Ramatoulaye, Sponsored Child – Edited by Mariam Diaby
Quality Communications Coordinator
Save the Children in Mali
February 14, 2019
My name is Ramatoulaye and I am 12 years old. I am in fifth grade and love to read, and dream of becoming a teacher one day. I enjoy school and I get along with my schoolmates. I live with my family in a community that has been a part of Save the Children sponsorship programs since 2008.
I had a difficult childhood because my parents divorced when I was very young. My stepmother raised my siblings and I. Being the youngest child, the absence of my mother affected me a lot. But, I was still lucky enough to attend school. Being in school and having many friends helps me to forget my mother’s absence.
Our school wasn’t always as nice as it is today, though. Before Save the Children came, children were studying in poor conditions. The classrooms were made with straw and mud bricks, and would easily fall apart during harsh weather. The lessons taught in school were not fun for us either. Our teachers were not teachers by profession and had not had any real training in how to educate us. They didn’t know how to explain things in a way we would understand. Parents could hardly afford school supplies for their children anyway, and many of them did not see school as important. Our parents thought having us work on farms with crops or animals would be better for our families. So, school attendance was very low.
But since Save the Children came, sponsorship has been a true breath of fresh air. Our school has received school supplies that meet our needs as students but also make learning fun. We now have all kinds of new books, geometry tools, chalk and other teaching materials, and notebooks, writing slates, pens and pencils for me and my friends. The new classroom blocks are also strong and sturdy to survive the rainy season. They have big open doors and windows to keep it cool when it’s hot, with a shaded pathway for us to get out of the sun. The old building was dark and air didn’t move through it like this.
Our teachers also learned how to make the lessons more interesting for us, and how to teach all of us, no matter how well we could read. Save the Children was even able to reduce our school fees by helping to find funding to support the teachers’ salaries, which many of our parents could not pay for.
Before we never had more than 15 students in my class. Now there are over 30!
The headmaster of my school said, “Thanks to Save the Children, there has been a positive change because our community has benefited from [new] classrooms and the school attendance has been improved, a real blessing for our community.”
I’m happy I can go to school. I feel safe and welcome there. One day, maybe I can teach in a school like this.
To learn more about how sponsors have changed the lives of children like Ramatoulaye, visit your online account at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount. We have more videos and stories about the changes sponsors make possible there!
Community Sponsorship Officer
Save the Children in Uganda
February 8, 2019
Schools are a great place for preparing young people academically, however schools can also play a vital role in preparing them to take on life’s challenges and make informed life decisions.
Many children in rural areas of Uganda experience struggles during their adolescence, especially as their bodies begin to change from those of children to those of adults. Information on their growth and development, and especially on sensitive issues like sexuality and puberty, was hard to come by. This is because the conservative local culture shies away from speaking about these issues openly, which has led many adolescents to make regrettable life decisions guided by misinformation.
This is the story of Emmanuel, a 16-year-old boy living in Namayumba, Uganda, with his grandmother and four siblings.
Emmanuel was terrified when his body started to change, as he had no idea what to expect. “I didn’t know what to do and was embarrassed to ask my grandmother about it.” Emmanuel told me.
His friends had said the way to deal with his changing body was to get a girlfriend right away. “This advice left me very confused and worried about what to do… I was not ready to have a girlfriend.” Emmanuel continues.
With so many questions ringing in Emmanuel’s mind, he jumped at the opportunity to participate in a health talk organized by Save the Children one evening at his school. “I learned that actually… it was normal and I didn’t have to be ashamed.” Emmanuel says. He also learned that it would have been wrong for him to start having sex at such a young age, and about the possible negative outcomes which would have followed if listening to the advice of his friends.
Save the Children, through our adolescent development program supported by sponsors, ensures that students like Emmanuel have the right information on reproductive health, and are able to cope with the changes of puberty and make the right decisions in their lives. Thanks to sponsors, we are able to support health workers in visiting schools and organizing health talks with these young people.
