My School, A Place that Makes Me Feel Safe

mexico
By Melany

Edited by Selvia Vargas

Sponsorship Community Mobilizer

Save the Children Mexico

December 15, 2017

Hello, my name is Melany and I’m 4 years old. I live in Mexico City, a big city with a lot of cars, people, houses, streets, stores and noise. My mom takes me to school by bus every day. She says I have to pay attention because it’s dangerous. My school is the place I like the most because I can learn and it’s quiet and clean. They give me healthy things to eat and I can play with my friends.

During the holidays I missed coming to school to study and seeing my friends. I like coloring, but I like it best when my friend Paty colors with me. I also like playing with the blocks in my classroom. It’s fun, we use them to build things. I love building robots the most – I make them large and colorful.

Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.
Melany shows how she’s learned to write her name.

They are teaching me numbers and letters. I can write my name all by myself now. My teacher helped me a lot. “M” is the easiest letter because it’s the first and the “a” is always the hardest.

My friends from “Los Children” (Save the Children) visit my school sometimes, the ones with the red t-shirts. They helped us form a committee, which I love to be a part of with the other kids in my class. When we get together we talk about our school, like about the yard toys that are old and can cut us. Then we talk about how we can fix them. We think it is important to tell all the other children about our committee so that they can help us take care of our school, too. We also learn how to know dangerous situations, and how to protect ourselves when we are out in the city. We include our parents in our meetings sometimes, to support us in keeping our school clean and safe.

 Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

Melany playing with blocks, getting ready to build a “robot”.

“Los Children” came once to measure me and they told me I am healthy, but that I had to eat well and exercise to stay that way. That’s why those same friends came to talk with my mom and my teachers, and they taught them how to prepare good and delicious food for me, something our parents didn’t know so much about before. I like eating in my school, the food is always yummy. I like soup and fruits, especially mangos and strawberries.

The children’s committee and Save the Children have set up a school orchard, too. There we have planted many different things, and we are waiting for them to grow so that we can soon prepare more healthy food with these vegetables.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, Save the Children Mexico is giving children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. Thank you from Mexico City to all of our sponsors who have helped make life better for children like Melany and her classmates!

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

To Learn and To Play

Capture
Yasintha Bere

Data Quality and Communication Officer

Save the Children in Indonesia

December 8, 2017

“To take care and educate your own child is simply a task of parents and almost everyone does it, yet to do the same for the other children is a matter of choice,” said Henderina in a conversation with sponsorship staff while meeting in her home. Yes, Henderina is one of those who chooses to educate not only her children – Yedija and Grace, ages 3 and 9 respectively – but also the other children in her community, at their sponsorship supported Reading Camp. She has been trained as a community volunteer by Save the Children in order to run the Reading Camp in her house for the local children. She believes that reading can be the window for the little villagers to see the world and to achieve their dreams.

As the Reading Camp had just been established, children ages 6 – 10 came with great enthusiasm. They came together to play games that strengthen their literacy skills and to learn to read the newly provided books. “It was such a joy to see children enjoy the games and learning. You can see that this is what they really need, to play and to learn through games with their peers.” Before sponsorship helped establish a Reading Camp in their community, children had very little access to books or other reading materials. Most have no books at home of their own, and there was no community library available.

After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.
After the Reading Camp was established, children like Maksimilianus, Fransiska and Ananda came with great enthusiasm.

With the creation of the Reading Camp, two challenges of improving the reading ability of local children were solved. Firstly, with the provision of books, which could also be lent to children so they could read them at home. Secondly, through the provision of a passionate facilitator like Henderina, who helps them to be motivated to learn and who encourages group learning styles that makes learning amongst friends fun for the children.

Henderina realizes that children this age cannot be forced to learn in a way adults may be able to. They need friends. They need to play. Therefore, in her Reading Camp, she tries to incorporate learning through play every day. Children can learn phonetics, letters and vocabulary through singing, playing games, solving puzzles and storytelling. Henderina dedicates her time for the children happily, having fun too with them in the Reading Camp.

