Save the Children is actively responding to the current emergency in the Philippines. Initial estimates from the province of Isabela, where Typhoon Megi made landfall Monday, are of over 82,600 homes damaged or destroyed and over 1 million children and adults affected.
Save the Children first wants to let you know that the region struck by the typhoon is more than 250 miles north of Save the Children’s sponsorship program area in the capital of Manila. To the best of our knowledge, all girls and boys in our Philippines sponsorship programs are safe.
We will work on keeping our sponsors up-to-date with our emergency response efforts. You can learn more about our post-typhoon work and find out how you can help by visiting Save the Children’s website.
If you have any immediate concerns please contact Donor Services at 1-800- SAVETHECHILDREN (1-800-728-3843) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your concern and we hope you will help the people of the Philippines who have been devastated by Typhoon Megi.
Cindy LaBlanc, Save the Children, Senior Specialist, Internet Marketing and Communications
Friday, October 22, 2010
I’ve been told I have the “dream” job. I manage the social media for a cool organization that does amazing things to help children all over the world, including the US. Well, this month was no exception to living an exciting life while doing good.
I was invited to attend and do “live” social updates at a star-studded Bingo Night Haiti benefit in Hollywood right on the famous CBS studio lot.
The goal was to raise $100,000 to build a new Save the Children-supported school in Haiti. The school will have six classrooms and Save the Children will ensure it has skilled teachers and quality teaching materials so the children can learn and have a better future. Save the Children has served the needs of some of Haiti’s poorest children and families since 1978, including their Haiti emergency response after the earthquake in January 2010.
As I arrived at the Bingo Night event, I turned the corner onto New York Street (a full-scale “street set” within the CBS lot) and was struck with the breathtaking scene that stood before me; glittering garlands of white lights criss-crossed the street, along with bright red table coverings & gleaming white patio chairs. As I admired the scene I noticed that the guests were rapidly showing up.
Equipped with an iPhone and a back-up digital camera, I proceeded to seek out some of the prominent guests and other stars in order to share with Save the Children’s Facebook & Twitter followers so that they too could feel a part of the evening.
As the guests arrived, they soon drifted over to the “silent” auction tables to see what interesting items were donated and up for auction. Auction items included guitars from Melissa Etheridge and Maroon 5, fabulous destination rentals and beauty treatments, among other fun things.
I introduced myself to many of the celebrity guests and asked if I could take their photos and share them with Save the Children’s followers on Twitter and Facebook. They were delighted to help and graciously stood steady while I snapped a photo with my iPhone. They hoped that by sharing the evening with our followers (and their friends) that it could help bring awareness to the needs of the children in Haiti and would encourage others to help, as well.
As I spoke with Garcelle Beauvais(NYPD Blue and The Jamie Foxx Show), she mentioned that this benefit to build a school was close to her heart because she was born in Haiti and feels a special kinship with helping children have a chance at a better future.
Another amazing star that I met was Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy). Besides being one of the nicest guys you could meet, he has already done so much to help Haiti’s children. Recently, Kevin partnered with Save the Children to do celebrity auctions on eBay Giving Works. In very little time, he exceeded his goal of raising over $5,500 to help children in Haiti; and he is committed to continuing his efforts in other ways. Stay tuned…
As I was snapping a photo of Fred Savage (Wonder Years), the Bingo caller announced that the first round of Bingo was about to begin. Everyone, including Fred, sprinted to the tables to start their first game. With the dazzling Bingo board lit up, the numbered balls started to bounce.
“Bingo!” was yelled out and people jumped up and claimed victory. Who knew the game could be so exciting. This was not my mom’s bingo, for sure! Glancing around I saw many celebrities and prominent guests including Matthew Perry, Kelli Bellows, Kevin McKidd, Hank Azaria, Rebecca McFarland and Anthony Lapaglia, smiling and laughing as they marked their numbers while exchanging banter amongst their table.
Next, came an auction led by the lively and vivacious Nicole Sullivan(MADtv and The King of Queens). Proceeds from this auction also went towards the new school in Haiti.
