International Development and Humanitarian Aid: A Rare Point of Agreement Between Republicans and Democrats

Refugees in a child-safe space in Greece, run by Save the Children
Refugees in a child-safe space in Greece, run by Save the Children

For the past two weeks, Americans have watched the Republican and Democratic National Conventions with excitement and anticipation as party leaders presented starkly different visions of what the country’s next four years could look like.

The parties also adopted their official platforms, laying out their policy positions – both domestic and foreign. Save the Children has been engaged at the gatherings in both Cleveland and Philadelphia to advocate for policies in the United States and abroad that protect children and help them survive and thrive. As a child-centered development organization active in 120 countries, we are particularly interested in the two parties’ positions on international humanitarian and development assistance.

Happily – and in contrast to wide divides on other issues – the platforms indicate that both Democrats and Republicans view international development and humanitarian assistance as integral to U.S. security and as embodying U.S. ideals. According to the Republican Platform, foreign aid, “Advanc[es] America’s security and economic interests by preventing conflict, building stability.” The Democratic Platform uses similar language, stating that development assistance can, “Prevent threats, enhance stability, and reduce the need for military force.”

But there are differences between the two platforms. While both focus on making aid more effective, the Republican position on international assistance emphasizes encouraging increased private sector involvement to drive economic growth, promote country ownership, and sustainably combat poverty. For its part, the Democratic Platform emphasizes further incorporating local organizations, marginalized populations, and women in development to promote country ownership.

Due in part to recent sustained, bipartisan support for international development, extreme poverty has been halved in the past 25 years, with 50 million more children in school and 14,000 more children surviving each day. This past Congress provides examples of bipartisan cooperation on development assistance including:

But there is more work to be done. Save the Children continues to advocate to sustain efforts to help the world’s most vulnerable children, both in the United States and abroad. A key part of this effort is Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign launched this year to reach children marginalized due to their gender, disability, geographic isolation, ethnicity, or their status as refugees or immigrants.

Many children have been left out of global progress due to a combination of poverty and discrimination, whether it be intentional or unintentional. To reach these children, the Every Last Child campaign focuses on three pillars:

  • Fair financing
  • Equitable treatment, and
  • Accountability

 The winner of the election will have a profound impact on shaping how America engages with the world. Save the Children believes that with an inclusive approach to international development assistance and a continued investment in responding to humanitarian crises, we could be generation that ends extreme poverty and preventable child and maternal deaths. The opportunity is there to be seized.

In order to reach the Every Last Child campaign’s goal of inclusion, more needs to be done by both sides of the aisle – and recent history proves it’s possible. Regardless of who sits in the White House, Save the Children will be knocking on their door to ensure that every last child, no matter where they live, has the chance to survive and thrive.

LindseyMattila

This post was written by Lindsey Mattila and Sarah Hogoboom.  Lindsey is a Global Health and Food Security Policy Intern working with the Public Policy and Advocacy Department this summer. She is from Portland, Oregon and will be a senior this fall at Claremont McKenna College where she is studying Government. Sarah Hogoboom is the Summer Global Development and Advocacy Intern with our Public Policy and Advocacy Department. A rising senior at Hamilton College, Sarah studies World Politics and works at the Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center on campus.

The Story of a Young Volunteer

Author Portrait_Hamida Khalilyar, ECCD Assistant, Faryab ProvinceHamida Khalilyar

Early Childhood Care and Development Assistant

Save the Children in Afghanistan

July 28, 2016

Sponsorship started their programs here in Afghanistan in 2008. Thanks to that, in the rural area of Qaisar district in Faryab province, an Early Childhood Care and Development (or ECCD) group now meets twice a week. These children, between the ages of 4 and 6, develop their physical, cognitive, socio-emotional and language skills through games, songs, storytelling, reading and group interaction, with the help of volunteer facilitators from their community trained by Save the Children.

