Adam Goes to Reading Camp

Author Portrait_Mossi Hamadou, Sponsorship Operations Officer
Mossi Hamadou

Sponsorship Operations Officer

Save the Children in Niger

February 23, 2018

Centuries after gaining independence, education is still a challenge in many African countries.

Among these is Niger, one of the poorest countries in Africa – a country in which the government is struggling to achieve food self-sufficiency, suitable health and education services for its population, and fight the challenges of endemic poverty.

Under these contexts, education, although a priority, is managed in a way that it has not responded to people’s expectations, particularly those who live in rural areas. Due to limited financial resources, the education system sometimes hires under-qualified teachers with little or no training, especially in rural communities where schools also lack basic supplies, materials and equipment like books, guides for teachers or benches for children to sit on.

Fortunately, the sponsorship program is working to address these challenges in the communities of Tchadoua and Aguié by improving learning environments in schools and starting literacy strengthening programs, like reading camps in the communities.

12-year-old Adam has grown a lot since joining reading camps.
12-year-old Adam has grown a lot since joining reading camps.

Adam is 12 years old and lives in Aguié. Like many of his peers, he has really developed as a student thanks to his participation in reading camps through sponsorship.

When Adam first joined sponsorship, he, like many of the other children in Aguié, could hardly read the alphabet. Born in a large family comprised of twenty members, he was not receiving any support in his education while they all struggled to make ends meet. Sometimes he came to school hungry, without having any breakfast. He did not like school, largely because they could not afford any books or writing materials for him to use. He often left class or didn’t attend school at all, and felt no confidence in his studies.

But the sponsorship program has changed everything for the better. The schools are now provided with supplies and materials for their students. Reading camps are set-up in the villages, where children can learn in a child-friendly environment that makes learning fun through games and interactive lessons. There they sing songs, learn rhymes and complete puzzles that improve their reading and writing skills.

Due to his regular attendance of the reading camps, Adam who initially was unable to read a two-syllable word, can now read long words on his own.  “The reading camp has helped me improve my reading ability, I can read words, but not fluently.” He admits shyly, “We easily learn at the camp because it’s a free learning environment. We play, we sing and we feel free to take any book you want. Our instructor is very kind with us. I like school as I want to become a lawyer.’’ Adam tells us proudly.

Adam and his classmate Raouda show their dreams for the future.
Adam and his classmate Raouda show their dreams for the future.

Today, Adam does very well. At the last examination he was the fifth in his class, out of fifty pupils. Before joining the reading camps, he was only ranking as twentieth in terms of grades and school performance. He is highly motivated and hopes to be the first member of his family to complete secondary school.

Adam is supported in his dream by his father who is also proud of the changes he’s seen in his son. “Adam has changed now and is performing well, it’s thanks to the intervention of Save the Children which brought the reading camps. Children play more in reading camps and they learn better because they feel free. We who are parents have been sensitized on the importance of education and we are conscious that intelligence is the shield of life,” said Rabiou, with an expressive smile.

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

To Be a Teacher

Author Portrait_Simone Jussar, Quality Communications Coordinator
Simone Jussar

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

February 16, 2018

In the Nacala-a-Velha region of Mozambique, in a community called Locone, lives the little Sara, a 10-year-old student in grade 2, who like many other children in her community dreams to be a teacher.

Save the Children in Mozambique has been working hard to improve the quality of education in rural Mozambique for children like Sara, such as by training teachers and school managers, forming school councils, and promoting and developing new school activities for students like reading fairs and camps.

Sara tells us, “I want to be a teacher to help other children in the community.”

Sara attending a reading camp lesson./center>
Sara attending a reading camp lesson.

In the beginning of the school year, Sara had poor performance and lacked confidence in the classroom. She was ashamed because she couldn’t solve the math exercises, and couldn’t yet read the alphabet easily or participate in the lessons. Her teacher tells us that in collaboration with Save the Children staff, parents like Saras’s father and other community members, the community came together to create reading camps. These camps would host sessions twice a week for struggling learners like Sarah, to offer the extra support they need outside of school – although all children are encouraged to attend.

