Space Traveling T-Shirt Returned to Save the Children


Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist

Westport, CT

July 24, 2010

 Save the Children has had a global presence for decades, but this past May the organization ventured into new territory, outer space.

NASA Astronaut Piers Sellers took along a red Save the Children t-shirt on his 12-day mission to the International Space Station.NASA T-shirt

The t-shirt was signed by the crew of Atlantis and then heat-sealed in
plastic and stowed underneath the floorboards before embarking on its
journey to outer space. 

Sellers served as Robotics officer, operating a massive arm that nimbly
moves equipment from a space shuttle's cargo bay onto the space station
or delicately maneuvers astronauts around the craft during space walks.

On Monday Sellers stopped by Save the Children's Washington D.C. office to return the t-shirt and speak to staff and children about his trip.

He also shared a 10-minute video produced by NASA that highlighted the mission and the crew's experience from launch to landing during the 12-day voyage of Atlantis to the International Space Station.

Take a look at this NASA video which shows highlights from Sellers' mission.

The presentation was streamed in real time to our Westport, CT home office.

Sellers said that he has supported Save the Children and has been
interested in the work that the organization does from the time he was
growing up in the United Kingdom.

Before wrapping up his presentation Sellers imparted words of wisdom on the children in the audience, “study hard, whether you want to be an astronaut, a fireman or a doctor. It all starts in school.”

Nasa westport

Fast Facts

  • During launch, the shuttle, with the t-shirt safely secured underneath its floorboards, accelerated from 0 to 5 miles per second in about eight and a half minutes.
  • The t-shirt traveled more than 4.5 million miles, orbiting the earth roughly every 90 minutes for a total of 192 orbits during the 12-day voyage.


Kampala Notebook: What African Union Promises Could do for Mothers and Children

Chikezie Chikezie Anyanwu, Save the Children's Africa Advocacy Advisor

Kampala, Uganda

July 28, 2010

Today I’m recovering from the last three days marathon of the heads of state meeting at the African Union summit.  With the theme of “Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Development in Africa,” this summit offered the perfect chance to muster major action to save the lives of millions of children and mothers.    

I’m sorry to say that although Africa has around 12 percent of the world’s population, half the world’s child and maternal deaths occur here.  So there’s much work to be done.   

A few days ago, I wrote here what Save the Children and many other advocates and experts were calling on our leaders to deliver at this summit.  I’m happy to report good news.  African heads of state have issued a declaration on that includes many commitments we believe are necessary to dramatically reduce the annual 4.5 million child deaths and 265,000 maternal deaths on the continent.    

On the resources question, the leaders recommitted themselves to meeting their 2001 promise in Abuja to devote 15 percent of their national budgets to health.  In reality, few countries have reached this goal as of yet.  In the last budget year only three did—Rwanda, Tanzania, and Liberia—and that’s down from six countries the year before.  So I’m happy that African leaders recognize they must continue to chase this goal, and not just push it aside.  Prioritizing health funding is central to results in maternal, newborn and child health.    

The leaders also promised to strengthen their health systems “to provide comprehensive, integrated maternal, newborn, and child health care services.”  They listed several important strategies, including addressing the health worker shortage as we had called for.     

The leaders themselves called the current situation a “human resource crisis.”  They pledged to train community health workers to help fill the gap.  That’s good policy because you don’t need a huge amount of money or time to train these workers, and they can deliver most of the services needed to save mothers and children’s lives.  Also, these workers come from the community and, especially when they are women, they can reach mothers and children who are isolated from existing health services.     

However, I’ll point out that while community health workers can deliver lifesaving prenatal and Afr new born healthpostnatal care, and prevention and treatment for leading child killers pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria, they cannot necessarily provide skilled attendance at birth.  That’s also critical to saving mothers’ and newborns’ lives.  So African nations must also look at ways to increase the number of midwives, nurses, and doctors—and work to retain these professionals.     

