Celebrating the Kick Off of Sponsorship in Uganda

Author Portrait_Samuel Tusubira, Sponsorship Manager, Uganda

Samuel Tusubira

Sponsorship Manager

Uganda

December 21, 2015

Kicking off the sponsorship program in Uganda could not go without taking time to celebrate this grand moment, not only for children and their communities but also for the entire staff of the Uganda Country Office. 

Happy children enjoying on the day of enrollment

Happy children enjoying on the day of enrollment

The children and communities in Uganda face many challenges, such as abject poverty, health hazards like malaria and HIV/AIDS, low access to and quality of education, and abuse of their human rights. For them, the start of a sponsorship program is like a new dawn of hope coming alive from a terrible night of wonder. 

Children and their caregivers could not hide their joy on realizing that the long-anticipated sponsorship program had finally kicked off and children were actually being enrolled. The enrollment was initiated after several sensitization meetings with local leaders, community members, teachers, caregivers and children, during which Save the Children staff told about the organization, the sponsorship program and the ways of partnering for the wellbeing of children. The inauguration of the sponsorship program is envisaged as a long term opportunity for joining efforts in addressing issues affecting the welfare of children, with a special focus on better education.

The enrollment exercise included caregivers signing or thumb-printing on the consent forms, staff filling in the biographical information for each child, and the taking of the children’s portrait photos. The day was full of fun and excitement, especially for the kids upon seeing their individual photos in the camera. I observed that the way sponsorship activities are conducted can always be made fun for the children.

It was a worthwhile moment for Save the Children staff to set aside a little time to celebrate the effort and support. Everyone had contributed towards bringing us to that moment in some way, through proposal writing, carrying out feasibility studies, supporting “go” or “no go” decision making as we selected our communities and programming, plus the many other steps involved in the startup process.

A couple of excited girls line up to have their portrait taken for the first time

A couple of excited girls line up to have their portrait taken for the first time

After enrollment, Uganda Country Office staff were able to gather, clad in their amazing red Save the Children t-shirts and caps, to toast to the day’s event, dubbed “Uganda Sponsorship Go-Live”. We all watched as our Country Director Barbara Burroughs pressed the enter button that finally launched the webpage showing children from Uganda being promoted around the world.

The day’s celebration closed with cake cutting and some refreshments, as well as a group photo. The whole staff held up their caps in glee towards kickstarting an 8 to 10 year program aimed at promoting the wellbeing of children through strong, focused and proven programming.

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

Tracy Meets Patrick and His Community

Author Portrait_Agnes Zalila, Sponsorship Manager, Save the Children, Kalulushi Sub Office, Zambia

Agnes Zalila

Sponsorship Manager, Save the Children, Kalulushi Sub-Office

Zambia

December 14, 2015

Today is an extraordinary day not only for Patrick but for all the children in his community and the entire Save the Children team in Zambia. Today his sponsor is visiting him and she is the first sponsor to ever visit since the inception of the sponsorship program in Lufwanyama, Zambia! 

Tracy with Patrick and his classmates

Tracy with Patrick and his classmates

Patrick, age 6, lives in one of the communities where Save the Children has recently opened an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Center. He and other children in his community all benefit together from the sponsorship program. He feels very lucky to have the opportunity to go to the ECCD Center and learn so much. The community never had such learning facilities for children Patrick’s age until Save the Children phased in. 

Patrick’s sponsor Tracy was greeted by the Sponsorship Team and then taken to Nkana, the community where Patrick lives with his family. First, Tracy went to Patrick’s school where a warm gathering including parents, teachers, caregivers and children was expecting her. She was given a big welcome by everybody, most importantly from Patrick who was very shy, but excited. The two seemed to be short of words as they stared at each other and exchanged big smiles.

Tracy then had the opportunity to witness some program activities on health and nutrition, specifically those that address the issues of water and sanitation. Additionally, even though schools were on holiday, Tracy was able to meet with Patrick’s friends and classmates.

Tracy pumping water at one of the pumps

Tracy pumping water at one of the pumps

Tracy greatly appreciated this experience. She plans to share the story of her trip with her students back in New York, so they too can understand more about what life is like for children in Zambia. We encourage more sponsors to visit the communities and programs Save the Children supports. Tracy has pledged to come back and says she will be more prepared next time as she understands the realities better now. The Zambia Country Office team hopes that she will be an ambassador for the country and encourage many other sponsors to take the journey as well. The community also thanked Tracy as one of their generous sponsors and expressed their great appreciation for her support towards improving the education and wellbeing of children in their community.

What is most notable today is that now the community, children, staff, Tracy and Patrick can attach faces to the other end of the sponsor-child communications.

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

Teaching a Trouble Maker to Love Learning

Author Portrait_Vinita Thapa, Junior Officer, Media and Communication

Vinita Thapa

Junior Officer, Media and Communication

Nepal

December 7, 2015

On my first day in Achham, a hilly district in the far west of Nepal, I landed in Santosh's grade 3 classroom. Filled with many colors and drawings displayed along the walls, the classroom looked like an indoor playground decorated with teaching materials, most of which were made by students and teachers.

As I sat down to learn how the teacher ran her classes, I spotted Santosh, sitting and listening to the teacher while also managing to laugh and smile quietly with his classmates. He looked a bit mischievous. However he would raise his hand to answer questions and participate actively in the group learning activities.  

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-01-13/5f941cce659943b1856a951b94a272da.png

Santosh showing off the car he made out of mud and sticks

I spoke to his teacher to know more about him. Santosh had been known as a boy who picked fights with his teachers and friends in school. Due to his lack of interest in his studies he had to repeat grade 2, while all his friends progressed to a higher grade. I became more curious about him.

When I had the chance to ask him some questions, I asked Santosh about his experience in school. He shared that initially, he disliked coming to school because he was having a hard time understanding what was happening in the classroom. When he was unable to complete the lessons being taught, he was often punished.

In Santosh’s school, teaching styles gradually changed after the implementation of the Active Teaching Learning method, which encourages teachers to use locally available learning materials and to allow children to become an active element in the learning process. In an active teaching and learning class like Santosh's, teachers and students are on the same level, discussing, drawing, singing, dancing, taking turns asking questions and answering them, and laughing as they spend time in class. Santosh excitedly told me about the ways he learns in class, using balls, blocks, colorful charts, songs and even natural materials like stones or sticks. He proudly showed me a car he made out of mud and sticks.

Santosh looked happy in the classroom, finally able to understand what his teachers taught. For him, school has become fun because his teacher is now more like a mentor or friend and less like a disciplinarian or authority there to punish him.

Speaking to Santosh took me back to my own school days, when the only way the teacher taught was through textbooks and us repeating whatever was being taught. Being unable to memorize lessons completely had landed me in trouble many times and I too was punished. I remember how much it discouraged me and instilled a sense of fear.

Santosh and his friends in their colorful classroom

Santosh and his friends in their colorful classroom

Spending a day in Santosh's classroom reminded me that things have changed now, even in this remote part of my country. Now classrooms are playgrounds where you learn through play.

As a part of the Basic Education program, Save the Children provides training to teachers and school staff to help them make classrooms more interactive and joyful. We are proud to say that with the help of our dedicated sponsors, the program has now reached sixteen districts in Nepal. Thank you for your support!

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