[Philippines][Dial Grace][Formerly sponsored child][at work]

The sky’s the limit for sponsored children!

Many sponsors ask, what happens to sponsored children after they graduate from our programs? For Dial Grace from the Philippines, the sky’s the limit![Philippines][Dial Grace][Formerly sponsored child][photo taken during AFU collection in 2002]

We first met Dial Grace when she was 10 years old, shy and unsure of her future. A decade later, she’s on her way to finishing college with Save the Children by her side.

Growing up with Save the Children has built numerous memories, countless laughter and millions of smiles. We learned life lessons, we gained friends and we built a family.

[Philippines][Dial Grace][Formerly sponsored child][portrait 1]Dial Grace says that sponsorship programs helped her become the woman she is today. “One of the most important sessions for me was the Basic Life Skills workshop. It has been my foundation to know myself better and it helped me understand how to make better – if not the best – decisions,” she said.

Now, Dial Grace works as a registered nurse in Saudi Arabia, where she feels that she is able to pay it forward to others in need. “Back in my younger days, I envisioned my future self, working with people and influencing them in such a way that Save the Children had created positive changes in my life.” she said.

The learnings I gained from Save the Children have been one of my secrets for being who I am today, thus, wherever I will be, I can proudly and humbly say that Save the Children is part of it.

Your sponsorship helps children learn, grow and dream – and Dial Grace is proof that those dreams can become reality with a little help. “Participating in the programs of Save the Children has made a great impact in my life,” she said.

Giveness’s Last 6 Hour Walk

Author Portrait_Annette Malilo, Information and Communication Officer
Annette Malilo

Information and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

August 18, 2017

Life has not been easy for 13-year-old Giveness, a grade 6 student in Lufwanyama, Zambia. She lives in a small village called Chifumpa with her mother, father and younger sister, 9-year-old Bibiana. Villagers here earn their living by fishing and farming. Giveness makes sure she helps her mother with washing dishes and fetching firewood, which are common daily chores for children in this rural part of the world.

Giveness with her bicycle, which cuts her 3-hour ride to school to just 1 hour!
Giveness with her bicycle, which cuts her 3-hour ride to school to just 1 hour!

Determined to be a nurse when she grows older, she goes to school every day with her sister. In the past, they would walk side-by-side for three hours each way to school through the thick forests that surround their village, spending an unbearable six hours walking each day. Because of this, children like Giveness and her sister were frequently absent and had to repeat grades due to poor school performance. For some, rivers and lakes further impede travel, when during the rainy season floods make some areas completely impassable for the unsupervised children on their daily journey.

“Before Save the Children gave us bicycles I used to walk 15 kilometers to school and back every day. I would start off at 5am when it’s still dark with my young sister. We would walk for 3 hours and our legs would be sore. We almost gave up on school. But now that I have a bicycle my legs feel better.” she shyly says in the local language, called Lamba.

Giveness is now able to go to school every day and carry her sister along with her on her bicycle, like many of her friends that have also received a bicycle thanks to sponsorship funding support, purchased through a community cash transfer program. The head teacher also shared that the number of children attending school has risen as those that have received bicycles carry their friends and siblings along as they go to school.

Giveness smiling with her friends outside of their sponsorship supported school.
Giveness smiling with her friends outside of their sponsorship supported school.

“I am so happy to be sponsored because I am able to learn, receive letters from my sponsor, and also have a bicycle. When I grow up I want to be a nurse because I am acquiring a lot of knowledge at school.” Giveness says proudly.

Giveness now cycles to school within an hour and another hour to get back home. Instead of taking a journey of six hours, it now takes her just two, and she does not miss out on any lessons because she is always on time and no longer constantly tired and sore. Thank you, sponsors, for making this possible!

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

My Sponsor’s Name is Kim

Author Portrait_Maria Rosario Garcia, Sponsorship Communications Coordinator
Maria Rosario Garcia

Sponsorship Communications Coordinator

Save the Children Philippines

August 8, 2017

“My sponsor’s name is Kim,” 6-year-old Maria proudly told me as I spoke to her one day after class. I was visiting her community in South Central Mindanao to deliver the newest letter she had received from her sponsor. She spoke confidently and proudly, and sounded like she knew her sponsor very well.