Community members with some education or good literacy skills, and talents for entertaining and connecting with young children, are selected as reading camp promoters. They are constantly receiving trainings through sponsorship to improve their teaching abilities. The promoters identify children’s individual difficulties and host sessions in the mornings or afternoons, and focus on building numeracy and literacy skills. By ensuring camps provide child-centered educational games, fun, lively lessons, plentiful and interesting books and a supportive environment, children gradually gain confidence and develop a love for learning.

After just one month of attending the lessons at reading camps with the other children, Sara’s school performance began to improve.

She was able to remember so much more, like names of animals, objects and other words in her world.  She also developed a good understanding of numbers, started to understand and solve basic mathematics exercises, and was finally able to read the alphabet without hesitation. At school, she became one of the most outstanding students, always turning in her homework correctly, helping her classmates to do their homework and solve math problems. Her confidence in the classroom had blossomed, and she became a frequent participant in all her classes. Specifically, Portuguese, the national language of Mozambique, became her favorite subject. “We make lessons more fun with some song and dance, in order to ensure that the child is happy and ready to learn, and Sara is improving her skills,” shares Momade, Sara’s reading camps promoter.

Sara participating in a lesson about vowels.
Sara participating in a lesson about vowels.

Sara continues to improve significantly in her school performance and grades. “I remember when she used to just participate in the lessons when she was called on. Today, she is one of the most responsible of the group in her grade,” shared her teacher, Tuaha.

Now she is very happy to attend lessons. “I like to be here at the reading camp and I also enjoy learning, because together with Momade, we play, sing and dance,” Sara smiled. Today, sponsorship in Mozambique has over 80 reading camps supported by our sponsors, reaching over 10,600 children.

Many children are now experiencing a love for learning for the first times in their lives, thanks to you!

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

Nadia’s Visit to Sarangani

Author Portrait_Cheeko Garcia, Media and Communications Officer, Mindanao
Cheeko Garcia

Media and Communications Officer

Save the Children Philippines

February 9, 2018

Early morning one day in August, we picked up Nadia, a sponsor who has been supporting Ariane and her community for more than a year now, by raising funds with her local karate club back in Italy. Although Nadia came all the way from Italy, I did not see a hint of tiredness on her face. Our two-hour drive to reach Ariane’s community was filled with stories between Nadia and Save the Children staff, talking about our many differences, and even more similarities.

When we finally got to our destination, we were greeted by cheerful teachers and a curious group of students. Though the teachers were expecting us, none of the children knew about our visit, except for one – Ariane. Her parents later revealed that she had been very eagerly waiting for this day to happen, when she would finally meet her sponsor.

Nadia, Ariane along with her family and teacher go for a tour of the school.
Nadia, Ariane along with her family and teacher go for a tour of the school.

Ariane is 7 years old and is growing up in a secluded, rural village in Sarangani, a province with a 230 kilometer coastline at the southernmost tip of Mindanao island. She is a bit shy, but nonetheless eager to learn in school. Her parents both work as tenant farmers, earning only a minimal wage which is barely enough for their family of five. She is among the many students in her school that Save the Children helps through its sponsorship program.

Though she had received letters from Nadia, and seen photos of her in those letters, it was the first time Ariane had met a foreigner up close, so she was initially a bit hesitant. Nadia warmed her up by showing her photos of the other members of the karate club. Ariane slowly became more comfortable and soon enough, they were smiling and taking photos together.

The school was so excited for Nadia’s visit that they prepared a bounty of fresh fruits and other local food, including freshly harvested coconuts. All of us, including Ariane and her family, shared an extravagant meal of locally produced rice, corn, fish, chicken and vegetables.

Nadia and Ariane pose for a selfie.
Nadia and Ariane pose for a selfie.

Shortly after that, we went to Ariane’s classroom where a story was being read to the students by their teacher. The storybooks provided by Save the Children are written in the local language, making it easier for the pupils to understand the content and allow them to actively participate during the discussions. A big part of sponsorship programs in the Philippines is spreading the use of mother tongue-based multilingual education, meaning teaching in children’s’ first languages rather than in the national language, Filipino, which is not necessarily spoken by families in these remote areas.

Trying my best to sum up a reflection on this experience, one word kept emerging – inspiration. Inspiration is contagious, and I saw it spread among the people I met through this day. Nadia and the members of her karate club back in Italy were inspired by stories of children who are in need. Nadia’s visit inspired Ariane to see more of the world and to fulfil her ambition of becoming a doctor. Ariane’s parents got inspired to keep her in school, and I, as a Save the Children staff, saw the connection between the sponsor and the child and it inspired me to reminisce the value of the work we do.

