Pumpkins and Princes

Deergh  Deergha Narayan Shrestha, Senior Program Coordinator for Education, Save the Children Nepal

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Kathmandu, Nepal


Save the Children's Literacy Boost program aims to support young readers through fun activities. It is already underway in more than 10 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. As part of National Children's Book Week (May 2 to 7), we asked a few children enrolled in Literacy Boost to tell us about their favorite books. Here is what Himal, age 8, from Nepal told to Save the Children's Deergha Shrestha:

My favorite story is called "The Tale of Master Pumpkin."  Most of the kids from school and the village like it too. I really love the pictures, like the one where Pharsi walks through the jungle.  

In the story, Pharsi Badahu, or Pumpkin, is the son of poor Farsi parents. Right after he was born, they took one look at his ugly face and kicked him out of their home. Pharsi walked away and into the jungle.

Himal

One day on his journey, he played a game to marry a princess and he won! He married the beautiful princess. She wasn't happy with him but she had to accept him anyway.

After several days, both of them came home. They saw a beautiful flower in a tall tree. Pharshia Bahadu climbed up the tree to pick the flower, but he fell down and broke into pieces.

He looked like a smashed pumpkin. The princess got scared. And then a handsome prince arose from the pumpkin. They went home and lived happily ever after. I always like getting to the end when the pumpkin turns into a handsome prince.

 

Celebrate Reading: National Children’s Book Week

ARON H Aron Holewinski, Media and Communications Intern, and English literature student at Williams College (MA) 

Tueday, April 26, 2011

Westport, CT


Next week is National Children’s Book Week.  A time to celebrate those cherished and tattered books that many of us can recite by heart.

Reading has always been a part of my life.  As a kid, I eagerly awaited for my mom or grandmother to read me a book at bedtime. One of my favorites was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” about a clever little mouse who asks a boy for a cookie and then keeps asking him for more things.

I remember stories of gallant knights and Western cowboys, buried treasure and Arabian nights. I loved closing my eyes and letting my imagination drift. Later, I seldom ventured without a book. On long car rides in the back seat, or during summer vacations by the pool – I always had a book at hand, and a story to get back to.

Ultimately, fiction is the stuff of life. We learn about each other and the ways we live through reading.

ARON on books

Given my own passion for reading, I am distressed to think that so many children cannot read for themselves. Reading is a fundamental skill that too many children go without.  And, when you don’t know how to read or write, words turn into a jumble of symbols. 

But, that’s where Save the Children’s Literacy Boost program comes in.  It’s a much-needed program to help young kids in grades one to four develop their language and reading skills both inside and outside the classroom. It works by engaging everyone in the community – from teachers, parents and even older children – to help kids learn through simple actions like reading aloud with a child.  

Kids in 10 countries in Africa and Asia are currently enrolled in the program, and, we’re seeing impressive preliminary results. Kids are reading more words per minute, they have a better understanding of what they’re reading and they are excited to showcase their reading skills with others.  
There’s no doubt that my family’s persistent reading aloud, and their steady encouragement to read influenced me.   

I hope other kids get to share that joy, too, so that when they open a book, letters will become words. And words will become stories. And characters will spring to life, opening up a whole new world to them.

Here are some easy ways you can celebrate reading and National Children’s Book Week: 

  1. Read to a child today. 
  2. Share your favorite children’s book in the comments section below. 
  3. Provide picture books for preschoolers in Afghanistan with an $80 donation.

 

Culture Snapshot: Xingomana

Joao Sitoi Headshot Joao Sitoi, Sponsorship Manager

Maputo, Mozambique

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Our Culture Snapshot series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. Check out the last post, "Culture Snapshot: Blind-Cat Game Played by Children in Egypt."

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Cultural dance is very popular in Mozambique. The most popular dance in the rural community of 3 de Fevereiro – “3rd of February” – is xingomana, which is performed by both children and adults.  Xingomana, accompanied by songs rich in meaning and context, has also become an important tool to communicate educational messages such as the dangers of early pregnancies and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.



 Watch Mozambicans dancing throughout Nampula!

Do you like to dance? Tell us about your favorite style or reason to dance in the comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

Balloon Dogs Aid Children’s Recovery

Amy richmond

Amy Richmond, Child Protection Specialist, Save the Children

Tokyo, Japan

Monday, April 11, 2011


I arrived in Japan more than a week ago to work with our Child Protection Team in the northeast of Japan. The team is working tirelessly to reach children who have lost everything in the tsunami. 

Our main concern is the physical safety of children and their well-being after experiencing such an event – with tens of thousands of children living in evacuation centers after the tsunami with no place to play our top priority is to give them a space to just be children. 

One of our immediate response interventions was setting up Child Friendly Spaces within the evacuation centers – offering children a safe place to play in order to continue to learn and develop after the disaster.

I visited one of our Child Friendly Spaces right outside Ishinomaki this week where the children were making balloon animals.

Two young girls had twisted their balloons into little dogs and shared these with me with such delight as they giggled out the word ‘dog,’ in English.  When I responded with a smile and nod signaling they had the word correct, we laughed as they repeated the word in song while their dogs did a little dance. 

