My Sponsor’s Name is Kim

Author Portrait_Maria Rosario Garcia, Sponsorship Communications Coordinator
Maria Rosario Garcia

Sponsorship Communications Coordinator

Save the Children Philippines

August 8, 2017

“My sponsor’s name is Kim,” 6-year-old Maria proudly told me as I spoke to her one day after class. I was visiting her community in South Central Mindanao to deliver the newest letter she had received from her sponsor. She spoke confidently and proudly, and sounded like she knew her sponsor very well.

Maria and her family live in an area where most families do not have the ability to provide three meals a day, have clean drinking water or even a single toy for their children to play with. Her father works as a driver, who is able to come home only on the weekends, while her mother stays at home to take care of Maria and her 9-year-old brother, Zyrich.

Maria smiling in front of her classroom.
Maria smiling in front of her classroom.

Having a sponsor keeps Maria excited about her days. She is eager to share with Kim about her life and about what she is learning in school. People from Maria’s hometown have little mobility to move beyond the community – it is a small and remote village where usually people only travel as far as where they can reach on foot. Her eyes light up with wonder when she reads the letter describing what it is like in the country where her sponsor lives, in the state of Texas in the United States. Hearing stories about the different places in her sponsor’s life has made her realize that the world is bigger than she ever imagined it to be.

She knows there is so much beyond her community now and she awaits for stories about that world in the letters she receives – learning about Kim’s family, her pets and the places she has visited. Maria clearly remembers that she received three letters from her sponsor, each equally exciting and wonderful, over the little over a year she’s been sponsored by Kim. “It makes me happy to know that I have a picture in their house,” she shared smiling, describing the photo all sponsors receive from their sponsored children each year. Maria’s facial expression was more than happy as she continued to tell me that she felt like she’s part of Kim’s family, and that she feels cared for even though they are countries and oceans apart.

After two years of attending our learning programs, Maria is now happily attending her first grade in primary school. These sponsorship supported programs have provided Maria and the other children in her community with reading camps to practice their reading skills with peers, the provision of new learning materials and book banks from which books can now be borrowed, and additional supplies for their schools that enhance literacy and numeracy skills.

Maria now knows how to wash her hands properly, thanks to sponsorship health programs in her school.
Maria now knows how to wash her hands properly, thanks to sponsorship health programs in her school.

Today, Maria says she wants to be a teacher so she can teach more children how to read, write and color pictures as she is so fond of doing! She tells me she cannot wait to share this dream with Kim.

If I were able to meet Maria’s sponsor, I would tell her that she has all the reasons to be proud of Maria. Aside from her astounding progress in school, she is also one of the Child Ambassadors who represents her community in Save the Children’s programs – serving as an embodiment of the achievements her community has been able to implement with sponsorship support.

Sponsorship shares and inspires not just future teachers like Maria, but future doctors, police officers, pilots, veterinarians and more in the over 20 countries where we implement our programs. If you haven’t written to your sponsored child yet, we encourage you to do so! Our experience tells us that letter writing is extremely rewarding for sponsors and children alike – you may help to shape their future dreams!

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

Taking Part in Something Big

Author Portrait_Florenda Albano, Program Officer & Sponsorship Partner
Florenda Albano

Program Officer & Sponsorship Partner

Save the Children Philippines

February 17, 2017

My name is Florenda, I am a midwife and nurse by profession. Although now, I basically have two professions – before, I felt as if I was not doing enough. I used to wonder what my real purpose in life was. These thoughts, however, were quickly silenced after I began my role with Save the Children’s maternal and child health programs in Mindanao. I knew I found my answer, and I was sure that I was taking part in something big.

In indigenous tribes in the Philippines, seeing children married at an early age, and female teenagers cradling their suckling young ones, has become nothing less than ordinary. Female teenagers are not only challenged with the dual roles of wife and mother at such an early age, but they also lack access to local health facilities which prevents them from having regular check-ups while pregnant or even a safe delivery.

Florenda sharing information about breastfeeding and nutrition with new mothers.
Florenda sharing information about breastfeeding and nutrition with new mothers.

Unfortunately, these challenges do not end after delivery. There are many young children in the communities in which we work who are undernourished, especially children under five years old. A child’s development is most crucial during his or her first 1,000 days of life, so not having proper nourishment within this particular period poses grave health risks, as well as irreversible damages.

With both mother and infant care in mind, we train health professionals in birthing and delivery practices, and orient parents on proper care for mothers and infants. Our Sponsorship team braves the far-flung areas of Mindanao to build the knowledge of parents and parents to-be on the benefits of regular before- and after-delivery check-ups. In order to reach these areas, we must often make the last leg of the journey on foot, walking for hours up mountainous, bumpy dirt roads. For some villages, we even must fashion makeshift rafts to cross rivers – which during the rainy season are constantly flooding and changing.

Michelle and her baby Alyssa attending the maternal and child health session in a rural health center.
Michelle and her baby Alyssa attending the maternal and child health session in a rural health center.

There would be days when my feet would ache, and there will continue to be, but our real journey has just begun. I see that change has come not only for myself, but also for the young generation in the communities I’ve traveled to. Young mothers are learning how to keep their babies healthy, and nothing is more important. I know that they also see the possibilities of what we can do together.

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

 

Paying It Forward: The Story of Ralph, a Former Sponsored Child

author-portrait_eira-maurice-erfe-sponsorship-assistant

Eira Maurice Erfe

Sponsorship Assistant

Save the Children Philippines

November 10, 2016

Sometimes, all we need to get ahead in life is a little nudge to push us in the right direction. For Ralph, that nudge came in the form of Save the Children and his sponsor, who gave him a better fighting chance for success.

Ralph was only a teenager when he joined the Sponsorship Program in Iloilo, a province in the central portion of the Philippines. He is the eldest among five siblings. Growing up, both of his parents were unemployed so life for his big family was very hard. But poverty did not stop him from dreaming of a better life. When he became a sponsored child, he knew change was within his reach.

Ralph inside a library he and his team built for children belonging to the minority Mangyan tribe.
Ralph inside a library he and his team built for children belonging to the minority Mangyan tribe.

Ralph participated in our Adolescent Development programs, which include education sessions on important life and leadership skills. It is through these learning opportunities that he developed his self-confidence, helping him become the man he is today. According to Ralph, Sponsorship programs molded him into a better version of himself. He believes that Sponsorship created a lasting impact on his life, and the lives of his friends, because it opened their eyes to new opportunities, and it made them realize that they could do more and be more.

Now 30 years old, Ralph already finished his studies and is working for an international financial institution. As one of the many underprivileged children supported by Save the Children, Ralph believes in giving back by supporting children himself as an adult, so that they too can develop to their fullest potential.

ralph-working-with-a-project-that-gave-food-and-school-supplies-to-elementary-school-children
Ralph working with a project that gave food and school supplies to elementary school children.

Apart from supporting his parents and helping his younger siblings finish school, he currently organizes different volunteer activities that help children and families in poor communities all over the Philippines. He also spends his free time working as an academic tutor for homeless children.

Ralph said, “People should realize that if they can give hope to others, others will feel that the situation they are in isn’t going to last forever. They should see that there are people who can maximize opportunities given to them, and that they can be helped.”

Hopefully, in the near future, we can see more people like Ralph, who not only represent a picture of sponsorship success, but also act as a proponent of change, continuing a cycle of volunteerism and bringing the teachings of helping others to another generation.

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