Humanitarian organization CEOs: Let’s show Syrian refugees the promise of America

This post originally appeared on FoxNews.com, and was written in coordination with Michelle Nunn, Carolyn Woo, Neal Keny-Guyer, Raymond C. Offenheiser, & Richard Stearns. 

 

More than 4 million Syrian refugees, almost half of whom are children, have fled unspeakable violence.   Even with winter advancing, many continue to make the treacherous journey from Turkey to Greece by boat, and many, like Aylan Kurdi, the little boy prostrate on the beach whose image sparked renewed dialogue on the crisis, have perished.

 

The attacks in Beirut and Paris were horrific and a terrifying window into the daily lives of the millions of Syrians that remain inside Syria.

 

The United States has a long, proud history of aiding persecuted people.  Instead of turning Syrian refugees away, we must both assist those who remain in the Middle East and provide safe haven for those who feel compelled to leave.

 

Unfortunately, some of our leaders have proclaimed that desperate Syrians fleeing for their lives are unwelcome in the United States. Public concern is an understandable response to recent events and the security screening process should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is effective and efficient.

 

To be American is to be generous and compassionate. We should not close the door on all Syrian refugees in this, their darkest hour.

 

Terrorist threats to the United States are real and the U.S. government has a responsibility to keep the public safe. It is important though for everyone to remember that refugees themselves are fleeing violence and are subject to the greatest number of security checks of anyone coming to the U.S. The process can take two years or even longer due to required screenings, in-person interviews, investigations, and clearance by a host of government agencies including the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, National Counterterrorism Center and U.S. and international intelligence agencies.

 

As leaders of the largest humanitarian organizations based in the U.S., we are proud to represent the most charitable nation in the world.  To be American is to be generous and compassionate.  We should not close the door on all Syrian refugees in this, their darkest hour.

 

Even as we admit more Syrian refugees, our response must target the root causes of the Syrian exodus. The U.S. has been the most generous donor to humanitarian relief efforts aimed at supporting the Syrian people and neighboring countries.  And yet, more must be done.  The U.S. and other countries influential in the region must redouble their efforts to find a political solution to the war hand in hand with the Syrian people, do more to protect civilians, ensure humanitarian access to those in need inside Syria, and provide urgently needed financial support to Syria’s neighbors who are shouldering the burden of hosting more than 4 million refugees.

 

As the violence of the Syrian conflict spills out beyond its borders now is the time to act with compassion, not fear.

 

Michelle Nunn, President and CEO, CARE USA

Carolyn Woo, President and CEO, Catholic Relief Services

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps

Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.

Carolyn S. Miles is President & Chief Executive Officer for Save the Children.

 

Providing a Future for Millions of Syrian Children

It takes only a few hours on a beach on the Greek island of Lesbos to understand the enormity of the current refugee crisis sweeping Europe and the many dangers that refugees face, including so many mothers and children.

 

On one typically busy day, our Save the Children staff counted 22 small rubber dinghies arriving in just five hours — filled with babies as young as three months old and adults as old as 76. While no Greek official was on shore to meet the refugees, volunteer aid workers, including Save the Children staff, were there to assist and guide them toward registration. The numbers of people arriving in Greece this year is staggering — up from 40,000 last year to 580,000 so far this year. During one five-day period last month, 48,000 new arrivals — or nearly 5,000 a day — came to shore.

 

I recently visited the north shore of Lesbos and talked with a number of refugee families arriving by boat. One woman I met from Syria was traveling with her little girl, little boy, and two brothers. Her husband was left behind in Syria and was hoping to meet them later. We helped guide their boat to the shore and pulled them out of the water, and she said she couldn’t believe they were alive. She was so cold and overcome by emotion, she shook violently. We wrapped her in a space blanket and one of our workers offered her his scarf. Slowly, as we gathered warm clothes for her children, she stopped shaking and even smiled weakly as her daughter showed off her warm jacket.