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

Growing Through Letters

Author Portrait_Gehad Radwan, Sponsorship Operations Assistant
Gehad Radwan

Sponsorship Operations Assistant

Save the Children in Egypt

February 2, 2018

Greetings! My name is Gehad, I am 23 years old and I work as a Sponsorship Operations Assistant in Abnoub, Egypt.

In every trip to the field, I live the best and greatest moments when children hear from and write to their sponsors. I know by watching them write about their feelings, adventures and new experiences that children write to their sponsors with lots of passion – each line seems to never be enough, as they want to narrate more and more.

Children from Abnoub seem to be so excited and astonished when they read a letter from a sponsor which describes what it is like in a foreign country. Hearing stories about the different places have made them realize that the world is bigger than they ever imagined it to be. Sponsor letters help children smile, which makes me smile. They share the name of their sponsors proudly with their family and friends, and always look very happy when they speak about them. The children are always eager to give more and more information about their hobbies, family and their daily activities.

Lately, I can see that the children who receive correspondences from their sponsors became more creative and interested in different activities and hobbies. Especially for girls, their minds have been opened to new ideas and what would be considered untraditional thoughts in the Egypt context. According to these traditions, many girls have not been allowed to participate in outdoor activities, or even complete their education as their parents did not see educating girls as important.

Gehad drawing with Hager, a girl in a sponsorship-supported school.
Gehad drawing with Hager, a girl in a sponsorship-supported school.

Girls now are encouraged to go to school, play sports, draw and read, all activities that were restricted to boys in the past. They have a chance to share their interests and dreams with their sponsors too, and ask for their guidance and ideas in thinking about what they actually want in the future. Sponsors help children in Abnoub realize the sky is the limit, and their dreams, no matter how big, are possible. Likewise, sponsorship programs like campaigns in communities are helping parents understand that educating their daughters can be a source of pride.

When I was helping one of the sponsored children here, 10-year-old Hassan, respond to his sponsor’s letter, I was amazed when he updated his sponsor with “I attended Summer Camps, I learned the name of the most common diseases, how to prevent them and I received toothpaste and a toothbrush, and I felt proud when I shared this useful information with my friends and family. After attending the health campaign I became determined to be a doctor to help people to live better and protect themselves from dangerous diseases.” Hasan was talking about an event organized by our school health and nutrition team, which involves children in games and fun while also spreading messages about topics like personal hygiene and nutrition.

Gehad delivering letters to Osama, Nourhan and Shahd.</em
Gehad delivering letters to Osama, Nourhan and Shahd.

Generally, children surprise me all the time. Writing letters is an amazing skill that they gained from Save the Children and its sponsors. It gives children the chance to express themselves, think of their future, determine what they love, and exchange their opinions and thoughts freely.

In my first year working with Save the Children, I would like to thank all the children for what I learned from them during these amazing moments. If I were able to meet all their sponsors, I would tell them that they have all the reasons to be proud of their sponsored children.

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

Thanks from Massouma

Author Portrait
By Massouma, Transcribed and edited by Anisa Zari

School Health and Nutrition Officer

Save the Children in Afghanistan

January 19, 2018

Salam! My name is Massouma, I’m 16 years old and a student in grade 10 at the girls’ high school in my village. I live with my parents and all 7 of my siblings – 2 brothers, one older, one younger, and 5 sisters, 4 older than me and one younger. My mother is illiterate and spends her time taking care of our home and family, while my father is our school’s headmaster.

For me, life is like any other girl’s my age in Afghanistan. I get up in the morning and prepare breakfast, and go to school. After, I do my homework and help my mother with the house chores, cooking and cleaning. My dream is to be a teacher in the future.

I was selected as the Lifeline child representative for Save the Children back in July of 2006. From that time to now, I have played different roles and benefited from sponsorship programs in different ways. When I was 5, I started in the Early Learners program, where I worked on my literacy, numeracy and other learning skills through games, songs, storytelling, reading and socializing with my young peers.

