Program Specialist, Save the Children US
December 28, 2015
To work as a Program Specialist with Save the Children, I moved to Flagstaff, Arizona and since then have enjoyed learning so much about my new town and the communities I live with, work with and travel to see. In my role I am tasked with ensuring our literacy, healthy choices and nutrition programs are operating robustly and engaging the students attending them. In addition to overseeing these programs, I partner with Sponsorship which serves each of the schools we work with. Sponsorship is a primary funding source, and thus a lifeline for sustaining Save the Children’s programs that reach hundreds of children in Arizona.
The communities Save the Children partners with in Arizona are in rural areas, struggle with high poverty and exhibit great academic need for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Four of the six sites I currently support are located on reservations of the Navajo and Apache Nations. It has been a remarkably insightful experience to get to know the communities, schools, staff and students. The unique culture of each nation is pronounced and tended to respectively. These communities and families are very tightly knit, and I’m honored that they have welcomed me in.
There is an undeniable need for Save the Children to partner with these schools and districts. Challenges these communities face include high rates of unemployment, alcoholism and domestic violence. The feeling of extreme rural isolation is palpable, as are the challenges that come with it. Many families, for example, live without running water and electricity. This subject was eatured on NPR in January of 2015. I encourage you to visit www.navajowaterproject.org to learn more!
I have acted as a Sponsorship Liaison as well at some schools, and overseen Sponsorship operations in the process. It is a very intimate experience when sponsors write to their sponsored children. The kids’ eyes literally widen with wonder and curiosity. Letter writing is a meaningful way for these students to learn and interact with the larger world. Often we keep a map handy when we distribute letters, as they are great for sparking curiosity and learning about different parts of the country. Sponsor-to-child correspondence plants the seed for this idea that a friend somewhere far away is thinking about the life of these students’, their families, their school life and general wellbeing.
It really means so much to receive a letter. My only wish is that every single sponsored child is able to share in this unique experience. If you are writing to your sponsored child, your letters are changing a life. If you haven’t had the opportunity to write to your sponsored child yet, I highly recommend it. Your life just might change too.
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