Running the Reading Camp in a community where not all parents are aware of the significance of education and literacy is not without challenges. One of them is finding a way to get parents excited about sending their children to the Reading Camp. Some assume that sending their children would be a waste of time, and would rather have their help around the home, such as by collecting firewood, fetching water and caring for the family animals.

Henderina believes that the primary reason for this is the low awareness among parents on the great impact that being allowed to learn while playing with their friends can have on their children. Because of this, she has taken it as part of her role as community volunteer to visit every family with children in her community, to discuss the importance of educating their children and to encourage the parents to send their children to the Reading Camp.

Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.
Author Yasintha working with kids who benefit from sponsorship programs like Reading Camps.

Her efforts bear fruit as more and more children come to her Reading Camp as she meets with more and more parents. Sometimes, parents even stay to participate in the activities themselves. “With this positive progress, I strongly believe that the children in my community can read like those in the city and can reach whatever dreams they may have. This can start here, from this Reading Camp,” she proudly stated.

Mobilizing community members to help build our programs is an integral part of sponsorship. We provide training and tools that enable children, parents, teachers and local partners like Henderina to work together to achieve common goals. Consider sharing this story with a friend or family member, to show how you’ve helped bring the joy of reading to children in the Philippines, as one of our valued sponsors! Thank you!

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

Nahomie Empowers Other Girls

Author Potrait_Yamileh Théodore, Sponsorship Operations Coordinator
Edited by Yamileh Théodore

Sponsorship Operations Coordinator

Save the Children in Haiti

July 31, 2017

Hello, I am Nahomie and I am fourteen years old. I live with my parents and my three siblings in a community named Villard in Dessalines, Haiti. As the eldest, I usually help my siblings with their homework and my mother with the household chores such as washing clothes and dishes. My favorite subject is Math. Also, I enjoy playing hide and seek, hopscotch and jump rope with my friends and schoolmates.

As a typical teenager, I have a group of friends and we do everything together. For example, we like to wear the same kinds of clothes, and when one friend had her first boyfriend, we all wanted boyfriends.  Following the group, I had my first boyfriend last year.

Thanks to sponsorship, Nahomie has learned how to keep herself safe as she grows into a woman.
Thanks to sponsorship, Nahomie has learned how to keep herself safe as she grows into a woman.

In my community in Haiti, parents aren’t comfortable talking with us about sex – it is a taboo subject to discuss with people my age, regardless of if we are boys or girls. I had a lot of questions about having a boyfriend, and I didn’t know where to go.

Thanks to Save the Children’s program set-up for teens like me, I was able to seek out a friendly environment to ask questions about sex, my changing body and becoming an adult. Through sponsorship’s adolescent development programs, our teachers, school principals, school councils, or Parent Teacher Associations, and community partners receive training on Sexual Education and child-friendly ways for adults to talk about sexual and reproductive health issues with students.

As a result of these programs, a health-care worker came to my school to talk about the services that were available at the health center in our community. After hearing them speak, I went to the health center to see how I could get involved and learn more. I started participating in a student club, that both helps spread health messages to people my age but also helps build my own leadership skills and self-confidence. I was able to not only find answers to the questions I wanted to ask, but was able to discuss these questions with both adults and peers in a place I felt safe.

Today, I feel comfortable speaking about my experiences as a growing girl in my community, and using my voice to create awareness among the others about how sexual intercourse at such young age can be harmful for our lives and our futures. Waiting until a more mature age can help us avoid a lot of mistakes, such as an early pregnancy, that would affect us for the rest of our lives.

Nahomie washing the dishes outside of her home.
Nahomie washing the dishes outside of her home.

Whenever I want, I can seek more information about my sexual and reproductive health at the health center, where now I am always welcomed by staff who can offer even more information. I go there for myself, but also to create awareness and prevent adolescents like me from feeling influenced by pressures from their friends, and instead to make the best decision for their own well-being.

I am proud and thankful to Save the Children, this is a very good program! After meeting with the healthcare workers, I am now inspired to grow up to be like them. I work even harder at school so I can finish my studies in order to become a nurse. I will continue with the work they started in my community and help other adolescents who are in need. This is the dream I am now cherishing.