As the balmy, star-filled night came to an end, people slowly made their way out with smiles on their faces and a look of satisfaction that they were a part of helping children in Haiti get a new school and the chance for a better future.
I felt honored to be able to share this special evening with our fans and followers with the hope that they will continue the efforts of sharing, spreading awareness and helping the children in Haiti.
By Save the Children’s Communications Officer, Punjab
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Categorized as the biggest disaster in the country’s history, the Pakistan floods of 2010 will dissipate, but their effects will be long lasting. Millions of people were made homeless. Some still are. Those who have returned home find only mayhem and ruin.
When the floods were about to enter Punjab, people were warned to leave their homes but most didn’t leave until the water was about four feet high. They said they hear these warnings every year and thought that maybe the tide would stop. It didn’t.
During the first days of the floods, I went to Union Council Baseera in district Muzzafargarh. I traveled by car but ultimately had to walk when the water levels became too high for the car to move. I walked for three miles to conduct interviews with families who were evacuating the area. It was not possible for them to continue the journey because the floodwaters stood at 15 feet. I then traveled in a boat to visit marooned communities. After one and half hours, I reached an island (Tibba Bhatian) where 270 people were waiting for help. They had been without food and drinking water for three days.
Scores of them joined us on the boat for the return journey. On the way to back, young children, women and men talked about the ordeal they had to face over the last few days. One of the women I interviewed told me that, “It was sudden trouble that has destroyed everything in my life. My children are in trauma, just crying and asking why is this happening. They ask for food and water but nothing is available.”
When I reached the town, I found out that the road had been broken in many places. The day before it had been fine, but the force of the water was so strong that it gave way. We were worried but with the help of a rescue team, we went across the water. My shoes were washed away as we crossed the road. I walked barefoot for three miles.
The next day, we went to the Sycop office, which is a national organization working on the project with Save the Children. Here, we met a principal coordinator, and he was ready to go with us to the flooded areas for the identification of badly affected communities. We headed for Chowk Munda and a relief camp run by the district government and local NGOs. There we met a woman who had lost her four children, husband and father to the floodwaters. She was in shock and her relatives were taking care of her.
I saw hundreds of people who were homeless within the space a few hours. Their homes, land, possessions all were washed away by rapids. There was no hope in their eyes. On the same day, we visited the people who were staying near the main road of Muzzafargarh to Multan. They had neither shelter nor food.
It was my first assignment in the flood zone and, of course, it was a painful moment when I saw the people struggling to escape the water.
We saw the people who just left their towns and were staying on up hills. They hope for the best in their lives as maybe they will go back to their houses. But they worry about how they will reconstruct their homes. Parents are fearful as their young children are not secure in these open shelters. Life is like a bed of thorns for them.
I did manage to get some important information, which formed part of Save the Children’s assessments of the worst-affected areas. The terrible condition of the flooded areas made me determined to continue walking and reporting the situation to my office. We are all making effort to help the poor people of south Punjab but a lot of work lies ahead of us.
Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
In its new blog Inveneo details how the company is helping Haiti build back better. A newly announced partnership with the ETKA Foundation and Microsoft will "accelerate the deployment of a high-speed, broadband wireless network in rural population centers and technology for schools throughout Haiti."
This isn't the first time Inveneo has used its technical capacity to aid Haiti. The disastrous earthquake on January 12 decimated the capital, Port-au-Prince, its environs and much of Haiti's infrastructure. Communication became near impossible.
"The need for information far exceeded our capacity," Gary Shaye, Haiti country director of Save the Children, said.
Watch the video to learn more from Gary
Inveneo helped NGOs like Save the Children restore their communications systems by setting upsatellite-linked long-distance wi-fi network in Port-au-Prince
"Our ability to respond to the earthquake increased dramatically," Shaye said. "It’s really important for NGOs to divide their responsibilities and get as great of coverage as possible."
With our communication lines restored, our staff could ensure that relief efforts reached as many areas as possible, eliminating duplication of efforts and ensuring that we reached children and families in most need of assistance.
