Ferdousi Brings Learning Home

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Fahim Shahriar

Deputy Manager

Save the Children in Bangladesh

December 28, 2016

 

 

“My older child is in good health and learning well. Also, I have got a healthy baby very recently who is 15 days old.” Ferdousi, age 26, tells us. She lives in Rayerbazar, a slum community of Dhaka city, with her family. Her husband Saddam, age 36, works as a day-labourer, meaning without a fixed income and hired in the short-term, while she tends to their home and two children. Her oldest son, Shahadat, is over two years old now. He and his mother joined Sponsorship under Bangladesh’s new programming, Maternal and Child Health, in 2015.

Since then, Ferdousi has benefited

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Ferdousi with her children at their home in the slums of Rayerbazar.

through the provision of counselling sessions which began when she was still pregnant with her younger son, Sazzad. Thanks to sponsorship funds, Save the Children in Bangladesh is able to offer training for pregnant women and moms of newborns through community center-based sessions or home visits, on topics like danger signs to be aware of during pregnancy, the importance of vaccinations and having delivery in medical facilities, and other essentials of newborn care and services. Ferdousi explains from her own experiences, “Previously, I did not know about the risks for a pregnant mother and a newborn, and also the care they need. But, I have learned about those dangers and necessary measures during my recent pregnancy. My husband also took much [more] care of me and I saved some money for the delivery period.”

Similar sessions are provided for parents of babies and up to toddler-aged children under our early stimulation parenting programs, another way sponsors are helping parents in Bangladesh aid their young children’s development. Early stimulation parenting programs teach parents how to use playtime to promote language and communication development, utilize gentle discipline, manage healthy hygiene practices and provide healthy and nutritious foods to their children. Both parents and children learn with illustrative cards and colorful picture books. Being a regular participant in this kind of Sponsorship programming, Ferdousi tells, “My older son can identify distinct vegetables, tell their names and mention their shapes. He likes books with colorful pictures. Besides, I learned to take proper care of his health by maintaining cleanliness and feeding for his nutrition.”

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2 year-old Shahadat is very happy to play football (soccer) and be active outdoors.

Even in addition to this, Save the Children also supports Ferdousi and her family by helping her track Shahadat’s height and weight to ensure he is getting the nutrients his growing body needs. Ferdousi adds, “I like Sponsorship support, because I learned to take care of my children to grow with good health and learning.” Their little baby Sazzad, a boy just a couple weeks old, has already benefited in the extra care Ferdousi took during her pregnancy.

 

This family of four, Ferdousi, Saddam and the two boys Shahadat and little Sazzad, send their love and thanks to our sponsors of Bangladesh. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your support!

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

 

One of the best things I took advantage of in my life

[El Salvador_IA Ahuachapan_Blog post 2_Sponsor Joey and sponsored child Karla_Posing for their very first picture_the joy in their eyes is contagious]Joseph Mollica

Sponsor

Save the Children in El Salvador

December 23, 2016

 

Have you ever wondered what a true champion looks like? Perhaps you already know more than one and you haven’t realized it yet. We’re talking about the extraordinary people who decide to make a difference in the life of a child in need: our sponsors! They not only support Save the Children’s programs around the world, but they commit to a longtime friendship with a child and his or her family. As said by one of our sponsors, Joey, “The feeling is indescribable, one that cannot be put into words.” For 3 years Joey has been sponsoring a 6-year-old girl in El Salvador, and he recently shared in a life-changing experience when he met her for the first time.

Karla was shy at first, but finally made a connection by playing and doing fun activities together.
Karla was shy at first, but finally made a connection by playing and doing fun activities together.

When I laid eyes on Karla for the first time I had butterflies. I felt so incredibly happy to see this beautiful little girl with whom I’ve been in contact with for years. It was a moment I will forever cherish and always remember.

Participating in a Sponsorship programs visit opened my eyes to exactly how much work and effort Save the Children puts into providing a better future for children in need. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Save the Children seemed to partner with government entities and other local institutions, such as the community health clinic, in making sure the children were being well taken care of.