Maria and her family live in an area where most families do not have the ability to provide three meals a day, have clean drinking water or even a single toy for their children to play with. Her father works as a driver, who is able to come home only on the weekends, while her mother stays at home to take care of Maria and her 9-year-old brother, Zyrich.

Maria smiling in front of her classroom.
Maria smiling in front of her classroom.

Having a sponsor keeps Maria excited about her days. She is eager to share with Kim about her life and about what she is learning in school. People from Maria’s hometown have little mobility to move beyond the community – it is a small and remote village where usually people only travel as far as where they can reach on foot. Her eyes light up with wonder when she reads the letter describing what it is like in the country where her sponsor lives, in the state of Texas in the United States. Hearing stories about the different places in her sponsor’s life has made her realize that the world is bigger than she ever imagined it to be.

She knows there is so much beyond her community now and she awaits for stories about that world in the letters she receives – learning about Kim’s family, her pets and the places she has visited. Maria clearly remembers that she received three letters from her sponsor, each equally exciting and wonderful, over the little over a year she’s been sponsored by Kim. “It makes me happy to know that I have a picture in their house,” she shared smiling, describing the photo all sponsors receive from their sponsored children each year. Maria’s facial expression was more than happy as she continued to tell me that she felt like she’s part of Kim’s family, and that she feels cared for even though they are countries and oceans apart.

After two years of attending our learning programs, Maria is now happily attending her first grade in primary school. These sponsorship supported programs have provided Maria and the other children in her community with reading camps to practice their reading skills with peers, the provision of new learning materials and book banks from which books can now be borrowed, and additional supplies for their schools that enhance literacy and numeracy skills.

Maria now knows how to wash her hands properly, thanks to sponsorship health programs in her school.
Maria now knows how to wash her hands properly, thanks to sponsorship health programs in her school.

Today, Maria says she wants to be a teacher so she can teach more children how to read, write and color pictures as she is so fond of doing! She tells me she cannot wait to share this dream with Kim.

If I were able to meet Maria’s sponsor, I would tell her that she has all the reasons to be proud of Maria. Aside from her astounding progress in school, she is also one of the Child Ambassadors who represents her community in Save the Children’s programs – serving as an embodiment of the achievements her community has been able to implement with sponsorship support.

Sponsorship shares and inspires not just future teachers like Maria, but future doctors, police officers, pilots, veterinarians and more in the over 20 countries where we implement our programs. If you haven’t written to your sponsored child yet, we encourage you to do so! Our experience tells us that letter writing is extremely rewarding for sponsors and children alike – you may help to shape their future dreams!

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

Guatemala Blog Post 2

Bipartisan McGovern-Dole Program Transforms Health and Education in Guatemala’s Western Highlands

By Dan Stoner, Associate Vice President of Education and Child Protection at Save the Children.

In August 2016, I had the privilege of visiting Save the Children’s IDEA project in Guatemala with Jonathan Cordone, the then Deputy Undersecretary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

IDEA is a USDA project funded through the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. IDEA is one example of the many international humanitarian and development programs that would be a casualty of the President’s drastic proposal to cut U.S. international affairs funding by roughly one-third.

The justification for the cut was that the program lacks evidence that it is being effectively implemented to reduce food insecurity, but our Guatemala program shows that it is indeed making a difference in the lives of children.

Guatemala Blog Post 1

Guatemala’s Western Highlands

In the Guatemalan Western Highlands, more than 60% of indigenous children are stunted and more than half are malnourished.  Through the IDEA project, Save the Children feeds more than 43,000 school age children per year, directly addressing food insecurity in the most impoverished region of Guatemala.

A recent independent evaluation of the IDEA program indicated that as a result of the school meals, absenteeism in program schools dropped from 20% to 5% in less than 2 years.[1]  The same evaluation found the number of children who now pay attention in class increased by 40%.  When asked why more children were paying attention in class, teachers said “They are no longer hungry.”

The McGovern-Dole Program

The McGovern-Dole program goes beyond just feeding children who otherwise would not have, in many cases, even one nutritious meal a day.  It integrates health, nutrition, and education interventions that enable children to reach their full potential.   The IDEA program has transformed barren cinderblock classrooms into engaging environments (as seen below) designed to cultivate children’s curiosity and encourage their love of learning. As a result of the USDA McGovern-Dole program, these children have learned to read in two languages: the indigenous K’iche’ language and Spanish.

