India join this ritual each year.

The children at the third stage of Durga idol makingAt the beginning of autumn a rigorous preparation starts for celebrating this festival. The Puja committee hires the best clay artisans they can afford. Pals, or clay artisans, have an age old tradition of breathing life into images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. For Durga Puja, first bamboo sticks are cut in various shapes and sizes to make the basic structure of the idols of the Goddess Durga, and the platform on which the colossal statue stands. Durga's figure is then shaped with straw tied with jute strings. The straw figurine of the Goddess is then applied with a first coat of clay solution with the percentage of water high. This helps to fill the crevices left by the straw structure. The second layer is applied with great caution as it is the most important layer, giving prominence to the figure. The clay mixed in this step is very fine without any impurities.

The lengthy and backbreaking process of constructing the idols is done diligently and methodically by the artisans, to create the most exquisite pieces of artistry. The perfection of idol making demands that the skeleton structure of bamboo and straw be done by one group of artisans, the clay mixing and applications are done by another group, and finally the head, palms, and feet are done by the highest graded Pals.

Durga

Goddess Durga ready for the worship

It is a popular belief that the Goddess Durga arrives and departs to predict the lives of people for the coming year. Durga reigns through her clay and straw figure for 6 days, standing on her lion mount, wielding ten weapons in her ten hands. At the end of the festival, the sculpture is taken in a procession, amid loud chants of, "it will happen again next year," and drumbeats, to the river or other local body of water. She is then cast in the waters, symbolic of the departure of the deity to her home with her husband in the Himalayas.

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