I feel that Sponsorship really does so much more for children compared to many other organizations out there. Save the Children uses its resources in a variety of ways to help children receive the necessities of life, such as healthcare and education. They are also big on taking into account children’s rights and safety – which I am a firm believer in. It is thanks to this organization that countless children’s lives are being saved.

joey and Karla with her mom, dad and sister posing to have a memory of a great day.
Joey and Karla with her mom, dad and sister posing to have a memory of a great day.

To all the sponsors out there, if you can make the time to travel to El Salvador, or where ever it is you sponsor, to meet your sponsored child, I encourage you to do so. Please do so. You and your sponsored child will never forget the experience. These children hardly ever get to put a face to the letters we send them, so actually coming out to see him or her will be a life changing event for both of you. My visit with Karla is one of the best things I took advantage of in my life. I definitely plan on seeing my sponsored child again and reliving this incredible experience.

Have you ever thought about visiting your sponsored child? Contact our Sponsor Visits team via ChildVisits@savechildren.org today to get started on having a life-changing experience of your own!

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

The Challenges of Teenage Girls in Nacala-a-Velha

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Osvaldo Simão

Provincial MEAL Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

December 9, 2016

In Nacala-a-Velha, Mozambique, Sponsorship’s Adolescent Development program benefits 12,000 teenagers, aiming to help them develop practical knowledge about how to be prepared for adult life. Unfortunately, traditional practices in the communities where we work increase the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies in adolescents, which makes it hard, especially for girls, to continue their education. Girls in this part of the world, starting as young as 11 years old, are taught that to be productive members of their community their primary obligation is to have children and to care for their husband and their home.

In order to mitigate these challenges, Sponsorship programs lead groups of adolescents and community members in activities that spread awareness on sexual and reproductive health skills, such as by discussing topics like contraception, family planning and the dangers of early pregnancy for girls. The goal of this programming is to reduce the high rate of unwanted pregnancies in these areas and to prevent the transmission of sexual diseases in adolescents. Awareness campaigns, radio broadcasted messages and theatre groups are among the strategies used. The radio broadcasts for example, spread awareness on how adolescent girls who become pregnant are forced out of school and cannot continue their education, which in turns hurts the development of the community as a whole. Teenage listeners are able to call in and discuss with adolescent peers participating in the radio programs topics they may be uncomfortable discussing face-to-face or with adults, like those regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.
Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.

Adult community members, such as female teachers or doctors, also hold sessions to explain the benefits of withholding sexual activities until an older age to teenage female students, and act as role models – showing the girls it is possible to fulfill their dreams and ambitions.

The community of Namalala, one located in Nacala-a-Velha, has a particularly high rate of early pregnancy. Here, Sponsorship is working hard to train teachers, school staff and healthcare providers on how to implement friendly adolescent services. Since starting our programs here, we have seen the community members join these efforts in a massive way, helping to organize weekly activities for adolescent students that encourage them to express themselves, for example through theatre or poetry readings. We’ve since seen early pregnancy rates go down, and likewise students’ dropout rates have significantly decreased.

Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.
Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.

“Many of my friends had dropped out of school, but now we are informed that we should only marry when we [are] the proper age and after we finish our studies.” shares Ancha, an adolescent belonging to our Sponsorship programs in Namalala.

Thanks to our sponsors, we are hopeful these trends will continue in Namalala, the wider area of Nacala-a-Velha and perhaps one day spreading throughout our country of Mozambique. We thank you for your partnership!

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

 

Treasure Box

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Rosmery Mendoza Villca

Sponsorship Operations Assistant

Save the Children in Bolivia

December 9, 2016

 

What is it like when a sponsored child receives a letter?

Hi, I’m Rosmery and I work as a Sponsorship Operations Assistant for Save the Children in Bolivia. I am very lucky – every day at work I experience beautiful stories of children who receive letters from their sponsors.

I want to share with you Jazmin’s story. She is a ten-year-old girl who has benefited from our Sponsorship programs, such as those that work to improve the quality of education at her school, since 2011. Today, I was able to visit Jazmin at her home in Cochabamba and give her a letter her sponsor had sent her.

 Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

I could see her bright smile and a twinkle in her eye while she carefully read every word of her friend’s (as many children call their sponsor) letter. I asked her how she felt and she replied, “Very happy. I have a friend with a big heart and she is very important in my life, like my parents are.”