The health talks encourage openness and the free flow of accurate and much needed information. Save the Children also helps train health workers in how to deliver youth-friendly services, by communicating with teens in a way that makes them feel comfortable and respected.
Likewise, in these programs children are encouraged to speak to health workers when they face challenges or difficult questions. Adolescents learn about the services that are available for them at health facilities so they are comfortable going there when they need help or guidance. They are also encouraged to share what they have learned with their friends and fellow students, further spreading the good information. In particular for girls, important guidance related to how to manage their menstruation cycle is provided during these health talks. Boys also learn about the different needs of girls and how to respect those differences.
After attending the health talk, Emmanuel was motivated to help his peers confidently approach puberty. Save the Children helped schools establish health clubs, so children could have more learning opportunities as well as a voice, spreading the information they have learned through music and drama at community events for other children and family members.
Emmanuel is grateful to Save the Children for empowering him with knowledge to make great choices for his life. Thank you sponsors, all the way from Uganda!
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Sponsorship Field Facilitator
Save the Children in Zambia
January 31, 2019
In a small village in Zambia lives Bonaventure with his mother, father and eight siblings. At 10 years old, he is in his fifth grade. While most families around Bonaventure’s village depend of fishing and small-scale farming, his parents only grow a single crop, corn, to earn their living. Usually, they only have two meals a day because his parents cannot afford to feed him and his siblings three meals.
Despite all this, Bonaventure considers himself fortunate because his home is located near a small health clinic. Other families must hike for over an hour or more in the hot sun, crossing streams and along bumpy roads, in order to reach their nearest health services.
Before sponsorship, his school did not have safe drinking water or facilities for children to wash their hands during the day. Their old water source was a borehole, a type of well dug in the ground, that was old and rusty. There were no latrines specific for children, and the adult-sized latrines that were available had no handwashing facilities. Likewise, children didn’t know ways to help maintain their health, like by washing their hands.
This increased the number of sick children in his village, which also delayed their learning, as children were often absent from school because they were too sick to attend.
“We used to have such overwhelming cases of diarrhea in the past that sometimes we would completely run out of medical supplies.” shared Kasonde, the officer of the health clinic near Bonaventure’s home.
Save the Children helped to organize a meeting with the community to discuss the problem. Parents, teachers and health and nutrition experts came together to discuss possible solutions.
They decided to form a school health club that could focus on improving the health knowledge of the students and allow children to learn from each other. These club members were trained by Save the Children health and hygiene experts on how to help monitor the personal hygiene of their fellow pupils and younger students.
For example, club members help manage handwashing facilities by ensuring children line up to take turns before returning to class after break or before having lunch. They also make sure that each handwashing area has soap and remains clean during the school day.
Save the Children staff also supported school assemblies and handwashing demonstrations to teach children how to wash their hands properly. Learning materials like informational posters, illustrations and pictures with descriptive images were shared, to help show what good hygiene skills look like to students in a visual way. The school also now has new and clean latrines that are safe and easy for even young children to use.
“Thanks to Save the Children, we were given some chlorine which the village head and I used to chlorinate the wells around the village. [Diarrhea] cases have tremendously reduced.” says Kasonde happily.
Bonaventure and his friends now enjoy using a clean latrine and drinking safe water during the school day. The handwashing facilities stationed at the corner of the school buildings are never short of water. “I make sure I wash my hands all the time before eating and after using the latrine.” Bonaventure shared proudly.
These lessons have also rippled through the community, to parents of students. Bonaventure’s mother shared, “Because I have so many children, it is costly to nurse any of them if they get sick. I [now] take the preventive measures very seriously.”
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Hoang Dieu Linh
Save the Children in Vietnam
January 28, 2019
I’ve been supporting the child sponsorship program in Vietnam for about 6 months, working mostly on facilitating the letter writing relationship between our loyal sponsors and the children Save the Children supports in Vietnam.
This February, for the first time, I went on a sponsor visit and saw with my own eyes that the love between sponsors and their sponsored children is much more than just the simple words in the letters they exchange.