 

I also visited the two informal camps outside the island’s capital city of Mytilene, where refugees must register to continue their journey to Europe. One camp was originally for Syrians and the second camp for other nationalities, the majority of whom are from Afghanistan. Our staff met several teenagers making the trip by themselves. One boy from Afghanistan was traveling with a small group including four other teenage boys. They were trying to get to Germany, where one of the boys had a brother. No one knows precisely how many children are making this journey alone, but recent estimates put the number in the tens of thousands and is growing rapidly. Recent figures from the Serbian government, for example, show that nearly one in four refugee children arriving in Serbia in recent months have been unaccompanied.

 

While the international community continues to struggle to find a solution to the conflict in Syria, now approaching its fifth year with no end in sight, the sheer numbers of desperate Syrian citizens are staggering. Four million have fled the country and over 7 million have been forced from their homes but remain inside Syria.

 

Almost 3 million Syrian children are not in school, including half of those who have fled to neighboring countries. As Secretary of State John Kerry noted last week, “Imagine what it would mean for America’s future if the entire public school systems of our largest cities — New York, Chicago and Los Angeles — were suddenly to close and stay closed.” Schools, in fact, are among many public institutions that are in shambles. More than 4,000 attacks on schools have taken place in Syria since 2011, according to the U.N. Meanwhile, two of Syria’s neighbors, Lebanon and Jordan, are reaching their breaking point in assisting Syrian refugees.

 

What can we do? Save the Children has joined other major aid agencies in calling on national governments to adopt a bold new deal for refugees. In the short term, we need to provide much more support in the region in terms of food aid, employment, medical care and education so more refugees will not feel compelled to leave the region and reduce the current huge migration to Europe. In addition, we need to eliminate many restrictions that leave refugees living in limbo — in constant fear of arrest, detention and deportation.

 

We also need a special focus on children. Donors need to take additional steps to ensure that children are protected and educated. Otherwise, we face the prospect of helping create a lost generation of Syrian children. Investments now in education and protection for these children can pay enormous dividends once the war ends and rebuilding begins.

syrian children

In recent months, we have seen growing support from individuals and corporations to assist refugees. In early September, the worldwide dissemination of a photo of a little refugee boy drowned on a beach in Turkey helped people see this crisis as a human tragedy that is affecting tens of thousands of innocent children and their families. Our long-time corporate partners, such as Johnson & Johnson, stepped up their support for our humanitarian response for refugee children.

 

With the recent attacks in Paris, we are presented with very hard choices. Our sympathies, of course, are with the hundreds of families around the world who lost a loved one in the barbaric events of November 13.

 

But we can’t turn our backs on the Syrians who are also fleeing death and destruction in their country. By continuing to increase humanitarian support in Syria, in surrounding countries, and for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugee families, we are not only doing the right thing but are also providing a future for millions of Syrian children.

 

This post originally appeared on the Global Motherhood section of The Huffington Post

450,000 Children Out of School in Turkey

Sera

Sera Marshall

Communications Coordinator

Turkey

November 23, 2015

On September 28th, schools across Turkey opened their doors for the start of the academic year.

But nearly 450,000 school-aged Syrian children did not step into a classroom that day. Instead of sitting behind a desk, in a safe learning environment, you see many of those kids in cities across Turkey selling tissues on the roadside, running errands in stores or climbing into dumpsters to collect recyclable materials.

In Hatay, where our field office is located, you might see some in the fields picking the cotton harvest at this time of year.

Every child deprived of an education is at risk of becoming part of a 'lost generation'.

Even in the early days of the crisis that now engulfs Syria, many ordinary Syrians who fled to Turkey for safety recognised the need to address the lack of education facilities for their children. Ordinary men and women took it upon themselves to rent space, volunteer their time to teach, find desks, chairs and whiteboards all in an effort to ensure their children would not grow up illiterate, and instead have a future for their own families. 

