Refugee Sponsors Are Changing Lives

VicHeadshotWEB
Victoria Zegler

Multimedia Storyteller

Save the Children in Egypt

March 20, 2018

“How does it make you feel to be a representative of your school, Aseel?” I asked.

She froze, hesitant to answer.

Then she admitted that she didn’t want to sound “arrogant,” so I reassured her, “Confident, Aseel! Not arrogant.”

It was at that moment she took a deep breath and let out the most genuine response I could have hoped for.

“As an ambassador, I feel that I have a nice talent,” she said. “They chose me from the entire school, they chose me from among 800 students! I cannot believe this!”

10-year old Aseel participates during a letter writing activity within Save the Children's refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.
Aseel participates in a letter writing activity within our refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.

As the war in Syria enters its eighth year,  there are still children who are out of school, and most are up to six years behind in their reading and math skills. This, I cannot believe!

For refugee children, war has put their educations – and therefore their futures – at risk.

Back in October, I was able to visit Save the Children’s refugee sponsorship program in Egypt. I witnessed firsthand the impact being made in the lives of children who, at one point, were without an education.

During my visit, I was given the opportunity to meet our four child ambassadors – Aseel, Mohanad, Malak and Karim. Each of these inspiring children expressed their gratitude for having Save the Children in their community school and felt honored to be chosen as a representative among their peers.

I watched plays orchestrated by local Save the Children staff to promote hygiene in a fun and inclusive atmosphere (think big toothbrushes constructed out of cardboard and plastic straws!). I heard the excitement in the children’s voices when they talked about attending summer camp and art exhibits. It made me smile knowing that our sponsors are giving vulnerable children the education and support they need to succeed.

Global Sponsorship Multimedia Storyteller Victoria Zegler takes a selfie with children participating in Save the Children's refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.
Global Sponsorship Multimedia Storyteller Victoria, takes a selfie with children in our refugee sponsorship program in Egypt.

After meeting each of these children and hearing their stories, I couldn’t help but notice their sense of self-awareness. All of the incredible support we receive from sponsors like you allows refugee children to thrive in a safe environment, one where they can focus on learning and just being kids again. These children recognize what is happening in the world, even though they may not understand it. They realize that they have been given a second chance, and they know they have to work hard. Because of your generosity, refugee children are able to continue their educations and dare to dream of their futures.

It moved me to see these young children serving as leaders within the community and talking about their hopes for the future. This is what your generosity is doing. You’re helping provide the care and support these children desperately need to pursue their dreams.

Thank you for making a positive difference in the lives and futures of refugee children like Aseel.

Within our impact area of Greater Cairo, Save the Children responds to both short-term and long-term needs of vulnerable refugee children and their families by offering child protection, education, health and livelihoods support, counseling and psychological support. Learn more and find out how you can help at SavetheChildren.org/RefugeeSponsorship

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.

A Teacher’s Process

Author Portrait_2_Mirvat Mahran, Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher
Mirvat Mahran

Early Childhood Care and Development Teacher

Save the Children Egypt

September 1, 2016

 

I’m Mirvat Mahran, a teacher at one the preschools supported by Sponsorship, in a village called Arab AlQadadeh in Egypt.

My preschool takes part in Sponsorship’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program, which targets children under the age of 6. This program focuses on the development of young children to ensure they enter primary school with the skills they need for school success. Through activities like interactive games, songs, storytelling, social interaction and outdoor play, we help make sure children grow and thrive. In remote areas, where this important stage of life is often neglected, the ECCD program helps get children excited about education and thus increases enrollments in primary school.

On a regular work day, I perform activities with children to help build their social skills and teach them the basics they need to be ready for school. We welcome everybody, and in particular give special care to children with disabilities.

One of the children who joined us a while ago is Rania, a 5-year-old and very sweet little girl. Her mother tells us that before enrolling in ECCD, Rania always refused to talk or express herself. She wasn’t able to count to ten, didn’t know names of familiar animals, wasn’t able to identify names of many common objects to her surroundings and wasn’t able to put sentences together correctly. Her mother came to realize that she was significantly behind in language development.

Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat
Rania and the other kids clap along to a group activity led by their teacher, Mirvat.

As a mother, she was willing to do whatever it took to help her daughter. She thought that a preschool might be the answer, and so decided to enroll Rania in a Save the Children supported preschool. As Rania’s new teacher, she explained to me her child’s issues and that she believed Rania had lost her self-confidence due to the laughter and criticism she endured from her peers. My biggest challenge with Rania was that I needed to avoid the same thing happening twice, so I had to welcome her very carefully, building her capacity using ECCD’s multi-activities package which is designed to promote the cognitive, physical, language and psycho-social skills of children her age.

