The meaning of “satisfaction”

Raul PinedaRaúl, Sponsorship Manager

Las Mesas, El Salvador 

 June 29, 2012

Not many tourists come to El Salvador.

This is not a surprise: our crime numbers are a potent deterrent for any foreigner who would like to know more about this country.

But there are some visitors who are not looking for “tourism” or to just have another check on their list. These are the committed child sponsors who wish to have more contact with the children who send them letters and pictures through Save the Children.

Not too long ago we had the pleasure of bringing Ms. Elizabeth to the field to visit the community of Las Mesas in the western part of El Salvador. While there, she was able to interact with community members and families living there.

First and second graders at school

It is extremely difficult to explain what we do in the field through reports, brochures, or simple statistics, and the positive change that is being achieved. BUT, when real contact happens and all those reports turn into living faces and extraordinary stories, then the real development journey begins.

It is then that Ms. Elizabeth’s nodding signal has a meaning; she has come to understand the effect of
sponsorship and how her contribution is changing the lives of children and their families in this part of the world. And for us, it is the signal we need so we can continue our work. This kind of satisfaction does not fit in a report. I share with you this experience as I see it in hopes that you will also feel this
satisfaction because your contribution really DOES make a difference…

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

Keeping Expectant Mothers and Children Protected during Wildfires

DeMarrais picJeanne-Aimee De Marrais, Advisor, Domestic Emergencies, Save the Children

Washington, D.C.

June 28, 2012

Wildfires continue to wreak havoc in Colorado, forcing more than 32,000 people to evacuate their homes, and destroying over 15,000 acres of land, according to this report by Reuters.

Of the thousands of families uprooted by the Colorado fires, or during any disaster for that matter, pregnant women and children are often the most vulnerable. That’s why Save the Children is releasing the following two-partguidance—a combination of tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and our own disaster preparedness experts—tohelp expectant mothers and families with young children stay safe and protected during the Colorado wildfires or any fire emergency. 

Tips for expectant mothers and parents with young children facing evacuation

  • Be prepared to evacuate quickly and have important items (such as copies of medical records and medications) ready to go— you may not have much time.
  • When checking into a shelter or temporary housing, alert the staff if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • If pregnant, seek prenatal care even if it is not with your usual provider. 
  • Make sure health care providers at the shelter know about any special needs or health problems that you or your child have, or any medicines you might be taking (both over the counter and prescription.)
  • If you don’t have your infant’s medicine with you, ask health care providers at the shelter for assistance in getting it.
  • Make sure your baby gets plenty of breast milk or formula, and you drink enough water.
  • Pregnant women and children should stay indoors, if possible, to keep from Avoid breathing smoke or fumes, rest often and stay indoors if possible.
  • If you’re pregnant, rest often and get plenty of water.

 (Guidelines derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To see the complete guidance–Wildfires: Information for Pregnant Women and Parents of Young Infants–please visit

For more information on how to keep you and your children safe during a wildfire, visit the website of the Center for Disease and Control Prevention.

General fire safety tips for families

Save the Children wishes to remind parents, teachers, and caregivers about the importance of child fire safety. About 80 percent of all fire-related deaths and injuries occur in the home, and young children are at a particularly high risk. They may not understand the danger or may not be able to escape. Children under the age of 5 account for almost half of all home fire victims. Children in the poorest homes face the greatest risk of death. Every family member should know exactly what to do in case of a fire emergency. Precious seconds can be lost when someone can’t find a way out in the dark or does not know how to release a window lock. Having a family fire safety plan and practicing it will save lives.

Here are some tips for keeping families safe. For further guidance specific to your community, contact your local fire department.