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Vahar's* family fled their home in Syria when the town was attacked. She has not been able to go to school since she arrived in Turkey but is currently attending a Child Friendly Space supported by Save the Children where she has the opportunity to keep learning and meet new friends. *Name changed for protection

The Government of Turkey took a courageous step in 2014 and passed legislation that would bring these informally operating schools under the coordination of the Ministry of National Education. Currently 18,122 Syrian children are enrolled in 69 Temporary Education Centres (TECs) across Hatay province alone. The government of Turkey has shown unprecedented levels of generosity and hospitality – spending up to 8 billion dollars – on refugees from Syria and Iraq. Yet, this is only a small fraction of the overall need. Globally, education and child protection are the two sectors that receive the least amount of aid funding. Partners such as UNICEF and international NGOs like Save the Children are working to help bridge that gap.

But it is not as simple as throwing money at the problem. Meaningful understanding of the actual needs of refugee and host communities coupled with projects designed to address these needs are required. To this effect, we carried out a needs assessment of every Temporary Education Centre in Hatay and revealed a thorough yet stark picture of the varying challenges – from transport to textbooks – faced when trying to provide education to Syrian children.

As the crisis has deepened, the needs of refugees has evolved. It is no longer a matter of providing basic humanitarian relief but enabling refugees to live with dignity and, most importantly, hope for a better future.

I have visited several Temporary Education Centres in Hatay as part of our work. At one TEC, a soft spoken head teacher from Aleppo thanked me for the assistance Save the Children in Turkey was providing. This man is so dedicated that he works six days a week, up to 12 hours a day and has gotten into personal debt so that running water and electricity of the TEC would not be cut off. I could not help myself, I listened to his words of gratitude and told him: "No; thank you. "Without you, these children would not have been getting an education for the past three years. I am sorry the international community has been so slow to come to your aid."

"Better late than never," he replied.

To learn more about our response to the Syria crisis, click here.

Tax Reform or Governance Revolution?

Andrew wainer

Andrew Wainer

Director of Policy Research in the Public Policy & Advocacy Department 

Washington, DC

 

“Taxes formalize our obligations to each other…They set the boundaries of what our governments can do. In the modern world, taxation is the social contract.”Aaron Schneider, State Building and Tax Regimes in Central America

Improving taxation in developing countries to enable them fund their own development is now so central to U.S. foreign assistance rhetoric that last month USAID Assistant Administrator Alex Their penned an article subtitled, “Why Taxes Are Better Than Aid.”

This follows the July announcement of the Addis Tax Initiative at the United Nations’ International Conference on Financing for Development where the United States and other donors pledged to double the amount of assistance for taxation in developing nations.

By most accounts, the potential fiscal benefit of increasing taxation – called domestic resource mobilization (DRM) in development parlance – is huge. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund find that in 2012, DRM in emerging and developing nations generated a combined $7.7 trillion.

This dwarfs average annual foreign assistance outlays, which in recent years have averaged about $135 billion.

DRM: A Cornerstone of Governance

USAID cites El Salvador as emblematic of its DRM work. Through its partnership with the Salvadoran Ministry of Finance, USAID states it was able to help El Salvador increase its tax revenue by $660 million per year. Part of this increased revenue was subsequently channeled to health, education, and social services.

Tax reform can increase the amount of money for development, which is important in its own right, but issues of fair and transparent taxation can also generate revolutionary transformations in governance. Nevertheless, the governance component of tax reform and administration is often viewed as a secondary component in discussions of DRM.

Typically, DRM analysis takes a dollars and cents perspective focused on increasing the size of the fiscal pie. As the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) states, “The traditional approach to tax reform was and is technical.”

But we know from our own history about the centrality of taxation to a just social compact between citizens and the state. The American Revolution was fueled by a 1773 Boston tax protest against the British Empire. Taxation was seen as a central component of unjust governance.

And in recent months a tax corruption scandal in Guatemala led to the forced resignation and jailing of a sitting president and the “Guatemalan Spring” – a surge in citizen engagement unseen in the country’s modern history.

Even as U.S. foreign assistance agencies scale-up DRM assistance with a technical emphasis on enlarging government revenues for development, the U.S. is also increasing support for organizations that – though not their original intent – are sparking historical citizen revolutions through their revelations of governmental tax corruption.

