Ways to Help Syrian Refugees

Of all of the conflict-affected areas in the world (and sadly, there are far too many), Syria is ranked as the most dangerous place for children. In Syria, there are 5.3 million children in need of humanitarian aid[1]. According to the United Nations, Syrian children suffer all of the designated Six Grave Violations, even in demilitarized zones. They are denied humanitarian access, subjected to abduction, recruited as child soldiers, and have been robbed of their innocence — and even their lives — due to conditions that plague this Middle Eastern nation.

As the war in Syria enters its eighth year, conditions are far from improving. An estimated 5.4 million Syrian men, women, and children have made an exodus from their homeland,[2] seeking refuge outside its borders in the hope of a better, safer life. Now is the time for us to take action and help these refugees in their time of crisis.

You may be asking yourself, “How can I help Syrian refugees from halfway across the globe?” The good news is that there are organizations that have made it their mission to provide assistance to the people of Syria. Take a minute to look through our guide on the Syrian crisis to learn how you can help donate and aid Syrian refugees during this time of grave need, and see through the eyes of Syria’s children what it’s like to have to endure the conditions they have known for most of their young lives.

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Background on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

The Syrian crisis began in the wake of political upheaval that occurred in March of 2011. Conditions have swiftly declined, resulting in war, sickness and famine. Bombings have become part of daily life for Syrian families, resulting in a mass dispersion of refugees who seek shelter and safety since their homes and land have been destroyed. Unfortunately, many host countries fear that taking in these refugees will result in political and social unrest in their own nations. This leads to the pivotal problem of millions of people having nowhere to go – no place to call home.

The result of this fear has been devastating for the people of Syria. A child’s future is largely determined within the first few years of their lives. Without adequate care, the conflict is redefining what it means to be a child in Syria. You can help make a difference in these children’s lives in order to ensure they can reach their full potential. Although there are some countries that have implemented travel bans or other restrictions, there are still many other ways to help Syrian refugees.

Donate to Help Syrian Refugees

Donations to world aid organizations like Save the Children will go a long way toward providing necessary aid to the children and families of Syria. As a zone riddled with conflict, the area has become a major priority for organizations to provide food, water, medicine, education and shelter to displaced refugees. For the millions of children who need help around the world, a small contribution can go a long way. Donate to help Syrian children today.

Connect with Syria

Listen and share their stories. Many refugees have shared their personal stories with the world. They have felt fear as they hear bombs exploding overhead. They have felt hope for the war to end so they can go home and be reunited with loved ones. They have felt the desire for safety in times of insecurity and loss. Providing refugees with your hope and support can provide comfort in times of need. Social media can work wonders connecting people from around the world. Be sure to send your support to the people of Syria by raising awareness, connecting with refugees through social media, and even listening to and sharing their stories of hope.

Sponsor a Refugee Child

Through a child sponsorship program, you, the sponsor, can be a hero in a child’s life and in the lives of other children in the community. Your monthly support can help provide refugee children with access to a variety of resources that will help better their lives, their communities and their futures. You’ll influence young lives by supplying healthy food, health care, education, and helping to foster a productive and safe environment to grow. Newborns are provided with a healthy start. Children are given a strong foundation in education. Teens and young adults can learn the skills needed for empowering future careers. Choosing a refugee child through a sponsorship program can make a world of difference.

 

[1] http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.7998857/k.D075/Syria.htm

[2] https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/UNICEF_Syria_Crisis_Situation_Report_2017

sponsor and child

A Visit to Remember

Letter writing is a great way for a sponsor to learn about their child’s life; with letters, drawings, and pictures, sponsor and child are able to grow their friendship through correspondence. But some sponsors dream of meeting their children in real life – and actually make the (oftentimes long!) trip to visit them in person!

Last October, sponsor Heidi from the United States set out on the long journey to Saptari, Nepal, to visit her sponsored child, Jay. During her two day visit, Heidi was able to see the life-changing programs her generous sponsorship helps support with her own eyes. “This visit helped me realize how far my sponsorship money can go and all the great things that can be done because of my sponsorship,” Heidi said.

sponsor with family

 

During her time in Nepal, Heidi was able to spend time getting to know Jay and his family. “This visit meant a lot to me and my son,” Jay’s mom said. “I feel like I am a lucky mother because my son’s sponsor came to meet him from faraway. Not everyone gets such an opportunity to see and talk with their sponsor.” She also added, “I am the first mother in this school and in the community who got an opportunity to meet my child’s sponsor in person, so I feel very proud to be the luckiest one!”

