Together with a group of experts, I spoke at last week’s Clinton Global Initiative on something I have become more and more convinced of the longer I do this work with Save the Children. The best investments we can make for children are those that are made early. The overwhelming evidence shows that if you want to spend money wisely on development, invest in early education and healthcare. The return on those investments will far surpass those you make later in children’s lives.
May 1, 2012
On the evening of January 27 a fire started in an animal shed in the village of Kimichaur, in the Pyuthan district in Western Nepal. The fire swept through the village, damaging 14 houses and leaving the villagers desperate for help. Fortunately, there was no loss of human life, but the fire destroyed homes, prized cattle and stored grains.
“My hard-earned money, 30,000 Nepali Rupees (about $380), inside my saving box was burnt to ashes,” shared Chetman, a local villager.
The day after the fire, Save the Children, in coordination with its partner organization in Pyuthan, began providing relief for the affected families with rice and a blanket for each family.
Twenty-seven children, including 15 sponsored children, were affected by the fire. “The children lost their books, bags and all their school supplies”, reported Umesh, a Program Coordinator. We immediately dispatched new supplies. Each student received a new school uniform, school bag, notebooks and other stationery. We focused our relief efforts on the children as it is so important for them to feel safe and secure after such a traumatic experience.
“Support for the community was provided by several relief organizations. But the community was very happy that their children were prioritized with special support and materials,” said Suraj Pakhin, a member of Save the Children staff in Nepal.
“My dress (school uniform), books and note books were all burnt in the fire. I thought ‘I won’t be able to go to school again.’ But I got a new school dress, books and supplies and I can join the school once again”, says a sixth grader .
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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Save the Children's Literacy Boost program aims to support young readers through fun activities. It is already underway in more than 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As part of National Children's Book Week (May 2 to 7), we asked a few children enrolled in Literacy Boost to tell us about their favorite books. Here is what Himal, age 8, from Nepal told to Save the Children's Deergha Shrestha:
My favorite story is called "The Tale of Master Pumpkin." Most of the kids from school and the village like it too. I really love the pictures, like the one where Pharsi walks through the jungle.
In the story, Pharsi Badahu, or Pumpkin, is the son of poor Farsi parents. Right after he was born, they took one look at his ugly face and kicked him out of their home. Pharsi walked away and into the jungle.
One day on his journey, he played a game to marry a princess and he won! He married the beautiful princess. She wasn't happy with him but she had to accept him anyway.
After several days, both of them came home. They saw a beautiful flower in a tall tree. Pharshia Bahadu climbed up the tree to pick the flower, but he fell down and broke into pieces.
He looked like a smashed pumpkin. The princess got scared. And then a handsome prince arose from the pumpkin. They went home and lived happily ever after. I always like getting to the end when the pumpkin turns into a handsome prince.
Nepal Information Coordinator, Save the Children
Friday, November 19, 2010
For Sarita, 15, going to the bathroom during school used to bring fears of being bitten by a snake or embarrassment of having people see her going out in the open.
“The surrounding area of the school has poor sanitation,” explained Surya Prasad Bhatta, a teacher at Chaudyal Lower Secondary School in Kailali District of Nepal, where Sarita is a student. “The students would usually have to go on the river bank or in the jungle due to lack of toilets. It was difficult for them.”
But two years ago through a Save the Children-supported program the school built four new toilets for boys and four new toilets for girls.
“Things are different now,” said Sarita. “We use the toilet, and we don’t have to stand in long lines because we have enough of them. There is privacy, and it is less time-consuming.”
To keep the restrooms clean, each student contributes two rupees (3 cents) to buy supplies like hand soap, detergent and buckets. (The money also helps restock the school’s first-aid kit with medicines.)
After going to the bathroom at school, children used to crowd around the one hand pump – the only source of water near the school – to wet their hands. “We didn’t have soap before,” says Sarita.
Save the Children installed two handwashing stations near the new toilets at school. These stations include pumps that you push by hand to get clean water, a large jug with a spout for pouring the water and soap. Students were taught about the importance of washing their hands to prevent bacteria and viruses, which can cause illnesses, and the proper technique for handwashing.
“We learned that we should always wash our hands using soap and water before eating, after using the toilet and after touching human waste with your hands,” said Sarita.
Since the handwashing stations were built, Sarita says fewer of her friends are getting sick, especially from diarrhea.
And, her teacher is seeing changes in the community as well as at school. “Students have also developed a habit of washing their hands with soap at home,” said Bhatta.
The new restrooms and handwashing stations are part of Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition program that aims to help children stay healthy and stay in school. The program includes providing children with access to safe and child-friendly water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and education. Over the past two years, Save the Children has helped put 355 toilets in schools and preschools in Nepal. And, in 2009 alone, Save the Children installed 489 handwashing stations at Nepali schools.
Santosh Mahato, Save the Children’s Nepal Health Programme Coordinator, contributed reporting.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Every Save the Children child sponsor enjoys a special connection to children in need. If you sponsor a child in Nepal, you also have a direct connection to Seema Baral, whose passion for children is sure to inspire.
Seema, our Sponsorship Manager in Nepal and Bhutan, has one of the most enviable jobs in the entire agency. Every day, she sees first-hand the impact that you and every Nepal sponsor make in children’s lives.