We went to see a 6-year-old boy named Thanh, attending his final year in a kindergarten in Bao Thang, Lao Cai. His school has been a part of sponsorship since 2014, and things have been changing a lot since then. Thanks to sponsors’ donations, reading corners have been created with a wide selection of books to choose from to boost children’s literacy and math skills, and many toys have been provided for both indoor and outdoor play, making the school more cheerful and welcoming for its young students. Before the school hardly had any toys or learning materials.
We’ve learned through experience that planning sponsor visits with children Thanh’s age can be difficult, because they are too small to talk very much or too shy to express themselves in front of adults, let alone foreigner strangers. However, from the moment we were welcomed with hugs and kisses from the Italian sponsors, I knew that we would have a wonderful and memorable trip.
Our sponsors were a couple, husband, Giuseppe who speaks English pretty well, and his wife, Fara, who spoke French in addition to Italian but not English. I prepared myself to help support the language barrier during our visit.
Once we arrived at the school, we were greeted by a cheerful reception of children in colorful traditional clothes and gifts of beautiful handmade bracelets for each of us. We introduced ourselves to teachers and school staff, and explained the purpose of our visit to the crowd – to show Thanh’s sponsors what they were supporting through Save the Children in Bao Thang. Giuseppe and Fara also wanted to see how Thanh was doing and learn more about him than they ever could through their letter writing.
Thanh himself at the beginning didn’t talk much, so we had to get acquainted with his grandparents first to help him open up. They showed us all the letters that had been exchanged between Thanh and Giuseppe, and slowly, Thanh began to recognize that this stranger before him was the very same one he had shared so many letters with.
Not long after that, Thanh was happily being carried in the arms of Giuseppe as we continued to tour the school and meet with teachers. For fun, together we all made “chung cakes” – a type of sticky rice cake traditional of the Dao people, a culture prominent in this part of Vietnam – and “rom cakes” – a kind of stuffed sticky rice ball. Children also performed the local traditional bamboo dance for the visitors.
As the trip came to an end, we were all feeling comfortable and looking like good friends – myself and the other Save the Children staff with us; Thanh, with his family and his sponsors; and the teachers and other students that spent the day with us.
Thanks to this opportunity, now I know that love can be transcended from just simple letter writing, and distance or different cultures means nothing when people care about each other.
Did you know you could visit your sponsored child or the programs Save the Children helps support? Contact our team at ChildVisits@SaveChildren.org to learn how to plan a trip!
Su Yadanar Kyaw
Senior Coordinator, Sponsorship Operations
Save the Children in Myanmar
January 14, 2019
“… and the three little pigs finally chased the tiger away. The end!” Bhone, a 4-year-old boy, wraps up reading the story he learned from school with his friends and cousins, and is ready to play another game on the playdate.
Bhone is a preschooler living in Hpa An, in Kayin State in Myanmar, with his grandparents, aunty and two cousins. Bhone’s mother has been living in Bangkok as a migrant worker for over 10 years now. Just like other parents from this area who move to Thailand for work, she sends her earnings back to support her family. Hpa An is close to the Thailand border and jobs there tend to pay better than those in Hpa An, where the majority of opportunities are in low-paying farming or agriculture work. For this reason, many parents do the same to support their families, sending money to children and relatives in Myanmar. As a result of this migration, many families left in Hpa An are made up of young grandparents, or young uncles or aunts, who raise the children.
Before sponsors started supporting this community, little kids like Bhone played in the mud and dirt all day long. Most children did not have any games, toys or books of their own, in particular those that help with their learning skills. Play items were what was available to them – usually leaves or discarded plastics. Grandparents found it difficult to take care of children and used mobile phone games to keep them busy and distracted.
To help caretakers and give young children access to an engaging learning environment, in 2014 Save the Children started working with community members in Hpa An to establish early childhood learning centers. In addition to safe and reliable child care, these preschool programs provide children ages 3 – 5 years old with skills that prepare them for primary school, for example in early reading and math, which better sets them up for academic success as they get older.
Bhone is the first of the children in his family to receive any kind of early childhood education, since these kinds of opportunities did not exist before.