Nazdana collecting water outside her home
Nazdana collecting water outside her home

One of these volunteer facilitators is 12 year old Nazdana, a very friendly girl who loves to play with the children and graduated from the ECCD program herself when she was younger. She is talented and active in her studies, currently enjoying grade 7. Her teachers like her because she is intelligent and behaves positively with her classmates, skills she gained from her own years in ECCD.

Nazdana tells us, “I am very lucky that I attended the ECCD group as a child and learned many things, which helped me to be an active student. I hope that I will achieve my goal to be an active teacher.” She continued, “As a child I was a very shy girl and never asked questions, but after I joined ECCD, I was motivated… I became an active child even on [my] off-days.”

She lives with her farther, a farmer, her mother and 4 siblings, two of whom, her youngest sisters, currently attend the ECCD group. In this community, many children are busy with house chores and helping to support their families, drawing them away from their studies. Nazdana also works around the house, such as by feeding the animals or fetching water, but makes sure to make time for her studies and her volunteer work with the ECCD program too.

Her mother also participates in the community ECCD programs, through the Parenting Skills Education group, which helps parents and caregivers learn important child-rearing skills. The group of parents is facilitated and supported by Sponsorship as well. Participants are usually parents of the children attending the ECCD groups, and learn how to create similar, child-friendly environments at home.

Nazdana, her mother and younger siblings
Nazdana, her mother and younger siblings

Nazdana’s mother told us, “I am not educated but I wish my children to be educated, thus I am very happy and grateful to Save the Children for their efforts, and their useful programs for the development of our children.” She added, “I wish [that] Save the Children can continue, where people are marginalized and in desperate need for these important programs.”

Nazdana and her family are a testament to the long-term successes of our Early Childhood Care and Development programs. In partnership with community members, our ECCD programming equips parents and caregivers with the skills and knowledge to support their children’s early learning. Through interactive activities like songs and games, and the help of happy volunteers like Nazdana, children develop a love of learning and are far better prepared to succeed in primary school.

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

Bourama Rises to the Occasion

Bourama at work in the clinic
Bourama at work in the clinic

Located in north-western Africa, Mali is a land-locked country where families and their children often suffer in the face of inadequate social services. In particular, children often experience difficulty accessing basic healthcare and quality education. Sponsorship has been operating in Mali for almost three decades helping to lift children out of extreme poverty. Bourama was one such child, born in the Ivory Coast 22 years ago. In 2000, he and his family moved to Mali.

 

Living as a young boy in Mali, Bourama faced many of these same challenges before entering the Sponsorship program. Given his family’s limited resources, he had been unable to purchase school supplies which caused him to regularly miss class. “I wasn’t interested in education. But that changed thanks to Sponsorship,” he shared. Without Sponsorship, it’s unlikely that Bourama would be where he is today – providing life-changing medical care to his local community.

The picture of his sponsor, kept close all these years
The picture of his sponsor, kept close all these years

Bourama was sponsored through Save the Children from 2001 to 2008. He remembers his sponsor’s name, the correspondence they sent back and forth, and the good advice she gave him. He still has a picture of her which he proudly shows visitors.

Picture of Bourama in 2006
Picture of Bourama in 2006

During that time he also benefited from extensive sponsorship-funded activities, such as access to clean drinking water and essential deworming and vitamin A supplements. This crucial support enabled Bourama to stay in good health and to complete his education, which then opened the door to new and exciting possibilities.

22-year-old Bourama today

 

For the past three years, Bourama has worked as a nurse’s aide in a private health clinic where he manages the treatment room. He loves his job and says it allows him to stay in contact with people and help them to relieve their suffering. He also aims to pursue higher education in hopes of moving on to a more specialized role within the medical business.

 

 

Still, Bourama always looks back in appreciation of his Sponsorship experience. As Bourama revealed, “I am what and who I am today in large measure because of Sponsorship programs.”

 

Sometimes, support from a caring sponsor can make all the difference in the world – something to keep in mind in your next letter!

 

To sponsor a child like Bourama, please visit our child sponsorship site

The Terrors of Child Trafficking

Fear of child trafficking causes a nearly constant undercurrent of terror in Bolivia’s parents.

