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.

Now I Can Read the Books by Myself

Author Portrait_Fahim Shahriar, Deputy Manager - Sponsorship Communication and Data QualityFahim Shahriar

Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communication and Data Quality

Save the Children in Bangladesh

July 21, 2017

Sajib is now over 7 years old, and lives with his family in the slums of Rayerbazar, an area with run-down, overcrowded and unsafe informal housing, in Dhaka North City, one of the areas in which sponsorship works in Bangladesh. His father Fazlu pulls rickshaws in order to support their family, and his mother Ajufa works supporting the home. He is the youngest among 4 siblings, and has been involved in Save the Children’s sponsorship program since May of 2016.

Before sponsorship came to Dhaka North City, children had very few opportunities to learn or play outside of school. They could be seen usually aimlessly wandering the meandering slum city paths and streets. No one had talked to their parents about how important receiving an education could be for their children, and so parents would not involve themselves in supporting their children’s schooling. Sajib and other children from the slums had irregular attendance and didn’t enjoy reading, because they found it so difficult and because there were so few books available to them. As a 1st grader, Sajib had trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, and could not read any books on his own.

Sajib and his parents came to know about sponsorship by attending a gathering hosted by Save the Children for parents in their community. After that, they began to understand the impact sponsorship, and having a strong foundational education, could have on their son’s future.

Sajib reading a storybook with friends Firoza and Rabibul at the center.
Sajib reading a storybook with friends Firoza and Rabibul at the center.

Thanks to these programs, Sajib’s learning abilities have been transformed. He now has the great joy of attending after-school programming at the sponsorship supported community center in his neighborhood. There he is greeted by a child-friendly learning environment, with walls covered in colorful posters and images, and shelves full of print-rich materials.

He shares proudly, “Now, I am reading in grade two at school. After school, I love going to Shishu Mela [local sponsorship supported community center], because my many friends go there. We read storybooks and play games together there.”

At sponsorship programs Sajib was also introduced to a child-centered teaching style for the first time, which employs interactive and fun learning techniques to keep him engaged in the daily lessons. “Apa reads the books to us in special way, I like that and for this reason, I go to the center,” he shares about the way the center facilitator, Apa, reads books to them in an entertaining way that captures their imaginations – storytelling with rhythm and pace, pausing at the exciting parts and speaking with feeling to convey the characters’ emotions.

“I participate in storytelling sessions and I have learned spellings of words,” he continues proudly, “Now, I enjoy reading stories and sometimes I borrow books from the center to read at home. Because of this center, now I can read the books by myself.”

Adding to his new found reading skills, Sajib and his family are very happy to get connected with their new friend abroad who is contributing to the wellbeing of their community in so many ways. “I am feeling so special after knowing that I have got a new friend in abroad, because not all other children here in my community have such a friend,” shares Sajib, describing the newly formed friendship with his sponsor, Casey, who started sponsoring him in December of 2016.

Sajib preparing a drawing for his sponsor, Casey.
Sajib preparing a drawing for his sponsor, Casey.

With the encouragement in letters from his sponsor and the enjoyment and new found confidence he has from learning at the community center, Sajib is flourishing. He attends school regularly now and reads on his own time outside of school.

His mother Ajufa shared, “I am so happy to know that my son Sajib is chosen by someone from abroad for friendship. I have learned the importance of such a friendship by seeing his progress after attending sessions at the community center. He can read stories by himself and his reading habit has increased too. He is teaching us handwashing and hygiene practices that he is learning at the center. These changes are happening to him because of [the] sponsorship contribution of foreign friends [sponsors]. Like my son, many other children of our community are also benefitting through sponsorship support. I want this relationship with his friend to continue!”

We know that receiving letters from sponsors makes a huge impact on sponsored children, giving them a sense of pride and self-worth. Sajib concludes, “I am very much excited as I could have written about myself and drawn a picture for my friend, which is the first time for me. I have loved writing and drawing a lot as those are shared with my friend through Save the Children. Now, I am waiting to hear from my friend and very eager to know more about him.”