According to Bhone’s aunty Daw Zar, Bhone was a difficult boy before attending the preschool. He was stubborn, sometimes behaving violently with his aunt when she did not pay heed to his requests. He did not play much with his cousins either, but mostly kept to himself.
As a part of opening the early childhood learning center in their community, Save the Children also messaged out information on child care techniques, and offered to train parents, grandparents and other caretakers like Bhone’s aunty Daw Zar on how to take care of their children in ways that nurtured their development, for example how to select nutritional food options.
One key activity of these parenting education sessions was the promotion of a storytelling culture in children’s homes. Sponsorship presented the art of storytelling as a simple and beautiful way caretakers, and children, could share a memory, talk about their day, or read together from a book.
Through Save the Children, caretakers learned how storytelling is one of the first language experiences for a child and thus has several advantages in stimulating their growth, such as exposing them to new vocabulary, improving their listening and comprehension skills and promoting creativity. It also creates and preserves culture and enhances family bonds, which in turn improves children’s self-esteem.
Like all children at the early childhood learning center, story time is one of Bhone’s favorites at school. He has now become a good storyteller himself, remembering almost all of the stories he learns from his teacher and sometimes creating his own.
“[Now] Bhone asks me to tell stories every night. But, I do not know many stories so he is the one who tells me stories every night. I love his creation and imagination.” Daw Zar proudly says, “The great little storyteller returns home every night.”
“My favorite story is [about] a big bad tiger and three little pigs. I want to be smart like the three little pigs and make all the bad guys run away. Maybe I can be a police officer when I grow up” Bhone says excitedly.
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Written by Mary Kinney, Senior Specialist, Global Evidence and Advocacy, Saving Newborn Lives at Save the Children
Globally, nearly 30 million babies are born too soon, too small or become sick every year and need specialized care to survive. This staggering number was published in the report, Survive and Thrive: Transforming care for every small and sick newborn, by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, Save the Children and other partners at the end of 2018. Most of these babies can survive and live without major complications with quality and nurturing care.
Evidence indicates that involving parents and families or other caregivers in the care of the small and sick newborns benefits both the infants and parents including higher breastfeeding rates, earlier discharge from the hospital, increased weight gain, improved neurodevelopment, reduced parental stress and anxiety, and improved health-related knowledge and beliefs among parents and communities.
Here are five priorities from the report for involving parents and families in the care of small and sick newborns during hospitalization:
Promote Zero Separation
Evidence shows that the well-being and survival of both mother and newborn are inextricably linked and require a coordinated, integrated approach. This not only optimizes their health but also promotes greater efficiency, lowers costs and reduces the duplication of resources. For example, mother’s presence is crucial to establish breastfeeding and to promote Kangaroo Mother Care. Promoting zero separation reduces the risk for short- and long-term health and social problems, including parental depression and anxiety.
Intentionally Engage Men
While women have a unique role as mothers, evidence also shows that men also have a key role in the care of newborns, as partners/husbands, fathers, caregivers and community members. Men often determine health care seeking as well as provide care to the newborn and mother. Health services should accommodate men to accompany their partners, including service hours, physical space and privacy for care visits.
Involve Parents in the Care During Hospitalization
Parents or other caregivers make unique contributions by being able to observe, monitor and provide care to their small and sick newborns (when appropriate, under supervision and in partnership with the health-care team). A recent randomized control trial found that parental involvement during the inpatient neonatal intensive care benefits newborn health outcomes, including infant weight gain and increased frequency of exclusive breastmilk feeding at discharge, as well as a boon to parental mental health. Interventions, such as Kangaroo Mother Care, empowers families to care for their small newborns and shortens their length of stay in the hospital.
Practice Family-Centered Care
Family-centered care for small and sick newborns has a growing evidence base with demonstrated benefits for infants (such as weight gain and neurodevelopmental progress) as well as parents (such as decreased parental stress and anxiety and increased caregiving efficacy). This approach implements four basic principles: dignity and respect; information sharing; participation; and collaboration, and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hospitals and communities should provide space at the facility or nearby for parents or family members, as needed.