Another major concern of Save the Children and partners has been around making sure health services reach all women and children.  Too often, poorer mothers and children don’t have the same access to health care (and thus survival) as better-off compatriots.  So I was very pleased to see the leaders pledge to reduce out-of-pocket payments and to single out a strategy we’ve pushed for—making health care for pregnant women and children under 5 free.     

The final pieces of good news that came out of the Summit was the decision to institute a strong and functional monitoring and evaluation framework at national level for data generation, the establishment of a continental task force on Maternal, newborn and child health as well as commitment to an annual report to the AU assembly moving forward on Maternal, newborn and child mortality. This should help hold governments accountable for their delivery on maternal, newborn and child mortality interventions.       

If the leaders follow through on what they’ve pledged in Kampala, you can be certain that many more African children and mothers will survive and go on to lead healthy, productive lives.  That’s good for families, communities, and the very future of the continent.    

So there’s the question of that word “if.”      

In the closing ceremony last night, President Bingu wa Mutharika of Malawi implored his fellow leaders to act on the declarations they had passed.    

He said: “The time has come for us is to go for action, so that our people are able to see and appreciate the tangible results and benefits that this organization will bring to them.  I believe that we have the means, and we have the political will to do so.  Let us use these means and the political will to show to our people and the rest of the world that indeed we mean to move the economic and social transformation of our continent.”    

Amen to that!    

I hope African heads of state will heed Bingu’s words, because they are the ones with the power to transform promises into action.  If the political will is indeed there, African mothers, newborns, and children will stop dying of preventable causes.  So let’s continue to raise our voices, and do our part to build and sustain that political will! 

One of Many Stories I’d like African Union Heads of State to Hear

Hanifa resized

Dr Naamala Hanifah Sengendo|Program Manager, SNL 

Save the Children in Uganda

July 24, 2010

 Sometimes the cost of public transport can save a mother's life.  Sometimes a piece of cloth and a short talk with a mom can save her baby's life.     

I was reminded of these facts on a recent visit to our health programs in rural Uganda. My colleagues told me about a teenage girl who had just given birth prematurely, and since I'm a pediatrician, they asked me to pay a visit.      

When I met Sarah, 17, she was holding her baby and sitting with her grandmother in their grass-thatched mud home. I learned she had given birth at home without the help of a skilled attendant.  She was lucky that she and the baby both survived.  Lack of skilled attendance at birth is a major cause of death for both mothers and babies in Africa.      

A community health volunteer supported by Save the Children had been visiting Sarah while she was pregnant, giving her prenatal checkups and telling her about the importance of skilled attendance. So I asked Sarah, why hadn't she gone to a health facility?     

She told me the nearest clinic was private and she didn't have money to pay. So I asked her, why hadn't she gone to the public hospital? She said it was far away and she didn't have the money for bus fare.     

This kind of story is too common in rural areas in Uganda and many other countries.     

Sarah's baby weighed only 1.2 kilos, and was small enough to hold in one hand. Such babies are at great risk of death without the proper care. In the city or richer countries, these babies are put in electric incubators to help keep warm. That is not a possibility for Sarah and many others who have no access to hospital.     

However, the community health volunteer and I explained that Sarah herself could give the baby all the warmth she needed. We showed her how to use a clean cloth to wrap the baby to her bare chest. Sarah's own body heat and the ease of breastfeeding would protect her baby just as much if not more than an incubator.     

Hundreds of thousands of babies could be saved if Kangaroo Mother Care were more widely practiced.     

This week I told Sarah's story as I sat on a panel at the Uganda Non-Governmental Organization Forum being held parallel to the African Union Summit. Health experts and audience members discussed recommendations to the African leaders meeting. They must make sure mothers and children don't continue to die for lack of access to proven, low-cost health care.     

The people in the room also recognized that everyone has a role to play.      

I stressed that community participation is key. The volunteer in Sarah's village was able to link her to our services and we supported Sarah's visits to a health facility for post-natal care. Her baby is now six months old and doing well!     

Several people at the forum commented on how good it was to see a discussion of maternal, newborn and child health have so many men in the audience. We all agreed that husbands and fathers must also fight to make sure their wives and children get the health care they need.     

