Running for an Hour and a Half Every Weekday to Pursue Education – Part 2

Zerihun Gultie

Zerihun Gultie

Sponsorship Manager, Ethiopia

October 29, 2013

Click here if you missed Part 1

left Honchie Bite excited about the progress there. On the way back to Ginchi town,
we saw a young girl running from the school. My colleague told me that she was
heading to Boda town where the nearest second-cycle primary school is located. We
invited her to go with us to the town. She refused the ride, but was willing to
discuss her situation.  

Ethiopia West Showa Feyise 

name is Feyise. She is 16 and in grade 8. Feyise completed her first cycle of
primary school at the Honchie Bite School and continues her second cycle at
Boda. She runs to school and back every weekday to minimize the risk of harassment.
Sometimes, she says, she joins a group of students to walk to school. Otherwise
she prefers to run. 


parents are aware of the benefit of her continuing her education. However, she
notes that girls face enormous challenges in staying in school. Fear of sexual
assault on the journey to school and back is one of the major challenges she
mentions. Traveling in a group and running whenever she is alone are the two
best alternatives she has discovered to minimize the risk. Even with all the
efforts the local government and community leaders exert, Feyise is uncertain about
existing protective measures. Nonetheless, she is determined to pursue her
studies at any cost. No one can stop her from running! 

Ethiopia West Showa Kumeshie with Students 

the Children has been working closely with the local government to make sure
all girls like Feyise are transitioning from grade 4 to 5. Supporting PTAs and
local governments in upgrading schools so that all the children continue their education
up to grade 8 without having to travel long and dangerous distances has been
one of major strategies used. Save the Children sponsorship resources are
helping to upgrade remote schools like Honchie Bite, one of the three schools
benefiting from the initiative in 2013. With your help, we will be able to
respond to the needs of girls in many more villages in the coming years. 


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

Running for an Hour and a Half Every Weekday to Pursue Education – Part 1

Zerihun Gultie

Zerihun Gultie

Sponsorship Manager, Ethiopia

October 28, 2013

do you stop a girl who runs for an hour and half every day to pursue her
education? How do you tell her you are not someone who intends to hurt a child?
How do you respond to her needs including the right to education and


know why we’re asking that question in the first place, read Part 1 of our new
blog post. Then, stay tuned for the rest of the story, coming soon in Part 2.


Ethiopia West Showa Zerihun and Staff Traveling to Honche Bite School

role as sponsorship manager gives me the chance to travel to rural parts of
Ethiopia like Honchie Bite School where Save the Children has been implementing
its integrated health and education programs. Honchie Bite is located 24 kms
west of Ginchi town – 20 kms on an all-weather gravel road, then 4 kms on a muddy,
dry-weather road. It took almost an hour to get there, but the trip was worth
it. The school is located on a plateau and has a spectacular view in all
directions. Most houses are thatched roofed, though a few are roofed with
corrugated iron sheet. The indigenous trees, green shrubs and mountains
surrounding the area are a source of enjoyment for visitors.


the school compound, a number of local residents, mainly women, were working on
a construction site. The building under construction will create additional
space where students can continue their second-cycle primary education (grades
5-8). A number of men are excavating a trench and women are removing the soil. According
to Guteta, the school principal, women have been highly involved in the new
project because they know the additional classrooms will provide for the needs
of girls.

Ethiopia West Showa  Teacher Kumeshie

probability of girls transitioning from grade 4 to grade 5 has been one of the major
challenges in the area. Girls who attend their first-cycle primary (grades 1-4)
at Honchie Bite have been forced to travel for more than an hour every weekday
to continue their grade 5 education in Boda town. Most boys freely walk to Boda.
Girls face innumerable problems in doing so, mainly sexual harassment.


Cahlachisa, a female teacher I met in the school compound, is delighted about upgrading
the school to a full-cycle primary facility. She was a teacher for the last
three years in a very remote part of the district and recently transferred to
Honchie Bite. Kumeshie lives in Boda town and walks to school and back every day.
She says ‘’the challenges I encounter are nothing compared to what the schoolgirls


new building will change that. Among girls who stopped their education at grade
4 in previous years, 24 have registered to come back and continue their
education next year. Some girls aren’t waiting until next year though – girls
like Feyise, who you’ll meet in Part 2.