Parents are powerful agents of change for small and sick newborn care supporting other parents and influencing policy and programs. Support forums for parents, including parent-led, peer-to-peer and health professional-led groups, improve the home environment, parental mental health and parental confidence in caring for their child. Parent advocacy and support organizations raise awareness and share their experiences to help others in the same situation through events like World Prematurity Day.
Thank to the generous support of our donors, Save the Children has a long-standing experience promoting family engagement in newborn care, such as with Kangaroo Mother Care, demand creation for community-based newborn care, and quality improvement activities. In order to transform care for small and sick newborns, intentional efforts must be made to involve parents, and we remain committed to this effort as part of our broader approach to improve maternal and newborn health. That means that together, we have the chance to make a lifetime of change for millions of newborn babies.
To learn more about the work Save the Children has done to save newborn lives, visit our website.
Margret, Sponsored Child
Edited by Memory Mwathengere, Sponsorship Communications Coordinator
Save the Children in Malawi
January 8, 2019
Although receiving a primary school education remains a basic public service in many countries across the world, for most children in Malawi, the chance to attend a good school is something very special, and millions of children in Malawi will never get the chance to experience this at all.
My name is Margret. I live in Zomba, a rural area in Malawi, together with my parents and three siblings. I am 18 years old and in my first year of secondary school.
I think of myself as one of the luckiest children in Malawi because I am in the sponsorship program. I joined sponsorship in 2008 when I was 8 years old.
Before joining sponsorship, I didn’t have any exercise books or pens for school. Our school was always way too small for the number of students trying to go there. Sometimes, we could have 200 of us crammed into one room. When there wasn’t enough space, I remember we needed to have classes outside, and we used to be disturbed by the noisy people and cars on the road nearby. When we were inside, the classrooms were bare and dull, without any print rich materials on the walls or tools for the teachers to use like books and chalkboards.
Then one day, sponsorship came and built a new school block.
Now, there are enough classrooms for all of us! We still may have up to 60 students in a class, but this is much better than the hundreds trying to all learn together before.
Classrooms are now stocked with textbooks and exercise books, and other learning materials like pens, pencils and chalk for the teachers. We also have the opportunity to participate in all kinds of afterschool activities. For example, we can learn about the arts or leadership skills through peer-to-peer sessions, so that we can learn with our friends. We never had these kinds of groups available to us before, and wouldn’t continue with our studies after school. Our teachers also know better how to make learning fun and interactive for the students, including for children with a diverse range of learning needs.
This inspired me to go to school every day with hope.
The new school blocks also have toilets that make both boys and girls comfortable, and clean water spouts. This is especially important for the girls, because without bathrooms stocked with the materials we need we would feel embarrassed or even have to miss class during our time of the month.
One of my favorite things in sponsorship is receiving cards from my sponsor. It makes me feel really special because it shows me my sponsor remembers me.
Normally, even teenagers my age are not able to read and write as well as I am able to now, because of the changes sponsorship has made in my school. Because I had such a strong start in school, I feel much more confident to face the future and become a teacher one day.
Viva Save the Children!
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.
Yamileh M. Theodore
Sponsor Servicing Coordinator
Save the Children in Haiti
December 27, 2018
The idea of children’s rights is quite utopian to a child’s mind, but when summarized and explained in a way children can understand, it becomes more tangible.
Being conscious about this, the sponsorship team in Haiti met with governmental groups such as the Dessalines City Hall, departments related to social well-being and other local partners. Our goal was to have children’s participation in celebrating Universal Children’s Day last November, and help them reflect on their rights as children. We wanted to do something special where the children themselves would be the promoters of their rights within the community. Involving local groups and stakeholders was important too, in order to ensure community members feel an ownership of the programs we help start for children, and to prepare them to manage activities on their own one day and ensure sustainability of our work.
The children prepared for weeks for the celebration. With their friends, they learned about children’s rights at school, engaged in group discussions and shared stories and drawings that helped them reflect on what their rights are. For example, what education did they have a right to as children? They came to see that they not only had the right to attend a good school, but also the right to eat healthy meals, to play and enjoy their time as children, to not fear physical punishment or abuse, and the right to grow up in a clean environment.