As I watched her get ready to write back, I thought to myself, how would her sponsor feel if she could see her smile and gratitude? Does her sponsor also feel the same way when she reads Jazmin’s letters?

Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.
Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.

After she finished writing, Jazmin showed me all the letters she had received over the years, that she lovingly stores in the ‘treasure box’ she built, to keep her letters safe and with her.

In one of her letters, her sponsor told her that she came to Bolivia and adopted a little Bolivian girl, just like her! She is all grown up now, and has 3 children of her own, Jazmin told me. We agreed that her sponsor must truly have a really big heart.

For those of us working in Sponsorship, we hope that every sponsored girl and boy could receive notes from their sponsors, so that we are able to bring smiles to their little faces and have more stories like this one.

There are still many people in the world who selflessly help children like Jazmin improve their self-esteem and gain access to a better quality education. We call those people our sponsors. The children call them their friends.

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

A Special Visit for Programs in Haiti

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Faïmi P. Moscova

Sponsorship Manager

Save the Children in Haiti

December 2, 2016

We at Save the Children in Haiti always encourage sponsors to visit our programs in order to see first-hand how our work together changes the lives of Haiti’s children. We are always very excited and happy when we receive a request for a sponsor visit because we don’t get to host too many of them. When we do get to organize a visit, we do everything we can to ensure that both parties have an enjoyable and memorable experience. I wanted to share this story to show the impact a sponsor visit can have, in just a few short hours.

Ten-year-old Love Dayana has been enrolled in Sponsorship since 2013, a year after Save the Children first began implementing Sponsorship programming in her community. Her sponsor Daniela contacted us to let us know she was interested in visiting Love Dayana and seeing how our programs benefit children in Haiti in person. Love Dayana tells us that the visit that took place over just one day was the most exciting event that she had ever experienced. This was the first time in her life that someone she exchanges communications with from afar wanted to meet with her, face-to-face! She was thrilled at the opportunity to see her sponsor in person.

Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela.
Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela.

As the day began, Love Dayana met and welcomed Daniela to her rural community, along with her mother and two Sponsorship staff members. Love Dayana acted quite shy, and from a distance but with a smile looked her sponsor over from head to toe. After they introduced themselves to each other, the unforgettable visit started.

At first, Love Dayana’s mother did all the talking and she quietly but happily listened. Slowly, she became more open and friendly towards her sponsor. They exchanged some stories and discussed personal cultural values between the two different backgrounds. Love Dayana talked more and more, sharing about her school and her interests. They were able to hold lively conversations since Daniela knew some French, which also helped create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Together they traveled around, visiting some sponsorship supported schools and local historical monuments. They ate lunch together – a special traditional Haitian cuisine that Daniela welcomed with pleasure. As the day winded down both were feeling emotional. Love Dayana was visibly comfortable and at ease, hugging her sponsor and holding her hand as they walked. As they said goodbye, she hugged Daniela again and thanked her for the visit, saying, “I hope you will come back again soon to see me,” and Daniela replied “Me too, I hope I can come back soon to see you again.” Love Dayana then asked her sponsor to use her cell phone to take a ‘selfie’ of them both together.

Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela, taking a selfie.
Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela, taking a selfie.

Love Dayana shared that she hopes that all the children enrolled in Sponsorship could have the same opportunity, that one day their sponsors will come to see them. “Since the day my sponsor left, I became very popular in my community because I am the first and only child who ever had a sponsor visit!” concluded Love Dayana proudly. She will carry this feeling of self-worth and confidence with her into school each day for long into the future.

This was just the second sponsor visit that Save the Children in Haiti has hosted since the implementation of the Sponsorship program in Dessalines, back in January of 2012, so it was a great honor to be a part of it. To our dedicated sponsors, we thank you! Know that you are making a difference in these children’s lives every day. You are most welcome to come and visit Save the Children in Haiti for yourself. Seeing your sponsored child face-to-face is truly a wonderful and unforgettable experience! It would be our great pleasure to host you.

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

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

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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.

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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.