Heidi also had the opportunity to visit Jay’s school, meet with his teachers and his principal. “I really enjoyed being able to speak with the teachers and school management committee members to hear how the support of Save the Children has made a positive impact on the attendance of children,” Heidi said.

“It was wonderful meeting with our donor in person and welcoming her in our school,” the principal of Jay’s school said. “We were very glad to thank her personally for her generous support. The changed school environment, better classrooms, improved reading and teaching materials…and awareness among parents and guardians about education are possible because of her support.”

sponsor with club members

 

For Heidi, seeing her sponsored child in person and understanding the context of his challenging life was an experience she will cherish forever. “I will never forget getting to meet my sponsored child in person. Being able to see the community that he is living in and meet his family was so special and it taught me a lot about what it is like to grow up in this rural environment and see some of the challenges that the community faces. I am very proud to be a sponsor for such a wonderful organization.”

The visit was memorable for Jay, too! “I am very happy to meet my sponsor in person and show her my classroom,” Jay said.

Learn how you can change your child’s life with a visit here.

Readers’ Theater Opening Night

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAmanda Kohn

Sponsorship Director

Save the Children U.S. Programs

October 13, 2017

As the sun starts to set behind the mountains, I remember that I left my Dramamine in the suitcase.  There is no cellphone signal on these winding roads taking me down and around sharp curves. As such, I’m not able to search my iPhone for a Walgreens. And come to think of it, I haven’t really seen any kind of store in the last twenty minutes. Did I mention that I’m in America? This road I’m navigating (and stomaching) is taking me to an elementary school nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, in one of the poorest counties in the United States.

To be clear, this community is poor in resources, but certainly not in spirit.

As we pull into the parking lot, we see a “Welcome Save the Children” message on the school’s billboard. The lot is already full of cars, and little ones are tugging at the hands of their grown-ups to get through the doors. It’s now dark, and Thursday. Oh to have that much enthusiasm at the end of the week! We stroll in behind them, our arms loaded down with boxes of books donated from Scholastic, who partners with U.S. Programs to get more books into the hands of the children we serve. The closer we get to the library, the louder the conversational hum gets. I thought this was going to be a small family night for first graders.

Children performing at the Readers’ Theatre at their sponsorship supported school in Tennessee.
Children performing at the Readers’ Theater at their sponsorship supported school in Tennessee.

We are greeted by a woman wearing a Save the Children shirt. She presents an air of leadership, so I assume she is the Principal. “Welcome to our school! We are so glad y’uns could make it out. The kids are so excited to do their Readers’ Theater. Everybody’s here,” she smiled and added with a Southern twang.

The library is packed. Parents, grandparents, babies, children convincingly dressed as animals, other non-animal children… We found a corner of the room, and the woman who greeted us turned her attention to addressing the crowd. She introduces the Save the Children visitors, and proceeds to enthusiastically share the school’s sponsorship program plan with the community.

She remembers to introduce herself, “Oh, and I’m Belinda, the Sponsorship Community Liaison.”  She’s not the Principal, but an extremely motivated and proud community member who works with sponsorship. I’m floored. And thrilled!

This was the first Literacy Family Engagement night for the school, paid for by Save the Children sponsorship, of many more planned for the rest of the year. This school joined us as a new partner, trying out this new program seeking to reach more children, and empower more communities to come together to help kids be successful at school. This night was the culmination of months of planning between the school, parents, members of the community and Save the Children. For me, it felt like the culmination of four years of my life as the Director of Sponsorship in the United States. Seeing this program play out before my very eyes was more gratifying than I can explain. But I’ll try.

Children performing at the Readers’ Theatre.
Children performing at the Readers’ Theater.

