A Letter to My Friend Abroad

Nimma

Nimma Adhikari

Jr. Sponsorship Officer

Nepal-Bhutan

February 23, 2015

 

We see the smiles on their faces as they notice the field staff have letters stacked in their bags. "Your friend has sent you a letter," say our field staff, and the whole community settles in with curious and playful remarks.

Sada_letter

Sada with a letter from his sponsor

While the rest of the world is in transition from paper to digital communication, we take long rides deep inside a village in Kapilvastu to deliver written letters to kids from their friends [sponsors] in lands unknown to them. We meet with a very cheerful boy, Sada, in his parents' small tea shop. This little guy shies away from us at first but then returns, smiling and interactive. We also meet his older sister, Pushpa, and another sponsored child, Ram, Sada's older brother.

The field staff read him his letter and he listens excitedly. After, he happily writes a letter back and then proudly settles in to draw a picture for his friend. While he moves his pencil up and down the paper, his sister, who is helping their mother with the tea business, takes a peek every now and then over her brother's shoulder, clearly interested in being involved as well.

Puspa_brother

Pushpa helping her brother Sada read his sponsorship letter

People come to us to ask about the sponsorship operations often. The general idea that people have is that the program is all about improving the lives of children by providing them with better education and health facilities. But more than that, the correspondence to and from a sponsored child and their sponsor has a way of touching the core of a child that no other means can provide.

When was the last time you wrote to your child? Consider the excitement that letter delivery provides for siblings, families, and the entire community, and write one today!

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

Amid Ebola Decline, Rebuilding Liberia’s Education System

GregDuly

Greg Duly

Country Director

Liberia

February 18, 2015

 

After more than six months of closure, Save the Children has been at the forefront of ensuring that schools across Liberia can safely open for attendance. Save the Children & Unicef led the development of what the Liberian Ministry of Education adopted as national school opening protocols. These protocols map out basic but essential criteria that ensure children and teachers can return to school without the fear of contracting Ebola.

RS92705_IMG_0230

Florence*, 12, Joseph*, 13, and Aliyu*, 13, (L to R) practice writing and reading.

Additionally, Save the Children has taken on responsibility for the delivery of essential materials and training of teachers, principles, and PTA members in how to use the kits at 932 schools, which accounts for more than 20% of Liberian schools.

To date, we have completed training at 532 schools and 783 schools have received the essential materials which include a range of infection prevention and control items such as buckets, chlorine, soap, mops, brooms, thermometers and such.

This is an excellent start to getting children back to school, but we are very mindful of the fact that Ebola has still not been eradicated and that much needs to be done to “get to zero.” Even once Ebola has been eliminated there will be much work to do to help restore health, education and child protection systems that have been decimated by the epidemic.

I’m confident that with the help of organizations like Save the Children, Liberians will be able to eradicate their country from this vicious disease that has wreaked havoc on the country. It’s just a matter of time.

To learn more about our Ebola response, click here.

Welcome Water in a Mozambican Community

Mozambique

Hortencia da Conceicao Raimundo

Sponsorship Coordinator

Mozambique

February 16, 2015

 

It has been long that water has been missing from this community in Mozambique. This was especially difficult for the children at the local primary schools. They were forced to carry their drinking water to school after traveling long distances to retrieve it, often just going without water.

Minoca, a 6th grader at the local primary school, says that the support from Save the Children in creating boreholes, or water wells bored in the ground, eased the suffering of all the children from her school, numbering about 360 students. “We did not have water to drink, wash hands, for cleaning the toilets, or to water the plants at school. We, the girls, used to be late for school as we would walk long distances looking for water for the household. Today everything has changed thanks to the uncles [sponsors] from Save the Children. Our parents take good care of the bore [hole]. They do fix it when it eventually gets broken, and there is a great joy in our community. Nowadays we have plenty of time to deal with our school work as well as for playing. We grow vegetables in our school garden as we have water almost the whole day.” Thank you Save the Children sponsors for your support of our school and our community!

Have you ever had to go a long period without water? Think about what ways having to walk for miles to get water would change your day, and consider how much your sponsorship has helped children like Minoca and her classmates!

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

Fostering Deeper Connections

Mark

Mark Ines

Data Analyst

Manila , Philippines

February 9, 2015

 

Building relationships is what makes sponsorship come alive. As a Data Analyst, my work for Save the Children is mostly a backroom responsibility. But when I get to personally interact with the names I encounter on my computer screen, I grasp the great value that letter exchanges, photo sharing, and especially one-on-one interactions have. It is clear that in building sponsor-child relations, constant communication makes the connection steady and reliable.

Aisali_1

Allen, a visiting sponsor, with Aisali

Just recently, I accompanied several of our team members to guide a visiting sponsor, Allen, when he came to see his sponsored child for the second time. He has been supporting Aisali for two years, a young girl who comes from a poor urban community in Metro Manila, where her family of five shares a small makeshift house with an extended relative. When Allen visited for the first time in 2012, he was greeted rather shyly, as Aisali clutched tightly to her mother’s and best friend’s hands. For this visit however, they greeted each other like old friends. Aisali was comfortable and amiable, walking alongside Allen and sharing stories and laughter with him. Both were very happy, excited, and at ease.

After capping the day with some ice cream, Aisali and her family said their goodbyes to Allen in high spirits. All had fulfilled smiles on their faces and were wishing to meet again in the future. Watching Aisali, I know she enjoyed every single activity that day.

Aisali_siblings

Allen, a visiting sponsor, with Aisali and her siblings

Having had the incredible privilege to spend the day with them, I now have a much deeper understanding of the impact communication has in sponsorship. Even short visits can bring joy and fulfillment to sponsors, children, and their families. The quality moments Aisali and Allen shared strengthened their long distance friendship.