On a recent trip to one of Nepal’s poorest communities, Seema was on hand for the opening of a new school building that was funded by our Nepal sponsors.
“Everyone was so pleased with the new learning space, and I was so happy thinking of sponsors like you, who’ve joined hands with people here in Nepal to make positive changes in their communities.”
Seema is especially grateful for your sponsorship because education and equality can help children achieve their dreams—something she has sought to do even before joining Save the Children in 1997.
After graduating from Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Nepal, Seema began volunteering her time assisting displaced women and children in the town of Siraha.
The women and children were considered “untouchable” by the community merely because of their families’ past economic circumstances, and they struggled mightily to overcome discrimination at every turn.
What struck Seema was that instead of faltering in the face of such adversity, the children remained hopeful: they dreamed of being teachers, policemen, mothers and fathers just like other children. It was then Seema knew her calling. She sought equality for all children; she wanted every child to have the opportunity to achieve their dreams. She has been working to accomplish that goal ever since.
Seema sees a long and successful future ahead for Save the Children Nepal, thanks to the loyal support of sponsors like you. With your support she and her team will continue working to bring Save the Children’s mission of creating lasting positive changes in the lives of children to life.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
For the past two weeks Save the Children has been promoting "dirty words" in a new YouTube series. No, not the dirty words that George Carlin talked about, that's a whole different thing. OUR dirty words are germs, toilets, worms and dirty water.
What's the point?
Our "Dirty Word" series is bringing light to the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions at schools in developing countries, and sharing the simple, inexpensive solutions that are helping children stay healthy so they can stay in school and learn.
We've installed toilets, hand-washing stations and hand pumps, and provided de-worming medicines in about 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as are part of our School Health and Nutrition programs
Watch our "Dirty Words" YouTube series to learn how simple things, including sanitation and hygiene measures, have benefited school children in Nepal
- Each year, children miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea
- Two out of three schools in poor countries do not have decent toilets.
- About 400 million school-age children in the developing world have worms- think about that next time you have a stomach ache.
- Almost 1 billion people lack clean drinking water globally
Global Handwashing Day is October 15. Help raise awareness by taking part in Global Handwashing Day and sharing our “Dirty Words” YouTube videos.
While the name may sound trivial, our friends from GlobalHandWashingDay.org explain the impact that the day can have:
"Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths."
A word from our friends
"The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 13 parasitic and bacterial infections [like worms] that affect over 1.4 billion people, but, as their name suggests, they have traditionally received little attention from the international community."
"Water and sanitation are human rights, vital to reducing poverty around the world. Together with good hygiene these essential services are the building blocks for all other development – improving health, education and livelihoods."
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Imagine what your life would be like if you weren’t able to read. What basic tasks would you be unable to do? What simple pleasures would you be unable to enjoy?
Reading is a skill many of us take for granted. But for millions of children in the countries and communities where Save the Children works, reading remains a struggle.
Parents typically have little time or training to help children learn the alphabet, or to make the link between the words they speak and the letters on a page. Books are few and far between, and are written in the school language, which is different from what children speak at home.
Teachers without training often teach reading in the same way they were taught—mainly through drills and repetition, with limited time spent on teaching key skills or on ways to learn as you read text.
Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program promotes training teachers and
creating a culture of reading outside of the classroom.
Photo Credit: Brent
Stirton for Save the Children
In 2007, Save the Children set out to measure how well children in the early grades in Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia could read. The results were startling. We found an alarming number of children unable to read even a single word in a text or passage.
We decided we needed to do something to change this. That’s how Save the Children developed Literacy Boost, our signature program for helping children learn to read. Here is how it works:
Through Literacy Boost, children in the early grades are given opportunities to practice their reading skills both in-school and in their homes and communities. Book Banks of storybooks in the local language are provided so that children have materials to read other than their textbooks.
Community volunteers also are mobilized to conduct weekly Reading Camps for children, where children can listen to stories, read books, and play games to improve their reading skills. Parents are coached on activities they can do with their children at home to improve language skills, even if they are not literate themselves.
Teachers are trained in strategies for teaching the five skills needed for reading. And children’s reading skills are measured at the start and end of the school year to track their progress and identify where they still need more help.
During a recent trip to Nepal, I was heartened by how the schools and communities had embraced the program.
“Before Literacy Boost started here in Kailali, there were no storybooks for children available in the community,” Anita, a Reading Camp facilitator told me. “Now, they have story books and fables in both Nepali and Tharu. This has brought the habit of reading to the community. Even parents are more interested about reading now.”
The results are encouraging. In a year’s time, children who participated in Literacy Boost had increased their reading scores significantly compared to those from non-assisted schools.
But it is the spark that lights up children’s eyes when they talk about books that especially inspires me.
“I like the stories, especially the one with the monkey,” said Kamal, age 7, one of Literacy Boost’s participants in Nepal. “When I borrow a book to take home, I can read it to my whole family. We can all enjoy the story together.”
Ishwor Khatry, Save the Children’s tireless education coordinator in Kailali, shares my sentiment. He said, “Through this program, we can really see that we are making a difference.”