Joy in Fipokola

author-portrait_kelvin-kasuba-quality-and-communications-coordinatorKelvin Kasuba

Quality and Communications Coordinator

Save the Children Zambia

November 2, 2016

 

The day had finally arrived. The people of the Fipokola community put on their best and gathered for the long awaited ceremony. It was the kick off of the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project, through which Save the Children Korea, one of the offices that supports Sponsorship in Zambia, was about to make a big change in the lives of the children and families of this community. This project targets high-need communities in the district for the building or reconstruction of schools.

 Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built
Community members gather in jubilation to hear a new school will finally be built.

It was a colorful scene. Tents were decorated with colorful materials and banners were displayed all around. What caught my attention the most was the large crowd that had gathered – upon arrival the whole village it seemed followed behind our vehicle, chanting songs of jubilation and about the great things Save the Children had already done in their community. The occasion was graced with very influential people from society, two Save the Children Korea staff members and also his Royal Highness Chief Lumpuma, the community leader of Fipokola.

In his speech, Chief Lumpuma shared guidance with his people. He called for them to embrace education if they were to succeed. He advised parents to avoid engaging their children in early marriage and other activities at the expense of their education. He said, “I also thank Save the Children for the rehabilitation of this school and for considering us for the first school [to receive support] under the Lufwanyama Education Rehabilitation project.”

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Chief Lumpuma preparing to give his speech to the community.

Amidst the excitement one boy told me, “I am happy today because a new school will be built. And I am happy because I will be a part of a new school which will have a better look and books that can help make me a better person in the future, like a doctor, teacher or lawyer.” I was so happy and speechless to see how joyful the parents were at seeing a step of action taken, and the children at their brightened future potential.

It is indeed a dream come true in Fipokola, and it is thanks to Child Sponsorship and Save the Children Korea that they will have the resources needed for construction. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, sponsors!

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

Sponsorship for the Whole Family

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Tan Senh Chieu

President of the Women’s Union and Community Volunteer

Save the Children Vietnam

October 28, 2016

I am Chieu, President of the Women’s Union in Tong Sanh commune and a mother of 2 kids – my son is seven-years-old and my daughter is three. I also have been a community volunteer with Save the Children since October 2015. When I started working with the Sponsorship program I felt wonderful, because I always aspire to devote my enthusiasm and time to helping those living in poverty. Happiness is now here, where I can frequently see our kids playing and learning in a safe environment.

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Chieu with her son, nephew and daughter.

My homeland is very poor. Most of the territory is hilly and income totally depends on the rice or corn harvest. Come rain or shine, most children only have a few light clothes to call their own. In school, due to the lack of learning and teaching materials, students would just play with old toys or roll about aimlessly in the mud and sand. Since Save the Children started working in Tong Sanh, it has supported my children and the children of my neighbors. As a result my homeland has changed a lot.

One day, when I picked my daughter up from kindergarten, I suddenly saw in the schoolyard a new outdoor play area decorated with colorful painted car tires. My daughter was beside herself with excitement, and told me, “Mommy, today I felt so happy while playing with the slide, which I could see on television but couldn’t touch before.” Around the same time, my son shared with my husband and I that his school had a new water system, and he was learning about washing his hands with soap. I was so happy because our children no longer had to play in the dirt, and could wash their hands with clean water whenever they wanted!

I met with my kids’ teachers to express my gratitude for the positive recent changes I’d seen. They said that all those things were thanks to Save the Children Sponsorship support. I felt very excited and looked forward to having a chance to learn more about Save the Children.

That chance came when the Vice Chairman of Peoples Committee for our community informed me that Save the Children was seeking community volunteers who would commit and be willing to take on the responsibility of being the connection between sponsors and sponsored children. To be honest, at that time I was vague of what all those words really meant, but I simply understood that I could contribute to the community’s development through participating in these program activities.

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Chieu training school children on how to wash their hands with soap.

I remember vividly the most impressive task I completed was the first child enrollment campaign at the local primary school. Save the Children staff took portrait photos of children, while teachers guided students on writing letters, and I interviewed parents to collect the family’s information. Since this was the first enrollment campaign at this school, both students and their parents were a little nervous, but so excited too. Everyone involved gave their support and active participation to ensure the day’s activities went smoothly.