In my 14 years of working with Save the Children, it is these experiences that make my job most rewarding. Every interaction I witness keeps me excited and leaves me with a desire to contribute more. I encourage you to reach out to your sponsored child with letters and photos, and consider making the long journey for a rewarding and joyful visit.

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

Giving Every Child a Fair Chance in Life Is a Defining Challenge For Our Generation

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post
In a rural village in northern Nigeria, a new mother named Laila is doing everything she can to care for her baby daughter, Rabia. But despite Laila’s efforts, Rabia’s future is not solely in her mother’s hands. If Rabia was instead born to a wealthy family in Lagos, for example — the largest city in Nigeria — she would be nearly four times more likely to survive to see her fifth birthday.

 

This is the lottery of birth.

 

All over the world, children’s chances of seeing their fifth birthday depend on where they are born, the wealth of their parents and their ethnic identity — factors that, for them, are purely a matter of chance.

 

New research released today by Save the Children reveals a story of fast but unequal progress in child survival. Despite unprecedented global improvement in the past two decades, more than 75 percent of the 87 developing countries included in the study are seeing inequalities in child survival getting worse. The world’s most disadvantaged children are being left at the back of the line.

 

If current trends continue, children drawing the shortest straw in this lottery of birth will continue to die from preventable causes for generations to come.

 

Giving every child a fair chance in life is a defining challenge for our generation, and it must be tackled head-on.

 

In September, when the UN is tasked with agreeing upon a post-2015 global development framework, leaders will have a critical opportunity to shift the global course of development, helping to ensure children are no longer left behind due to social, economic or geographic reasons. The new framework must aim to finish the job the MDGs started, putting the world on track to end preventable deaths — and by 2030, no post-2015 target should be considered met unless it is met for all social and economic groups.

 

Beyond global and national leaders working to secure a post-2015 framework promoting equity at the core, we also need governments to implement policies and plans to proactively support this framework.

 

Civil societies, international agencies, development and corporate partners, and philanthropists also need to align behind these plans and offer their own contributions to help attain equitable progress.

 

For example, Save the Children’s long-established partnership with Johnson & Johnson has saved countless newborns in Uganda and Malawi through the Helping Babies Breathe program, which has trained birth attendants on neonatal resuscitation for newborns.

 

Amidst this story of unequal progress, however, we have seen a glimmer of hope. Inequality is not rising in all countries. Some leading countries, such as Rwanda, Malawi, Mexico, Nepal and Bangladesh, have reduced child mortality at not only a fast rate, but also an equitable one, where the progress for more excluded groups has been faster than the average national progression.

 

These countries should be the yardsticks by which we measure, because Save the Children‘s research found that pursuing an equitable pathway to reducing child mortality is linked to faster overall progress. The countries that have improved equitably have, on average, progressed 6 percent faster over the course of a decade than those that have not.

 

By investing in disadvantaged children, like Rabia, now, we can change their futures, and ours.

In Helping Baby’s First Teacher, ‘A Path Appears’

The following blog first appeared on The Huffington Post

 

When I first met my daughter, she was 2 and a half months old. She looked perfect in her little crib in a crowded Vietnamese orphanage, but adoption is a process, and seven more months passed before I could take her home.

 

In the meantime, the staff was caring, but with so many little ones to diaper and feed, they didn’t have much time to play with Molly. Instead, they tied a string of beads across her crib. I imagine she passed many hours fiddling with them.

 

Thanks to that improvised toy, Molly’s fine motor skills were pretty good when I could finally bring her home. What she couldn’t do was balance her own head and torso if I sat her up. She simply hadn’t had the practice. And so even with the extra attention my husband and I were able to give her — and hours of on-the-floor tutorials from my older sons — sitting, crawling and walking all came later than they might have.

 

I read Molly books every day, wanting to expose her to her new language of English. Of course, as research has since made very clear, an ongoing stream of communication with our babies is key to their development, even if they’ve been around the same language from day one.

 

I feel so lucky that I was able to give Molly the early support she built upon to become the bright, curious and outgoing seventh-grader she is today.

 

Half The Sky

But I know millions of moms right here in America are having a much tougher time than I did, and they’re not always able to give their kids the books, attention and high-quality early learning experiences that give babies and toddlers a leg up.

 

As a result, the 15 million U.S. children growing up in poverty are typically more than 18 months behind their better-off peers by the time they enter school. Many never catch up.

 

So I’m very thankful that tonight at 10 p.m. the new PBS documentary series A Path Appears is showing that these children are not a lost cause.

 

In the film’s “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty” episode, Save the Children Artist Ambassador Jennifer Garner takes New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to rural West Virginia to see how an innovative home-visiting program is turning the status quo on its head.

 

They meet Save the Children’s local home visitor, Tonya Bonecutter, who brings books, developmental activities and other critical support into the homes of struggling local families. Whenever possible, Tonya starts visiting moms during pregnancy. She also helps moms and other caretakers forge early connections with the school their child will eventually attend.

 

The result are phenomenal.

 

Keep in mind that the children we serve not only live in poverty, they face an average of four additional multiple risk factors — such as teen parents, parents who didn’t finish school and substance abuse. Yet 80 percent of children in our programs score at or above the national average on pre-literacy tests at age 3 and again at age 5. These kids enter school not only ready to learn but ready to excel.

 

Can you imagine living in a country where every child got the strong start they need to reach their full potential?

 

As Kristof says in the film, “It’s so much easier to prevent problems on the front end, then to spend money to try and fix things on the back end.”

 

Check out Jennifer Garner and Kristof in a bonus video here.