Over 70 schools and 12 youth clubs participated. During the grand celebration, students presented their thoughts, through drawings, posters and creative writing, with the support of Save the Children staff.
Davidson, a 9-year-old fourth grade student, was one eager participant. He found himself inspired by a little girl from his neighborhood who worked as a restavèk, a child domestic worker who goes to school in the afternoon, only after the day’s work is finished. He said until learning about children’s rights, he thought it was normal for her to be in that position, since she was orphan.
Now, he sees that little girl is a victim. “People don’t give restavèk children enough food to eat, they don’t let them sleep early even though they are the ones to wake up first in the morning.’’ He explained, “Thanks to Save the Children now I know that even children in restavèk must have the right to sleep, to go to school and the right to have three meals a day.”
By advocating for children’s rights like access to school and health services, sponsorship is helping to raise awareness and shift local cultures to see these kinds of traditional practices as harmful to society.
Dessalines is really grateful for sponsors like you because many children like Davidson now know their rights as a child and will advocate to help parents, teachers and other community members to respect them. Today, they know that they can be anything they want when they grow up, thanks to your continuous support!
What is your understanding of children’s rights? How are they different from the rights of adults? How do they need extra protection? Visit SavetheChildren.org today to learn more about how you can help us advocate for the rights of children!
While many young U.S. children are spending this time of year gluing googly eyes to construction-paper snowflakes or listening to stories of sugar plum fairies and polar bear trails, far too many more children are surrounded by silence.
The silence of poverty is deafening. For the 15 million children living in poverty, playtime and early learning activities like reading, singing, arts & crafts and dress-up are not necessarily a way of life. Instead, their homes are silent, vacant of sing-songy tunes that teach children how to count and absent of artwork outlining basic shapes and symbols.
In 2006, Save the Children created Early Steps to School Success, which aims to ensure that all U.S. children, including those from remote, under-served areas, have the best chance for success in school and in life. Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we help the nation’s most vulnerable children become ready for kindergarten and beyond. Here, a story of 3-year-old Analia and how, thanks to you, a lifetime of change is possible.
Analia makes her way to her family’s small vegetable garden with her mother, Sandra, as an abundance of red jalapeños begin to blossom. They’re not yet ripe for picking, but the Central Valley California toddler is more than ready to tell her mom what color they are, and count the number that are growing.
At first glance, the garden visit may seem like a moment for Sandra to gauge whether they can include the jalapeños in a dish on the family’s upcoming dinner menu. It is, in part, but more importantly, it becomes an opportunity for Analia to learn more about the world around her – how the vegetables need the sun and rain to grow, how the peppers and the pepper plants smell and feel to the touch, and yes, how they will one day become a zesty part of one of the family’s future meals.
The afternoon lesson is one of many brain-building opportunities Sandra includes in Analia’s day-to-day life. While the mother of two does everyday activities around the house, like washing the dishes or preparing dinner, she has Analia name the types of dishes they’re putting away, or smell and touch the different ingredients that are coming together to make the evening meal.
“Sandra is really great about plugging Analia into her daily routines. She draws her in and keeps the language going,” said early childhood specialist Virginia, who has been visiting Sandra and family since before Analia was born. “The idea is to engage parents and children, and to give the parents the confidence that they have what it takes to be their child’s first teacher.”
Virginia conducts family home visits as part of Save the Children’s Early Steps to School Success program, a rare family resource in Sandra and Analia’s rural community in central California, which struggles with limited services, poverty and unemployment.
Through such visits, parents like Sandra are equipped with the skills – and brain-building activities – to successfully support their children’s development. And as a child grows, the program offers book exchanges and parent-child groups, laying a foundation of language and literacy skills for the child, and opportunities to develop socially and emotionally with their peers.
With limited family in the area, the parent-child group has helped Sandra build further connections in the community, as well. It has also given her opportunities to strengthen her leadership skills, as she has started to plan and run some of the group’s activities.
