Life Improvement After Hurricane Sandy

Skype picKatie Warner, Digital Production Coordinator

Save the Children, U.S.

July 31, 2013

Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast, destroying communities and displacing thousands of families. Among the destroyed communities, was a HeadSchool_damage Start Facility in Brooklyn, which has served as a safe learning zone for children ages 3-5 for more than 25 years.  

When Hurricane Sandy hit, over four feet of water filled the basement, destroying classrooms and leaving the facility without heat and electricity. What’s more, some of families that lived around the facility lost everything in the storm, and were forced to sleep on moldy floors of gutted apartments. The Head Start Facility had no other option but to get the center open as soon as possible. But opening the center in December was just the beginning of the recovery process; they still had classrooms that were unusable due to the flooding. The center was open, but just barely getting by with the little resources they had left. 

Nearly eight months later, on June 20, 2013, IKEA, the Life Improvement Store unveiled a generous donation to Save the Children’s early education programs, and in addition, provided home furnishings, design expertise and manpoIkea_Savewer to help give the Head Start Facility a makeover. Thanks to IKEA’s donation, Save the Children’s staff along with volunteers from IKEA came together at the end of June for a week long make over, where three of the schools classrooms received a full transformation.

I was one of the lucky Save the Children employees who went to Brooklyn to volunteer. The days were filled with hardworking volunteers building furniture, painting walls and bonding over the common theme of the week – making a difference in the lives of children affected by Hurricane Sandy. With IKEA staff in their blue shirts and Save the Children in our red, the two groups of volunteers worked side by side to create a happy and safe environment for children to receive the best Final classroompossible education.

Having the opportunity to volunteer with the IKEA staff to rebuild these classrooms was a rewarding experience. I was able to see firsthand the tremendous impact the partnership of IKEA and Save the Children has on the lives of children. 

The Head Start Facility is now a fully functioning space where children can play and learn, leaving Hurricane Sandy in the past once and for all. 

Read how Save the Children has  helped children affected by Hurricane Sandy. Click here to learn more.

Going After A Dream

Tiago Parruque, Provincial Sponsorship Operations Coordinator

Tiago Parruque, Provincial Sponsorship
Operations Coordinator


July 29, 2013

Jeremias Tivane stands out for being a success case in the Chaimite community
where she was born, lives and now works. She is 21 years old and completed ​​all the possible education in her community, where schools go from 1st
to 10th grade.
There are few cases in which a girl like Leandra survives in the education
system, especially in poor rural communities like hers.

had a sponsor to whom she wrote twice. "The letters I received from my
sponsor were the first and the only ones that I received,” she says. “It was little
but very good. I keep the letters with me.” She participated in several
programs Save the Children implemented in two schools where she studied and has
been a Save the Children volunteer since 2007.

a nurse is Leadra’s dream. Her strong desire to save lives drove her to that

nurse is a noble profession,” she told us. “Unfortunately, I have not graduated
as such. However, the dream is unfolding: I am now working at a dispensary in
Chaimte as a reproductive sexual heath councilor and an activist against HIV/AIDS,
urging people to volunteer for testing.

a student, I took part in all the great activities carried out by Save the
Children in my school. I have always had a special curiosity about HIV/AIDS because
many of my schoolmates lost their fathers, mothers and siblings due to this
evil. The fact of it being something preventable led me into thinking that with
knowledge, I would help youngsters and adults alike participate in the process
of its prevention. We could bring down the mortality rate, as well as the
number of orphan children in my community.

took part in various workshops on reproductive sexual health which lead me into
being an activist in the school, as well as in the community.”


has succeeded in convincing many people from her community to undergo voluntary
testing on their HIV/AIDS status. From this group, the focus is on mothers-to-be
so, after discovering their status, they have a chance to start a counseling
and treatment process to avoid the transmission of the disease to their child.

am proud to be helping to save lives and teaching the communities how to improve
their standards of life,” she says. “All of this makes me feel pleased and so
willing to go further.”