Click for Part 2


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

A Race to Save Lives on the Line

Drew, 11, pins a number on his t-shirt and stands beneath the palm trees bordering the track, waiting for his turn. His teammate crosses the line and hands him the baton, and then Drew is off and running as fast as he can.


Drew is one of more than 50,000 kids globally – 12,000 in the United States alone – who are hitting the ground running this month for Save the Children’s World Marathon Challenge(#WMC2013). The World Marathon Challenge is a relay race where kids team up and attempt to run a full marathon distance and to beat the world marathon record of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 23 seconds.


2013-10-22-601by400.jpgFormer NFL running back Vince Workman warming up members of the Wilton High School sports teams for the World Marathon Challenge in Wilton, Conn. on Oct. 14. Photo by Susan Warner for Save the Children.


It is a fun event, and kids can get extremely competitive in trying to beat the world record. But they are also running for a more important reason: to raise awareness for the millions of children whose lives are on the line and funds to help those who save them. Every five seconds, a child dies from preventable causes like dehydration from a bout of diarrhea because proper medicines and trained health workers are not universally available. In the time it will take for children to run a record-breaking marathon, 1,481 children will die needlessly.


If there is a silver lining in all of this, it is that just a generation ago, these figures would have been twice as bad. Through U.S. government leadership and global commitment, the number of deaths to children under five declined to 6.6 million in 2012, from 12.6 million in 1990. When I think of the faces behind these numbers, I look at the kids taking on the challenge this month. They and millions more are alive today because of the historic progress made in reducing child mortality in places like Ethiopia, India and Mozambique.


While this is good news, we need to do better. We continue to lose children to pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria and we know how to prevent those deaths. And then, we need to do more in three areas where we have not yet made sufficient headway: reaching the poorest children with life-saving measures, ensuring all newborns get proper care; and providing children with good nutrition so they stay healthy and strong enough to fight off life-threatening illnesses. With adequate public support and appropriate levels of government

Delivering Smiles


Ahmed Ata

Sponsorship Operations Program Assistant

October 21, 2013

Happiness and
satisfaction are inner feelings that differ from a person to another. But there
is no doubt that the smiling face of a child and the happiness in children’s
eyes give us all this feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Ahmed Ata with children in the field

Even, after 14
years of working with Save the Children, my favorite moment is when I am with a
child who receives a letter from their sponsor for the first time. You can read
so much happiness in the child’s eyes, smiles and unexpected, innocent

Most of the
first letters are brief. However, every single letter from a sponsor to a child
encourages her to discover more and more about herself or about the sponsor. Children
think about answers for the questions raised in their minds.

The majority
of children consider sponsors their new world, new family or magic supporter in
spite of distance, nationality and language. They are always eager to hear from
them, share their news, interests, happiness and challenges. This new relationship
inspires the children to know more about the world around them and motivates
them to dream of a better future – and sometimes to go beyond their dreams.

Children received thier correspondences

A letter may
take a few minutes to write, but it may change a lot in a child’s life. It
gives her self-confidence, hope for a better future and motivation to become a better

I am quite
sure that such a letter doesn’t mean something important only to the child, but
also to the sponsor, because adding a value to a child life brings much happiness
and satisfaction.


your child today.  Visit your
personalized homepage,,
to send your sponsored child an email!

Syria Crisis: In Their Own Words


Katie Seaborne

Save the Children

October 18, 2013

Samira and Mohammed are currently living in a
refugee camp in northern Iraq. Mohammed arrived with
his mother during the massive refugee influx in the days after the border
opened on August 15th. Samira and their son, Ali, joined a month

Samira and Mohammed are very concerned about the upcoming winter months
as they have no warm clothes and their tent is flimsy and not able to protect
them from the elements.

 I spoke with them in their small tent in the camp. They had few belongings – just a few mats on the floor and some blankets. 

Samira: There are three of us who live in this tent- me, my
husband and our son. Our son is only one year old and is still learning to walk. I
come from Syria and I arrived here about a month ago. The situation here is so
difficult – even though there is a war in Syria, we can’t stay here. If the
rain and the cold starts we will have to return. We came with no warm clothes
or anything – we still haven’t received anything to help us. I don’t have any
warm clothes for my son – I worry he will fall sick.