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala

The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG by its Spanish-language acronym) was created jointly in 2006 by the United Nations and Guatemala to strengthen the rule of law through, “Investigation of crimes committed by members of illegal security forces and clandestine security structures.”

Since it began its work, CICIG has uncovered a series of government corruption cases that could anchor the plots of several Hollywood thrillers: government assassinations of escaped prisoners and former special forces officers running drug-trafficking rings from jail are two examples of cases that CICIG has investigated.

But it was CICIG’s 2015 revelations of a customs tax corruption network in Guatemala’s tax agency that triggered protests that eventually brought 100,000 Guatemalans into the street in a single day – an event labeled by some as the largest street protest in the country’s history. It also led to the resignation and jailing of a sitting president – also unheard of in recent Guatemalan history.

The outcry over the customs tax scandal was the tip of an iceberg – the result of centuries of economic and political injustice, widespread poverty, and deep inequality exemplified by the county’s dysfunctional tax system. Guatemala has one of the lowest tax revenue rates in the world. Much of the economy is conducted in the (often untaxed) informal sector and entrenched political interests – including parts of the private sector – have resisted tax reform.

Guatemalans don’t believe their government will use their taxes well, so they avoid paying them, resulting in inadequate resources for Guatemala’s education and justice sectors, among other pressing national development needs. The weak tax system symbolizes a dysfunctional political culture.

Tax Reform or a Governance Revolution?

CICIG is now praised by U.S. policymakers and Central American citizens. The State Department recently announced $5 million for CICIG, bringing the U.S. commitment to $36 million over the past seven years. The United States is the largest single contributor to the organization. U.S. rule of law experts also support new and expanded versions of CICIG. The Senate has allocated $2 million for such an institution in neighboring Honduras.

For their part, Hondurans are also clamoring for a CICIG-like organization, but it is being opposed by the Honduran government.

The role of CICIG, its investigations of customs fraud, and the resulting civic awakening raises important questions about how U.S. foreign assistance thinks about DRM – and categorizes – taxation and governance. As the OECD states, “The payment of tax and the structure of the tax system can deeply influence the relationship between government and its citizens.” And as the CICIG case demonstrates, this change can be revolutionary rather than gradual.

As the U.S. embraces tax for development, what approaches will be prioritized? A technical approach conducted through a development finance lens with the ultimate goal of increasing developing nations’ fiscal resources? Or supporting investigative organizations like CICIG? Certainly, the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

But the example of Guatemala indicates that it would be a mistake for USAID and other U.S. foreign assistance agencies to engage tax reform solely through a technical, financing for development lens. Taxation and governance are intimately intertwined.

U.S. foreign assistance on DRM should leverage the governance impacts of tax reform, where appropriate.   As the case of Guatemala demonstrates, taxation is not only an exercise in increasing government revenues, but by revealing and prosecuting governmental tax corruption and other misuse of public monies, tax issues strike at the heart of ossified structures of governance and spark revolutionary changes in the relationship between citizens and governments.  

 

 

 

 

 

Rewriting ‘Haiyan’ Two Years On

April Sumaylo Headshot copy

April Sumaylo

Media Manager

Save the Children in the Philippines

November 10, 2015

I was expecting chaos when we landed in Tacloban the day before Typhoon Haiyan hit the Visayas, but clear skies prevail throughout the day. It was business as usual for the region’s capital city. There was no indication of an impending danger.

As the team traveled through the city to meet with the local disaster councils and officials, I saw people looking out on the quiet sea. “The calm before the storm,” my colleague whispered. It struck me. Are people really ready?

Photo 2 A child walks in the rubble after supertyphoon Yolanda ravaged central Philippines. Photo by April SumayloSave the Children.

A child walks in the rubble after Super-Typhoon Haiyan ravaged central Philippines

Then, dawn came. Until now, many would still ask me, how does an unprecedented category 5 super-typhoon look like?

At 4:30 am of 08 November 2013, the winds grew violent. We woke up early to film what was happening from our windows. Not long after, we finally came face-to-face with the deadliest storm I would probably ever witness in this lifetime. One by one, metal gates of the building opened and windows cracked in seconds. Our roof gave in to the deadly wind and water started gushing in. There was zero visibility everywhere.

