Working with Local Government

Author Portrait 1_Carolyn Alesbury, Education Specialist
Marianne O’Grady and Carolyn Alesbury

Education Specialists

Save the Children in Afghanistan

March 9, 2018

As the spring flowers brought color to the gardens, and the trees were waking up after a long and cold winter, we flew into Faryab to visit the sponsorship program. The trip was long overdue and as representatives of the technical team, we were delighted to see the high quality programming happening in Faryab and Sarepul.

The early childhood, school health and basic education programs in Afghanistan are strong, highly necessary and innovative. The sponsorship staff are team players, dedicated, focused and so engaged.  With Faryab and Sarepul under new and crippling security strains, the staff face extreme challenges reaching some communities – something that must now be factored into their planning to ensure programs still reach children. Our teams partner closely with the local Ministry of Education department to provide educational activities in areas that the government cannot access. Save the Children sponsorship programming is there to support children in preparing for and transitioning to primary school, as well as ensure they are healthy and able to stay in school once they get there.

Early Learners (left to right) Mursal, Atila and Zuhra.
Early Learners (left to right) Mursal, Atila and Zuhra.

In Afghanistan, the ministry is working to get national preschools in every village, but currently only a few early learning centers are in place and functioning in Kabul. Since we know that stimulating children’s cognitive, social, language and even reading and math skills at an early age is important to set them up for success as students later on, sponsorship has been working hard to address these challenges.

We are successfully modeling community-based early learning programs for these young students, usually ages 4 – 6, throughout the country, and in Faryab and Sarepul, the local ministry officials even came to Save the Children and asked us to incorporate these programs into the primary school curriculum. This innovative approach demonstrates our strong partnership with the local government.

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit one of these early learning centers during our trip. The children were both excited and shy to sing and read with us, and to show off on the high quality playground equipment sponsors had provided here.

Early Learners benefiting from sponsorship in Faryab.
Early Learners benefiting from sponsorship in Faryab.

Another example of our close partnership with the local government could be seen in the health team’s recent visit. They provided blue prints for toilets that are low cost, high quality and long lasting. After much review with local ministry officials, sponsorship teams and village partners have built some of these new toilets at primary schools that had no toilets before or not enough to accommodate the number of students.

We are so proud of the program in Afghanistan and want to remind our sponsors, our members and our technical advisors that Afghan children are still in need.  We are working in some areas where other NGOs and the local government cannot reach – we hope that the inspiring and impactful efforts of our colleagues in Faryab can continue until all those needs have been addressed!

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

Thanks from Massouma

Author Portrait
By Massouma, Transcribed and edited by Anisa Zari

School Health and Nutrition Officer

Save the Children in Afghanistan

January 19, 2018

Salam! My name is Massouma, I’m 16 years old and a student in grade 10 at the girls’ high school in my village. I live with my parents and all 7 of my siblings – 2 brothers, one older, one younger, and 5 sisters, 4 older than me and one younger. My mother is illiterate and spends her time taking care of our home and family, while my father is our school’s headmaster.

For me, life is like any other girl’s my age in Afghanistan. I get up in the morning and prepare breakfast, and go to school. After, I do my homework and help my mother with the house chores, cooking and cleaning. My dream is to be a teacher in the future.

I was selected as the Lifeline child representative for Save the Children back in July of 2006. From that time to now, I have played different roles and benefited from sponsorship programs in different ways. When I was 5, I started in the Early Learners program, where I worked on my literacy, numeracy and other learning skills through games, songs, storytelling, reading and socializing with my young peers.

When I was a little older, at age 7, I started going to the child-focused health education groups in my community. There, we learned about how keep ourselves healthy with good nutrition and hygiene practices.

Masoda, Soraya, Massouma and Hajira learning about preventing disease in their health group.
Masoda, Soraya, Massouma and Hajira learning about preventing disease in their health group.

Today, I am applying the knowledge I have learned about healthy behaviours as child-focused health education group volunteer facilitator. I lead about 15 school-aged children twice a week in learning about nutrition, hygiene, immunization and preventable childhood diseases.

Together, we conduct awareness campaigns in the communities, to reach as many people as possible with these messages. Children and community members are taught when and how to properly wash their hands, for example before handling food, after using the latrine and after handling or working with animals. We also take the lead in keeping our school clean, are trained on first aid and help find solutions to health problems at school.

My mother, Rabia says that now I am “always talking with the family about the health activities she does in the CFHE group. I can really see how her confidence has grown since she began taking part in sponsorship programs.”

My mother has also noticed how much I’ve learned about health and hygiene through participating in these programs. I like to learn new things about healthy ways of living. I love sharing what I’ve learned in our group meetings and events with friends and family members, because the groups have been such a fun place for me to both play and learn.

Massouma outside the old school building, before sponsors supported new classrooms.
Massouma outside the old school building, before sponsors supported new classrooms.

I would like to thank all sponsors for the support that they have provided for our community and for me through sponsorship programs. In addition to having the child-focused health groups now, sponsors have also built us four new classrooms. That has really been a big help, because before, since there was not enough space for all of us, children had to sit outdoors, in the sun or under the shade of trees when possible, and during the winter we would still have to be outside which made learning hard and everyone really unhappy from the mountain cold.

A lot in my life has changed because of sponsorship, and I’m not sure who I would be without it. I would like to thank you. I appreciate your support as sponsor more than you can know!

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