When I was a little older, at age 7, I started going to the child-focused health education groups in my community. There, we learned about how keep ourselves healthy with good nutrition and hygiene practices.

Masoda, Soraya, Massouma and Hajira learning about preventing disease in their health group.
Masoda, Soraya, Massouma and Hajira learning about preventing disease in their health group.

Today, I am applying the knowledge I have learned about healthy behaviours as child-focused health education group volunteer facilitator. I lead about 15 school-aged children twice a week in learning about nutrition, hygiene, immunization and preventable childhood diseases.

Together, we conduct awareness campaigns in the communities, to reach as many people as possible with these messages. Children and community members are taught when and how to properly wash their hands, for example before handling food, after using the latrine and after handling or working with animals. We also take the lead in keeping our school clean, are trained on first aid and help find solutions to health problems at school.

My mother, Rabia says that now I am “always talking with the family about the health activities she does in the CFHE group. I can really see how her confidence has grown since she began taking part in sponsorship programs.”

My mother has also noticed how much I’ve learned about health and hygiene through participating in these programs. I like to learn new things about healthy ways of living. I love sharing what I’ve learned in our group meetings and events with friends and family members, because the groups have been such a fun place for me to both play and learn.

Massouma outside the old school building, before sponsors supported new classrooms.
Massouma outside the old school building, before sponsors supported new classrooms.

I would like to thank all sponsors for the support that they have provided for our community and for me through sponsorship programs. In addition to having the child-focused health groups now, sponsors have also built us four new classrooms. That has really been a big help, because before, since there was not enough space for all of us, children had to sit outdoors, in the sun or under the shade of trees when possible, and during the winter we would still have to be outside which made learning hard and everyone really unhappy from the mountain cold.

A lot in my life has changed because of sponsorship, and I’m not sure who I would be without it. I would like to thank you. I appreciate your support as sponsor more than you can know!

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

My School, A Place that Makes Me Feel Safe

By Melany

Edited by Selvia Vargas

Sponsorship Community Mobilizer

Save the Children Mexico

December 15, 2017

Hello, my name is Melany and I’m 4 years old. I live in Mexico City, a big city with a lot of cars, people, houses, streets, stores and noise. My mom takes me to school by bus every day. She says I have to pay attention because it’s dangerous. My school is the place I like the most because I can learn and it’s quiet and clean. They give me healthy things to eat and I can play with my friends.

During the holidays I missed coming to school to study and seeing my friends. I like coloring, but I like it best when my friend Paty colors with me. I also like playing with the blocks in my classroom. It’s fun, we use them to build things. I love building robots the most – I make them large and colorful.

Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.
Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.

They are teaching me numbers and letters. I can write my name all by myself now. My teacher helped me a lot. “M” is the easiest letter because it’s the first and the “a” is always the hardest.

My friends from “Los Children” (Save the Children) visit my school sometimes, the ones with the red t-shirts. They helped us form a committee, which I love to be a part of with the other kids in my class. When we get together we talk about our school, like about the yard toys that are old and can cut us. Then we talk about how we can fix them. We think it is important to tell all the other children about our committee so that they can help us take care of our school, too. We also learn how to know dangerous situations, and how to protect ourselves when we are out in the city. We include our parents in our meetings sometimes, to support us in keeping our school clean and safe.

 Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

“Los Children” came once to measure me and they told me I am healthy, but that I had to eat well and exercise to stay that way. That’s why those same friends came to talk with my mom and my teachers, and they taught them how to prepare good and delicious food for me, something our parents didn’t know so much about before. I like eating in my school, the food is always yummy. I like soup and fruits, especially mangos and strawberries.

The children’s committee and Save the Children have set up a school orchard, too. There we have planted many different things, and we are waiting for them to grow so that we can soon prepare more healthy food with these vegetables.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, Save the Children Mexico is giving children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Thank you from Mexico City to all of our sponsors who have helped make life better for children like Melany and her classmates!

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


Rohingya Children Need Support

1Evan Schuurman is part of Save the Children’s emergency response team in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Nine year old Shawkat* has a bandage wrapped around her head and vacant eyes that suggest her mind and body are worlds apart. I’ve never seen a child’s face look so empty.

Her uncle Ali, who cares for her now—despite her being the eleventh mouth he must feed— says she rarely speaks anymore. That is, until dusk each evening. That’s when the terror returns.