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

An Open Heart

Susan and Claire

By Susan Warner, Senior Manager, Photography & Multimedia Production and

Claire Garmirian, Media Research Analyst

Susan: I made her cry, good tears. Transformative tears of love for the child in her arms. When I showed Rosa the photo I took of her and her granddaughter, she burst into tears. I knew then I had taken a good photo.

Claire: Rosa and I spent half an hour speaking in the director’s office on the second floor of the school. We gathered chairs together so that she, Ivonne from Save the Children Mexico and I could hear each other over the noise from below. The painted concrete patio where teachers lead students in experiential learning was beneath us and the sounds of preschoolers moving, counting and singing ricocheted up into the office. Amid all of this energy, Rosa shared the very personal details of her life with her granddaughter, Valeria*, and how she has found herself to be a primary caregiver for the four-year-old girl.

Susan: I don’t speak Spanish, nor have an ear for languages.  I gesture, pantomime, demonstrate and rely on our local staff to help when I’m on assignment.  I had asked Rosa to directly look into the eyes of her 4-year-old granddaughter.

Claire: As I listened to Rosa talk about her family, it became clear that she is a central figure holding many people together. She lives with her husband and son and daughter, both of whom have children of their own. Due to tensions between different members of the family, Rosa is a person who everyone can talk to. She sees the difficulties on both sides of the disputes. It sounded like her role could be tiring at times. She admitted that Valeria’s tantrums could make her feel desperate, but she also says she knows that they are a result of Valeria missing her mother, who no longer lives with her. As much as raising Valeria can be hard work, Rosa had endless stories about how intelligent and creative her granddaughter is. When I lost my words searching for a question, Rosa volunteered the story of her trip to the theater with Valeria. Valeria could repeat the song from the performance by heart after only hearing it once. And while Rosa’s speech was even throughout our conversation, it became energetic and expressive when she told me about Valeria’s drawings. It is obvious that she is amazed by her granddaughter’s imagination.

After our conversation, Rosa descended the stairs to join Susan on the school’s main level. They found a corner among the cacophony to take the tender portrait of the grandmother and granddaughter.

Susan:  Through talking about her experiences in the interview and seeing the photos on the back of my camera, Rosa was emotional, in a positive way, overwhelmed by her love of her granddaughter. It was a touching experience to witness the love they shared. I had photographed her heart.

*Name has been changed for protection.

Background:

Valeria attends preschool in a rough neighborhood in Mexico City that is fraught with violence, drug gangs, and addiction. Save the Children’s HEART program has helped children in this community cope with their stress, anxiety, fears and anger from being exposed to these activities.

About HEART:
HEART (Healing and Education through the ARTs) uses the arts to help children affected by serious or chronic stress from their life circumstances of poverty, violence or other traumatic events. Through painting, music, drama, and other art forms, HEART helps children find new ways to share their feelings and fears, so they can express themselves in a safe environment with trusted adults and peers, and thrive in the classroom. When children share their feelings they begin the healing process.
Save the Children launched HEART in Mexico in 2016. In the first year of operation, HEART reached nearly 8,000 children affected by poverty, violence and migration in 5 provinces: Baja California, Chiapas, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Puebla. The education program is integrated into Save the Children’s programs existing school curriculums for children, including programs at preschools, early primary schools, child and youth centers, and summer programs, as well as migration prevention programs for children and teenagers.
Save the Children has operated in Mexico since 1973. Today, Save the Children serves children in 18 of Mexico’s 32 states, giving kids a healthy start, an opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

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A Brighter Future For Children in Romania

By Ashley Snow, Manager, Engagement, Resource Development

At Save the Children, we always say we’ll do whatever it takes to help every last child. This call to action is embedded within our long-term ambition, our strategic priorities and, even our day-to-day watercooler talk. Save the Children employees are deeply committed to making a difference in the lives of the most marginalized, the most deprived, the most vulnerable children. Admittedly, despite its persistent presence in my daily work, I had no idea what this phrase really meant – helping every last child – until I saw it with my own eyes.