You see, we’ve always been a little different here in the U.S. Poverty looks very dissimilar internationally, and the needs of children overseas are certainly more obvious at a glance. This is not the case in rural America. Addressing the impact poverty makes on children here is not always providing basic needs, installing running water, or building a school. Here, it’s more subtle. The road out of poverty is more winding and curved, but after what I’ve seen tonight, I think we’ve found some capable navigators. Right there they stood, packed into a library wearing tails, whiskers and duck feet, reading aloud to their families and community while acting out the story.

These first graders will be navigating their way right out of the hills of have-not, around the twists and turns of grade-level reading, and upward to the peaks of their own success. In the U.S. a child’s chances of breaking the cycle of poverty are only as good as the quality of their education. Similar to my car-sick journey to the school, the road out of poverty is long and daunting when you’re not equipped with the things you need for the journey. But these kids have something special – this community, and more than 21,000 sponsors in the U.S. providing support along the way. Thanks to sponsors, these students have new books to read and activities like the Readers’ Theater to participate in, getting both kids and parents excited about education and the future.

Despite the darkness peaking behind those smoky mountains, the future is looking really bright for kids in this small, rural town.

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

Gloria’s Restored Confidence

Author Portrait_Agnes Nantamu, Senior Officer Adolescent Development
Agnes Nantamu

Senior Officer of Adolescent Development

Save the Children in Uganda

October 6, 2017

Gloria is a 13-year-old girl who lives in Namayumba, Uganda, with her mother and four siblings. She recalls the days before the sponsorship program started in her school as hard, especially the time when she first began her menstrual cycle.

As with many of the girls in her community, she did not have sanitary towels to use most of the time simply because her mother couldn’t afford them, so she dreaded her period’s monthly arrival. Most families in Namayumba have too little to provide even the most basic provisions for their children, like daily meals, so unfortunately – though they would have loved to provide these materials for their daughters – parents were unable to purchase them.

“I had to miss school because I was afraid that I would get embarrassed if my uniform got stained.” Gloria says. This greatly affected her confidence as she was always worried about when her period would be approaching. It also affected her grades since she had to miss school for a couple of days each month. Like other girls in her community, without the proper materials to be able to sit comfortably through the whole school day, she had no choice but to be absent, despite her eagerness to learn.

 Gloria and Agnes, Senior Officer of our adolescent development programs, making reusable pads.

Gloria and Agnes, Senior Officer of our adolescent development programs, making reusable pads.

When sponsorship started the implementation of its adolescent development programs in Gloria’s school, it provided disposable sanitary towels to all the girls that had started their menstrual cycle. Our adolescent development activities in Uganda aim to improve sexual and reproductive health of adolescents, as well as promote gender equity and overall improve the quality of life for children ages 10 to 19 years old.

“I was very excited to get the sanitary towels because I then did not have to be scared or miss school during my periods, but I was also a bit worried about what I would do when I had used them all up.” Gloria recalls.

Since the disposable sanitary towels would eventually get used up and the girls would still not be able to afford to buy new ones, a more sustainable solution was introduced by Save the Children. Senior female teachers in each of the schools were taught how to make reusable menstrual pads, and also trained on how to teach menstrual hygiene management to their students. These teachers then trained the girls in their schools how to make the reusable pads themselves, and taught them how to manage their hygiene.

Many of the children did not have any hope of ever having a constant supply of sanitary towels and having a comfortable time during their menstrual cycle, but with the knowledge of making these reusable pads, this hope has been restored. “Having sanitary towels I can use more than once had never crossed my mind. After the lesson from Ms. Allen, our teacher, I went home and made myself some.” says Gloria proudly.

Gloria, happy to be in school and enjoying class comfortably.
Gloria, happy to be in school and enjoying class comfortably.

“Gloria is a much happier and more confident girl now. Her school attendance and grades have greatly improved.” says Ms. Allen.

Gloria is exited and hopeful about the future and believes that now that she goes to school regularly, she will be able to achieve her dream of becoming a nurse. She is very grateful to the Save the Children sponsorship program for revitalizing that dream.

All the way from Namayumba, Uganda, please accept our dearest thanks from Gloria and her friends! Thanks to our sponsors, today they are happy to be back in school and learning comfortably.