“She starts to cry and scream out for her mother,” Ali says. “During the day she’s ok, but everything changes at nightfall. She feels a lot of pain. She cannot sleep.”

I learn that Shawkat’s mother, father and three brothers were all killed by the Myanmar military forces. Her entire immediate family wiped out in a few minutes.

Soldiers entered their village in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State and opened fire, setting homes ablaze and killing indiscriminately. In the chaotic scramble for life, people fled into the jungle, including Shawkat. There was no time to take anything or save her family.

It was a brutal, planned massacre, says Ali, whose parents were murdered too.

Thankfully a group of villagers decided to take care of Shawkat. Carrying nothing but the clothes on their backs, they walked for days on end, up and down mountains and through driving rain.

Battered and bruised, they eventually made it to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, which is now home to some 800,000 Rohingya, including over half a million who’ve arrived in the past seven weeks.

Most have taken refuge in the makeshift settlements less and an hours walk from the Naf River, which divides the two countries. They can still see the hills of Myanmar on the other side.

Ali tells me he searched everywhere for Shawkat, and eventually caught wind that she was in a local hospital. In a time of endless despair, this reunion was a rare joy.

The settlements themselves are a sight to behold. Once lush green hills have been stripped bare. Terraces have been cut into the clay to make space for more bamboo and plastic shelters. When it rains the ground turns into a series of muddy waterfalls, and dirty, contaminated water pools everywhere.

The roads inside the camps are a hive of activity, with large trucks plundering up and down carrying tonnes of aid. Shirtless men run large bundles of bamboo while lone children wander in search of food, money or something to do. Umbrellas are everywhere, protecting people from the harsh sun or heavy rains – it feels as though there’s nothing in-between.

This foreign place is Shawkat’s home for now, along with more than 300,000 other newly arrived Rohingya children, many of whom spend their days in a similar trauma-induced daze.

Over the past few weeks I have interviewed nearly two-dozen Rohingya women, men and children about what happened in Myanmar and what their lives have become in Bangladesh.

Every single one of them told similar stories of deadly attacks on villages and desperate escapes. The heartbreak is everywhere.

The interviews were raw and emotional. Women wept before my eyes as they recounted their relatives being killed and their homes being turned into a blaze of raging fire.

I’ve deployed to a lot of humanitarian crises over the past five years including places like South Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. But I’ve never seen anything like this, where so many people – especially children – are so visibly distressed or traumatized.

Dealing with this trauma will form a critical part of the humanitarian response. Already, agencies like Save the Children are running dozens of therapeutic playgroups for younger children known as ‘child friendly spaces’.

But what’s really needed is education. School isn’t just about learning; it provides routine and a sense of normality, a place where children can make friends, play and remember what it’s like to be children. It’s also a critical form of protection from exploitation and abuse like trafficking.

Yet right now more than 450,000 school-aged Rohingya children aren’t going to school.

Ensuring children can access education in emergencies like this saves lives. Seeing the haunted faces of so many traumatised children like Shawkat, I’ve never been surer of this.


Nana Rouwaida’s Dreams

Author Portrait_Boubacar Abdoulkader, Education Supervisor
Boubacar Abdoulkader

Education Supervisor

Save the Children in Niger

September 16, 2017

In Tchadoua, a community in grassy flatlands in the southeastern part of Niger, the store houses are full of old millet stalks, a sign that the harvest has not met expectations this year. In this area, people live off agriculture – farming, herding and trading at a small scale. This lifestyle is often difficult as unpredictable weather patterns like drought, floods, or even locust attacks, cause unexpected challenges and hinder successful harvests. As a result, children are often involved in ensuring the family’s survival, expected to assist in bringing in an income rather than attending school.

Today it is sunny and windy, although it’s difficult to see with all the dust blowing in the air from the sandy ground in this area.

The school in Tchadoua is comprised of 5 small classrooms, among which one is made of concrete, two made of clay and the other two are simple sheds made of millet stalks and straw. The walls are bare and there are very few, if any, teaching materials to be seen.

Teachers here are very kind, they welcome us with cheers and friendly smiles. They are all very young, and most of them have not received any training on how to teach. Education in Niger is jeopardized by this, leading to a poor quality of education in schools and a very low level of pupils, as students have trouble staying engaged in lessons. One student out of ten in grade 4 can read the alphabet here.

Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.
Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.

Such is the setting where Save the Children now implements its sponsorship program. Among the children struggling to learn in Tchadoua is 11-year-old Nana Rouwaida, twelfth child born of a family of thirteen. She is always joyful and smiling. Neither her struggles in school or the difficulties of her family’s farming lifestyle prevented her from developing the dream to become a nurse one day.

This dream become even stronger when she was sponsored by Helen, her new friend in the United States, who helps support sponsorship programs in her community and also supports Nana Rouwaida through their letter writing, always encouraging her to work hard in school.

“I am proud to receive a letter from my sponsor because anytime I get a reply to my letter I feel important. I also like the stickers and coloring books, stickers to play with and coloring books to see things new for me.”

Through sponsorship programs, she also enjoys going to Reading Camp, where students come together for group lessons with a teacher from the community outside of their regular classes at school. Through sponsorship, teachers receive books to support storytelling and literacy building skills with their students in the Reading Camp, as well as are trained by sponsorship experts on how to use child-centered and child-friendly interactive teaching styles that keep children engaged and excited to learn.

In her free time, Nana Rouwaida also likes helping her mother around the house, for example grinding millet for their meals, sweeping or making the fire for cooking. With her friends she enjoys playing their favorite game, called chalele, involving dancing, clapping and singing traditional songs, generally played by girls. She is also very fond of goats and takes care of them to help her father.

She says what she cherishes most is the time spent on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, when she goes to the fields to collect grass for the goats. “I like goats because they are easy to breed,” she shares with pride.

Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.
Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.

Nana Rouwaida is supported in her dream of becoming a nurse by her father, Illa, who also shares the same vision as his daughter. Despite being sixty years old, he is among the few parents from their village who strongly supports young girls’ education, rather than expecting them to only help care for the family. “I understand that education is the key to development and I want my daughter Nana Rouwaida to become a nurse one day, in order to help herself and help other people around her.”

Nana Rouwaida’s teacher, Harouna Siradji, shares that the sponsorship program has already made a positive change in Nana Rouwaida’s life, after running programs for just one year in Tchadoua. “She is now very active in class, [and] her handwriting improves thanks to the Reading Camp.”

For the children in Tchadoua, there is a long way to go. However, things are already beginning to change, and Nana Rouwaida knows that with her sponsor Helen by her side, nothing can stop her.

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

Finding a Way Back to School

Author Portrait_Aminata Diarra, Community Development Agent of Kapala Community in Sikasso
Aminata Diarra

Community Development Agent of Kapala Community in Sikasso

Save the Children in Mali

September 5, 2017

Oumar is an 11-year-old boy and the oldest child of his parents. He is attending the 6th grade and was enrolled in sponsorship programs in 2011, as soon as he was old enough to attend school, although Oumar’s village of Sanasso has been receiving sponsorship support for nearly a decade.

Because of the closely spaced pregnancies of his siblings, Oumar’s mother was struggling to care for her growing family. To help support his parents and sisters, Oumar moved in with his grandparents. His elderly grandparents didn’t have sufficient resources to pay for the monthly school fees needed to send Oumar to school. Without paying, he was expelled. He was not the only child in his village who faced this issue, as the community lacked a good support system to help those in similar situations.

Thanks to sponsorship, today 11-year-old Oumar is back at school.
Thanks to sponsorship, today 11-year-old Oumar is back at school.

To help bring more children back into school, sponsorship started livelihood programs in Oumar’s village. Activities that generate income for family members were promptly started in the community. The program aims to support households in obtaining resources which can improve their living conditions. For Oumar’s village, a cereal bank and a sheep breeding program were set-up. The cereal bank benefits the community members by helping them purchase and stock grains during times of the year when prices are low, so that they can resell them when prices go back up. The cattle breeding program, on the other hand, provides school management committees and select families rams and sheep to breed, the offspring from which can then be sold to help pay for school expenses. Community members not only benefit from the profit, but from the skills learned in both these trades.

With the profits from these programs, more parents, including Oumar’s who participated in both, are able to send their children to school. The community has been so successful in these ventures that they’ve even been able to pay teachers more, who before were making very little pay.