When I was assigned to host a group of IKEA co-workers going to visit our IKEA Foundation supported program in Romania, I had to look it up on a map. I’d heard about the country from friends and family who had traveled there for various reasons – service trips, studies abroad, church missions. But, beyond the Transylvania legend and overwhelmed orphanages, my knowledge of the country was limited at best. In my preparation, I was thrilled and consumed with the opportunity to explore the country and finally observe Save the Children Romania’s programs in person.

I’ve worked for Save the Children for the past three years; it was my last internship during college and my first job afterward. I was immediately inspired by the mission of the organization and have always felt incredibly lucky to work toward such ambitious and honorable goals: we hope to provide every child with a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.

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In Romania, Save the Children’s programs for inclusive education are primarily focused on a population that I had never heard of before my visit: the Roma. You may know the group by the more common name of gypsies. The Roma community originated inside the country of Romania and dominates a large portion of its population to this day. The ethnic group faces large social, cultural and political barriers to pulling out of widespread poverty. Many Roma are uneducated and live with multiple families in makeshift shacks. Young boys and girls are often pulled out of school to work or marry; Roma children consist of 80% of the students out of school in the country. Even if they are able to attend, the children face deep-rooted discrimination. Their own teachers often believe – and say aloud – that it is useless to educate a Roma child.

As we drove around the capital city of Bucharest, up into the mountains of Brasov, and along dirt roads to meet with Roma children, I was struck by our call to action: whatever it takes to help every last child. For many Roma communities across the country, Save the Children is the only organization that is present to support their children. For a group that is not only forgotten, but heavily prejudiced against, our strategic and targeted educational programs provide a glimmer of hope for a better future.

On our last school visit during the trip, we had the opportunity to meet with Roma parents whose children had participated in a kindergarten preparedness program the previous summer. This intervention is specifically designed for the Roma population, to ensure that boys and girls who are starting school are prepared – both academically and socially – for the year ahead. We witnessed a sampling of the class and noted the impressive behavior of the children. Though only five or six years old, the boys and girls were raising their hands, speaking in turn and listening to their teacher. One IKEA co-worker even exclaimed, “They’re better behaved than my daughter’s class at home!”

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When we talked with the mothers and fathers after the class let out, I noted the many similarities between the desires of these Roma parents and those I know at home. They had all sacrificed in many ways – education, work, and more – to build a better future for their children. Like so many parents in the United States, they dream of providing a little more, a little better for their sons and daughters.

At the end of the discussion, I suddenly asked if they had noticed a difference in their children since the program had started last summer. The entire room erupted with noise and movement from our participants.

The answer, as I had hoped, was an overwhelming yes.

IKEA Foundation is Save the Children’s largest global corporate partner. We have been partners with IKEA since 1994. Through IKEA Foundation-funded programs, Save the Children has touched the lives of some 10 million children. The inclusive education program we visited in Romania is funded by the Soft Toys for Education campaign. The campaign that ran from 2003 to 2015, aimed to improve the education of the most disadvantaged children, recognizing that education is one of the best investments for them. Save the Children programs focused on children of ethnic minority groups and children with disabilities – groups which are often the most vulnerable. Our work together continues in the new Let’s Play for Change campaign IKEA launched 2016.

For more information about the partnership, please visit: https://www.savethechildren.net/about-us/our-corporate-partners/ikea-foundation

Steven Gets Motivated

Author Portrait_Steven, Sponsored Child
Naicee Martin

Program Specialist

Save the Children U.S. Programs

July 13, 2017

Steven is 9 years old and participates in our sponsorship and afterschool programs in California. Steven loves being outside and is learning to play football and soccer. He also likes going to the library and learning about different animals. Steven enjoys corresponding with his sponsor and has fun composing letters. He said that on days when he is feeling sad the letters make him smile. Steven’s older sister passed away last year so this has been an important source of support for him. He likes to learn about different places and was curious about his sponsor’s life.