Sylvia* Sylvia grew up under the hazy red lights of a brothel run by her stepfather. Her 2 ½ month old baby boy was conceived when she was raped. Her baby boy smelled of innocence, even though she was robbed of her own. Her mother and father were very violent alcoholics and they moved around a lot. Her father would abuse her and her brother, threatening them with beatings for even minor misbehavior such as not finishing their supper. She lived in constant fear, particularly for her brother who took the brunt of the abuse. After a while her parents separated. Things seemed a little better for a while after her step-father came into the picture. At least the beatings had stopped. Then the more insidious abuse began. Sylvia couldn’t remember exactly how old she was when it started. In a life that revolved around running a brothel, sexual lines blurred and were very confusing for a little girl. She dropped out of school at nine years old. She was forced to work. She did not want to talk about it. “If kids didn’t get work, they didn’t get food,” Sylvia said. Eventually, the law caught up with Sylvia’s family and they were convicted of trafficking. Sylvia was then referred to the safe house. Sylvia showed me her bright sunny room, girlish and pretty like she is – like any other teenager’s room except for the bassinet. She and the other girls were so proud of their rooms and baby clothes. “I sleep well here, I feel safe” she says with a wide smile. Sylvia now goes to night school to finish her studies. She dreams of becoming a hairdresser. She wanted to say “thank you to the people who support our safe place. Life is much better here. I want to make my son happy and give him what I never had.” Save the Children supported girls recovering from the emotional trauma of trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels and support abused teen moms, we ran a self-esteem workshops and provide psycho-social support to help girls overcome years of violence or sexual abuse. We also taught teen mothers first aid, child care and other essential skills so that they can take care of their own children. With training, the girls can earn become qualified to professional child care providers in private homes or quality preschool settings. Other girls pursue the Bolivian-equivalent of a GED or attend vocational schooling to learn baking or hair-dressing school. Under supervision of the safe house staff, girls practice child care skills and take care of the other girls’ babies while they are in training or school. It is a very cooperative and supportive environment. The girls all nurse their babies and like to eat nutritious food. They all look healthy and clean.
Trafficked child Sylvia* and her son
by Penelope Crump, Save the Children US

On my recent visit to Bolivia to gather stories of our work there, I talked with lots of parents. I spoke to subsistence farmers working in the lowlands to provide for their families. I talked to street merchants in the desolate high plains. I even listened to the ladies at a trendy coffee shop who reminded me of my mom friends back home. They all had one thing in common – they were terrified that their children would be kidnapped and trafficked.

Bolivia’s parents told terrifying stories about babies snatched and sold for illegal international adoptions. About children taken and traded for drugs or forced to labor in the silver mines or picking cocoa leaves. About girls, especially vulnerable, sold into brothels. Country girls who are lured into big cities with the promise of a job in a shop or as a nanny, only to be forced to work as prostitutes. With guards standing at the door, these girls are raped, abused and drugged. They’re forced to sell their young bodies for less than $2 a client, and after paying brother owners, they barely survive day-to-day.

In Bolivia, my Save the Children colleagues help girls recover from the terrors of trafficking. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels, we run programs at safe houses and community centers to help these girls rebuild their lives. For those who are pregnant or have babies, we teach first aid, child care and other essential skills, so they can take care of their own children and qualify to work as nannies or daycare providers. We empower girls to imagine a future for themselves and their children far from the red light districts. But we need to reach more of them. We need to ensure Bolivia’s parents no longer have to fear the terrors of child trafficking.

As dusk began to fall on our way to the airport on my last day in Bolivia, I could still see the red lights glowing in the rearview mirror.

 

You Can’t See Her Face, But You Can Imagine Her Future

From the terrors and trauma of the red light district to a safe place where Sylvia can dream of a better future.

Sylvia* grew up under the hazy, red lights of a brothel, run by her stepfather. Still a child herself, she has a 2-month-old baby boy, conceived when she was raped. Her baby smells of sweet innocence, even though she was robbed of her own.