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

The Great Light of Hope

Author Portrait_Boukary Jigo, Community Volunteer
Boukary Jigo

Community Volunteer

Save the Children in Niger

May 24, 2017

My name is Boukary, I am a Community Volunteer with the Sponsorship program in Maradi. I’d like to start by saying that I am very proud that my community is one of the 25 communities in which the Sponsorship program implements its activities. The fact that we had been honored as such was the first key element in my commitment to get involved in this program. We believe in the importance of education, we want our children to be educated. And Sponsorship is here to support us in the education of our children. When a child is educated, it’s all the community that benefits so I am excited for my community and its development.

Boukary with Fati, a sponsored child, at her home in Maradi.
Boukary with Fati, a sponsored child, at her home in Maradi.

As a volunteer, I help the Sponsorship team in monitoring children that are enrolled in programs to ensure their participation and benefit. In doing so we follow up on their school and class attendance. We also help with reaching out to children and parents not yet involved to explain how Sponsorship works to help their children. We are even honored in helping deliver sponsors’ letters to children.

Smiling Zahaina & Sailouba, girls in our Sponsorship programs in Maradi.
Smiling Zahaina & Sailouba, girls in our Sponsorship programs in Maradi.

The problems with quality of education is really a great issue in Niger, particularly in rural areas. Four children out of five cannot read or write a short paragraph, but we strongly believe that the Sponsorship program will positively change the situation. We already have school supplies that have been brought to the schools, reading camps that are set up and running, trainings that are being given to teachers and parents in charge of school management, and even bringing in more volunteers. It’s a great light of hope for parents and children.

Thanks so much to all our new sponsors in Niger, the most recent addition to our worldwide Sponsorship family. We can’t wait to share with you more successes as our work in Niger continues to grow!

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

 

“I’m a hero because I’m… smart!”

Malachi Blog - USP -1
Save the Children USA

May 17, 2017

In Southern Kentucky, 7-year-old Malachi is excited to send a personal note to his sponsor. This thoughtful little boy puts a lot of heart into the words he chooses. “I’m a hero because I’m… smart!” he writes. He then adds a colorful drawing of his mother, wearing a pink cape — an example of his very own super hero.

Growing up in Kentucky has not been easy for Malachi and his mother. Their small, rural community struggles with the all too familiar challenges of poverty – lack of teachers and materials for quality schooling, few jobs that pay a living wage, and high unemployment.

With his teacher’s help, Malachi is able to practice reading and get the writing support he needs to thrive.
With his teacher’s help, Malachi is able to practice reading and get the writing support he needs to thrive.

Malachi is lucky, however. He has a very close relationship with his mom – a single mother who is working her hardest to create a good life for her family. She has been able to find jobs, but their two-person family has faced significant financial setbacks in recent years, and she cannot meet his basic needs. On top of this, Malachi has had difficulties focusing on his studies in school.

But while they may not have many material possessions, they are grateful for the richness of the love they share and their strong bond. Malachi’s mom has been an advocate for Malachi and a strong supporter of his education.

“Malachi has expressed how much he enjoys the after-school program. I feel that he is safe and well taken care of,” says his mother. “I have to work, and it gives me a chance to better our lives.”

Before being sponsored two years ago, Malachi was tracking behind the average literacy expectations for kids his age. He didn’t always turn in his homework and struggled to focus in the classroom, more than his peers.

Since joining the sponsorship program, his word recognition, basic literacy skills and reading comprehension have all shown improvement. Paying attention in class is no longer a struggle.

-Check out that big smile! Thanks to sponsorship, Malachi now loves to read – and it shows!
Check out that big smile! Thanks to sponsorship, Malachi now loves to read – and it shows!

“After-school I go to Bulldog Club,” said Malachi, beaming. “My favorite thing to do there is read!” Malachi’s favorite books are about dinosaurs and he takes great pride in the fact that he can now read confidently.

The after-school program is funded by sponsorship and includes reading practice, writing support and listening to stories read aloud. Malachi’s mother is just one of many parents who has seen the after-school program make a significant difference to her children and in their close-knit community.

