Shohayeb’s Dreams Come True!

Author Portrait_Md. Hasan Iqbal, Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communications and Data Quality
Md. Hasan Iqbal

Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communications and Data Quality

Save the Children in Bangladesh

March 19, 2018

Shohayeb is a 12-year-old boy studying in 7th grade, at a sponsorship supported school in Meherpur, Bangladesh. He was enrolled in the child sponsorship program in 2011 when he was only 7, although sponsorship has been working in his community since 2006.

During this time, Shohayeb has gained motivation in his studies, knowledge on good practices in his personal life, for example how to wash his hands properly and how to eat healthy, and learned about the many benefits of a strong education. His community has also become strengthened and more aware through sponsorship, realizing too the importance of education for their children, healthy living practices and how the prevention of early marriage benefits the long term development and prosperity of their community. Shohayeb’s community has also received material benefits like vitamin and iron supplements for malnourished children, and school infrastructure development such as safe water treatment, hygienic latrines and new learning materials like books.

In August of 2017, Shohayeb had the great excitement of meeting his sponsor, Hyeona from South Korea, for the first time, who has been sponsoring him since 2013. They spent two days together, talking, reading, drawing, taking photos with each other and just getting to know one another.

Shohayeb with his friend and sponsor, Hyeona.
Shohayeb with his friend and sponsor, Hyeona.

During this time, Shohayeb even got to celebrate Hyeona’s birthday with her, as it took place during their visit. It was an amazing journey with friends. Hyeona visited his school and met with his teacher and classmates. She saw how now, thanks to sponsors, classrooms have print-rich learning materials and posters, instead of blank walls. She even witnessed a vision screening test at his school, a service that wasn’t available to children with vision problems until sponsorship came to his school. Later, they spent time together making arts and crafts, playing ball games with Shohayeb and his classmates, and even dancing!

Shohayeb tells us he will never forget those memories. He shared many things about himself and his family with his friend from so far away. Hyeona also shared stories about herself and her experiences, so Shohayeb not only gained a close friend but also learned many new things.

Shohayeb shared after the visit, “Now I can look to the future and hope to fulfil my dreams. My friend [sponsor] supports me a lot, and encourages me in her letters. Sponsorship has done much more for me, my family, and my village. Thank you my friend, Hyeona Kim.”

It was a wonderful moment for both. During their farewell, Shohayeb expressed his feelings, “I never thought that I could meet my friend. Over the last two days I talked to my friend, we ate together, played together… I became very happy. But, she will go soon… I cannot see her more. I hope that we could meet in future. I wish that one day after I grow up, I will go to Korea to see my friend.”

Hyeona is proud to be Shohayeb's sponsor.
Hyeona is proud to be Shohayeb’s sponsor.

Hyeona also shared her experiences about her visit to the sponsorship programs in Bangladesh, “I feel very happy to have met with Shohayeb. He is a very nice person. I feel really proud of this good boy. He will be a very gentle man in the future. We enjoyed very much our time together. He drew a picture for me – that was wonderful. We took photos together of our memorable moments. I will never forget Shohayeb. I think he will remember me. And also I feel very cheerful because my support is effectively received for children’s wellbeing. After this visit, I understand how successfully and hard Save the Children has been working for the children.”

Where does your sponsored child live? Would you like to learn more about what life is like in that country, and how your sponsorship is changing the lives of children there? Consider making the big trip to visit. Contact our team in Fairfield, CT at ChildVisits@SaveChildren.org to learn more!

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

Child Satisfaction Matters Most

Agnes

Agnes Zalila

Sponsorship Manager

Lufwanyama Communities, Zambia

August 31, 2015

 

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

Group (1)

A group in the Lufwanyama communities.

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing

Dancing in the Lufwanyama communities.

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

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

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

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

The Dream Weavers

Mona

Mona Mariano

Sponsorship Manager

T'bolis Village, Philippines

August 24, 2015

 

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

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

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

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

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

Twosome

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

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

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

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

A Recent Graduate Joins Our Mission

Fransheshca

Fransheska Quijada

Staff Member

Panama

August 17, 2015

 

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

Boys

Christian and Robert enjoying U.S. Programs

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

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

Hanging

Christian and Anabella enjoying U.S. Programs

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

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

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

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

A Traditional Wedding in Rural Afghanistan

Naila

Najzla Arzoo

Education Officer

Saripul Province, Afghanistan

August 10, 2015

 

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

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

Bread

Girls baking bread for a wedding party

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

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

Gift

Preparing a trunk of gifts for bride in Eid

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

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

Mangane, an Example of Community Leadership

Mengos

Mr. Mengos

Basic Education Coordinator

Mangane, Mozambique

August 3, 2015

 

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

School

Mangane Primary School before Save the Children intervention

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

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

School_kids

Mangane Primary School after Save the Children intervention

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

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

Durga Puja, Worship of the Goddess Durga

Moazzam

Moazzem Hossain

Senior Manager Basic Education

Meherpur, Bangladesh

July 27, 2015

 

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

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

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

Durga

Goddess Durga ready for the worship

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

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

How to Improve Reading in Mali

Catherine

Catherine Kennedy

Basic Education Advisor

Sikasso, Mali

July 21, 2015

 

I am a Basic Education Advisor with Save the Children, and I support several countries. I feel very lucky to have this job – you never do the same thing twice and you are always having new experiences and learning.

I come to Mali twice a year to help move education work forward, such as in terms of quality and reach. We identify priorities together based on issues they have found in their daily work, new priorities from the Ministry of Education, communities, and children, and new approaches and strategies from other countries or from the international education community.

Group

Cathy surrounded by children & adults in a reading camp

This visit, we are focusing on three things: improving the quality of our community-based reading clubs, using the data we gather on reading to help inform what we do, and identifying ways to make children safer at school.