While working in the field, I’ve seen the bright smiles and happy faces of the children Sponsorship reaches. I realized that choosing this job was absolutely correct. Children will have better learning conditions with new latrines, new classrooms and teacher training courses – none of which would we be able to access without Save the Children support. Thank you, sponsors, so much!

 

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

Now Christine Can Go to School

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Madrine Amuge

School Health and Nutrition Senior Officer

Save the Children Uganda

October 21, 2016

Christine, a nine-year-old girl and second born in a family of five children, lives with her parents and is enrolled in the Save the Children Sponsorship program in Uganda.

In the past, Christine was often sent away from school, not able to attend without the basic requirements like paper and books. When she was permitted to stay in class, she was not able to take any notes because she had no notebook to write in, preventing her ability to learn.

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Senior Officer Madrine helps Christine compose a letter.

“Before I joined Sponsorship, I would feel sad going to school without exercise books, pencils or anything to color with. I would often be sent home from school because I didn’t have a book for a particular subject,” remembered Christine quietly.

As a result of Sponsorship funds, the community has been provided with enough scholastic materials to ensure all children are able to go to school and learn. Today many more children, including Christine, enjoy being in school thanks to this funding.

Christine was very excited to receive a pack of books, lead pencils and colored pencils from Save the Children, which has enabled her to develop a love of learning. In addition to the scholastic items, Christine receives frequent correspondences from her sponsor that she happily replies to. We’ve found that letter writing increases children’s interest in reading and writing and their engagement in their studies. This is certainly true for Christine, whose reading and writing skills have greatly improved – she proudly boasts her handwriting is the best in her class.

Christine proudly holds the letter she’s finished for her sponsor.

Also through Sponsorship program interventions, Christine has learned how to stay clean and healthy while at school, by keeping her fingernails short and by washing her hands with soap before eating food and after visiting the latrine.

Christine is very optimistic that she will finish school and achieve her dream of becoming a nurse one day. She is very grateful for her sponsor’s support and encouragement. Her sponsor’s words help motivate her to continue being dedicated to her studies.

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

Leaving No Child Behind

author-portrait_rupa-gautam-media-and-communication-officerRupa Gautam

Media and Communication Officer

Save the Children Nepal-Bhutan

October 12, 2016

It was during one of my regular visits to a Sponsorship supported school when I met Kajal. Attentive, curious, interactive and joyful, Kajal was participating in all her class activities with great enthusiasm. She looked like all the other kids throughout the class, reading and writing alongside her classmates. It wasn’t until she walked up to her teacher with a question that I realized that her legs were weak and uneven, and that she could not walk properly.

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Kajal practicing newly learned words.

I wanted to know more about this bright eyed girl. So, I inquired about her with her teacher. Her teacher excitedly shared that their village, with a total of six schools, would not have reached their milestone of 100% enrollment in the current academic year if Kajal had been left behind at home, like she was the previous year.

Save the Children has been very persistent in getting every last child enrolled in school. Seven-year-old Kajal used to stay at home while the rest of her family, made up of her parents and two elder siblings, went about their own business outside of the house. Nobody in her family believed that schooling would do her any good, due to her condition.

Kajal showed me how she wrote her name. Her name means kohl, which is used to line one’s eyes in Nepal. She also showed me her drawings and read to me from her grade one book. Since she did not go to Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development center before grade one, like so many of the other kids in her community did, she has a little difficulty in reading and writing. But Kajal doesn’t let that stop her from learning. I saw this myself – when she had trouble writing a word she didn’t know, she asked for my help, then shyly handed me her paper and asked if I would check her classwork.

Every year, out-of-school children are identified in the communities where we work.

Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson
Kajal (first left) engaged in the days lesson.

We reach out to their parents and advise them about the importance of enrolling their children in school. Those out-of-school children, which often includes children with special needs like Kajal, are brought to school with sponsorship supported programming that includes parent orientations, door-to-door visits, counseling sessions and educational material support to ensure that no child is left behind at home.

Kajal’s success is just the beginning of what we hope to achieve for the children of Nepal. All of us here at Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan are eager to continue working in these areas – to commit each parent to sending all their sons and daughters to school. And with our sponsors by our side, they will, because every last child matters.

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