Save the Children’s literacy program helps give children growing up in America’s poorest communities a the opportunity to learn. Children in these places have the potential to improve their knowledge and boost their confidence — the stepping stones for a successful future.

Empowering Women in Egypt

Author Portrait_Amal Abdallah Mohammed, Former Community Health Worker
Ayman Abdel Hafeez

Sponsorship Health Assistant

Save the Children in Egypt

May 10, 2017

Amal is a 60-year-old wife and mother to two boys, Haytham and Islam. She is also a former community health worker at a family health unit in Abnoub, Egypt. After graduating, she delivered sessions about health topics like how to have a safe pregnancy and the dangers of improper nutrition for young children. She also conducted home visits with new mothers and their infants, and introduced local women to the health unit’s medical services so they knew when to come and what was available for them there.

However, she never received a word of praise from her managers and colleagues for her hard work. To make things worse, she was even faulted for pouring her heart and soul into her job.

“I almost hated my job, and my life,” stated Amal. “It was a very dark period,” she said. “I felt gloomy, which negatively impacted my relationship with my family and husband.”

Amal meeting with a local woman about her livelihoods project.
Amal meeting with a local woman about her livelihoods project.

Everything turned upside down and life began to smile back at her after the head of Sponsorship’s health programs in Egypt, Mr. Fouad Montaser, paid her a visit. He was blown away by her work.

“I was on top of the world,” she remembers fondly. “Finally I met someone who pushed me to help others, someone who believed in me and is interested in my work,” explained Amal.

In recognition of her efforts, Mr. Fouad nominated her to be in charge of raising health awareness in the local community. Through home visits and community-based sessions, she covered topics like proper breastfeeding, how to address respiratory system infections in children and manage personal hygiene for the benefit of whole families.

Additionally, through the “Arab Women Speak Out” Sponsorship initiative, she taught local women important life skills, like how to effectively manage conflict with their husbands and family members. She also helped women start their own small businesses by using simple and available resources, for example buying cheap home appliances and reselling them to make a profit, or how to successfully raise and care for a chicken flock at home. Since culturally women in this area are not encouraged to travel or work outside of the home, our programs are helping them to become active members of their society for the first time.

Amal visiting a participant of Arab Women Speak Out in her shop
Amal visiting a participant of Arab Women Speak Out in her shop.

Today, Amal has and continues to promote local women’s sense of worth by empowering them to become active agents in the social development of their communities. By encouraging groups of women, ranging in ages from 15 to 45, to speak about problems related to their domestic life, social status, health and hygiene, together they are able to come up with durable solutions.

Thanks to support from our sponsors, real change is being made not only through our educational programs that reach children, but also those that empower their parents and community members to implement change themselves. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your partnership!

 

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

For the Mothers and Babies of Abnoub

Author Portrait_Samar Abdel Fattah, Health Worker
Samar Abdel Fattah

Health Worker

Save the Children in Egypt

May 3, 2017

25-year-old Samar lives in Abnoub, Egypt and worked as an unpaid volunteer for the Community Development Association for Orphan Care, known locally as CDAOC, for a full year. However, she felt that she could do even more to help children in need. She wanted to prove herself and also showcase the work she was already doing to help local children. She took on a number of health projects initiated and funded by local foundations and government entities, including the Ministry of State for Family and Population Affairs. In these projects she conducted health-awareness campaigns, for example spreading messages on the importance of keeping a clean home and properly disposing of garbage to reduce the spread of disease, among community members.

Samar conducting a training with local nurses.
Samar conducting a training with local nurses.

Despite her efforts to document and share her successes, Samar didn’t feel that her work was well recognized. Until one day, the senior supervisor of health projects from Save the Children paid her a visit. Samar jumped at the opportunity to connect with the organization. She introduced him to her work, and he went on to spread those successes in improving health and hygiene in communities to other governorates all over the country. After that, when Save the Children was looking to select new health program team members, they chose CDAOC to partner with and specifically reached out to Samar.