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

Rita Weaves her Magic in Grade One Classroom


Sanjana Shrestha, Communication

Nepal Country Office

July 19, 2013

deters Rita, not even a room full of curious and mischievous first graders. On
a field trip to Kapilvastu, one of our sponsorship impact areas, I accidentally
stumbled into Rita’s classroom and listened to her teach numbers to eager and
excited first graders.

has drawn a chart with numbers and things that represent the number. For
example, the number 3 is represented by drawing of three cups alongside a “3.”
She engages in a discussion with children about how and why they use cups.
Children promptly answer that they drink tea from cups. She also encourages
children to find synonyms for cups in other languages. When it’s time to learn
about the number 4, she asks the children to count the number of windows in the
classroom. In Rita’s class, children not only learn about numbers, but also
about new words, language and discovering things on their own.

Nepal_blog_Rita in her classroom

Rita in her classroom

look around her classroom and I am captivated. Rita has covered the walls with pictures
and learning materials. Story books hang on a line that runs across the
classroom, children’s drawings are suspended from the ceiling and there are locally
made toys, games – and learning materials Rita made herself.

do not find teaching these children difficult. In fact, it’s more difficult to
stay home doing nothing,” says Rita, who lives an hour away and comes on a
bicycle every day. “My students help me in class. When I announce the lesson for
the day, they volunteer to bring learning materials needed for that class. One
of them always keeps the attendance register. The best part is when children
volunteer to bring water when anyone is sick in the class or needs to take

says that she started enjoying her job more when she participated in training
to make learning materials, “a door to new ways in which she could teach
children.” She sometimes gathers her first graders and makes teaching materials
with them, all the time asking them questions about what things they can make
from cutting papers in different shapes and sizes. She says learning materials
make children creative and more imaginative. When they see the lessons in
textbooks turned into something visual, they can understand very easily.

whose mother tongue is Tharu, uses Awadhi, the language they use at home, to
speak to her students. She is a bridge for her young wards in switching between

Nepal_blog_Rita with her students

Rita with her students

takes great pride in her first graders and the discipline they show in class,
even when they are playing games. She says, “I like the beautiful handwriting
the children are learning, and I like their questions. I hope they help their
grade two teacher like they did me.”

of her students Anita, 8, says, “I like my teacher a lot because she loves us
and tells stories to us.” Anita, who has been in grade one for the past three
years, is making huge progress this year with Rita as her teacher.

says, “Anita didn’t go to an ECD [early childhood development] center, but
started in grade 1. In the evening after school, she goes home to wash dishes
and cook. She can write and read Nepali and sometimes leads the class, and she counts
from one to hundred. She even asks me for difficult homework.” Rita is
confident Anita will pass grade one with flying colors this year.


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

My Daughter’s Life has become Different – The Impact of ECCD

Joana Masenga, Community Mobilizer

Joana Masenga, Community Mobilizer

Lufwanyama, Zambia

July 5, 2013

child sponsorship program was officially launched in Zambia on the 28th
of September 2012, and is already making a difference.

Grace is a 4-year-old girl living with her parents
and 9-month-old brother, Mark, in Zambia’s Lufwanyama district. She
is one of 475 children enrolled in the 24 Early Childhood Care and Development
(ECCD) centers in Lufwanyama.

Grace in white (her mother in blue) with core group members and ECCD teachers

Grace in white (her mother in blue) with core group members and ECCD teachers

Before Grace started attending activities at the
center, she had been lonely. Most of her friends in the neighborhood went to school,
so she would be left alone with the mother and brother. As a result of being
enrolled at the ECCD center her life has changed a lot. She can now sing songs,
identify colors, has begun to count and knows how to greet others.

In Lufwanyama, ECCD has never been part of the community
development plan. Even families who worked as volunteers with Save the Children
never took their children to any ECCD activity or centers. Children had to wait
until they turned 7 and were recruited into grade 1. The lack of ECCD
activities contributed to low pass rates when children finally got into school.

