The Community Volunteer Experience

Author Portrait_Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín, Community Volunteers in Cuyagualo, Sonsonate
Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín

Community Volunteers

Save the Children in El Salvador

March 2, 2018

 

A dedicated nurse helping to improve the health of people in need, and a devoted teacher shaping the minds of future leaders. Those were the dreams of Rosa and Carolina, two sisters who have been community volunteers with Save the Children’s programs for nearly 8 years now. Unfortunately, when they were just teenagers a tragedy struck their family – their father passed away and their mother found herself overwhelmed with 6 children. Rosa and Carolina’s mother took the difficult decision of taking them out of school so they could work and help with the family income. Rosa and Carolina desire for their own children, and for all children in their community, the educational and development opportunities they couldn’t have for themselves. With their work, they are making Save the Children’s vision come to life: a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Before Save the Children came to our community, our leaders used to think only about projects to improve the infrastructure, mainly paving dirt roads. So when Victor, Save the Children in El Salvador’s Community Mobilization Coordinator, presented sponsorship programs to us, people were at first not very interested because it was about education, health and protection for children and adolescents, more than direct and more tangible improvements like new roads. Some people even told us that Save the Children was evil and they would steal the children in our community. Ignorance and indifference dominated people’s minds. It wasn’t easy, but after attending the community mobilization sessions, the leaders came to understand that Save the Children had to involve the entire community in these programs in order to implement them, and that no decisions would be made without their input. In these sessions we also discussed the importance that having a strong educational foundation, and skills in personal hygiene and health, would have for our children. Little by little, the minds of community members began to change.

Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!
Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!

We’ve been community volunteers for almost 8 years now. Back when we started, we had just one group of 5 – 10 children in our Early Learners programs. Today, we have seven active groups with nearly 30 children each. We’ve reached the hearts of so many mothers over those years, and now they know the importance of starting learning very early, before children enter primary school. Even the teachers are happier and satisfied, because children already know things such as how to hold a pencil, colors and vowels when they start kindergarten.

Another success has been changing people’s minds about the future of adolescents. In the past, adolescents would only study until 9th grade, then opt for the traditional, and considered easier, path of becoming a farmer, security guard, getting married or even joining a gang. Now, adolescents don’t want that anymore. They want to finish high school and go to college. With sponsorship support, our community management group has learned how to create projects and opportunities for adolescents. So far, we’ve managed to get 18 scholarships for students to continue higher education in high school or college this year. Our community now has adolescents with technical studies in computer engineering, who have become role models for the younger ones. Adolescents are also part of the community management committees.

Rosa with her niece, Idania.
Rosa with her niece, Idania.

The only regrets we have? All the wasted years without the knowledge we have now, the early childhood education we couldn’t give to our own children because we didn’t know anything about it. Our own children are grown-up now, but with our younger nieces and nephews we have put into practice all the strategies we teach to the other women in the community. We know for sure the Early Learning programs work, because we’ve seen the success in our niece Idania. She is just 18 months and can already say 55 words! Even the doctor is surprised with that!

We could share so many stories about the work we are able to accomplish in our community thanks to Save the Children, but in the end all of these success stories make us proud because we consider them our little triumphs!

Without dedicated community volunteers like Rosa and Carolina, Save the Children’s programs would not be possible. Children and families in their community are sure proud and thankful for having them, and being a part of their community’s growth themselves!

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

 

Judith Louise and her Baby Helped by Save the Children

Save the Children: Colin Crowley

Colin Crowley, Save the Children multimedia emergency response team


Makeshift Camp, Leogane, Haiti

January 20, 2010

Judith Louise lost her 6-year-old son in the earthquake and very nearly lost her 15-day-old baby boy, who does not yet have a name because he has not been baptized.

SC_AZ33: Save the Children

"When the earthquake struck, I was in the bedroom," said Judith Louise.

"I tried to run, but it knocked me down and I couldn't go back inside to grab the child. Outside, they asked me where was my baby. I told them I didn't know."

"The baby's grandfather went back inside and he saw that the baby had fallen on the ground. The wall had collapsed next to the baby and he was covered in dust. When they pulled my child out, I thought he was dead."

Judith Louise's husband, Friesnel, said, "The baby wasn't moving or breathing. It took a long time to revive him. When Judith Louise started nursing him, though, he came back to life."

"We were lucky to find the child alive," said Friesnel.

"Our house was completely destroyed. We lost everything. Everyone's house has been destroyed, so now we are equal as one – you understand. We don't have anything to survive with. Even if we have money, we can't find anything to buy. Nobody is giving us anything. We're all suffering here."