While the program is based in more than 260 rural schools in Quiche province, its impact extends beyond these communities.

Ministry of Education officials who have seen the program work, have adopted program methodologies and manuals from the IDEA program to be used in all of Guatemala’s public schools. The government officials were so supportive of the program that they asked Save the Children to implement it in schools that were more remote than originally planned and paid for the additional costs of doing so. This support and buy-in from the local government is a testament to the impact of USDA McGovern-Dole programming on the most vulnerable populations in Guatemala.

Guatemala Blog Post 3

In this story I am talking about one school, but one that is as vibrant as any I have seen in my 25 years in international development. The IDEA program reaches 260 schools.   McGovern Dole has 46 active programs around the world.  USDA and USAID reach millions of children in schools just like these every year.

The impact in the Western Highlands is an example of how the McGovern-Dole program reduces hunger and improves literacy and primary education globally. Each year, the McGovern-Dole program feeds over 3 million children and their families around the world while providing comprehensive education interventions designed to ensure the future success of today’s school-age children.

This is just one example of a proven bipartisan program that gives children around the world a brighter future.  At less than 1% of the entire federal budget, slashing international affairs won’t make an impact on the deficit, but the impact on children will be devastating. Congress must continue to invest in programs like these – they’re worth every penny.

 

[1] Asociacion De Desarrollo Organizacional Communitara ADOC. Mid Term Evaluation of IDEA Project, SC/USDA. Aug. 2016. Guatemala. Pg 37

Learning Healthy Habits

Author Portrait_Anisa Naimi, School Health and Nutrition Officer
Anisa Naimi

School Health and Nutrition Officer

Save the Children in Afghanistan

February 28, 2017

My name is Anisa Naimi, I have been working as a School Health and Nutrition Officer with Sponsorship and Save the Children in Afghanistan for the past nine years. Sponsorship’s health and nutrition programs are designed to improve the health of children and to reduce malnutrition, which in turn enhances children’s scholastic performance. Healthy living habits are promoted by involving children in health campaigns held in their community or at their school. We arrange for at least two campaigns to be held in each village in which we work each year, on topics like the importance of healthy nutrition. Campaigns are coupled with the distribution of vitamin A supplements and de-worming tablets so children not only leave with improved knowledge of how to stay healthy but leave a little healthier that same day!

Vitamin A campaigns and distribution is one of my favorite parts of my job. After we meet with community members and other local stakeholders who help us organize campaign days, we travel to the far away villages that we bring our Sponsorship programs to.

Children sharing health messages through songs.
Children sharing health messages through songs.

One such day we had to go very far, passing through rough roads, multiple valleys and by small villages. Once we were close to the school we started to see students and their parents walking from the nearby villages towards the school, where the day’s event would take place. All around us children were confidently calling out to the villagers through loudspeakers to encourage them to participate in the activities.

The first thing we do when we enter a school is prepare child-centered health education groups, so that children can have fun while learning with their peers. We lead the groups in learning about health topics through role playing, singing songs and playing games. Children also learn how to spread messages about how locally available fruits and vegetables provide good sources of vitamins, by holding banners they’ve made and sharing presentations.

This was an opportunity for the children and their parents to spend time together and learn about healthy habits. The children explained to their parents or guardians the messages they’ve learned, for example to eat organic foods which are cheap and available in their community, and most importantly nutritious. One of the girls told me proudly, “This campaign was very helpful for us. I used to believe that only those things that were very expensive, like meat, were good for our health, but now I can prepare healthy food using vegetables [that are] locally available, for my family.” Another said, “I spent a lovely day with my friends, and we conveyed health related messages to the nearby villages. I wish this day was celebrated more often!”

A group of children spreads healthy habits through their community.
A group of children spreads healthy habits through their community.

As a School Health and Nutrition Officer, I led the children in these exercises. I am happy to be spreading health messages to communities and schools to raise people’s awareness about healthy habits and behaviors, and improving people’s lives. During this year’s events the children were all very active participants. We have been inspired by the children to continue working hard to implement the program. They dream of a better future, and we can help them make that happen.

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