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.

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.

Now I Can Read the Books by Myself

Author Portrait_Fahim Shahriar, Deputy Manager - Sponsorship Communication and Data QualityFahim Shahriar

Deputy Manager, Sponsorship Communication and Data Quality

Save the Children in Bangladesh

July 21, 2017

Sajib is now over 7 years old, and lives with his family in the slums of Rayerbazar, an area with run-down, overcrowded and unsafe informal housing, in Dhaka North City, one of the areas in which sponsorship works in Bangladesh. His father Fazlu pulls rickshaws in order to support their family, and his mother Ajufa works supporting the home. He is the youngest among 4 siblings, and has been involved in Save the Children’s sponsorship program since May of 2016.

Before sponsorship came to Dhaka North City, children had very few opportunities to learn or play outside of school. They could be seen usually aimlessly wandering the meandering slum city paths and streets. No one had talked to their parents about how important receiving an education could be for their children, and so parents would not involve themselves in supporting their children’s schooling. Sajib and other children from the slums had irregular attendance and didn’t enjoy reading, because they found it so difficult and because there were so few books available to them. As a 1st grader, Sajib had trouble recognizing the letters of the alphabet, and could not read any books on his own.

Sajib and his parents came to know about sponsorship by attending a gathering hosted by Save the Children for parents in their community. After that, they began to understand the impact sponsorship, and having a strong foundational education, could have on their son’s future.

Sajib reading a storybook with friends Firoza and Rabibul at the center.
Sajib reading a storybook with friends Firoza and Rabibul at the center.

Thanks to these programs, Sajib’s learning abilities have been transformed. He now has the great joy of attending after-school programming at the sponsorship supported community center in his neighborhood. There he is greeted by a child-friendly learning environment, with walls covered in colorful posters and images, and shelves full of print-rich materials.

He shares proudly, “Now, I am reading in grade two at school. After school, I love going to Shishu Mela [local sponsorship supported community center], because my many friends go there. We read storybooks and play games together there.”

At sponsorship programs Sajib was also introduced to a child-centered teaching style for the first time, which employs interactive and fun learning techniques to keep him engaged in the daily lessons. “Apa reads the books to us in special way, I like that and for this reason, I go to the center,” he shares about the way the center facilitator, Apa, reads books to them in an entertaining way that captures their imaginations – storytelling with rhythm and pace, pausing at the exciting parts and speaking with feeling to convey the characters’ emotions.

“I participate in storytelling sessions and I have learned spellings of words,” he continues proudly, “Now, I enjoy reading stories and sometimes I borrow books from the center to read at home. Because of this center, now I can read the books by myself.”

Adding to his new found reading skills, Sajib and his family are very happy to get connected with their new friend abroad who is contributing to the wellbeing of their community in so many ways. “I am feeling so special after knowing that I have got a new friend in abroad, because not all other children here in my community have such a friend,” shares Sajib, describing the newly formed friendship with his sponsor, Casey, who started sponsoring him in December of 2016.

Sajib preparing a drawing for his sponsor, Casey.
Sajib preparing a drawing for his sponsor, Casey.

With the encouragement in letters from his sponsor and the enjoyment and new found confidence he has from learning at the community center, Sajib is flourishing. He attends school regularly now and reads on his own time outside of school.

His mother Ajufa shared, “I am so happy to know that my son Sajib is chosen by someone from abroad for friendship. I have learned the importance of such a friendship by seeing his progress after attending sessions at the community center. He can read stories by himself and his reading habit has increased too. He is teaching us handwashing and hygiene practices that he is learning at the center. These changes are happening to him because of [the] sponsorship contribution of foreign friends [sponsors]. Like my son, many other children of our community are also benefitting through sponsorship support. I want this relationship with his friend to continue!”

We know that receiving letters from sponsors makes a huge impact on sponsored children, giving them a sense of pride and self-worth. Sajib concludes, “I am very much excited as I could have written about myself and drawn a picture for my friend, which is the first time for me. I have loved writing and drawing a lot as those are shared with my friend through Save the Children. Now, I am waiting to hear from my friend and very eager to know more about him.”

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.

senior-officer-madrine-helps-christine-compose-a-letter
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.