10-year-old Viona lives in a remote community tucked away in Central Sumba, Indonesia. She lives in a small village that does not have access to electricity or
running water. Poor hygiene is common in remote areas where Viona lives and children like her are faced with it every day. Prior to sponsorship, Viona did not understand the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and how it contributes to her success in school. Just last year, Viona suffered from malaria due to the lack of awareness of the illness and not being able to identify her symptoms.
In 2016, Viona was given the opportunity to become a Little Doctor at her school. The program, which is an innovation from the School Health and Nutrition program, enforces healthy lifestyle choices through peer-to-peer educational activities, an approach to help promote health within student groups. These activities include washing hands and monitoring the cleanliness of their classrooms, latrines and the school environment. “My favorite person is a doctor,” Viona said. “When I get older I want to be a doctor because they not only help sick people but many different people.”
Today, when Viona comes home from school, she now knows the importance of eating a healthy meal. She then takes a bath in the river by her house after learning the importance of staying clean to promote good health. Thanks to you, Viona can look to her future with hope. With your support, we can help more children like Viona understand the importance of pursuing a healthy lifestyle and how it contributes to their future success.
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.
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!”
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.