Samira, Mohammed and their son Ali
Photo Credit: Save the Children

Mohammed: The tent is not built to be strong – it won’t
withstand the cold or the storms. If the rain falls, the water will come inside.
There are tears in our tent and the water will drip through.

Samira: Our house in Syria was great – it was very
comfortable. There were four rooms – not like this one-room tent. We did
struggle last winter in Syria – I was pregnant and the my son was born on January 1st – right in the middle of winter.

Mohammed: There was no oil for heating and so I had to chop
up wood from the trees around our house to keep us warm but it wasn’t enough. Our
son often got colds. We know what winter can be like, but last time we had a
nice house. If we stay here, we don’t know how we will cope. If the rains come,
the tent may just collapse. We are already getting cold at night. When I first
arrived in August, we had no tent for a week so we slept outside. It was quite
cold during the night then – it is now much colder than it was then. We do have
a gas heater but only a very little amount of gas left and we can’t afford to
buy anymore.

Samira: We left Syria with nothing – just the clothes we
wear here. We didn’t bring any winter clothes as we arrived during the summer
months and had no time to plan. In the evenings we close up the tent and turn
on the gas heater using the little gas we have left.

Mohammed: The tent is really our biggest problem, it won’t
keep us warm. We know it’s going to get muddy here and our child won’t be able
to play outside anymore. We really haven’t prepared for the winter months as we
have no money to buy anything and we arrived with nothing. We think it’s going
to be colder here than it was in Syria as well, because this is a mountainous
region. We chat to our neighbors about the upcoming winter all the time – we
know we will suffer a lot.

Save the Children will be distributing
winter items to refugees in camp and non-camp settings in the region in the coming
weeks. This will include winter clothes for adults and children, blankets and heaters.  

Click here to donate to support our work for Syria's Children

Syria: Sami’s Story


Cat Carter, Head of Humanitarian Information & Communications

Save the Children UK

October 16, 2013


first met Sami*, 12, in a Save the Children supported school in Lebanon. His
quick smile and easy manner meant he quickly endeared himself to the staff
there, and the visiting Save the Children research team, of which I was


invited us back to his home, to meet his mother and siblings. We checked with
our security team – this area of Lebanon is considered ‘high risk’ due to
frequent clashes and car bombs, so all staff movement is monitored closely. We
received clearance and set off, moving slowly through busy marketplace. We
pulled up to Sami’s home – it’s a small garage.

multiple greetings were completed, we slipped off our shoes and sat on the cold
concrete floor to chat. Slowly, we pieced together Sami’s story.

came from Syria one month ago….”. He paused, and looks intently at the wall,
wondering how to explain what life was like in Syria for him and his siblings.
Finally he shrugged and said simply “the situation was black and difficult.”

mother Amira* steps in to continue the story. Prior to their arrival in
Lebanon, Sami’s family moved around, leaving their urban hometown when the
conflict intensified – at one point snipers were targeting people trying to
fetch food and water – and arrived in a rural village, where they thought they
would be safe. That village subsequently came under attack, and the whole
family were trapped there for a full month, unable to leave and unable to get
supplies in. Food became very scarce. When the shelling and shooting began each
day, most villagers ran to a cave for shelter, but it was far from Sami's*
house, so instead they climbed into a large sewage pipe nearby.

their lowest point the family were surviving on one cucumber and some tomatoes
each. “The worst time was three days at the end when we were surrounded. We
slept hungry – my brother and sisters and I. Shelling was happening at the same
time.  There was no gas, so when we had a little flour my mother tried to
make some bread burning plastic bags and paper for fuel.”

is a bleak picture and Amira* shakes her head sadly. She explains to us that
she is deeply ashamed of their situation in Lebanon, and likened their life in
Syria to the situation facing Somalia in the height of the famine in 2011,
recalling that she watched with pity as Somali mothers were interviewed on
television to raise money for humanitarian aid. She said that she was now in
the same situation.

explained that it wasn’t just money we wanted from the world – we were also
pushing for unfettered humanitarian access into Syria, so that Save the
Children and other aid agencies could deliver life-saving food, water and
medicine to those who needed it the most. Amira just smiled sadly and gently
asked us to stay to eat a little food with them. We played with the children,
taking it in turns to blow up brightly coloured balloons and release them,
desperately trying to catch them, and failing every time. Before long I was
breathless with laughter but when I said goodbye to Sami and Amira, I left
their home with a profound sense of sadness.  Amira simply didn’t believe
it was possible to get humanitarian aid into Syria in any meaningful way. She
didn’t think it was possible, that those trapped in heavy conflict zones inside
Syria were beyond help.

want to prove her wrong.