Samar began conducting workshops to train female village leaders, community representatives, mothers and nurses on Sponsorship’s evidence-based and innovative programs, which spread health messages to local women using tools like educational videos and play-acting to keep them engaged. Topics include how to recognize dangers signs during pregnancy, the health benefits of breastfeeding infants, the importance of vaccination, basic first-aid for accidents in the home, and much more.

Samar with participants of one of her health sessions, and their children who will surely benefit!
Samar with participants of one of her health sessions, and their children who will surely benefit!

She also received trainings in what Sponsorship calls “Kangaroo Mother Care”, an initiative which imitates the way the kangaroo carries her baby. This improves mother-to-child attachment, providing newborns with continuous affection and tenderness that aids in a healthy upbringing. Through these sessions and other trainings, Samar learned how to examine a new-born child, as well as deliver community- and home-based meetings for pregnant women and mothers of newborns on skills for the healthy nutrition and care of their babies.

Today, Samar feels fulfilled in her life. She is now a certified trainer of the Assiut Health Directorate, thanks to her work with Save the Children, and possesses countless health certificates. Her name glows next to the names of university professors, doctors and hospital managers on training materials that are shared nation-wide. We are very proud to have her as a partner!

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

A Person of Great Importance

Author Portrait_Kelvin Mulenga, Information and Communications Officer
Kelvin Mulenga

Information and Communications Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

April 27, 2017

Walking along one of the paths in a small community called Nkana, I cannot help but notice the very jovial little girl who smiles despite needing a wheelchair. I am curious about her, and my curiosity leads me into a discussion with her and her mother, Rose.

I learn that this child is Celine, a 12-year-old girl and third grade student at one of the Sponsorship-supported schools in Lufwanyama. She is the last born of her family of 12. She tells us she loves fruit and shares her favorites, “I like oranges, bananas and apples because fruit provides vitamins to my body.”

Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.
Sponsorship staff member Kelvin and Celine take a stroll.

Despite her physical challenges, Celine is passionate about attending school. However, like many disabled children, she was not able to go. She suffers from a spinal disease called scoliosis, which crippled her ability to walk. Though her school is just a short distance from her home, without transportation she was forced out of classes for a full year. In addition to her physical struggles, her family also could not afford to purchase school materials like books and pencils.

After being enrolled in Sponsorship, Save the Children field staff began to look for ways to help Celine attend school. They advocated for Celine to gain access to a wheelchair from one of the local churches in the community, to help her get to school. She also received exercise books from her school, provided through Sponsorship funds.

“I love Sponsorship, as Save the Children is now helping my school with a lot of things, and I am given some of these like books.” Celine said with a smile.

Today, Celine is back in school and tells us she wishes to work in an office one day, where she will be a person of great importance, “When I finish school, I would like to work in an office where I should be signing on documents, that they bring to my office.”

Celine back in class and ready to learn.
Celine back in class and ready to learn.

However, her dream will not be realized without her community continuing to embrace the importance in protecting the health and education of every child, as a fundamental human right – that every child is entitled to enjoy learning regardless of their physical abilities.

Save the Children has been implementing its non-discriminatory programs to help children like Celine attain education despite the many hurdles they face in their life. Continue to dream big, Celine, and we will continue to support you!

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

 

Guarding Our Children’s Future

Author Portrait_Tribhuvan Karmacharya, Sponsorship Program OfficerTribhuvan Karmacharya

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan

March 17, 2017

Being born and raised in the hilly district of Pyuthan in Nepal, I consider myself one of the lucky few who was able to have a better chance at an education. I grew up in one of the most developed parts of Pyuthan, though calling it developed would be an overstatement. Many parts of this area, particularly in the high, upper hill regions, still lack electricity, and are so remote that hours on foot are required for daily tasks like collecting water for household use. I had the privilege of going to school and even continuing with my education, unlike the many children I meet with on a regular basis during field visits to this area.

I was quite unaware of Save the Children’s Sponsorship program until I joined the team myself in 2011. My primary role included collecting child replies from children for their sponsors, and collecting updates from the children about their daily life and about how they are benefiting from our programs. Most recently, we have begun to give extra attention to children who are not enrolled in school because they need our support more than ever, to truly turn around their lives.