“I’ve seen a big growth with Sandra,” said Virginia. “She’s a lot more confident in herself.”
Sandra and Analia’s community also has a small library with very limited hours, but Virginia, through the Early Steps book exchange program, helps them constantly update their home library, strengthening Analia’s early reading skills.
Book by book, from garden visit to the next daily learning opportunity, Analia will be well prepared for preschool and beyond.
You can help provide children in the U.S. with the educational tools they need to start learning at a young age. Your year-end gift in support of early childhood development will not only mean a child gets to unwrap a book, box of crayons or colorful puzzle this holiday season, it means they will have a chance at a brighter future.
To learn more about the work Save the Children has done to support the power of playtime, visit our website.
YOUR SUPPORT CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES IN NEED AROUND THE WORLD. MAKE A DONATION TODAY!
Quality Communications Coordinator
Save the Children in Nepal-Bhutan
December 17, 2018
A couple of months back I was visiting the schools of Ganeshpur, one of the many communities in Kapilvastu district, where Save the Children works in Nepal. In their small village, most live in extreme poverty, earning their living by farming but struggling to make enough to support their families.
I had the opportunity to meet a young boy, Nar Hari, 16 year old and in eleventh grade, follow him to his school and learn from him how Save the Children’s sponsorship program was helping him and his friends. I learned this was not only through school, but through many other ways that he and the others hadn’t thought possible.
Since 2009, Save the Children’s sponsorship program has worked with communities in Kapilvastu to create safe and healthy environments in schools and at homes for children so they can learn and grow like every other child.
In order to ensure our programs solve the biggest challenges children and communities face, and ensure sustainability of our work, Save the Children in Nepal partners with a local NGO called Kalika to help organize and run our programs. Nar Hari remembers when he started seeing these visitors at his school, “We had visitors from Kalika who would come to teach us things that were completely new to us.”
He had learned through sponsorship and Kalika staff visiting his school that there was a new opportunity where he would be able to learn with his friends and develop important leadership and life skills, like those related to health and hygiene, at club with his friends outside of school. He decided to join.
At the Save the Children supported child clubs, students can learn about how to wash their hands and why handwashing is so important to help prevent the spread of diseases. Before Save the Children started health programs like the child club, children would not wash their hands before eating or would only use water with no soap, making them sick all the time.
Nar Hari also told me about how he and his fellow students started interacting with teachers in class more often after Kalika and Save the Children started coming. When he was younger, corporal punishment was still used in the classroom, and generally teachers always seemed angry with them. Today, teachers have learned how to be more patient with their students, and how to set a more kind and welcome tone in the classroom. This is due to teacher trainings offered through sponsorship, that show teachers new child-friendly methods to create engaging and active lessons in class, that don’t feel intimidating or put too much pressure on students.
Now everyone is healthier, and children both can and want to come to school more.
After learning those first important lessons, Nar Hari and his friends set to work to continue spreading these important health messages to other children and families in their community.
They decided to write a play that would make people understand how bad hygiene and sanitation practices could lead to many diseases – diseases that could spread between people and even to other food items in their households.
“We would write scripts for awareness dramas and our facilitator from Kalika would review them and help us improvise.”
He and his friends also created a wall magazine to spread more useful messages to their peers, a kind of periodical run on a notice board with articles, drawings, poems and other creative writing from Nar Hari and his fellow club members.
With a little support from Save the Children, Nar Hari’s child club and many others in Nepal are working hard to cascade good health practices from one home to the next. They also recently were able to show local families how to construct toilets using whatever local resources are available, whereas before there were hardly any toilets near homes or in the community.
Nar Hari attributes the skills he has developed as a young adult to his involvement in the child club. “Conversing with people, differentiating right from wrong and being able to discuss in front of other people as well – this is what Save the Children gave me,” he says.
Child clubs are formed for children ages 10 – 18 to come together to learn about children’s rights, health and personal hygiene, and develop important life skills like how to be a good leader. Many thanks to our sponsors, all the way from Nepal!
Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.