Walking to School

Pilar Cabrera Sponsorship Program Facilitator Cochabamba Bolivia

Pilar Cabrera Barriga, Sponsorship Program Facilitator

Cochabamba, Bolivia

August 27, 2014


Sponsored child Andrés, a charismatic 9-year-old, takes a journey each morning to school with his mom. In meeting him, he said, “I wanted to share my daily walk to school with you.” While this is just a small part of his daily routine, this is an important part of his day!

My mom walks to school with me because the road to my school isn’t very safe. There are many cars that pass by and there aren’t any sidewalks. There are lots of stray dogs, garbage, and crime. My mom is a seamstress and works at home so that she can be near us. The school is about 1 km. away from my house and it takes us 20 to 30 minutes to get there.

I live on a hill and from there I can see part of the city. While I’m walking to school I see the landscape. On this walk I take advantage of talking with my mom about my studies and the support we receive at school from Save the Children. Also walking to school, I talk with my mom about the letters I get from my Save the Children’s friend. I am very happy to read letters from my sponsor who writes to me from so far away and in my replies I tell my sponsor about my school and my family.  Andres and his mom walking to school thru Phalta Orko neighborhood

I like to study all subjects. I got a best student diploma thanks to the Save the Children’s workshops that my teacher took. I think that all children must go to school to learn new things and become good professionals.

I consider myself a lucky boy because I have my parents who support me and I want to take advantage of the opportunity I have to attend a school that has Save the Children’s support. I will continue participating so that I can continue being the best student in my class.

I also want to say thanks to all the sponsors for the support they give us children in Bolivia!

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

A Life Changed: A Community Volunteer’s Story

6a0120a608aa53970c01b7c6d05b65970b-120wiMona Mariano, Sponsorship Manager

Caloocan City, Philippines

August 21, 2014

Small steps are sometimes what take us to great leaps. Coming home to a land already foreign to her, Charity’s family had to return to the Philippines after staying in Sabah, Malaysia since she was little. Charity shied away from others as she was unfamiliar to the language and the people.

6a0120a608aa53970c01a511facc4f970c-320wiAfter two years since her return, there is now no trace of that shy and uncertain woman. One would see a confident and independent person when observing Charity as she reads aloud to her students and she interacts with their parents. Every day, she plays her Save the Children volunteer role and serves as a Literacy Boost and Supervised Neighborhood Session Facilitator in Caloocan City, Philippines. In Literacy Boost, she implements a set of basic education activities adapted according to local context which teaches reading appreciation, letter knowledge, fluency, and comprehension. On the other hand, the Supervised Neighborhood Sessions is a neighborhood-based alternative early learning initiative that provides children with no access to daycare centers with stimulating educational activities and learning materials.

Charity says, “I usually hurry to the sessions right after I take care of my two kids and do my responsibilities at home, it is important for me to be there to teach children reading and learning skills. Being a volunteer is not about benefiting from a program, but it’s about giving back what you have learned. It is about helping people around you.”

She started volunteering to expose herself to the Tagalog language and because she was curious about what Save the Children does. Charity says she no longer views her undertakings as just volunteer work wherein she learns from, but more as an initiative that is very helpful to her neighbors and community. It is a joy for her to see the children grow and learn before her very eyes. Aside from improving her self-esteem, she says serving and being known as a community volunteer is life-changing. Charity says she understands that the financial problems usually discourage parents from sending their children to daycares and she knows she is contributing to ease this problem. She mentions that she will continue doing this for her community until she can.

6a0120a608aa53970c01a511facc6b970c-320wiCharity knows that what she does not only makes a difference in the community, but it changes her family life as well. She has learned how to make her kids love reading better and is now a promoter of positive discipline at home. She says that volunteer work sometimes seems daunting, but she knows it accomplishes so much for those who are involved in it.

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

Volunteering Has Changed Me

Blog El Salvador March 2014 Miguel Portrait

Miguel Rubio, Community Focal Point

San Jose El Naranjo, El Salvador

August 13, 2014


My name is Miguel Rubio. I am 19 years old, and I am a Community Focal Point in my home village in San Jose El Naranjo. My life has changed since Save the Children came to my community. I first decided to become a volunteer to work with Save the Children, because I wanted to help the people in my community. Save the Children trained me on topics such as early childhood care and development, the book rotation strategy, and sponsorship operations.

I currently lead the early development parenting circle in my community. A group of mothers come to the parenting circle to learn how to work with young children so when they get older and start going to school, they can do well. Most of the mothers who come to the circle are my neighbors, friends, and extended family. Most of them have known me since I was a young boy.  Blog El Salvador March 2014 Miguel Supporting Image 1 SHN child brigadiers with children

When I was a School Health and Nutrition child brigadier, I taught classmates how to wash hands properly, and I am very happy to see changes in the lives of children in my school and community because of that. Only 5 of 10 children used to wash their hands after using the latrine. After being in trainings led by the child brigadiers, 9 of 10 children wash their hands now. You can see the good changes! I have been a child brigadier for three years.