Save the Children: Field Worker Friesnel worries about how his family will survive, living in the streets.

Save the Children's Kathryn Bolles (pictured at right) helps families like those of Judith Louise and Friesnel by providing medical and nutrition supplies.

"We need to rebuild our houses. Our baby is suffering because we don't even have money to buy milk. We need money to reorganize our lives. We need food to come to this country in order for all of us to survive."

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Save the Children President and CEO Arrives in Haiti, Visits Center for Displaced Children

Charles MacCormack, president and CEO Save the Children

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 17, 2010

Save the Children: Charles MacCormack

It's a race against time to get food, water and medical supplies to the people who for five days now have received very little aid. At this center for displaced children, the kids now feel safer and are cared for by trained staff.

Even in the most challenging of situations, Save the Children has been able to deliver urgently needed food, water and medical supplies. And we are doing that right now!

We are working to set up Child Friendly Spaces in areas where families have been setting up camp.


These areas will ensure the safety of children in the camps.

It gives them the opportunity to play and begin to recover from the death, injury and destruction they have witnessed, and the lack of necessities they have endured.

Photo credits: Adriana Zehbrauskas/Polaris

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now.

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

First Hospital Supplies Delivered by Save the Children Staff, Distribution of Water to People in Street

Ian Rodgers, John Bugge, Save the Children emergency staff

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 16, 2010

Here is a brief on-the-ground update on one of our first distributions in Port-au-Prince:

Espoire Ian Distribution-Save the Children

A 20-foot container that Save the Children filled in the Dominican Republic and sent overland was delivered today to the Hospital de l'Espoir (Hope Hospital).

It contained hygiene kits (rubbing alcohol, soap, towels, baby wipes, sanitary napkins, shampoo, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, disinfectant gel, chlorine, diapers and water) plus food and water. 

Espoire2_john.JPGBuggewater

The
food will serve 2,000 people and the supply included such items as
tinned fish, crackers, rice, beans, powdered milk, tomato sauce,
bottled water and cooking oil.

We provided some of the goods to people
on the street, as well. 

Photo credits: Win McNamee/Getty ImagesWater Distribution-Save the Children








Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).

Hope in Haiti: ‘Miracle Baby’ Winnie Pulled from Rubble, Save the Children Health Staff Providing Medical Supplies

Save the Children: Kathryn Bolles



Kathryn Bolles, emergency health and nutrition director


Port-au-Prince, Haiti

January 16, 2010

I arrived in Haiti on Thursday as part of our response to the earthquake. On Friday, we began assessing the health situation for children and their families affected by the largest natural disaster to strike Haiti in 200 years.

Our first stop was to the General Hospital in the center of town — this is one of the only "functioning" hospitals. The scene there was dire in terms of the huge needs. Patients overflowed from the hospital building and were lying in the compound awaiting treatment. The hospital is still receiving patients, but it is chronically short of supplies and staff. 

The medical director of the hospital, however, was an inspirational person and explained the situation: two-thirds of the hospital is damaged and yet he remains determined to keep it open to meet the needs of the people injured in the earthquake. 

Even in the face of such adversity, he had a calming, positive attitude — while he spoke, a pregnant woman went into labor and he took the time to treat her. 

When we left the hospital, we saw two makeshift camps where people had gathered. One held 5,000 and had only four latrines. All of these latrines were full, however, and could no longer be used.

Save the Children: KBoles in Haiti

The lack of sanitation leads to issues around hygiene and can lead to increases in disease. During situations like this children are the most susceptible to hygiene-related diseases.

Even in these conditions, life goes on. While visiting the camp, we met one woman who had already given birth, with another women going into labor before our eyes.

There is very little shelter, however, and people are crowded together in very basic conditions.

When I arrived back at the office, I saw Winnie, a little girl under the age of 2, who had just been pulled from the rubble and was being treated by Save the Children's medical staff.

Save the Children: Winnie "Miracle Baby"

It was such an uplifting sight that provided hope during these difficult times.

Even as I watched, you could see her getting her strength back and regaining the color in her cheeks and the twinkle in her eyes.

It's hard to imagine that such a young child could survive for nearly three days under the rubble.

It's given me hope for the hundreds of thousands of children who have been affected by the earthquake. They are clearly strong and resilient.

We just need to support and protect them.

Help Us Respond to the Haiti Earthquake Emergency. Please Donate Now

YOU CAN DONATE $10 TO THE HAITI EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND BY TEXTING “SAVE” to 20222 (US Only).