It was a happier moment than the day before, when a young boy in our Child Friendly Space had drawn a picture of his pet, one of our Child Friendly Space volunteers asked him who he was drawing and he replied it was his dog but he didn’t know where he was. It was a reminder of the huge loss children had faced – but now we see children are beginning to reflect and deal with what they have gone through. 

It will be a long recovery. 

We hope to continuously engage children within the Child Friendly Spaces with activities held by trained volunteers that allow children to express themselves freely to help with this process.

Child Friendly Space activities also offer a routine and structure to the daily lives of children living in evacuation centers which helps create some sense of normalcy while their environment is constantly changing. 

This builds on the natural resilience of children at the same time helping them identify positive coping strategies through interacting with other children. 

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Learn more about our recovery response to the earthquake in Japan.

Help Us Respond to the Japan Earthquake Recovery. Please Donate Now.

 

Culture Snapshot: Blind-Cat Game Played by Children in Egypt

Generic Ahmed Abdel Hamid, Sponsorship Manager

Cairo, Egypt

Friday, April 8, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Our Culture Snapshot series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. We hope you enjoy and will visit again in the coming weeks to learn about each region. Check out the last post, "Culture Snapshot: Carom – A Favorite Game of Children in Bangladesh"

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The “Blind Cat” or “El Qota El Aamyaa” in Arabic is a team game where children decide who will be the blind cat and who will search for the others while his/her eyes are blindfolded.

Children Toss to Decide who Starts (1)
After selecting who will start, the team creates borders for the playing area.

Children play Blind-cat 2
Then the selected blind cat tries to catch one of the children who will then become the blind cat.

Children play Blind-cat 1
The child who plays the blind cat focuses on his/her hearing skill to figure out where each child is.

Coming soon, learn about xingomana, a cultural dance in Mozambique!

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

 

Children and Families Flee Violence in Ivory Coast

Rmcgrath Rae McGrath, Save the Children, Emergency Response Manager

Saclepea, Liberia

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Save the Children is responding to Ivorian refugees streaming into Liberia as result of the conflict in the Ivory Coast. 

Our child protection teams are, "ensuring that children are made safe and brought to a safe place as quickly as possible." Children arrive frightened and fatigued from the long, arduous walk. On a typical day the temperature is around 100 degrees and humid.

Listen to this podcast from Save the Children's Emergency Field Manager in Liberia, Rae McGrath, to learn more about the situation and how we are responding to children's needs

Listen!

Support our Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) Children in Crisis Fund.

Culture Snapshot: Carom – A Favorite Game of Children in Bangladesh

Tahmina Haider Headshot

Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Monday, April 4, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Our Culture Snapshot series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. We hope you enjoy and will visit again in the coming weeks to learn about each region.Check out the last post "Culture Snapshot: Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas Recipe."

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The game Carom is very popular among adolescent boys in Meherpur, Bangaldesh and a Carom board can be found in many homes. The game is played with two teams and each team picks a color and tries to win chips of that color. The winning team scores points for each opposition chip remaining on the board, and extra points if they can take the special red piece! While playing the game the boys talk about many things like sports, hobbies, and even their problems.
Cultural corner boys playing Carom 2
 Stay tuned for a common game played by children in Egypt—Blind Cat.

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Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

Culture Snapshot: Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas Recipe

Katherine Golden Headshot

Katherine Golden, Sponsorship Manager

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Friday, April 1, 2011


Save the Children has sponsorship programs in over twenty countries in five regions of the world! Our Culture Snapshot series highlights unique elements of local culture from each of the regions our sponsorship programs operate in. We hope you enjoy and will visit again in the coming weeks to learn about each region.Check out our last post "Culture Snapshot: Bolivian Music"

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This is a fun meal for the family to make together. Caeleigh, a sponsored child, says, I love to help my mom in the kitchen. We make enchiladas for our family together.”

Green-chile-enchiladas (1)
 INGREDIENTS:

 • 3-5 chicken breasts, boneless

• 1 medium onion, chopped

• 2 Tbsp. margarine

• 1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup

• 1 10 oz. can cream of mushroom soup

• 1 ¾ cups frozen chopped green chili, drained

• ½ cup broth saved from chicken

• 1 12 ct. pkg. corn tortillas

• 1 lb. cheese, grated (cheddar, jack or mixture)

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Boil chicken, cool and shred breasts with a fork or your fingers.  Be sure to save the broth the chicken boiled in.

2. Preheat oven to 325º F.

3. Sauté onion in margarine until slightly soft.  Combine onion with soups, chili, broth and stir.

4. Tear 6 tortillas into small pieces and cover the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan. Spread ½ the chicken over the tortilla pieces, then ½ the sauce, and ½ the cheese. Repeat for several layers until you use up all your ingredients.

5. Bake 30-40 minutes, until very hot, bubbly and slightly browned.

6. Serve and enjoy!  Makes eight to ten 8 oz. servings.

In next week's Culture Snapshot we head to Bangladesh to learn how to play the game Carom!

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