As we hid under the sturdy tables, our team feared for small children who must have been so terrified with the growling winds. We were fortunate to be housed in a very strong structure. We were all safe and uninjured, but what about children living in flimsy homes and those who live in unsafe areas by the sea?

Then after 6 long hours, there was silence.

We immediately walked outside to talk to the people. Our worst fears were confirmed: we saw hundreds of bodies piled up by the shore, and children scavenging for food. Everywhere we go, we see miles of destruction. Nothing was spared.

At the famous astrodome in Tacloban City, I met 11-year-old Rafael who was trying to open a can with a rusted knife. Just two days after the typhoon, he built a makeshift home out of scrap to protect his mother and seven siblings. Rafael had just lost his father when he was hit by a collapsed wall in the middle of the typhoon. His voice was trembling when he said he “tasted” the blood of his father whilst trying to save him. He told me it was a miracle that he was alive as he swam his way through to reach the next village. His mother told me that they don’t know where to start.

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11-year-old Rafael lost his father to Typhoon Haiyan

When I finally returned back home in Manila, people saw me as a survivor. However, from my perspective as a mere outsider in a community that was ravaged by the strongest typhoon to hit land, I saw it quite differently. Truth be told, Rafael and million others are the real survivors, as they are the ones who had to suffer with the devastation that I could barely put into words. They remind us of the massive needs on the ground and they drive Save the Children to deliver lifesaving aid quickly to the worst-affected areas.

Two years into the response, serious work has been done, and a lot has changed. Save the Children has reached close to 900,000 people, including half a million children with lifesaving aid and rehabilitation assistance. We have distributed families food and clean water; provided primary health care; repaired schools and health centers; and provided families and children with the much needed shelter and livelihood assistance. Behind the numbers, we see children whose lives have been changed.

But does it all end here?

“Haiyan” was the most powerful typhoon the world has ever seen and we knew that rehabilitation will take time. Save the Children will continue to support some of the most vulnerable children and their families as they get back on the feet. When asked why I started writing my story just now, I tell them that it is difficult to write something that remains unfinished. Needs are still enormous on the ground and we should continue working together write a better version of the aftermath.

“You’ve Been Sponsored!”

Author Portrait_Dilip Biswas, Sponsorship Field Officer

Dilip Biswas

Sponsorship Field Officer

Bangladesh

October 12, 2015

 I love every time I convey the news to the children and their families. As a part of the Save the Children Sponsorship team in Bangladesh, I have visited many villages to greet children with the amazing news of new sponsor assignment. I feed proud to do this job for so many children. 
Nafiz made this for his sponsor

Nafiz made this for his Sponsor

For this trip I started for Govipur village by motorbike to deliver the news to a boy named Nafiz and his family. I reached their village crossing narrow paved roads, heading 4 miles west of the Meherpur District headquarters.

Nafiz was enrolled in our programs, but until then was not yet sponsored. When I stopped my motorbike in front of their house, he came out with a smiling face, his mother also approaching as if expecting some good news. I told them that Nafiz now has a sponsor from Korea who will wait for something from Nafiz! So he can write about his favorite things and draw something to send to his sponsor far away.

Nafiz was delighted and sat down on the bamboo bench in front of their house to draw something for his sponsor right then. He drew the flag of Bangladesh and wrote about his favorite games, best friend in school and how he wants to be a doctor. He happily expressed to me that he thought his Korean friend will like this.

Nafiz and Dilip, Sponsorship Field Officer

Nafiz & Dilip at a Literacy Boost lesson

Nafiz’s mother told me that Nafiz has been benefiting from Save the Children’s programs for two years, since he was in Grade 2. He says he enjoyed Literacy Boost, a reading program we offer, very much. His mother feels proud that the contribution from Nafiz’s sponsor is supporting the implementation of education and health program activities for many children in Nafiz’s school and village.

Nafiz’s enthusiasm for writing something for his sponsor and waiting for a response deepened my feeling that I am working to make children happy and excited each day.

