A School is Transformed; Communities and Generations are Changed Forever!

Tererai_TrentDr. Tererai Trent, Scholar, Humanitarian, and Founder, Tinogona Foundation

March 29, 2013

Tererai Trent was selected by Oprah as her All-Time Favorite Guest in May 2011, and honored with a special gift – a donation from The Oprah Winfrey Foundation for Save the Children to rebuild the Matau Primary School and improve learning for children in the community where Tererai grew up in Zimbabwe.


On a sunny day, bright light streams in from the holes in the roof to the classroom below. But during the rainy season, water pours in. Teachers rush to move their students and learning materials into the dry corners of the room.

When it storms, roaring winds rip the roofs off school buildings. The result? The open-air classrooms are condemned for use and students are shuffled into already crowded classrooms, or have to attend school in shifts.

And so it continues, year after year, the relentless sun, rain and wind. It takes a toll on the school structure. On the floor where children sit, the cement is broken away, leaving gaping holes throughout the room.

These are the conditions under which children went to the Matau Primary School. But I could be describing any number of schools throughout my beloved Zimbabwe.The environment is not safe and distracts children from learning. That is why I have always dreamed of building a better school for the children of my village. Today, with tears in my eyes, I can tell you that my hopes and dreams are about to come true.

Thanks to the generosity of Oprah, Save the Children and my community embarked on a project to build a new primary school in Matau.

Here is what has been completed since we began this journey in 2011:  

  • 5 new classrooms, painted and equipped with locally made desks, chairs, etc.
  • 2 teachers’ houses
  • 1 borehole drilled and piped. (This is the first time children can access clean water on the school grounds. Tinogona t-shirt money paid for this.)
  • 1 preschool center
  • 1 playground
  • New latrines and hand washing stations

Children and teachers are already filling up these beautiful spaces, which were lovingly built with nearly 400,000 bricks made by hand by community volunteers.

Here is what will be finished in a few months:

  • 1 library (filled with books)
  • 1 administrative building
  • 1 new classroom
  • Here is what we will finish repairing and rehabilitating over the next several months:
  • 7 teachers’ house
  • 6 secondary school classrooms

They say a picture speaks a thousand words. The images here of the Matau Primary School, showing the before and after, the transformation, speak for themselves. It is incredible. Tinogona. It is achievable!


This entry was originally posted on Tererai’s Facebook page on March 26th.

Building government health systems in Bangladesh

Areba Panni

Areba Panni, Advisor-Strategic Communications,
MCHIP/Save the Children

Dhaka, Bangladesh

March 28, 2013

Bangladesh is a low-income nation in South Asia and one of
the most densely populated countries in the world.  Despite this, maternal mortality rates have decreased
by 40 percent since 2001 and the country is on track to achieve the Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs)
on reducing maternal and child deaths by 2015. In fact, only eight other countries out of
the 74 that account for most of the maternal and child deaths can claim this
achievement. Maternal deaths remain concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and
South Asia, an indication of global disparities in women’s access to much
needed care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period as well as
family planning services.  Bangladesh’s
astonishing progress in the health sector can be credited in part to the
government and communities working together at the district level to deliver
lifesaving assistance to mothers and babies in need.

An innovative safe motherhood project “MaMoni,” meaning
“mother-child,” has been supporting health systems coordination and service
delivery in fifteen sub-districts of rural Bangladesh since 2009.  Funded by the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID)
, the MaMoni project is run by Save the Children in
Bangladesh and two local NGOs, Shimantik and FIVDB, in partnership with Bangladesh’s
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The project aims to integrate household, community, and governmental
efforts to achieve improved health outcomes from the district level down to the

As part of its reform agenda called “USAID Forward,” USAID is
focused on delivering results in an efficient and sustainable way, by building
the capacity of country governments and by providing more funds to country
governments directly. In Bangladesh, USAID
is boosting the capacity of the government to deliver health services to rural
areas. The agency has aligned its approach
with the government’s health sector strategy and for the first time is
investing $40 million over five years in the Bangladesh government through the
World Bank’s “Single Donor Trust Fund” to support health care and other

AidReform_Mariam BegumThe investment by the
United States and other donors to improve the government’s health service
delivery systems is making a big difference for women facing birth
emergencies. Last year, Mariam Begum,
who was living in a small village, was experiencing pain and heavy bleeding
following the birth of her child. A
local community volunteer, trained by MaMoni staff to recognize severe
conditions like Mariam’s, helped arrange her transport by a water ambulance to the
nearest government-owned health center where she was further evaluated. When the health center was unable to deal
with the severity of her condition, she was transferred to the district
hospital.  Mariam’s life was saved due to
the quick assessment of her condition by a community volunteer and the linkages
between the community and government health workers. 