  • Talk to children about fire safety. Children accidentally set many of the fires that harm them. Teach children not to play with matches and lighters. If they see matches or lighters within reach, teach them not to touch but go tell a grown up right away.
  • Teach children the DON’T HIDE, GO OUTSIDE rule in the event of a fire. Fires are scary, but they should NEVER hide in closets or under beds when there is a fire.
  • To escape during a fire, teach children to FALL & CRAWL. It is easier to breath in a fire if you stay low while getting out. Use the back of your hand to test if a door is hot before you open it. If it is hot, try to use another way out.
  • Practice STOP, DROP and ROLL: If clothes catch on fire, don’t run.  Stop where you are, drop to the ground and roll your body back and forth until the fire is out.  Running makes the fire burn faster.
  • Teach children to never go back into a burning building for any reason.  If someone is missing, tell a firefighter.
  • Make a family fire plan and practice it. The plan should include identifying two exits from each room and marking an outside meeting place. Practice escaping by both exits to be sure windows are not stuck and screens can be quickly taken out.
  • Make sure street signs and address numbers are easily visible so fire trucks and emergency responders can find where they need to be.
  • Teach children what a fire alarm sounds like and make sure that it will effectively wake them in the middle of the night.
  • Ensure smoke detectors are installed on every floor and in the sleeping areas of your home, and that batteries are changed twice per year. Carbon Monoxide detectors are also recommended. Test these alarms to make sure they can effectively wake family members.
  • If there are security bars or locks on doors, make sure all family members know how to release them.  All family members should be able to escape from the second floor.
  • Know your local emergency number. Put stickers and magnets with emergency numbers on your refrigerator and every telephone in the house.

Parents should also take steps to learn about their child’s school or child care fire safety plan, as part of an overall emergency plan. They should also ensure that any family friends have evacuation plans in case a child spends the night elsewhere.

It’s all about where you were born…..and to whom!

This past week and a half was a busy one—I found myself in Washington, DC; Delhi, India; and Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition to spending lots of hours on planes and

sleeping in airports, these vastly different places drove home for me the immense divide between kids’ lives in countries around the world. These differences are rooted in the rate of child survival and the striking disparity in their opportunity for a productive and happy life.


In 2010, nearly two million Indian children never had a chance. They died from easily preventable causes before they were five years old—things like pneumonia, prematurity and complications at birth that could have been prevented, and even diarrhea, which claims the lives of tens of thousands of Indian kids every year. This represents the death of 63 kids for every 1,000 born in India in 2010. In contrast, fewer than a thousand children under five died that same year in Denmark, where there are 64,000 annual births—making it one of the highest-ranking countries for child survival. Surprisingly, far more kids died in the US before they made it to 5—32,000 in 2010 or 8 children for every 1,000 born. And we lose most children in the US as babies: 57% of child deaths occur before they are even a month old.


While these statistics are shocking, they realities are even more alarming. A country’s average rates don’t really tell the story of the very poorest children. In poor urban slums, like the one I just visited in India, the rate of child survival is far below the national average. According to WHO data and UNICEF’s recent report, The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World, slum dwellers in India have almost no access to government health services and the rate of child deaths among the poorest urban families is three times higher than the wealthiest urban families—or 85 deaths per every 1,000 births. And here in the United States, it is poor families (and usually black, Hispanic, and Native American ones) who overwhelmingly experience the heartbreak of the death of a child. The lottery of birth is truly that—and for those with bad numbers, it can be a virtual death sentence.


Of course, the statistics only tell part of the story. The real stories are with the moms, dads and children who live in deep poverty around the world. Like the mom I met recently in Mozambique who told me she had lost her first baby because he got an infection that turned into pneumonia and she didn’t have the money to get him to the clinic more than 20 miles away. Or the families I met in Uganda in February that had only one district hospital to serve more than 50,000 people, and where mothers lost babies when they went into labor on the long walk to get there. The 7.6 million children who die every year are mourned by many more millions of mothers and fathers in the poorest communities in all corners of the globe.



But there are stories of real hope, too. For example, the story of that Mozambican mother, now a Save the Children-trained community health worker, who

Saving Children’s Lives — What’s New And What You Can Do

The following first appeared on The Huffington Post.


Like most moms, I love remembering my children’s firsts. Their first steps, first words, first day at school. But, one first I didn’t realize was a milestone at the time was the day each of my kids completed the first month of life.


I later learned that, around the world, that first month is the most dangerous time of a child’s life. Infections, premature births and childbirth complications are the leading causes of newborn deaths, but they are highly preventable through basic health care, such as antibiotics, breastfeeding support and improved hygiene.