9-year-old Steven participates in sponsorship and afterschool programs in California.
9-year-old Steven participates in sponsorship and afterschool programs in California.

Steven began participating in the program 2 years ago when he was struggling with reading and homework. In the past year, Steven has made great improvements in his reading skills and now enjoys reading. His self-confidence has also improved. The encouragement and support he received from Save the Children programs helped him to keep moving forward while coping with the loss of his sister.

Steven loves being outside and is learning to play football and soccer.
Steven loves being outside and is learning to play football and soccer.

Steven’s teacher shared that she has noticed that Steven is interacting more in the classroom and is able to understand more than he did at the beginning of the year. He has built strong friendships in the afterschool program that motivate him in the classroom. Steven’s other sister shared, “His self-esteem has gotten so much better. Being in the program and getting to try new things, reading new books and playing new games really makes him happy.” The sponsorship and afterschool programs have supported Steven in strengthening his reading skills and self-confidence while providing support as he dealt with a traumatic event in his life.

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

 

From Counting Leaves to Solving Math Problems

Author Portrait_Jussar Simone, Quality Communications Coordinator
Jussar Simone

Quality Communications Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

July 7, 2017

In the rural farming community of Muendaze in Nacala-a-Velha, Mozambique, lives a family of 5 – mother, father and 3 children, one of them 6 year old Issufo. After participating in community mobilization campaigns organized by Save the Children, in 2014 Maiassa, Issufo’s mother, was motivated to improve Issufo’s educational development. Despite he was not yet old enough for primary school, she learned through the campaigns in her community that, now thanks to sponsorship, there were a lot of important learning opportunities that he could be involved in even at 6, and decided to enroll Issufo in sponsorship’s early childhood learning programs.

With sponsorship support, the Muendaze community was able to construct a location specifically to host young children, usually ages 4 – 6, in learning foundational skills that help set them up for success in primary school. Save the Children also helps to train center facilitators, who are taught how to use active learning, like songs, games and storytelling, to foster vital learning skills such as in emergent math and reading.

“During the first week’s lessons, Issufo was still a shy and introverted child. However, it was possible to start to see some positives changes in his behavior,” his mother told us.

A smiling Issufo (center) with his classmates at the early learning center.
A smiling Issufo (center) with his classmates at the early learning center.

Facilitators in these centers teach their young students language skills, improve their knowledge of letters and numbers, teach them how to draw, and develop their counting skills, using locally available materials to supplement more modern teaching tools. For example, mango trees are found throughout the villages in this part of Mozambique, so children practice their counting using mango fruits and leaves.

“[At home] the [facilitator] asks us to actively participate in our children’s development, by doing small exercises and mental calculations, such as counting leaves at home,” shares Maiassa regarding little Issufo.

An important part of sponsorship’s early learning programs in Muendaze is to teach parents how to better communicate with their children and help them develop learning skills at home too – since our experience shows that learning works best when it takes place both in school and out.

After two years in the early learning center, the little Issufo and his fellow classmates graduated from the program. A small graduation ceremony was held at the end of the school year, to help the young students celebrate and feel pride in their scholastic achievements. It was on a Friday, in the shade of the early learning center, Issufo received his graduation certificate in the presence of many guests, including parents, facilitators and the community’s leader – all came to witness this important step towards primary school and their continuing education.

Today, Issufo is able to interact with adults in the community easily and with confidence, speaking the words well and showing off his constantly improving vocabulary in Portuguese. Despite being the national language, local languages like Emakwa are more commonly spoken than Portuguese in these rural areas, so Issufo is very proud to show what he knows.

Issufo giggles for the camera while solving an exercise at the board.
Issufo giggles for the camera while solving an exercise at the board.

Now he is enjoying first grade and is one of the best students in his class. When asked about school he shared, “I’m happy, and I like to study, to solve mathematical exercises… When I grow up I want to be a mathematics teacher!”

Thanks to the skills developed in the early learning center, he was prepared to face the first grade without problems. “The children who come from the centers are more open and motivated (…) indeed the center makes our work much easier,” said Fatima, his first grade teacher.