I talked to her about the activities that the children here do to figure out what she loves best. She asked to play in the art corner and after she’d finished her drawing I asked her to describe it. I encouraged her to talk by giving her the impression that I understood her comprehensively. Gradually, I started to correct her and teach her the proper pronunciation of letters. In this way, her language skills developed as did her comfort in the classroom.

She began participating in our classroom’s reading corner, where she enjoyed reading and acting stories out in front of the other children. With her self-confidence rebuilt, she started to take part in the collective games, like playing with, and sharing, blocks and preforming plays with the other children.

Rania presents in front of her classmates
Rania presents in front of her classmates.

Now, Rania is able to clearly communicate and understand the others. I feel so happy for having a positive impact on her life. I felt responsible for her since the moment her mother came to me asking for help. I doubted myself at times, but the trainings I had received with Save the Children built a solid foundation that I relied on, and continue to rely on. Many of the mothers in our village turn to me whenever they face problems with their children. Now, I’m proud to say that Rania is looking forward to moving onto primary school next year!

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

The Right to Education

Abeer

Abeer Bakeer

Basic Education Assistant

Arab Al Atteyat, Egypt

June 22, 2015

 

My name is Abeer Bakeer. I am the Basic Education Assistant in the sponsorship program, where every day I am confronted by parents who lack basic knowledge of health, hygiene, and maybe cannot read, as well as poorly equipped schools and teachers. Despite all this children still exhibit a great desire to improve themselves.

Library

Abeer with a group children at the school library

One memorable moment which illustrates this occurred when I was in Arab Al Atteyat, a culturally Bedouin village far from many basic services, monitoring some educational activities there. A parent came to take his child home from school for an unknown reason. The child passionately refused because he wanted to remain to solve a specific math problem he was working on!

When I graduated, I volunteered with several community projects that serve marginalized people. I really enjoyed the social aspect of the work. When a permanent position became available with Save the Children, I jumped at the chance. I have worked in this role for one year now, where I spend five days weekly serving needy children.

School

Abeer with a group children at school

Over the past seven years, Save the Children in Egypt has worked with the Ministry of Education, our local partners, schools, teachers, and children. We work closely with teachers on classroom management techniques, lesson planning, and supporting children to be leaders. When children cannot read, we help them to learn. And they do.

The thing I am most proud of is how children change, changes I see. Thank you, sponsors, for helping to support our work.

How do you think having to fight for your right to an education could affect a young child’s attitude towards learning? Do you think the challenges school age children face in impoverished communities to attend school makes their desire to learn stronger?

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

Stimulating Early Learners

Portrait 1

Hend Saad

Early Childhood Care and Development Coordinator, Save the Children Egypt

June 25, 2014

 

 

“I feel filled with happiness when I see a child smiling with that innocent look in their eyes,” said Hend Saad.

Hend joined Save the Children in Egypt in 2013 to support our Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Program which provides families with access to safe places for their young children to learn play and make friends. Hend works directly with children on a daily basis, and is one of the lucky people who adores her job.  At  ECCD class

“I remember one day when I arrived at an ECCD class to monitor the activities, and a five year old boy Ahmed ran towards me after he noticed that I was holding a camera .He excitedly asked me to take a picture of him which I did. I was struck by his eloquence and couldn’t help thinking of children who did not have a safe place like that to develop, be stimulated and grow.

At ECCD  classWhen I returned home I thought again of Ahmed, and that comparison remained in my mind: Ahmed the confident kid who participates in ECCD, and other children who spend most of their time playing on the streets with little care and almost no stimulation from anyone. I realized that our mission in Egypt is not easy, and there are many challenges, but I will work when all children can join ECCD classes. It’s not only good for their development, it’s their right!”

 

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

One Day in the Life: Egypt








Portrait (2)

Mona Moneer, Adolescence and Livelihoods Manager

Egypt

August 20, 2013


I was born and raised in Minya in
Upper Egypt where I still live. Every day, I travel for about 2 hours by car or
train to Abnoub district in Assiut Governorate where I work. Rural villages in
both Minya and Assiut Governorates are among the most disadvantaged in the
country, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work at Save the
Children to improve the lives of marginalized and disadvantaged children in my
community.

In the filedThe best thing about my long drive is
that, while I am getting pleasure from the charming view of the agricultural
road, I think about the children who are benefiting from our programs. The
moment I reach Abnoub, I feel I have entered a new world. I like the simplicity
of life in Abnoub and the taste of its sweet air. People here are very sincere.
Children are so vulnerable, but smart and very cute, and everything is
different than in the city.

One day when I was monitoring some
activities related to our program “New Beginning,” a project that aims to
develop the financial and saving skills of adolescents, I was asked by a few girls
in the program to spend time with them. They wanted to raise some issues
related to the program design, and asked me to schedule a meeting with the head
of the Board of Directors of our partner, the local Community Development
Association. When they met, the girls asked for the inclusion of girls in
capacity building interventions related to mobile phones and electricity
maintenance, traditionally restricted to boys.