Still, every year, more than 3 million babies die before they turn one month old. Thankfully, that number is dropping, but not nearly as fast as more successful efforts to end deaths to older children and mothers.


That’s because global health efforts haven’t quite caught up with what we now know works to save newborn babies. So, although newborn deaths now account for more than 40 percent of child deaths, they are mentioned by only 6 percent of the world’s official development assistance programs for maternal, newborn and child health. Only 0.1 percent of these programs target newborn babies exclusively. That must change.


This mismatch of funding and need is one of the major findings of Save the Children‘s new report, “A Decade of Change for Newborn Survival.” A collaboration of 150 global experts and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the report shows that efforts to make basic lifesaving care available to families in poor communities work. Countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and Malawi have substantially cut newborn death rates, and have lessons to share with many other countries.


One of the most effective methods is Kangaroo Mother Care. When mothers wrap their newborns to their skin, premature babies get the warmth and better access to breastfeeding that can save their lives. Sharing this method with communities where families have limited access to hospitals, high-tech equipment — or even electricity — could save hundreds of thousands of babies a year.


That kind of care doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take political will.


The United States has been a leader in reducing global deaths to children under 5 years old from 12.4 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. It’s also a leader on targeting newborns, providing double the assistance of the next biggest donor, the World Bank.


To show that you support this kind of leadership, please join Save the Children in calling on world leaders to finish what they started and end preventable child deaths. Sign the petition. Every child deserves a 5th birthday!

G(irls)20 Summit 2012

Andrea headshotAndrea Burniske, Director GIRL Project

Washington, D.C.

June 15, 2012

Just a few weeks ago, a group of incredible young women gathered in Mexico City as delegates to the 2012 G(irls)20 Summit. Each year,The G(irls)20 Summit brings together one delegate from each G20 country, plus a representative from the European Union and the African Union. The delegates debate, discuss and design innovative ideas necessary to empower girls and women globally and present these to G20 Leaders. While the agenda is the same as the G20 leaders and focuses on economic innovation – the participants are all girls, aged 18-20. In anticipation of the G20 Summit June 18-19, the girls came together to discuss and debate topics of global economic importance – agriculture/food security and violence against women – and to make recommendations to the G20 leaders on the issues that impair a woman’s ability to be economically productive. Take a look at what the G(irls) 20 Summit looked like last year..

Be sure to check out for more information.

Way to go girls!



What it means to have friends abroad

Bolivia headshotElena Morales, Basic Educator Program

Save the Children, Boliva

June 8, 2012 

My name is Elena Morales and I am an educator working in the “Wawakunawan Purina” program, which means “We Walk With the Childhood”. This is a sponsorship-funded program implemented in the outskirts of Cochabamba, Bolivia.

I support the School of San Francisco, located in the neighborhood Villa Sebastian Pagador. This neighborhood has a high migrant population, most residents come from other cities in Bolivia. The school has 926 children, many of whom are sponsored through Save the Children.

The children are very happy when they find out they are going to have a friend abroad and many wait for their sponsor’s letters with great anticipation.

One example is of a 12-year-old girl named America. This year she received a letter from her friend in the U.S. When she read the name of her new friend she shouted, "I have a friend in the United States!" The other children asked her why she was so excited. With pride she explained that her sponsor wrote a letter and that he knows her by her picture. This makes America feel special.

Elena Morales and America

What fills me with such great satisfaction is that "Wawakunawan Purina" allows boys and girls to have the opportunity for a better education and integrated formation without any type of discrimination.

This is how Save the Children contributes to each child, community, and country: through the creation of capable citizens who can reach their goals in life.

Watch America and her friends jump rope

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

Sponsorship Site Undergoing Maintenance

Amanda headshotAmanda Gundell, Social Media Intern

Westport, CT

June 6, 2012

Hey guys,

Writing to let those of you who sponsor children know that our online sponsorship portal is being renovated to include some really terrific new features and functionality.

We have a temporary site up in the meantime, so bear with us and come back on June 18th to see the new and improved Sponsorship portal!

If you have any questions, please contact our Donor Services Team at 1-800-728-3843 between 8 AM and 5 PM EST or email