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

No More Stomach Pains

Author Portrait_Anisa Naimi, School Health and Nutrition Officer, Faryab Province
Anisa Naimi

School Health and Nutrition Officer

Save the Children in Afghanistan

October 3, 2017

In Afghanistan, especially in rural areas, people are suffering from the lack of a consistent energy source for heating and cooking in their homes. To overcome this problem many families still prefer traditional ways of supplying energy. This means that often children can be seen walking the streets to collect animal wastes. Dung, or called “sargen” in Dari, the local language, can then be dried and used as fuel or even building material. Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge on protecting ones health and hygiene was causing children to get sick after collecting sargen.

9-year-old Amina is in 3rd grade at the girls’ school in her village, in Faryab Province. She lives with her parents and is third eldest among her 3 sisters and 2 brothers. She is an active student, but a few months back she suddenly was facing some difficulties, enduring a pain in her stomach followed by her health quickly deteriorating. She tried to attend school regularly but her poor health conditions did not allow her to actively participate in the class work and recreational activities at school.

Her mother Gulbadam shared, “Our family worried about her health. Her father gave her a pain killer medicine, but the pain continued because she felt terrible cramps in her stomach. She preferred to stay at home and was disappointed and sad.”

Thanks to sponsorship, 9-year-old Amina no longer gets stomach pains and is able to stay in school.
Thanks to sponsorship, 9-year-old Amina no longer gets stomach pains and is able to stay in school.

Amina told us proudly, “Save the Children staff came to my school and conducted deworming campaigns. They told teachers and students about worm infestations which is very common in school-aged children in this community, because every day children collect sargen and the germs enter our stomachs and makes us sick.”

She added, showing what she had learned on the topic, “Save the Children staff told us that if these worms grow they would make children much weaker and sick. It is always better to take dewormers to kill worms and to wash our hands with soap. They gave deworming tablets to all the children in school and I took the tablets too. The next day it kicked out many worms from my stomach and I felt better.”

After being inspired by her new knowledge of what had made her sick, Amina become a member of the child-focused health education group in her village, and actively participates in the sessions. She mentioned, “Before I never knew to wash my hands with soap after collecting sargen, and that [washing with] only water does not remove the microbes and causes stomach worms. Thank you Save the Children,” she added shyly.

The child-focused health groups are sponsorship supported programs that provide a forum for girls and boys to meet once a week in the homes of volunteers or in community spaces. At these meetings, health skills such as how to maintain good hygiene and nutrition and prevent diseases are key topics. Children learn through participating in public campaigns to spread health messages through their community, as well as in meeting sessions learn through activities such as drawing, storytelling, roleplaying and other child-friendly activities that strengthen important health skills, like proper handwashing.

Amina explained, “Now our school is closed for winter holidays but there is a [child’s health] group in our neighbors’ house. I regularly attend each session because I enjoy learning many new things, I learned when to wash my hands with soap and why I should do so. Before this I rarely used soap but I learned if I do not use soap I will face stomach worms which is very scary and painful.”

Amina and her fellow child-focused health education group members practice safe handwashing.
Amina and her fellow child-focused health education group members practice safe handwashing.

As a part of the child-focused health groups, child participants are asked to share what they have learned in each session with at least 3 family members or relatives. Community elders, parents and school management are also invited to some of the events. In this way, not only do the children benefit but the impact of our programs are felt throughout the entire community.

Amina’s mother says, “Children learn best when they are healthy. Thanks to Save the Children for implementing very helpful and useful programs. Now I encourage my children to always wash their hands with soap after participating in deworming awareness raising and deworming tablets distribution campaigns.”

Amina’s mother also says, “Amina regularly attends school and is much more active and healthy than before. I am really happy and appreciate Save the Children for its efforts for our school.”

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

Sustainability in Nepal

Author Portrait_Nimma Adhikari, Sponsorship Communication Officer
Nimma Adhikari

Sponsorship Communication Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

September 22, 2017

Guru Sharan ji – Guru Sharan, his first and middle name, and ji is something we add, out of respect after a person’s name in Nepal – used to be one of the many children supported by the Save the Children sponsorship program in the Siraha district of Nepal. Today, he works as an Accountability Officer, collecting feedback from community members about our programs and analyzing the effectiveness of those programs to ensure children are receiving the best health and education support possible. After seeing the benefits of sponsorship as a child firsthand through the programs run in his childhood community, he was inspired to be a part of that work and get involved with our organization as an adult.