A girl answering a question asked at one of STC’s sessions

A girl answering a question asked at one of Save the Children’s sessions

This group of girls was very
organized and well prepared during the discussions. I was very happy and proud
as I watched them express their opinion clearly and confidently. I felt that
Save the Children had a very significant impact on these young girls’
personalities that will enable them to have a better future. 

Visiting Early Childhood Care and Development Centers

Eman Mahrous, Early Childhood Care and Development IMG_1681Manager

Assuit, Egypt

October 26, 2012


 After an hour of driving on the Upper Egypt agricultural road we reached Kom el Mansoura village, part of the Assiut governorate, to visit one of the Early Childhood Care and Development centers.

 As I entered the classroom the children happily greeted me with awelcome song and beaming smiles. I talked with them a little to see that they are doing well, enjoying the classes and to ensure that they’re benefiting from the services Save the Children provides.

 IMG_1034After my conversation with the children they return to their coloring, drawing, and writing. During the classes, the children feel free and safe in an environment ideal for learning – one which every child should have, but unfortunately many still do not.

 One mother arrived at the center to bring her child lunch and I had a chance to speak with her. I asked if she is satisfied with the ECCD
services and if she sees positive changes in her child. She replied happily:

ECCD is like a dream come true; before we were constantly wondering why no one could see our problems and was helping our children, not even government officials. Then all of a sudden, our calls for help are answered. Now we have a safe place for our children to play and get an education that will help them make an easy transition to primary education since they are familiar with the school environment. Since joining the program our children are able to express their needs, communicate better with their peers and their behavior ha s improved.

The most important thing though is the parentIMG_0983 education sessions
that we attend.

Save the Children staff tell us all about common problems our children might face, how to solve them, the best ways to deal with our children and how can we support our children while they grow.

After hearing all of that, I can honestly say that the voices of the people we work with is the motivation which helps Save the Children staff,
like me, work harder and reach more children and communities in need with these beneficial services.

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

Behind the Sponsorship Scene: Egypt

Mohamed Zanati

Mohamed Zanati, Education Officer

Assiut, Egypt

May 4, 2012


On the way to a small village located 30 miles north of Abnoub you can take the time to appreciate the beautiful scenery; the flowing Nile, fields of green and the mountains off in the distance.

This village, like many others in Upper Egypt, has suffered a lot and is deprived of many basic services. While right next to the Nile River, it only recently received clean water. There’s no youth center for children to exercise and play sports and a local health unit was only recently opened (but is still waiting for equipment). 

Egypt 5-4post picThere is only one elementary school and no secondary school; the closest is in the neighboring village almost five kilometers away. Yes, this is how much people in Upper Egypt, especially children, are still in need.

In villages like this, Save the Children provides integrated programs for children to improve their health, education and economic opportunities.  Although there is still a long way to go, these programs, which you support, are saving lives and improving the quality of life for Egyptian children everyday.

My visit was to monitor the quality of activities of our local partner, Community Development Association. As soon as we arrived I could see the smiles creeping onto the face of the children, and with a signal from their teacher they began singing to us in welcome. I was extremely happy when I found the children in the first grade so happy in class and that they’ve managed to learn the alphabet.

It’s the first time in this village’s history that every school age child is enrolled; last year the figure was just 80%. The increase is a result of our strong partnerships and advocacy activities with partner CDA’s, the Ministry of Education, the educational administration and the school’s board of trustees.  

As an Egyptian and an employee of Save the Children I would like to thank all of the people who care enough to donate to these children in need.

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

PHOTOS: Revolution & Evolution: My Trip to Egypt – Part 3

My evening in Assiut proved to be one of the most unique and interesting parts of my visit to Upper Egypt. As it began to get dark, the streets became clogged with young people coming home and going out. We traveled to a youth center, supported by the local government, to attend a play organized by local young people with the help of some of the adults in the community. The play was written by a well-known local author of children’s books and focused on key health messages directed towards young pregnant moms, parents, and children themselves.

 

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PHOTOS: Revolution & Evolution: My Trip to Egypt – Part 2

Don’t forget to check out the first part of my trip, a visit to one of our Early Childhood Development centers.


After a fun morning with the kids, I headed over to visit our maternal and newborn health program in Assiut, which was a great opportunity to see how much our programs depend on partnerships with the local community and government. Local community groups helped provide a simple space, volunteers, and matching funds to ensure that pregnant moms and newborns receive critical pre-natal services from health staff trained by Save the Children. And the local government helps by ensuring that these health workers are part of the broader health system training as well.

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