We’ve all heard it before in one form or another: “Don’t get between a mother and her baby,” “There is nothing better (or worse depending on your position!) than a fired up mom” or “Mothers are their kids’ best advocates. However you phrase it, I see evidence of this everywhere I go for my work as Save the Children’s CEO and, I guess, Mom-in-Chief. It plays out whether I’m in Washington, DC or Lexington, Kentucky or the Bekka Valley of Lebanon. And during my trip last week to rural Nepal, I saw it again in full force.
Former Save the Children – Sponsored Child from 1991-2009
In 2008, when my friends and I were in our senior year in high school, we gathered for one of our bonding moments. We were about to graduate in March of that year, and we talked about our plans for the future. Some planned to go to college, while some did not. A number of us had to stop studying to look for a job. I was one of those who planned to look for a job since my family was not doing well financially. We are eight in the family, including my parents. My father is a family driver and my mother does the house chores and takes good care of us.
My friends and I dreamt of attending well-known universities and declared that would take the entrance exams. I, for one, told myself that someday I would be able to study in De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, the second most expensive college in the Philippines. All of us knew though that our dreams were far from reality and, usually, we just laughed about it.
Imagine my surprise when, by some miracle, I did make it into De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. It was unbelievable! I never expected that this could happen to me! And I owe it to Save the Children.
Five years later, here I am, a proud graduate who completed the course of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration Major in Computer Application. The journey to reach this end was not easy. This course made me cry a lot. It was hard but still, I kept going. I knew the value of education; Save the Children taught me that. This is why I kept on.
Last July 6, 2013 we had our commencement exercises. My parents, relatives and friends were so proud of me and so was I. I am really proud, happy, satisfied and truly thankful for this greatest achievement in my life.
I owe my future to Save the Children, who taught me so much and who kept me on the right track. Now, as I enter the real world, I promise that I will do my very best to build a better future for me and my family. Also, I promise that once I have reached my dreams, I will also help other people so that they can also fulfill their dreams. I will help them just as Save the Children helped me.
I am truly grateful to Save the Children, may your organization continue to help and save the future of each child who is in need of your presence!
Chester Maneno, Sponsorship Field Officer
Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries, ranked 171 out of 187 nations, and 85% of the population lives in rural areas, including Zomba where we implement sponsorship programs. People in these areas have different perceptions about the Western world, which is why I’m sharing ideas on what sponsors can write to their sponsored child.
Many people in rural areas think Western people have a lot of money and everything they need in life, hence they do not struggle as people in this part of the world do to have a successful future.
Sponsors, therefore, should regard themselves as role models to these children and tell them about the advantages of working hard in school. In Zomba, the fact that there is little interest in education among both children and their parents is a big challenge, and the mention of hard work in school from sponsors can be very helpful.
Sponsors should avoid asking children to write about what they would want sponsors to do for them as this poses a challenge for field staff when the child or the parents want a follow-up to what they requested. Statements like “I hope the money I send every month will help you achieve a better life,” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help you,” are culturally sensitive and contradict our program’s community orientation.
It would be better if sponsors concentrated on encouraging the child to go to school and study hard so they can realize their dream of what they want to become. Children should also be encouraged to share information about their culture, their family and their holidays. These topics bring a smile to the child’s face, and they feel connected to the sponsor.