When I first started being community volunteer, I did not have the courage to speak in front of a group of people. I was scared to do that. But after receiving training from Save the Children, I feel more and more comfortable talking to people about the topics I have been trained on.

By the time I started high school, I was no longer fearful of presenting before a group of people, because I had done it already with Save the Children. I did so well that all my classmates wanted me to be on their teams! It is very nice to know I can be a role model to other children. My brother, for example, wants to do everything I do. This year he will become a child brigadier with Save the Children as well.

Blog El Salvador March 2014 Miguel in action at ECCD Parent CircleAll of this is possible because of people who care and want to help, and become sponsors. I would like to tell them that they have made a good decision, and that thanks to them, Save the Children runs good programs in remote communities in El Salvador.

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

I Am Determined to Stay Strong for the Children of Gaza


Osama Damo

Senior Communications Manager for Save the Children's Emergency Response Team in Gaza

July 22, 2014


Save the Children works independently and impartially around the world, wherever there is need. The below piece reflects the opinions of the staff member quoted, reflecting his perceptions from living and working on the ground in Gaza. Save the Children is currently working in Gaza and the West Bank. As a global organization, Save the Children is equally concerned about the well-being of children in Israel as those in the West Bank and Gaza, and supports an end to the violence against both peoples.,

My heart sank when the 72 hour ceasefire ended after just 90 minutes last Friday. It plumbed new depths when a missile struck outside another school on Sunday killing at least ten people.

I am determined to stay strong for the children of Gaza, however I admit that hope for the future fades with every bomb and rocket strike.

The long sleepless nights I’ve spent listening to buildings destroyed by missiles and shells have been terrifying, but I am equally worried about the future of Gaza when the fighting stops.

Gaza – where before this conflict 80 percent of the population relied on foreign aid – is in ruin. Every attack pushes its people deeper into a life of poverty and loss.

Israel has been attacked too, but its missile defense system has thwarted nearly every rocket sent its way.

This week marks one month since the first missiles were launched, and more than two weeks since the ground offensive began. The death toll stands at more than 1,800, including over 1,000 civilians and 350 children.

How many more days the fighting will last, nobody knows.

Before the conflict Gaza was stymied by the blockade – its fishing zone had been progressively reduced from 20 miles to three miles over the past 20 years, borders were closed meaning building materials could not enter making construction impossible, and imports and exports have been severely restricted.

Recent air strikes on Gaza’s sole power plant and the water network mean families are facing a complete collapse of essential services, as electricity and water supplies run out.

Health facilities are also badly affected, with some hospitals warning they only have enough fuel to run electricity generators for another four to five days.

This could leave nearly one million children trapped in a war zone without access to electricity, water or medical services.  Gaza_1

Residents are receiving electricity for a maximum of two hours a day, if at all. I haven’t had electricity for five days now. No water supplies are being delivered and sewage pumps are not working, meaning raw sewage is being pumped onto the streets, raising serious concerns about outbreaks of disease in overcrowded shelters.

When the fighting stops work will begin rebuilding a shattered city. But where do you start?

There are still badly damaged buildings awaiting repair from the 2012 military offensive, and homes destroyed during the 2009 conflict that are yet to be rebuilt.

Gaza was still in recovery mode when this round of fighting erupted.

The job for aid agencies will be massive, arguably without compare. For Save the Children it will range from rehabilitating damaged kindergartens and training teachers in psychosocial support for students to helping patch up hospitals, repairing key infrastructure and child protection services.

And all this before attempting to address the poverty that plagued Gaza before the conflict. Creating employment, livelihoods and civil society. Making Gaza sustainable.

None of this will be possible while the blockade stands – ending it must be part of the solution.

For many, however, life in Gaza will never return to normal. Their homes have been destroyed, livelihoods expunged and their friends and family members killed. How do you come back from that?

What I do know is that the international community must strenuously push for a new ceasefire and find a way to get all parties to uphold it.

At the very least the living must have the chance to bury the dead and see what’s left of their homes. Meanwhile aid agencies must be able to safely help the sick and injured as well as get essential services up and running.

After that, we need a lasting peace agreement including an end to the blockade so Gaza can begin to rebuild.

This is the third conflict between Gaza and Israel I have lived through, as I wrote in the Herald Sun last week, and it’s by far the worst. In Gaza there has been too much loss of life, and also on the Israeli side. It must end, it has to end now.

In the past 30 days I have left my apartment five times – twice during the two failed ceasefires to help with aid distributions with Save the Children and three times to get food for my family.

I live in an apartment with my wife and mother, but some nights we had up to 18 people taking shelter including five children.

We sleep in the corridors where the building is strongest and jump at the slightest of sounds. The other day my wife put a bottle of water down loudly and I ducked for cover, thinking it was another air strike.

Another time we heard a loud whistling noise and ran to the corridor, only to realize it was a car with a high-pitched engine going past.

I have feared for my life too many times.

Let the bloodshed and fighting stop on both sides so we can at least begin the task of rebuilding Gaza.

Learn more about Save the Children's life-saving work on the Gaza/Israel conflict.