*all names have been changed to protect identities

Donate to help Syria's Children

Mali – Sponsorship Supports Schools

Picture 2 of blog author

Aboubacar Sogodogo, Basic Education Assistant


October 14, 2013

Thanks to sponsor generosity, our
programs support more than 50,000 children and work with 996 teachers in 264
schools in Sikasso and Yorosso districts. Like elsewhere in the country, lack
of qualification and an insufficient number of teachers are two of the many
issues that plague the education system in these districts. The most apparent
reason for the teacher shortage is the structural adjustment the government
went through in the 1990s when the Ministry of Education had to lay off hordes
of experienced teachers through early retirement and shut down all the teacher
training institutions.

Photo of a teacher in action1The teachers serving in the schools we
support often have different profiles, experience and qualifications. But broadly,
they fall into three categories:

Category 1: Teachers who have a
contract with the government through the Ministry of Education. The government
used to be the biggest teacher employer, but has now reduced its recruitment of
teachers, preferring to leave this responsibility to elected entities or

Category 2: Teachers who are employed
and paid by elected entities. Under the Malian decentralization law,
municipalities are responsible for running and supporting some key social
services such as health and education in their areas.
Photo of a teacher in action2

Category 3: Given the chronic shortage
of teachers and the inability of both government and municipalities to recruit
adequately, some communities hire and pay their own teachers with technical
support from the ministry of education.

Teachers in all three groups are either
certified by official teaching institutes or received crash, pre-service
training before being sent into the education system. Currently, more than 70%
of the teaching force in our sponsorship schools is made up of teachers from
categories 1 and 2. However, for job security, the government remains a
preferred employer for most teachers; it’s viewed as a permanent and regular
salary payer.

Whatever the employer, the ministry of
education remains the government arm responsible for policy guidance and
direction on all education matters. It’s also responsible for what teachers
teach and how they teach it.

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

India: A Peaceful Daybreak after a Night of Chaos in the Eye of the Cyclonic Storm


Devendra Tak

Puri, Odisha, India

October 14, 2013


I heaved a huge sigh of relief this morning (13 October) as
the number of fatalities in the aftermath of Cyclone Phailin remained at a low
number of 14. The low death toll from this disaster proves that preparedness
saves lives, even in the strongest storms. Over 800,000 people were evacuated
prior to the storm’s landfall, some even moved forcibly from their homes into
cyclone shelters that ensured their safety from the strong winds, heavy rain
and storm surge.


Santoshi reaches to the camera at her home destroyed by cyclone Phailin in Odhisa, India. 
Photo Credit: Prasanth Vishwanathan/Save the Children

However, packing winds of over 200km/h, the destruction left
behind by the category five storm will still take months to clear and repair.
Save the Children staff arrived at the disaster area a day before the cyclone
was scheduled to make landfall, on high alert to respond to any humanitarian
needs. Up in one of the tallest buildings in Puri, I had a bird’s eye view of
the destruction – trees uprooted, telephone posts and electrical lines down and
mud houses collapsed the coastline. Late at night, we witnessed the storm
relentlessly roll past across the street, which was visible through our windows
thanks to the hotel lights, which ran on a generator even as the township of
Puri (on the Odisha coastline) had had its power supply completely shut out. In
the distance, I could even see a lighthouse, whose lights went on and off
during the passing over of the cyclone. The screeching and howling sounds of
the wind took over all our senses, with occasional flashes of swathes of water
swirling in the water as they were swept on from the sea by the storm.