Oumar playing with his friends in the school yard, happy to be attending classes again.
Oumar playing with his friends in the school yard, happy to be attending classes again.

Oumar’s grandfather Seydou is a member of the school management committee, a group of community members that is responsible for all activities of the school including the management of school fees and expenses, and helps run the livelihoods programs. He shared, “Thanks to Save the Children, our community is well organized and united.”

Hady, his other grandfather, also commented, “Thanks to Save the Children, my grandson, Oumar is happy to get back to school. In addition to that, our community has benefited from the building of 3 classrooms, so I am very proud of that.”

These activities have successfully reduced the drop-out rates in this part of Mali, thanks to the support of sponsors. So far, no children have had to drop out this year – this would not have been possible without the kind and open hearts of our donors.

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

Gelane Goes Back to School

Author Portrait_Temesgen Afeta, Community Mobilization & Communications Coordinator
Temesgen Afeta

Community Mobilization & Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Ethiopia

August 4, 2017

In the remote and rural West Showa district of Ethiopia, not all parents have equal understanding of the importance in sending their children to school, and how this helps them become productive adults and succeed in life. Some may not even think about helping their children in their education, as most lack the awareness on how significant a quality education can be for shaping their children’s futures.

12-year-old Gelane lives in a community where Save the Children sponsorship funded programs started in 2011. Initially, there had been no school in her village, and parents had been sending their children far away to get to school, or kept them at home altogether. In order to reach the closest school, children would need to travel an average of 3 hours a day on foot. Often, only the stronger, older children would be able to make the journey, however many older children are also pulled out of school to help support their families. Additionally, the teachers that were available were untrained and used traditional, rote memorization teaching methods that do not create a supportive learning environment for children. All this combined to keep attendance rates very low and, for what children did attend, learning was difficult and not interactive or fun.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, Save the Children was able to build a brand new school, train the teachers, provide learning materials and speak to parents about the importance of sending their children to school. Since then, all the children in the community have been going to school. Currently, the nearly 200 children from preschool to grade 4 who are now attending the new school would have found it nearly impossible to reach a school before. Through sponsorship across West Showa, new classrooms have been built in almost 50 different schools, supporting more than 30,000 children in accessing a quality education.

12-year-old Gelane is happy and proud to finally be back in school.
12-year-old Gelane is happy and proud to finally be back in school.

Gelane, though she went to the old school, had struggled in completing grades or attending consistently due to the distance and lack of engaging lessons once she got there. She dropped out in grade 3, already falling behind other students at just 9 years old. Her parents needed her support to handle extra chores around the home, while her older siblings were allowed to continue learning instead. Gelane was out of school and at home for an almost unbearably long two years.

Despite construction of the new school, dialogue amongst community members was still needed to sensitize parents and caregivers about the importance of an education. As a result of these efforts, sponsorship staff finally convinced Gelane’s parents that she should return to school.

With Gelane’s dream of returning to school realized, she has been able to continue her learning in the same grade from when she had been forced to drop out. Today, she is enjoying school with both old and new friends, and participating in sponsorship’s literacy, numeracy and school health and nutrition programs at school. She found the school environment she returned to was full of new storybooks and lively and fun lessons for her to participate in. For example, through the newly established Girls’ Club, she is gaining important knowledge about how to keep her body safe and healthy as she becomes a woman – something she couldn’t get a word on from either of her parents at home as the topic is considered taboo. Additionally, at the newly established community learning center in her village, also set-up thanks to sponsors, she is able to practice her reading skills outside of school or on the weekends by using or borrowing the reading materials now available there.

Gelane studying with some classmates from her sponsorship supported school.
Gelane studying with some classmates from her sponsorship supported school.

Today, Gelane dreams of completing all the grades in school, like her peers. She hopes that the support she is getting both in school and at the community learning center will help make this dream a reality.

Gelane’s teacher, Shure, shared, “There are many children like Gelane, in the communities, who are born with a lot of potential but unlucky in getting a chance to make their dreams successful… Save the Children is supporting on this through community mobilization, and go-to-school and back-to school-campaigns. Many children are getting back to school as a result. We hope the situation will improve.”

Little by little, things are changing in Ethiopia, and the children and families there have sponsors to thank for that. Thank you for your support to brighten the future for children in West Showa!

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