Blue skies and sunshine abounded as I walked down Connecticut Avenue yesterday morning on my way to the Academy for Educational Development’sWater, Sanitation, and Hygiene event. Birds were chirping, people were sharing a laugh on a street corner, and I even caught myself humming a tune as I approached the AED building.
This feeling of joy soon dissappeared as I began to tour the WASH exhibit.
Did you know that 50% of schools worldwide do not have access to clean water? As I read the children’s stories from developing countries that are currently displayed in the AED exhibit, I chastised myself for being so naïve to the plights of others.
As the crowd found their seats, Jon Hamilton of NPR introduced us to Jack Downey of AED, Maria Otero, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, and the three panelists who would be speaking.
In total, seven people addressed the audience. The message, however, was the same. By implementing WASH programs in schools in developing countries, we are improving the quality of life for the students as well as their families.
A "Tippy Station", complete with water, soap, and hand towels, was available for attendees to take turns washing their hands during the event.
Denise Knight, Water Sustainability Manager for The Coca-Cola Co., shared a story that highlighted the importance of providing clean water to developing countries.
During one visit to a community in which WASH programs were just being introduced, one community member said that they had been getting their water from the nearby stream for as long as she could remember. It had never dawned on them that the water was contaminated. It was, though, and the community had had its fair share of loss because of the dirty water. At the time, there was only one child under the age of 5 still living in the town.
Stories like these make you stop and think about how lucky we are. I rarely question whether I will be able to wash my hands with soap and water when I use the restroom or sit down to eat. Even less common is my fear of contracting an illness like worms or hepatitis from tainted water. To take this one step further, and to be completely honest, I have never thought about dying from contracting a preventable illness like diarrhea.
This is a real fear, though, for many children across the globe: 1.5 million children die from diarrhea annually.
As I left the WASH event today I felt as though I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. Here I had been enjoying listening to my iPod and drinking my $5 Starbucks coffee just two hours earlier, and now I could not stop thinking about the millions of children to whom contamination and severe illness are an everyday threat due to the lack of clean water.
The work done by organizations like Save the Children, UNICEF, AED, and others is commendable and, in reality, a lifesaver.
Today, October 15, is Global Handwashing Day. Bloggers around the world are raising awareness of the topic by posting about water as part of Blog Action Day, an annual event intended to spark global action.
Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
For the past two weeks Save the Children has been promoting "dirty words" in a new YouTube series. No, not the dirty words that George Carlin talked about, that's a whole different thing. OUR dirty words are germs, toilets, worms and dirty water.
What's the point?
Our "Dirty Word" series is bringing light to the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions at schools in developing countries, and sharing the simple, inexpensive solutions that are helping children stay healthy so they can stay in school and learn.
We've installed toilets, hand-washing stations and hand pumps, and provided de-worming medicines in about 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as are part of our School Health and Nutrition programs
Watch our "Dirty Words" YouTube series to learn how simple things, including sanitation and hygiene measures, have benefited school children in Nepal
Each year, children miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea
Two out of three schools in poor countries do not have decent toilets.
About 400 million school-age children in the developing world have worms- think about that next time you have a stomach ache.
Almost 1 billion people lack clean drinking water globally
"Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths."
A word from our friends
"The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 13 parasitic and bacterial infections [like worms] that affect over 1.4 billion people, but, as their name suggests, they have traditionally received little attention from the international community."
"Water and sanitation are human rights, vital to reducing poverty around the world. Together with good hygiene these essential services are the building blocks for all other development – improving health, education and livelihoods."
Dave Hartman, Save the Children, internet marketing and communications specialist
Friday, October 8, 2010
In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, it quickly became apparent that text messaging could be used by charities as a powerful fundraising tool. Save the Children, UNICEF and the Red Cross, among others, recieved significant donations to support our response to the crisis.
Well here at Save the Children, we've figured out a new way to harness the power of text messaging and mobile devices in order to empower those affected by a disaster. We’ve implemented a text-messaging response service in Pakistan to handle any issues that might arise with our aid distribution.
How does it work?