As soon as the storm passed us, Save the Children’s team
launched into action. Our team began assessing the needs and damage in the
surrounding areas, along with local partners and government counterparts. A
team of three colleagues headed for Gopalpur, which was where the cyclone had
made its landfall and the maximum damage was expected to be. With the wind and
rains slowing, families too began emerging from the cyclone shelters and
children resumed playing on the streets knowing that almost everyone survived
the storm. There was a huge sense of relief in the expressions of everyone, and
not just me.


Tattamma looks on with her 45 days old son Jagannath outside her home which was completly destroyed by cyclone Phailin. 
Photo Credit: Prasanth Vishwanathan/Save the Children

From initial assessments and reports, communications lines
and power remain down in the worst-affected areas, with roads blocked by fallen
trees and damage to more than 200,000 homes. Large swathes of farm land have
also been affected, destroying much of the crops. This could have a huge impact
of communities, who depend largely on agriculture for survival.

In the coming days, along with other NGO partners we will
identify the needs that have arisen from the worst-affected children to regain
normalcy in their lives. We know that in a situation like this, we need to
ensure that children feel safe with a roof over their heads, a blanket to keep
them warm, hot food and clothes. Having gone through a big storm like this,
they could be afraid of heavy rain or strong winds that are predicted to
continue over the next few days. Working closely with the local government and
other aid agencies, Save the Children will ensure that children caught up in
the disaster are protected, with food, water, shelter and a safe space to play.

Kudos once again to the government, the media, the NGOs and
the people at large, who have acted as one to ensure that countless human lives
have been saved from the wrath of this cyclone.



 Donate to help the children affected by Cyclone Phailin

“They know that word. They know cold”


Simine Alam, Regional Information and Communication Manager

Syria Response

October 8, 2013

“My brothers are getting cold, too. My two youngest brothers

say many words yet, but now when they get cold, they say that
word:“cold”. They know that word. They know cold.” – Rami*,
11 years old, a Syrian refugee living in Za’atari Refugee Camp, Jordan


The approximately 120,000 Syrian refugees who live in Za’atari Refugee Camp in North Jordan are going to face extremely tough weather conditions this year. PHOTO: Simine Alam/ Save the Children


roll up the window to prevent the cold air from coming into the car, as I drive
back from Za’atari Refugee Camp in Northern Jordan to Amman with my colleagues
from Save the Children, who work in the camp every day to provide essential
services for children and their families. As the nutrition counselors exchange
stories about their day with the school counselors, I reflect on the fact that
it’s getting colder every day in Jordan, and this winter has been predicted to
be the most harsh winter in the region, since 100 years ago. This means that the
weather conditions are going to feel even more harsh for the millions of
displaced Syrians in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Syria. This
winter, more than 4 million Syrian children who have been forced to leave their
homes due to the dangers caused by war, are going to be freezing cold.


I tell people I live in the Middle East, often the first reaction is ‘it must
be so hot there!’ A lot of people associate the desert with intense dry heat
and so it is hard to comprehend that Za’atari, a sprawling tented city in the
desert, home to approximately 120,000 Syrian refugees, is going to face
freezing weather conditions and torrential rainfall this winter. Last winter
Za’atari flooded, and we saw images in the media of Syrian refugees bailing
water and mud out of tents with plates, bowls and brooms. Around 500 tents were
destroyed due to being flooded or blown away with the wind.  


year the camp has doubled in size. The first thing that strikes you as you
enter Za’atari is the number of children. Children make up more than half of
the camp’s population. In spite of the great efforts various organizations,
including Save the Children, have gone to, to ensure that the children in
Za’atari are enrolled in one of the three schools in the camp or participating
in the activities provided by youth centres, you still see children running
around barefoot, pushing wheelbarrows, playing in the rocky outcrops and sand
in the camp. I wonder if the barefoot children I saw running around today, will
have shoes this winter to keep their little feet warm. Or if the tents I see,
already flapping around in the wind now will be strong enough to protect families
from the heavy rain and wind which are on their way.