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

Alema the Teacher

Author Portrait_Jamila Barati, ECCD Officer, Maimana City, Faryab Province

Jamila Barati

ECCD Officer

Mainama City, Faryab Province

October 5, 2015

 Twenty-four year old Alema lives in Maimana City of Faryab Province, Afghanistan and is a teacher with Save the Children’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program.

Alema was born into a bright and educated family, with three sisters and four brothers. Her parents’ support and encouragement helped her to graduate from high school and go on to study Computer Science at Faryab University. She is a very creative, friendly and kind teacher and the children like her very much. 

Early Childhood Care and Development teacher training

Alema attends ECCD teacher training

Alema says that she always wanted to be a teacher. She loves children and working with them, and her wishes have come true with the teaching opportunity for her with Save the Children. She attended two rounds of ECCD training and is now running an ECCD Center where 40 children attend in two sessions.

Alema tells us, “Since I always loved teaching younger children I was thinking I knew everything already, but during the ECCD trainings I realized that there were so many things that a teacher or whoever works with children should learn.”

She has been one of the most active teachers and always keeps her ECCD children very engaged, using the different methods and approaches she learned during her training. She also creates her own activities together with the children. Having plentiful artwork and crafts keep her ECCD kids interested and passionate about learning.

Alema and her happy ECCD students

Alema and her happy ECCD students

She has been able to build a very strong relationship with her young students, and is very aware of their individual problems. Once when a girl was absent she learned that her grandfather didn’t allow her to come to the ECCD Center, as it was just newly established. After Alema went to their home to talk to the girl’s grandfather about the program, he not only sent his granddaughter but also began playing a supportive role in raising the community’s awareness of the importance of early childhood education.

Alema thanks sponsors and Save the Children, “I thank Save the Children for providing this opportunity not only for me, but also for the children, as Early Childhood Care and Development was an important part that was missing from the education system.”

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

Child Satisfaction Matters Most

Agnes

Agnes Zalila

Sponsorship Manager

Lufwanyama Communities, Zambia

August 31, 2015

 

When we sit at our tables every day, developing strategies, writing reports, and completing many other management and programming procedures, we rarely realize what matters most in all the things we do. How does the child feel about all we do? What matters most to them? 

Group (1)

A group in the Lufwanyama communities.

This year we had our first Country Office review here in Zambia. The staff on my team were all very anxious, especially since the review team was comprised of very high powered Save the Children officials. Everyone wanted to prove and show that they were doing the right thing and following the guidelines.

On the other hand, I realized children did not really care about what everyone thought but wanted to have fun and enjoy their school and outside sessions as usual.

So it was after two days of meetings that it was time to meet the communities and children we are working with. Our group began the long drive to the Lufwanyama communities, winding and bumping along difficult roads. After hours of driving we met with core group members, teachers, and center care givers. Yet the most fascinating and humbling of the people waiting were the small beautiful faces of children.

After exchanging greetings, the children quickly forgot the strangers in their midst and went back to their usual sessions. They sang songs, danced, and spent time with their teachers.

When parents and teachers were asked about the impact of sponsorship programs, one parent proudly said “My child now teaches us hygiene as she learns from school which she never did before now.” Another proudly spoke about how the parents were working together to ensure that they built a permanent shelter for their children to learn in.

Dancing

Dancing in the Lufwanyama communities.

But what do you think the children said, on what they loved most and what more they wanted? “I like it when the teacher teaches me how to dance and sing”, or, “I like playing with my friends at school”.

While you and I are thinking of big, expensive, visible, and tangible physical development, that is not what matters most for the children we serve. For the child, what we may think is very small matters most to them.

All the way back to the office I could hear everyone talking about their favorite child’s song, or how they all enjoyed dancing with the children, and how we all remembered our own childhood. Even the CEO could not help but sit and be swamped with the many children who wanted to just sit with him. Those are the little things that really matter, to put back the smile on that child’s face. Learning must be fun. Our role is to make it so.