During 2016, the early childhood learning program graduated nearly 2,000 children in the region where Issufo lives. He is just an example of the importance of this program. His mother shared, “I’m very happy because now my son can play, sings and likes to count… I know that he will pass to second grade, so we can see now that we made a great decision for the development of our child. Thank you very much Save the Children for helping us!”

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

 

A Person of Great Importance

Author Portrait_Kelvin Mulenga, Information and Communications Officer
Kelvin Mulenga

Information and Communications Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

April 27, 2017

Walking along one of the paths in a small community called Nkana, I cannot help but notice the very jovial little girl who smiles despite needing a wheelchair. I am curious about her, and my curiosity leads me into a discussion with her and her mother, Rose.

I learn that this child is Celine, a 12-year-old girl and third grade student at one of the Sponsorship-supported schools in Lufwanyama. She is the last born of her family of 12. She tells us she loves fruit and shares her favorites, “I like oranges, bananas and apples because fruit provides vitamins to my body.”

Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.
Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.

Despite her physical challenges, Celine is passionate about attending school. However, like many disabled children, she was not able to go. She suffers from a spinal disease called scoliosis, which crippled her ability to walk. Though her school is just a short distance from her home, without transportation she was forced out of classes for a full year. In addition to her physical struggles, her family also could not afford to purchase school materials like books and pencils.

After being enrolled in Sponsorship, Save the Children field staff began to look for ways to help Celine attend school. They advocated for Celine to gain access to a wheelchair from one of the local churches in the community, to help her get to school. She also received exercise books from her school, provided through Sponsorship funds.

“I love Sponsorship, as Save the Children is now helping my school with a lot of things, and I am given some of these like books.” Celine said with a smile.

Today, Celine is back in school and tells us she wishes to work in an office one day, where she will be a person of great importance, “When I finish school, I would like to work in an office where I should be signing on documents, that they bring to my office.”

Celine back in class and ready to learn.
Celine back in class and ready to learn.

However, her dream will not be realized without her community continuing to embrace the importance in protecting the health and education of every child, as a fundamental human right – that every child is entitled to enjoy learning regardless of their physical abilities.

Save the Children has been implementing its non-discriminatory programs to help children like Celine attain education despite the many hurdles they face in their life. Continue to dream big, Celine, and we will continue to support you!

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

 

Breaking Out of Her Shell

Author Portrait_Sharon Johnson
Sharon Johnson

Community Liaison

Save the Children U.S. Programs

April 13, 2017

Dayla is in the 1st grade and participates in our sponsorship and in-school literacy programs in her town in Mississippi. Dayla is normally quiet but gets very excited when she hears from her sponsors. Reading the letters and drafting her replies have helped to expand her vocabulary and improve her reading skills. She loves that her sponsor encourages her to do well in school.

1st grade student Dayla is gaining confidence at school thanks to sponsorship.
1st grade student Dayla is gaining confidence at school thanks to sponsorship.

This is Dayla’s first year being enrolled in school and Save the Children programs have been a big help with that transition. Since participating, she’s became more eager to go to school and especially to attend the programs. She has begun talking and participating more in class. Dayla has also been paired with a Foster Grandparent which provides another supportive relationship. And we all know how important supportive, caring relationships are to children’s development. Dayla is excited to improve her reading skills and has made many new friends in the programs.

Dayla enjoying reading a story.
Dayla enjoying reading a story.

Dayla’s self-esteem has improved dramatically since she began school. She has become much more confident and has a positive outlook about school. Her mom is pleased with her progress. Her mom shared, “Save the Children has really been a great help for my child. My child used to be very quiet and not eager to read, but now she’s participating more in class and improving her reading skills.” Dayla has had a successful first year of school thanks to the support of sponsorship and in-school literacy programs.