With the ECCD
program, which opened its doors to the community in January 2013, Grace has
something to look forward to every day. Her mother, Florence, aged 26, says she
is proud that her daughter will have an opportunity that she herself never had.

DSC00061“I grew up in
this community,” Florence said, “and have been visiting other areas and seen
how intelligent other children are. I kept wondering whether my children were
ever going to have this chance to attend a pre-school before going into grade
one and being able to count before then. I kept asking myself whether my
children would grow up like I did with no opportunity for a better start in

“I am so happy
that Save the Children trained teachers here and has opened this place for our children
to learn in. My children will now be able to learn many more new things, and I
will have time to do other things while the children are at the center. In the
DSCN2279past I could not do that as I had to care for both Grace and her brother.
Sometimes, I had to leave her home alone when I went away for other family duties
like going to the farms, as she is too small to come with me, and I could not stay
at home because of her. I am looking forward to enrolling my other child as
soon as he reaches three so they can both learn, and I can have more time for
other family duties while they are at the ECCD center. 


If you are not already a sponsor, become one today!

India Floods: A Family on the Run

Anonymous man

Devendra Singh, Save the Children India

Vijaynagar, India

July 1, 2013

Forced separation of
families has taken place in areas where relief has been scarce.

In the village of
Vijaynagar in the Agastyamuni stretch in Rudraprayag district, along the river
Mandakini, I met with the survivors of the havoc that descended in Uttarakhand.
Many of them are finding their way from the upper reaches of the mountains and
the secluded villages and are making their way to safer areas, where their
day-to-day needs can be taken care of and where they can access the aid that
has not been able to reach them.

India_floods_a_family_on_the_runDhirendra Lal, 42, is
a father who has hitchhiked for about 12 miles from a village called
Chandrapuri with his son and two daughters. His wife has stayed back in the
village with an infant daughter. He was not at home when the disaster struck
since he lives and works in Sonprayag in a hotel. When it became evident that
there was a disaster, he feared the worst and he quickly made his way back to
his village where his family lived as the heavy rains continued to pelt down. A
bridge had been washed away so his trek was longer and more arduous than ever
before. His wife had managed to rescue their four children, as well as their
cow. He is now on his way to Gunou village, which is about 6 miles away to
leave his children with his in-laws who live there.

How has the trauma
affected his family and the children? “The children scream at night,” Lal says. 
I ask Ankita, the elder of the two daughters, how she reacted to the floods. “I
ran and ran,” she replies in a murmur, “and continued running. It felt as if
the water was chasing me forever.” I ask Ankush what he needs most now. “A
home,” he replies, “somewhere where I can be safe from floods and stay with my

Two of Lal’s daughters
are in classes 7th and 5th and his son is in 2nd
class. What about their schooling?  When will they resume their studies?
“I don’t know,” he says. “We have lost everything we had – my priority is to
find a way to rebuild our lives.” It will be many months before his three
children are able to go back to school, he fears.


Two children stand next to their washed-away home. Their family received relief supplies at Rudraprayag. Photo by Save the Children.

Finally, I ask Lal
about the relief that he has received. “Nothing,” he replies. “Nobody has even
come to meet us as yet. We have little to eat and that’s why I am dropping
three of my children at our relative’s house. When I go back home, I will
reconstruct my home. Hopefully there will still be work for me, since now there
are no pilgrims coming to stay in hotels.”

We inform him about a
relief camp that is providing food and other essential items in neighboring
Silli village and he says that he will surely halt there on his way back —
though he does not know how he can carry heavy provisions through the mountains
to where his home was.

The road to his
village will take months to repair but some relief material is now being
carried to such cut-off but relatively close villages on ponies now. The only
fear is that with much of the relief supplies having been hurriedly dumped in
easier to access areas, will relief continue to come, especially when the media
attention dies out in the coming weeks? 

How you can help

Please donate now to the India Floods Children in Crisis Fund to support Save the Children's responses to ongoing and urgent needs as a result of the disaster.