We set up “hubs” in Sindh, Punjab, Swat and DI Khan provinces, where people can call or text a suggestion or complaint about our health clinics and distribution centers. Once a comment is received, we circulate it to the relevant team who devise a way to implement the suggestion or address the complaint.
Every one of our Monitoring and Evaluations officers carries a cell phone dedicated solely to this suggestion/complaint hotline. (The Monitoring and Evaluations team make sure programs are running smoothly and efficiently.)
We also have a database set up where each and every complaint is filed so we know:
What the complaint was
How it was resolved
This revolutionary concept will allow us to ensure that our efforts have the greatest possible benefit for the flood-affected children of Pakistan. It also empowers Pakistanis to have input into the relief and rebuilding process, something that is crucial to getting those affected back to living normal lives.
By Save the Children's Manager of School Health and Nutrition in Pakistan
October 8, 2010
Have you washed your hands today?
What may seem to be a common practice to you is not so common in other parts of the world.
Next week, Pakistan will join countries around the globe to promote “Global Handwashing Day” on October 15.
Why the need for a Global Handwashing Day?
Each year, children worldwide miss 272 million school days because of diarrhea. One of the easiest ways to help prevent the spread of diarrhea and other diseases is by washing your hands. But many school children, including children here in Pakistan, have no access to clean water or soap at their schools.
Last year, on the night before Global Handwashing Day, I received a text message. It said, “Washing hands with soap can reduce 30% of diarrheal deaths in children.” Several more text messages rapidly followed, each highlighting the benefits of handwashing.
One of Save the Children’s education officers in Khyber PakhtunKhwa Province (KPK) came up with the idea for the texting campaign as a way to spread the message to a lot of people in a short time. And, the best part — it cost almost nothing. He estimates that up to 3,000 teachers, community members and parent-teacher council members at the 150 schools where Save the Children works participated in the texting campaign, sending messages to their family and friends.
This year, we have lots of fun school activities planned, from poster competitions to skits to street walks with public officials, teachers, community members and children.
We will be posting photos of some of our activities and others from around the globe here on our blog, so we hope you’ll check back on October 15. Let us know what you are planning for that day, too.
Looking for a way to get involved? Why not share Save the Children’s new “dirty word” video on germs and the importance of handwashing.
Dr. Pamela Young's message was heard loud and clear Wednesday morning at the “Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Schools in the Developing World” briefing on Capitol Hill, moderated by Save the Children's Seung Lee, head of our global school health and nutrition programs. If the issue at hand is affecting children, get the children involved.
Dr. Young, the PLAN representative, spoke this morning about water and hygiene programs in developing countries, primarily in schools.
PLAN, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, and many other groups are working across the globe to teach basic hygiene practices, provide clean water, and install latrines, for the students to use and to boost school enrollment.
“The key challenges boil down to two things”, said Dr. Dennis Warner of Catholic Relief Services. “The first is getting the children into school. The second is keeping them there.” He added that by improving sanitation, which in turn improves the health and well-being of children, more students will be able to attend school on a regular basis.
Watch our "Dirty Words" video to find out how Save the Children improved sanitation conditions in Nepal
Three high school students from H.B. Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, Va., highlighted the need to improve conditions for children in developing countries. These high school juniors, along with other members of their class, are involved with H2O for LIFE, which stands for Help 2 Others, a school-to-school program that was founded by a group of teachers in Minnesota.
Cecilia Allen, Delaney Steffan, Mary Shields of H.B. Woodlawn High School, and Seung Lee of Save the Children pose outside of the briefing room with the Washington Monument in the background.
The group’s mission is to make a difference; their plan is to take it one step at a time. Mary Shields, one of the students, emphasized this when she said “anything you do is at least something.” This fact, often lost in the theory that one person cannot create change, is vital to the cause. Every little bit helps.
On a side note, this was my first Capitol Hill briefing and I have to say I was impressed with the attitude these students had about helping others. For people that age to focus on saving lives in countries they have never even visited is a testament to their understanding that they are citizens of a global community.
I look forward to attending more briefings and am honored to be a part of Save the Children…at least until December!