The reading clubs are run by volunteers to give children the chance to practice and reinforce the reading skills taught to them at school. We hope that by making these clubs fun and child-centered, children will also develop a love of reading which will serve them through life. During my visit, we have visited six camps in three sites. Our basic education team in Sikasso chose one site that was good, one that is on the way to being good, and one that really needs help.

The one that was good was really very good – the volunteer was friendly, fun, and very engaging with the children. He invited their opinions and respected their ideas. It was obvious the children enjoyed the song, story, discussion, and reading time he led them in. It is important for me to see this, because it means that the team and I have the same idea as to what quality is, and we know what we are trying to achieve. The other visits reminded me how different these ideas can be for our volunteers, who have a very limited, often negative, experience of school themselves. As a team afterwards, we brainstormed ways to continue to help the volunteers through strengthening their skills and confidence.

Group2

Cathy surrounded by children in a reading camp

My second objective was to help the team analyze the latest data coming out of our Literacy Project. We saw some exciting trends emerging. For example, children learning in their own language are learning to read faster than those that are taught in French. We were also reminded of how inequitable systems can be, as schools with fully trained, motivated teachers that are on the government payroll are doing much better at teaching reading than schools where the teachers are community members, paid irregularly, and teach in remote locations with poor infrastructure. We discussed the implications around these findings, and how we can focus our energies and resources on those most in need.

The last objective was to make schools safer for children. We held a cross-sectoral workshop with other teams that work in schools, such as in school health and nutrition, sanitation, and staff from the emergency education project in the north of the country. Participants reflected on their own experiences as children, then on what they see now as professionals. We shared different approaches to keeping children safe, such as teacher training in positive discipline and child rights, school-based codes of conduct, and child governments and mothers’ associations, and discussed best practices within each. Then we identified gaps in our current programming and made a plan for the next 18 months to address the issues.

I am now sitting at the airport in Bamako, the capital of Mali, waiting for a delayed flight to Nairobi in Kenya. From there I’ll be going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a week to support their efforts to help children learn to read more effectively. I feel my time in Mali was well spent – they are a great team, and I love working with them. I wish I didn’t have to travel all night now, but at least the delayed flight enabled me to write my blog!

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

Words from a Teacher in a Save the Children Supported School

Faima

Faïmi P. Moscova

Sponsorship Manager

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

July 17, 2015

 

Jadlin is a third grade teacher at a Save the Children-supported school located in Dessalines, and has worked there for over 5 years. He teaches children between the ages of 8 and 10 and lives very close to the school. Growing up, Jadlin liked to work with his classmates pretending to be a teacher. It is something that he truly enjoys. 

Group_outside

Jadlin with children in front of the school

Before the integration of Save the Children programming, Jadlin admitted he didn’t have sufficient training to manage his classroom or teach certain topics such as geometry or creative writing. The various trainings he has received through Save the Children have brought significant changes to his professional life. According to Jadlin he has learned new teaching methods in disciplinary techniques, how to better manage his class, and how to encourage his pupils’ participation. He now knows it is important to use questioning and group work in the classroom. “I considered myself like I was a dirty dish. Save the Children washes it and fills it up with knowledge.” he added with humility and fulfillment.

Jadlin recognizes he is not the only beneficiary of the organization. Now with help from Save the Children, the school has at its disposal services such as wastebaskets and a book loan program for third to sixth grade students. Parents also are more aware of the activities in the school and of their children’s education. However, children are still affected by flooding in the community during the rainy season and the shortage of potable water. Jadlin hopes that the organization will not only continue to support teachers training but will help the community solve those problems as well. 

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Jadlin

Jadlin is proud to be a teacher at this Save the Children-supported school, and sends a big thank you to the sponsors for their support of Save the Children sponsorship programs. Be on the lookout for updates from Haiti on how Save the Children is helping communities solve other challenges facing children!

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

Nung Traditions and Colors

Nhan

Nhan Thi Nguyen

Field Intern

Nam Lu Commune, Vietnam

July 14, 2015

 

After the 2 hour journey by motorbike, I finally reached Nam Lu Commune following an invitation from Hai, the Vice Chairman of the commune. Here the sunshine is brilliant and birds are singing. Today is the traditional festival which is celebrated on the first days of Lunar July. 

Traditional

Nung Di women in their traditional clothes

I heard the voices of young girls, mothers, and elderly ladies. They are all in traditional clothes, on their way to the People’s Committee where the festival is celebrated and chatting about the day. As they walk they tease each other and laugh out loud happily. This must be a very special festival to them.

In the festival itself there are a lot of activities, such as art performances, traditional games, and fashion shows. Songs and plays in the Nung language are performed by both young and old people in the commune. Although I don’t understand their language, seeing the villagers of different ages singing along with the performers and swaying while following the rhymes, I know the songs are beautiful and they love them. One of the most interesting parts of the festival was the fashion show, with the performance of young Nung ladies in their traditional clothing. They are not gaudy or colorful but Nung women are still very charming in them.

Casual

Nung Di people in their casual clothes.

Traditional foods are sold in small camps so that people can enjoy the performances and local specialties at the same time. I was so impressed by the seven-color steam sticky rice. Can you believe that Nung people can make all seven colors– from black, yellow, purple to blue, gray, red and orange– from only one ingredient, a kind of local herb? It is called the magenta plant, or chẩm thủ by Nung people. They also make pink chopsticks by dying them in the liquid made from this plants leaves. It’s so incredible. The local people here tell me that in traditional festivals like this one, every family in the commune makes seven-color steam sticky rice and pink chopsticks, with the hope that good luck and happiness will find them in the future.

Does your family have any traditional dishes that you serve at certain times of year and prepare in special ways? Share with us how you celebrate!

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