The moderator pointed out that of 53 African Union nations, there is only one woman head of state to join meetings starting Sunday. So men truly have a major role to play if we are to stop the deaths of 4.5 million young children and 265,000 mothers each year in Africa.

Serious Question at Mock Debate: Will African Union Leaders Keep Health Promises?

Tanya Weinberg, S
ave the Children manager, media and communications

Kampala, Uganda

July 22, 2010

These days, the Hotel Africana in central Kampala is abuzz with conferences and events related to the African Union summit now underway. Outside the meeting rooms, lies a big grassy courtyard where all sorts of groups are holding receptions in view of the rolling hillsides of the city outskirts.  Around the corner, Ugandan officials are credentialing dignitaries, media, and other observers for the official summit, held some distance away at a resort on Lake Victoria.  

Happily, I received my credential, but instead of traveling to the official summit today, I decided to go upstairs and attend a mock presidential debate hosted by health and humanitarian organizations.    

Debate dancing  As people trickled in, the warm-up entertainment began. A group of young women and men danced their hearts out and got a festive mood going as they sang along with the “Yes we can” refrain of joyful music playing. The message was – if youth can keep their promises, so can leaders.     

Above the stage was a banner exhorting African leaders to keep their 2001 promise in Abuja, Nigeria to address the huge burden of disease on the continent by devoting 15 percent of national budgets to health. Only a handful of the 53 nations have fulfilled that promise to date. According to 2010 World Health Organization figures, only three countries are meeting the Abuja 15 percent standard, down from six the year before.      

Meanwhile, many African countries have seen slow or no progress in reducing the large number of preventable child and maternal deaths devastating their communities. This year, child and maternal health is the theme of the African Union summit.     

So it was fitting today when a large group of performers gathered around the stage to sing a catchy song with the refrain “The time is now.  The time is now. Abuja 15 percent now!”    

Several more performances followed, including a group of men holding young children and bundles that were supposed to be their babies. They told stories of losing wives and babies during childbirth, and
Debate dadsseemed to be challenging the audience to consider this question – why is it more surprising to see grown men nurturing babies and young children than to hear about maternal and child deaths?    

When the actual debate began the supposed presidents of Malawi and Botswana got to talk about how their countries have recently joined the ranks of only 10 African nations to be on track to meet Millennium Goal 4.  That goal is to reduce child mortality rates to two thirds of 1990 levels by 2015.     

The other presidents couldn’t say the same, and some even tried to argue against Abuja despite high disease rates in their countries. The supposed president of Nigeria, however, said “I think as heads of 
Debate debaters  state we can not make commitments and then begin to dance around and discard. We should keep our commitments!”    

It would be wonderful if the real African heads of state said the same thing when they meet Sunday through Tuesday at the summit. To save the lives of millions of African newborns, children, and mothers each year, the leaders must not only commit to strong actions, they must follow through.      

If a very poor country like Malawi can successfully put a plan of action in place and slash child deaths, there is really no excuse why countries across Africa cannot do the same.

How to Write an E-mail They’ll Always Remember

Robin-Carina#3 Robin van Etten Associate Director, Sponsorship Marketing

Westport, CT

July 22, 2010

I read and delete dozens of emails every week.  Which ones do I save?  The ones that make me feel good.

Imagine the joy in a child’s life of receiving JUST ONE message like this – a message that says someone is thinking about them, too.Ahmed, a sponsored child, studies at his school in Egypt.

When you sponsor a child through Save the Children, you connect with a child in need. Now think how much it would mean to your sponsored child to get a personal message from you – their joy would be indescribable.

Sound impossible? It’s not! It happens every day. A sponsored girl or boy somewhere in the world has an email or letter from their sponsor read to them by a Save the Children staff member. Or that girl or boy is writing a reply, to be translated and forwarded by Save the Children to their sponsor. Are you that sponsor? You can be.

The simpler your message – about you, your family, your own children and what it’s like where you live – the better. And asking simple questions about your sponsored child’s day, their school or their favorite foods shows that you are interested in their life.

While you wait for a reply, know your e-mail messages, letters and photos you send become treasured possessions to your sponsored child.