I immediately recognized him when I first saw him on the stairs of Save the Children’s Kathmandu office last year. It was a moment of satisfaction and tremendous joy for me to see him, a formerly sponsored child, doing so well in his grown-up life.

Guru Sharan ji relaxing at the Save the Children country office in Kathmandu, Nepal
Guru Sharan ji relaxing at the Save the Children country office in Kathmandu, Nepal

Recently, I shared with him my happiness in seeing a story from him on a social networking site in Nepal. It featured him with his wife on the day she graduated from college. I asked him if he was the one who took it upon himself to advocate for her education since he actively participated in child rights programs as a sponsored child, for example through the child club in his school.

We spoke of the cultural trends and restrictions in his community, where education was not considered an integral part of growing up. Parents instead focus on providing just two proper meals for their children a day, and do not have time to support their children’s studies. Girls’ education, in particular, is considered nothing but a waste of time and money.

As a child his wife, Shanti, had dropped out of school prior to finishing 5th grade and then returned after attending non-formal classes run by Save the Children for out-of-school children. She feels as passionately about the importance of education for children as Guru Sharan ji does, and wants to pursue a postgraduate degree in teaching.

He told me, “I had made it clear to my parents that I wanted Shanti, my wife, to pursue further education. Amazingly, my mother came to my defense.” Guru Sharan ji asked his mother about her concerns for the family’s public image – a married woman is expected to drape a sari but a schoolgirl had to wear a skirt if she wished to go to school. He went on, “… but my mother assured me that she was ready for any ill comments or backlash from the community; she would send her daughter-in-law to school.”

How was your mother so accepting of the idea to send her daughter-in-law to school? How did she find the courage to go against the trending culture? Did she learn about children’s rights from you? I was curious and began asking him many questions.

“When I look back, I realize that my mother was very receptive of progressive ideas. She was hearing from me and the sponsorship programs [staff] that education is every child’s right,” he shared.

Today, formerly sponsored child Guru Sharan ji is happy to be continuing the great work that helped him so much as a child.
Today, formerly sponsored child Guru Sharan ji is happy to be continuing the great work that helped him so much as a child.

As a child, Guru Sharan ji himself was very active in the child club run at his school through sponsorship, where with his peers he enjoyed discussing important issues that children face like child rights and the ill effects of child marriage or corporal punishment. He remembers the first day participating, being so nervous to speak in front of the group. After that, through the club he started to put a lot of his efforts into improving his public speaking skills. As he practiced through this forum, his skills improved to the point that he was often called out at various sponsorship supported functions and events to speak on behalf of the group. He began to realize that education was very important in one’s life. People would seek you out if you were educated. He would share these thoughts with his mother as well. Since he was the eldest child in the family, his mother would listen to him. All the changes she saw in her son made her proud and she knew all these changes were possible because of education and the sponsorship program.

Sponsorship uses a holistic development approach directed towards children through programs in education, health, adolescent development and livelihoods skills. Amidst the programs is one key factor that determines the sustainability of these programs: behavior and attitude change.

The movement of changing behaviors and attitudes from Guru Sharan ji, to his mother, and lastly for his wife’s benefit, is a prime example of how Save the Children creates sustainable solutions to the problems that children face in Nepal while also benefiting their whole community.

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

Nana Rouwaida’s Dreams

Author Portrait_Boubacar Abdoulkader, Education Supervisor
Boubacar Abdoulkader

Education Supervisor

Save the Children in Niger

September 16, 2017

In Tchadoua, a community in grassy flatlands in the southeastern part of Niger, the store houses are full of old millet stalks, a sign that the harvest has not met expectations this year. In this area, people live off agriculture – farming, herding and trading at a small scale. This lifestyle is often difficult as unpredictable weather patterns like drought, floods, or even locust attacks, cause unexpected challenges and hinder successful harvests. As a result, children are often involved in ensuring the family’s survival, expected to assist in bringing in an income rather than attending school.

Today it is sunny and windy, although it’s difficult to see with all the dust blowing in the air from the sandy ground in this area.