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

 

Joy in Fipokola

author-portrait_kelvin-kasuba-quality-and-communications-coordinatorKelvin Kasuba

Quality and Communications Coordinator

Save the Children Zambia

November 2, 2016

 

The day had finally arrived. The people of the Fipokola community put on their best and gathered for the long awaited ceremony. It was the kick off of the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project, through which Save the Children Korea, one of the offices that supports Sponsorship in Zambia, was about to make a big change in the lives of the children and families of this community. This project targets high-need communities in the district for the building or reconstruction of schools.

 Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built
Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built.

It was a colorful scene. Tents were decorated with colorful materials and banners were displayed all around. What caught my attention the most was the large crowd that had gathered – upon arrival the whole village it seemed followed behind our vehicle, chanting songs of jubilation and about the great things Save the Children had already done in their community. The occasion was graced with very influential people from society, two Save the Children Korea staff members and also his Royal Highness Chief Lumpuma, the community leader of Fipokola.

In his speech, Chief Lumpuma shared guidance with his people. He called for them to embrace education if they were to succeed. He advised parents to avoid engaging their children in early marriage and other activities at the expense of their education. He said, “I also thank Save the Children for the rehabilitation of this school and for considering us for the first school [to receive support] under the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project.”

chief-lumpuma-preparing-to-give-his-speech-to-the-community
Chief Lumpuma preparing to give his speech to the community.

Amidst the excitement one boy told me, “I am happy today because a new school will be built. And I am happy because I will be a part of a new school which will have a better look and books that can help make me a better person in the future, like a doctor, teacher or lawyer.” I was so happy and speechless to see how joyful the parents were at seeing a step of action taken, and the children at their brightened future potential.

It is indeed a dream come true in Fipokola, and it is thanks to Child Sponsorship and Save the Children Korea that they will have the resources needed for construction. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, sponsors!

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

15 Years of Promises

author-portrait_sylvine-bule-data-officer

 

Sylvine Bule

Data Officer

Save the Children Zambia

September 16, 2016

After a tiring trip to one of the most hard to reach areas in which Sponsorship works in Zambia, we arrived at a small community school that has been struggling to stay functional for a very long time. The main aim of my trip to this village was to hear from different members of the community, including parents, teachers and children, on the current condition of the school and the needs of its students.

I will never forget the words spoken by one of the teachers upon our arrival, “Madam, we have heard promises from various other organizations willing to help us to build a better school. For 15 years we have waited for such words to come to life.”

The current conditions of the crumbling small school block.
The current conditions of the crumbling small school block.

“15 years?” my heart sank at the thought of the community being in such dire need for so long as I looked at the crumbling building.

She led me to the classroom block made up of two small rooms. In the first, young students took refuge in what appeared to be a class session. Children from the ages of about 3 to 6 were squeezed tightly onto small benches, with 8 or 10 children teetering on each one. The benches were simply made with loose planks supported by burnt earth bricks.

As the children noticed a strange face enter the room they all stood up and shouted, “Good morning madam!” I smiled back and responded happily, despite being troubled by the poor classroom conditions.

I was again led to a different class where my heart sank even more. It was a class of two different grades forced to share one teacher and learning space, a common circumstance in villages like this and a detriment to the learning of both age groups. A small board hung nailed to one of the mud walls, with the already limited writing space divided in half to accommodate the different lessons for each grade.

“This is a class of grade 4 and grade 5 children,” the teacher explained. “I have to start with the lower grade, teach them and then give them an exercise to write. Once I am done, I split the board into two, and write for the other grade on the other half.”

The classrooms were both very full – the children with bare feet and soiled faces, yet very eager to learn. I noticed already there were some school materials branded with the Save the Children logo, the beginnings of more work to come. I felt proud – though small, our contributions already were changing the lives of some of our country’s least privileged children.

Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built.
Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built.

I could only imagine how the community would feel once a school was finally built for them, a goal that Sponsorship will be able to help them achieve for themselves. I thought about the lasting and sustainable solutions the new school would bring. In the faces of those young children I envisioned doctors, lawyers and yes, future presidents of our country – with a story to tell and with Save the Children a happy part of it. It is possible, I thought to myself. We will change these children’s lives forever.

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