One of the things that really strikes you as soon as you enter Za’atari Refugee Camp is the number of children. At least half of the 120,000 Syrian refugees there are children. PHOTO: Simine Alam/ Save the Children


can’t bear the thought of going to sleep cold, and waking up cold and being
cold day after day after day. But then I don’t live in a tent or an unfinished
building, exposed to bitter wind, rainfall and even snow, and so I know I have
to keep things in perspective this winter. Save the Children is going to great
efforts for ‘winterisation’ this season – that is, ensuring that Syrian
refugees and displaced people in the region are well equipped to deal with the
freezing weather conditions in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Based on
our experience in distributing items last winter, we have carefully designed a
set of winter items for families, including both children and adults’ clothing,
blankets and rugs. We are also distributing household kits which include
materials for families to improve their shelters. In Syria we are targeting
newly displaced families with our distribution of materials, as these are the
most vulnerable families. It is essential to get these items out as soon as
possible. As every day passes, it’s getting colder and colder.


are some examples of how a small amount can go a very long way:

  • USD
    11 could buy a pair of shoes to protect someone from the bitter winter
  • USD
    13 provides a warm blanket for a child
  • USD
    14 could buy an insulated jacket to protect someone from the bitter winter 
  • USD
    52 will cover the cost of a school bag and a set of winter clothes to protect a
    child from the cold, including track suits, a winter jacket, gloves, a scarf, a
    winter hat, a pair of shoes and a set of underwear.
  • USD
    100 could buy a set of winter clothes, including jackets, winter hats, socks
    and footwear for a refugee family of 5
  • USD
    160 will provide a ‘quick-fix kit to a family of 4 in Lebanon, enabling them to
    weatherproof their self-built shelters. This includes plastic sheeting,
    transparent sheets, wood and galvanized nails.
  •  USD 250 could buy a winter kit for a family of
    five, including warm winter coats, scarves, hats and warm boots for adults,
    insulation for tents and house floors, plastic sheeting to protect shelter from
    the Winter elements and rope.
  • USD
    300 will cover the cost of running a household of 4 people throughout the
    winter period, including heating, fuel, winter clothes and winter boots for the


Read Save the Children's report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria's Children



* Name has been changed to
protect the identity of the child 

Infant and Young Child Feeding Program in Za’atari Refugee Camp

Save the Children’s Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Program has been running in Za’atari Refugee Camp, home to over 130,000 Syrian refugees in north Jordan, since December 2012. The program provides assistance to children under the age of five, in addition to pregnant and lactating women. 

Breastfeeding in an emergency is the safest way to protect children from an increased risk of infection and from becoming malnourished. With the right support and assistance, mothers can continue to breastfeed fully, even when malnourished, in order to give their children the best chance of survival.  In an emergency setting, access to hygienic facilities to sterilize bottles and prepare infant formula, appropriate and timely health services, safe storage of water and privacy to breastfeed can be limited, impacting on the nutritional status of infants if an intervention is not provided.

The IYCF Program has set up 3 caravans in the camp, which provide a safe and private place for mothers to breastfeed their children. Women who come to the caravan are provided with biscuits and water, and both mothers and fathers are given awareness-raising sessions on breastfeeding by Save the Children’s specialists. 

SCJordan_HalimaZada  is a 25-year-old mother to four children. She arrived at Za’atari Camp three months ago, where she lives in a small caravan with her four children. When she arrived at Za’atari, her youngest daughter, Alaa, was five months old. Zada breastfed her for the first month and a half of her life, but she then switched to infant formula because she felt too stressed out by the dangerous situation in her home town in Syria. 

“When Save the Children Jordan’s counsellor first visited my family, my baby was 5 months old, and I was very frustrated and easily irritated. The counsellor explained the benefits of breast milk and the dangers of infant formula preparation, particularly in the environment at the camp. We also talked about the possibility of relactation, and I agreed to try it by putting Alaa on my breast whenever possible, especially at night. I was taught the correct positioning and attachment pattern, I started drinking more fluids and agreed to start using the cup instead of the bottle, due to inaccessibility to clean water and hygiene conditions, until my milk flow returned.

One week later, the counsellor and I started decreasing the amount of infant formula I was giving to Alaa, whilst monitoring her weight and urination. Within a month my baby was fully satisfied from breast milk. I feel so much better now that I am breast feeding, and I know that this is a bit accomplishment for me and the best thing I can offer my child under the circumstances.”


Read Save the Children's report Hunger in a War Zone

Donate to help Syria's Children