The school in Tchadoua is comprised of 5 small classrooms, among which one is made of concrete, two made of clay and the other two are simple sheds made of millet stalks and straw. The walls are bare and there are very few, if any, teaching materials to be seen.

Teachers here are very kind, they welcome us with cheers and friendly smiles. They are all very young, and most of them have not received any training on how to teach. Education in Niger is jeopardized by this, leading to a poor quality of education in schools and a very low level of pupils, as students have trouble staying engaged in lessons. One student out of ten in grade 4 can read the alphabet here.

Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.
Nana Rouwaida and friends Aicha and Fatchima after playing a round of chalele, a game involving dancing, clapping and signing.

Such is the setting where Save the Children now implements its sponsorship program. Among the children struggling to learn in Tchadoua is 11-year-old Nana Rouwaida, twelfth child born of a family of thirteen. She is always joyful and smiling. Neither her struggles in school or the difficulties of her family’s farming lifestyle prevented her from developing the dream to become a nurse one day.

This dream become even stronger when she was sponsored by Helen, her new friend in the United States, who helps support sponsorship programs in her community and also supports Nana Rouwaida through their letter writing, always encouraging her to work hard in school.

“I am proud to receive a letter from my sponsor because anytime I get a reply to my letter I feel important. I also like the stickers and coloring books, stickers to play with and coloring books to see things new for me.”

Through sponsorship programs, she also enjoys going to Reading Camp, where students come together for group lessons with a teacher from the community outside of their regular classes at school. Through sponsorship, teachers receive books to support storytelling and literacy building skills with their students in the Reading Camp, as well as are trained by sponsorship experts on how to use child-centered and child-friendly interactive teaching styles that keep children engaged and excited to learn.

In her free time, Nana Rouwaida also likes helping her mother around the house, for example grinding millet for their meals, sweeping or making the fire for cooking. With her friends she enjoys playing their favorite game, called chalele, involving dancing, clapping and singing traditional songs, generally played by girls. She is also very fond of goats and takes care of them to help her father.

She says what she cherishes most is the time spent on Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays, when she goes to the fields to collect grass for the goats. “I like goats because they are easy to breed,” she shares with pride.

Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.
Nana Rouwaida shares her dream for the future.

Nana Rouwaida is supported in her dream of becoming a nurse by her father, Illa, who also shares the same vision as his daughter. Despite being sixty years old, he is among the few parents from their village who strongly supports young girls’ education, rather than expecting them to only help care for the family. “I understand that education is the key to development and I want my daughter Nana Rouwaida to become a nurse one day, in order to help herself and help other people around her.”

Nana Rouwaida’s teacher, Harouna Siradji, shares that the sponsorship program has already made a positive change in Nana Rouwaida’s life, after running programs for just one year in Tchadoua. “She is now very active in class, [and] her handwriting improves thanks to the Reading Camp.”

For the children in Tchadoua, there is a long way to go. However, things are already beginning to change, and Nana Rouwaida knows that with her sponsor Helen by her side, nothing can stop her.

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

Lucas Becomes a Leader

Author Portrait_Ruth Carola Zambrana Valencia, Sponsorship Assistant
Ruth Carola Zambrana Valencia

Sponsorship Assistant

Save the Children in Bolivia

September 7, 2017

Children in Bolivia discover leadership in many ways. Some children may recognize their leadership skills during a school presentation, others may realize this on the playground or practicing sports. Unfortunately, for many children in Cochabamba, where sponsorship works, there aren’t many spaces dedicated to strengthen and nurture these skills amongst children.

This was Lucas’s case – a lively and bright 10-year-old boy whose leadership talents probably would not have been encouraged and developed if it were not for sponsorship support in his community. Fortunately Lucas now is part of Save the Children’s Advisory Council.

“Being able to work with Save the Children is something extraordinary,” says Lucas.

10-year-old Lucas, Advisory Council member and student leader.
10-year-old Lucas, Advisory Council member and student leader.