A typical road in Pyuthan.
A typical road in Pyuthan.

My colleagues and I set out to cover different areas to meet with these out-of-school children. Walking is never an option in hilly communities like ours – it is the only choice if you need to go somewhere. Sometimes children walk for hours just to reach their school. After leaving the motor road, I walked along the narrow dirt trails to meet with several out-of-school children. Of those I met with that day, a young 11-year-old boy named Aashik still frequently comes to my mind.

Aashik’s mother had been terminally ill for quite some time. He had stopped going to school in order to care for his ailing mother, and to prepare food and care for his little sister since his mother no longer could. His father and 17-year-old brother had moved to India in search of work, a common story for families here. I will never forget the moment his lips shut tight and his eyes welled up when I asked him if he liked going to school. I didn’t need his confirmation. I already had the answer.

As a father to two young children myself, I could not bear to see Aashik cry. At his age, I was happy and content with my life. I expect the same for my sons and I expected the same for Aashik. I made arrangements for him, as well as the other children I met with that day, to get enrolled in school again.

Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.
Tribhuvan following up with Aashik (middle) and his friend about how returning to classes is going.

A couple of months later, I followed up with the 15 out-of-school children whose families I had counselled about getting their children back in school. Just 10 of them were still continuing with their schooling by then, the other 5, the older ones, needed to return to home-life caring for other family members and household tasks. Despite this sad news, my heavy heart settled a little when I heard that Aashik was one of the 10 still attending, and that his younger sister had joined school now too.

Thanks to the support of our caring sponsors, Sponsorship team members like Tribhuvan are able to make the long journey to reach children in some of the most remote regions of the globe. By working with community members and parents, we are able to bring out-of-school children like Aashik back to learning – by providing them with school supplies and helping parents understand the importance of a good education for their children. Without your support, none of this would be possible for Aashik and children like him. Thank you!

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

 

Communities Take Ownership

Author Portrait_Yamileh Théodore, Sponsorship Operations Officer
Yamileh Théodore

Sponsorship Operations Officer

Save the Children in Haiti

February 24, 2017

Sponsorship’s ultimate goal is always to prepare the communities to be able to continue our programs on their own one day, without Save the Children’s support. As we are now about halfway through our planned time in Dessalines, from arriving in 2012 to our planned exit from the community in 2020, we want to make sure that the capacities of the communities and schools we work with are strengthening.

A child participating in one of our summer camp activities, making art from recyclables.
A child participating in one of our summer camp activities, making art from recyclables.

One aspect of our work through which we can assess the success of our programs is by the local summer camps, which were started thanks to Sponsorship funding. Week long camps this year welcomed more than 600 girls and boys from ages 7 to 16. Kids received lessons in arts and crafts on skills like making floral arrangements, macramé and ways to recycle trash into art. Children also benefited from sessions on health and hygiene topics, for example how to identify nutritious foods or, for adolescents, how to maintain their sexual and reproductive health.

These camps also provided an opportunity for the school council members, representatives from the local government, trained teachers and volunteers from the community to demonstrate the skills gained through trainings provided by Sponsorship. Save the Children in Haiti program staff watched as camp activities unfolded – both camp facilitators and children were eager to share all they had learned. For the adults present, it was clear they shared great interest and a common sense of duty and responsibility to ensure that the highest standards are maintained for educating the local children.

 Children performing a song during the closing ceremony for the summer camps.
Children performing a song during the closing ceremony for the summer camps.

The camps closing ceremony was the perfect moment for the participants and actors to express their joy with the summer camps and likewise the good work Save the Children is doing throughout the community. It was agreed on by everyone that next summer the camps would continue, and the community happily offered to lead in taking ownership in running the camps this time. We look forward to a smooth and efficient transition of activities!

Your sponsorship supports your child’s growth and development and empowers community members to sustain the work we’ve started. For our sponsors of children in Dessalines, we hope you continue with us on this journey through the end of 2020 – when our programs will be solely run by community members and we will move on to other areas in need in Haiti.

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