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

The Dream Weavers

Mona

Mona Mariano

Sponsorship Manager

T'bolis Village, Philippines

August 24, 2015

 

In one of the southern parts of the Philippines where Save the Children works, you will find the colorful tribe of the T’bolis. Upon visiting their community, you will notice the assortment of distinctive and colorful clothing against the green backdrop of the hills. The native clothes of the tribe, made of T’nalak, make the brown complexion of the people shine. 

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A group of young girls wearing their T'nalak to school.

The T'nalak cloth comes from the leaves of abaca, dyed and meticulously weaved. The intricate interlacing of bold colors is a recognized community craft. The cloth is revered and can be seen in special ceremonies throughout a person’s life span, such as child births and weddings. 

The typical T'boli textile is history in itself. The unique patterns of the costumes are born from deep-rooted rituals that are passed from generation to generation. The weaving is a tedious job and would take women several months to finish one complete design. The patterns conceived by the weavers are believed to be imparted to them in dreams from their ancestors and from the spirit of the abaca called Fu Dalu. Because of this, the T’nalak makers are also known as the “dream weavers”.

Only women are allowed to lace the T’nalak. Men are forbidden to handle the abaca fiber until the weaving process is complete. There is also a saying that the weaver should not couple with her husband during the weaving time because it may cause the abaca to break or destroy the design sent across a dream. 

Twosome

Two young girls from lake Sebu are encouraged to wear their traditional costumes at lea.

T’boli communities observe the T'nalak festival annually in July, during the foundation anniversary of their province of South Cotabato. During this festivity, colorful street dancing can be seen throughout the cities with performers decked in native costumes of the various tribal groups.

As a people who value rich cultural heritage, T’boli women and men learn to adorn themselves with their native costumes from early childhood. Aside from their wonderful T’nalak outfits, men wear turbans and women are garlanded with hair accessories, combs, and colorful beads. In their very simple lifestyle, these traditional adornments markedly stand out and are a source of community pride.

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

A Recent Graduate Joins Our Mission

Fransheshca

Fransheska Quijada

Staff Member

Panama

August 17, 2015

 

My name is Fransheska Quijada and I grew up in El Salvador, a country located in the middle of Central America. I went to the U.S. in August of 2012 to obtain my Masters in Public Policy at the University of Kentucky (UK). I wanted a graduate program that included field practice because I wanted to prepare myself to become a specialist in the planning, execution, and management of public education and community development initiatives. It was through my Master’s internship program that I had the opportunity to join the Head Start team at Save the Children the following year.

Boys

Christian and Robert enjoying U.S. Programs

Through my internship with Save the Children, I had the chance to work with a dynamic, multidisciplinary, and passionate group of people. At the end of the day their mission is, “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives”. Everyone involved with the U.S. sponsorship team, from the Director in Lexington, KY to the sponsorship liaisons operating in schools nation-wide, is committed to enhancing children’s lives in the present and creating a brighter future for them in the years to come.

Hearing the sponsorship team talk about sponsors with such reverence and appreciation truly helped me understand that it is the sponsors who are indeed the driving force of bringing positive change to the lives of the children we work with. Without them, Save the Children’s reach would not be nearly as vast or impactful as it is today.

Hanging

Christian and Anabella enjoying U.S. Programs

I still recall when Amanda Kohn, Director of U.S. Programs Sponsorship, came to UK and spoke to us about Save the Children’s work. I could feel the passion and commitment that she felt for her job. Amanda spoke about her team, coworkers, their work environment, and the high level of commitment that all of them have. It was in that moment I knew that I wanted to work for such an organization. A few short months later, I was the newest member of their team.

Currently I am living in Panama, another country located in Central America, working to transform communities through educational and health projects. My experience working with the sponsorship team at Save the Children helped me realize that when dynamic, positive, and passionate people get together to change the world, they can do it!

Have you had a similar inspirational moment in your life? Think of a time when you worked with a group of committed individuals who were passionate about the project at hand. We would love to hear some of the ways you have seen dedicated work pay off in your community, home, or work environment. Here at Save the Children sponsorship we believe loving what you do is very important!

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