Have I convinced you to try it?
Loudouide, a sponsored child in Haiti, in her community.

Here’s the easiest way to start: as a sponsor, sign up at This is a direct link to your sponsored child’s Save the Children country office. The email you write to your child through our office will be printed, translated, and personally delivered by our staff.

Writing a letter and mailing it to your sponsored child in care of Save the Children’s country office is another way. If you don’t have the address, call 1-800-728-3843 to speak with a Save the Children staff or email

What you say is not as important as how you say it. Each communication with your sponsored child shows her or him how much you care.

If you are not yet a Save the Children sponsor, click here to become one.

Closed Doors but Open Outcomes at the African Union Summit

ChikezieChikezie Anyanwu, Save the Children's Africa Advocacy Advisor

Kampala, Uganda

July 22, 2010

Today foreign ministers and health ministers from across Africa are meeting in Kampala. Here at Munyonyo, the luxury resort where the 15th African Union Summit is being held, there’s a breeze off Lake Victoria and questions are swirling in the air.

What will come out of this summit? Will leaders exercise the resolve to act forcefully on the summit’s maternal and child health theme? Will they find unity?

I’ve been catching up with some sympathetic African Union ambassadors and officials as they come out of closed door sessions to see what I can learn. Their initial report has yet to be released and, much more than in past summits, the ultimate declaration from heads of state is still very much up in the air.

The good news to report is that African civil society has found remarkable unity on what we’re asking our leaders to deliver. Representatives from Save the Children and more than 70 health and human rights organizations gathered in Kampala in the days leading up to the summit to discuss its theme: “Maternal and Child Health and Development in Africa.”  

We are community members, advocates and experts from diverse countries, backgrounds, and organizations. But I was struck by how strongly we agree on what African leaders need to do to save the lives of mothers, newborns and children in our countries. It’s worth noting we are also echoing nearly identical principles that experts from ministries of health across Africa developed at an African-Union-organized Continental Conference in Ethiopia this April. 

At the heart of the matter lies this reality: 4.5 million African children and 265,000 African mothers die every year because there’s a lack of political will to get the well-known, proven, cost-effective health solutions to those who need them.

So the biggest question we have for our leaders at this summit is: Will they do what it takes to save the lives of mothers and children in their countries?  

If they do, here’s what maternal and child advocates and health experts across Africa are saying will make all the difference:

  • PUT A PLAN IN PLACE.  Every African country must develop and implement an accelerated national plan for reducing maternal, newborn and child deaths.
  • MAKE SURE THE RESOURCES ARE THERE.  Every African country should meet and exceed its 2001 promise in Abuja, Nigeria to spend at least 15 percent of the national budget on health care.  Additionally, a meaningful portion of this budget must specifically dedicated to maternal, newborn, and child health.
  • ADDRESS HEALTH WORKER SHORTAGES.  Countries must recruit, train and retain more doctors, nurses, and midwives to help reduce the overall gap of 800,000 health workers in Africa by 2015.
  • ADDRESS THE COVERAGE GAP BETWEEN RICH AND POOR.  Countries must ensure health care, including emergency obstetric care, is accessible for the poorest people and is free at the point of use for pregnant women and children under 5.

Stay tuned to see what happens!

“If Education Can Still Go Forward, Haiti Has a Chance”

Susan-Warner-in-Haiti-2010 Susan Warner-Lambert
Manager of Photography

June 28th, 2010

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

I recently returned from my first trip to Haiti. I took the photo below at the École Eddy Pascal School in Port-au-Prince. Their school building was destroyed in the January 12th earthquake. With the help of Save the Children, the school is now set up in several tents.

I chose to highlight this picture from their recess activities because I like the action and composition, but also because it represents to me what is right about Haiti. There is so much needed in infrastructure and resources, but as long as education can still go forward for the next generation, then Haiti has a chance.

I encourage you to post your comments and/or questions!

Haiti jump roping

Photo credit: Susan Warner – Save the Children 2010

Learn more about our emergency response to the earthquake in Haiti.