In addition to facilitating
delivery of emergency services, MaMoni focuses on institution building and
community engagement and will assist the management of 11,000 community clinics
set up by the government in the country to roll out trainings for community
health care providers. MaMoni trains
government health workers to offer women pre- and post- pregnancy counseling,
birth assistance, vaccinations, and counseling on exclusive breastfeeding.

A network of more than 13,000 community volunteers set up and
trained by MaMoni respond to the needs of mothers and newborns, spot cases that
require treatment in health facilities, and help organize local health planning
meetings. The community volunteers collect health information from the
community and meet with frontline government health workers at the end of every
month to update registers. Large wall charts in the government’s family welfare
centers track where pregnant women live, their due dates, and whether they are
experiencing complications that should be monitored.   MaMoni staff are in regular dialogue with
the government to help improve their information systems and service delivery.

Based on these best practices from MaMoni, USAID is working
with other districts to introduce health systems strengthening projects. USAID’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate a
successful model and enable the government of Bangladesh to take it to scale throughout
the country.

USAID’s investments in
government capacity building help to ensure the long-term sustainability of
health programming in Bangladesh beyond the life of MaMoni and other
projects.   With these investments, survival
rates of at-risk mothers like Mariam increase and the coordination between
communities and the government improves the quality of and the access to women’s
health services throughout Bangladesh.


The Garden of My Heart

Tererai_TrentDr. Tererai Trent, Scholar, Humanitarian, and Founder,
Tinogona Foundation

March 26, 2013

Tererai Trent was selected by Oprah as her All-Time
Favorite Guest in May 2011
, and honored with a special gift – a donation
from The Oprah Winfrey Foundation for Save the Children to rebuild the Matau
Primary School and improve learning for children in the community where Tererai
grew up in Zimbabwe.


Ttrent_Playtime two

Spring arrived today, and I keep thinking about Matau in Zimbabwe, where my roots are firmly grounded. Nearly two years ago, Oprah gave me an incredible gift to help the children in my home village blossom into educated and aspirational adults. Today, we are nearing a rebirth and renewal in this little pocket of Africa, and in the garden of my heart.

Mothers, father, teachers, brothers, sisters – have all come together with Save the Children to feed the minds and cultivate growth in learning among the youngest seedlings. Extraordinary things can happen when you put the right tools in the hands of communities. They flourish. There is so much exciting news to share.

It begins with smiling and laughing preschoolers, pushing each other higher and higher on the swings. Two years ago, there were no playgrounds in these rural villages. Through the education project, communities are learning how to build safe playgrounds with local materials provided by the villagers themselves. Two playgrounds have already been constructed.

Play is good for children. It helps them grow and learn important skills, and it is fun. It is wonderful to see the joy on the children’s faces in these photos. Their smiles are contagious.

This entry was originally posted on Tererai’s Facebook page on March 20th.

The Courage to Dream: The Story of Rotse

Avemar TanAvemar Tan, Sponsorship

Manila, Philippines 

March 21, 2012

The village where Rotse lives has no access to electricity.
Sanitation systems are rare and not every house has its own water supply. At
13, Rotse has never seen a television or a cellphone and, if not for Save the
Children, would never have seen a camera.

Rotse is from the indigenous tribe of T’boli and
speaks the T’boli dialect. Until recently, the Philippine government mandated
the use of Filipino in schools, marginalizing children like Rotse.
Nevertheless, Rotse loves school. She wakes up every morning when the roosters
crow and the first hint of sunshine pierces the sky. Rotse and her family do
not own a clock. In her entire life, she has seen only one clock, the one on
her classroom wall. She and her family tell time as our ancestors did, by the
crow of the rooster and the position of the sun.


After school, Rotse helps her mother and siblings with
the chores, then uses the remaining daylight to study lessons she hardly understands
– words and sentences that are, to her, in a foreign language.

Rotse’s mother was married when she was only 12, given
in exchange for a carabao (a Philippine water buffalo) that her family needed to
till the land that was their source of food. With tears in her eyes, she tells
us how her parents’ decision changed her life. She recounts the hardships she suffered
and is firm in saying she wants something better for her daughter. Rotse seems
to share this thought, expressing her desire to finish school and make life
better for her family.

Rotse_2We ask Rotse what she wants to be when she grows up.
Our translator says, “She wants to be a teacher.” Feeling this is not an
accurate translation, we prod the interpreter to tell us more. Finally she
relents, A maid, she wants to be a
maid, for the Ilonggo [a wealthier local tribe].” Rotse’s mother and aunt laugh
it off, but Rotse’s innocent answer offers a glimpse of how hopeless she feels.

Rotse’s tale is just one story of how children in the
Philippines struggle with the poverty that is robbing them of hope. But with
your help, Save the Children sponsorship programs can offer children like Rotse
a better future – and the courage to dream.

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