The Advisory Council is a group composed of children and adolescents that represent the nearly 50 schools sponsorship works with in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It has been set up to promote the participation of children in sponsorship programs so that they are not only beneficiaries, but also decision makers within and about the programs sponsorship helps to run in their schools and community. Their participation on the Advisory Council allows these children to have the opportunity to express their views and influence decision making. The council is an open and active participation space for children, where they are encouraged to share their opinions, reflect on different issues that affect children and most importantly, are listened to. The members of this Advisory Council are also part of the Children and Adolescent Municipal Council of Cochabamba, a group affiliated with local government. This an important space that allows them to influence public policies.

Lucas was a child selected by his peers for the council because he always is watching over the needs of others. Despite these social skills, Lucas’s mom also recalls that before joining this group, he “was not interested in anything and didn’t like to participate.”

Lucas acknowledges that he used to be a restless boy, which he attributes to his energies not being channeled towards anything specific. Thanks to being part of the Advisory Council he began to see changes in his own life and in his self-esteem. Council members benefit not only in improving their communication skills at council meetings, but also can participate in workshops and conferences that strengthen their leadership and life skills. For example, the Advisory Council members organized and participated in the “For Our Rights” conference, held last year to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – an international human rights treaty stating the rights of children.

“Now I am more educated… in school there were many changes. My schoolmates used to bother me a lot, [but] now that I entered the Advisory Council, they come to ask me for help, they tell me: Lucas, I need this. Will you help me?” he shares proudly.

Lucas speaking to local media at the anniversary celebration for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lucas speaking to local media at the anniversary celebration for the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

His mother, Paola Daisy, also noticed changes in her son’s life, and says that, “Little by little he has been integrating himself and being more talkative. He is interested in things that happen, he is motivated to do things and to achieve his ideas. He wasn’t like this, before there wasn’t any motivation, now he has more initiative, is more interested in knowing what is happening in school and around him.”

Both Lucas and his family are very grateful for the support provided to his school through Save the Children and the Advisory Council, which strengthened his leadership skills and his ambition to achieve his future life goals.

All the way from Cochabamba – thank you, dear sponsors!

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

 

Giveness’s Last 6 Hour Walk

Author Portrait_Annette Malilo, Information and Communication Officer
Annette Malilo

Information and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

August 18, 2017

Life has not been easy for 13-year-old Giveness, a grade 6 student in Lufwanyama, Zambia. She lives in a small village called Chifumpa with her mother, father and younger sister, 9-year-old Bibiana. Villagers here earn their living by fishing and farming. Giveness makes sure she helps her mother with washing dishes and fetching firewood, which are common daily chores for children in this rural part of the world.

Giveness with her bicycle, which cuts her 3-hour ride to school to just 1 hour!
Giveness with her bicycle, which cuts her 3-hour ride to school to just 1 hour!

Determined to be a nurse when she grows older, she goes to school every day with her sister. In the past, they would walk side-by-side for three hours each way to school through the thick forests that surround their village, spending an unbearable six hours walking each day. Because of this, children like Giveness and her sister were frequently absent and had to repeat grades due to poor school performance. For some, rivers and lakes further impede travel, when during the rainy season floods make some areas completely impassable for the unsupervised children on their daily journey.

“Before Save the Children gave us bicycles I used to walk 15 kilometers to school and back every day. I would start off at 5am when it’s still dark with my young sister. We would walk for 3 hours and our legs would be sore. We almost gave up on school. But now that I have a bicycle my legs feel better.” she shyly says in the local language, called Lamba.

Giveness is now able to go to school every day and carry her sister along with her on her bicycle, like many of her friends that have also received a bicycle thanks to sponsorship funding support, purchased through a community cash transfer program. The head teacher also shared that the number of children attending school has risen as those that have received bicycles carry their friends and siblings along as they go to school.

Giveness smiling with her friends outside of their sponsorship supported school.
Giveness smiling with her friends outside of their sponsorship supported school.

“I am so happy to be sponsored because I am able to learn, receive letters from my sponsor, and also have a bicycle. When I grow up I want to be a nurse because I am acquiring a lot of knowledge at school.” Giveness says proudly.

Giveness now cycles to school within an hour and another hour to get back home. Instead of taking a journey of six hours, it now takes her just two, and she does not miss out on any lessons because she is always on time and no longer constantly tired and sore. Thank you, sponsors, for making this possible!

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

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.