Sylvia’s early childhood was scary and unstable. Her mother and father were alcoholics, physically abusive, and the family moved around a lot. Her father would threaten to beat Sylvia and her brother for even minor misbehavior, such as not finishing their supper. She lived in constant fear, particularly for her brother, who took the brunt of the abuse. Then, her parents separated.

Things seemed a little better for Sylvia after her stepfather came into the picture. At least the beatings stopped. But then a much more insidious abuse began. Sylvia can’t remember exactly how old she was when it started. But in a life that revolved around running a brothel, sexual lines became blurred, which was very confusing for a little girl like Sylvia. At age 9, she was forced to drop out of school and work in the brothel. She didn’t want to talk about it, except to say, “If kids didn’t get work, they didn’t get food.”

Eventually, the law caught up with Sylvia’s family, and they were convicted of trafficking. That’s when she was referred to a safe house where Save the Children runs programs for girls like Sylvia.

Save the Children supported girls recovering from the emotional trauma of trafficking, abuse and exploitation. In collaboration with our partners who rescue girls from brothels and support abused teen moms, we ran a self-esteem workshops and provide psycho-social support to help girls overcome years of violence or sexual abuse. We also taught teen mothers first aid, child care and other essential skills so that they can take care of their own children. With training, the girls can earn become qualified to professional child care providers in private homes or quality preschool settings. Other girls pursue the Bolivian-equivalent of a GED or attend vocational schooling to learn baking or hair-dressing school. Under supervision of the safe house staff, girls practice child care skills and take care of the other girls’ babies while they are in training or school. It is a very cooperative and supportive environment. The girls all nurse their babies and like to eat nutritious food. They all look healthy and clean. As seen in the photo, the girls’ rooms are bright and clean, creating a safe positive environment for them and their babies.
The room at the Save the Children safe house that Sylvia shares with her son.

When I visited Save the Children’s safe house, Sylvia proudly showed me her bright, sunny room, girlish and pretty like she is. It’s a typical teenager’s room – except for the bassinet. Finally, thanks to Save the Children’s supporters, Sylvia has a caring, secure place to call home. “I sleep well here, I feel safe,” she says with a wide smile. Now Sylvia can dream of a better future.

 To learn how you can help children like Sylvia, visit our website.
*Name changed for child’s protection.

“We vaccinated children in sandstorms”: How Our Emergency Team Saves Lives

by Dr Nicholas Alusa

Save the children car in Kenya.

Our Emergency Health Unit in Kenya, working on cholera prevention.

Measles is a highly contagious, horrific disease. If left untreated, in a worst case scenario, it can lead to death.

There’s no specific treatment for measles: all that medics can do is isolate the sufferer, give them vitamin A, and hope for the best.

In high-income countries most people infected with the disease recover in a couple of weeks, very few die. But in developing countries it kills up to one in five.

A safe and cost-effective vaccine does exist.  But families in remote areas, in countries with weak health systems, struggle to access it.

An emergency unfolds

Mayom County, in rural northern South Sudan, is one such place. A remote population in a country whose infrastructure has been crippled by civil war, no children have received routine vaccinations here for over two years. In January a few suspected cases of measles appeared, scattered around the main town. By the end of February, the county was in the grip of a fully-blown outbreak.

Nearly three quarters of the cases were children. If someone didn’t act fast, a tragedy of enormous scale was on the horizon: tens of thousands of children were at risk.

Previously in situations like this, we would have to spend time pulling together teams of specialists and supplies – a delay that costs lives. But last year we revolutionized the way we get medical care to children in emergencies, when we launched the Emergency Health Unit.

The unit is made up of fully-formed, world-class teams of medics on standby all over the world, ready to deploy within hours – complete with equipment, supplies, and logistics experts like me with the skills to get everything where it’s needed quickly.

When you have pre-positioned supplies you don’t have to spend time initiating the supply chain process, raising a procurement form, searching for funds, finding suppliers who can take months…while children in emergencies wait. That’s why these kits are so important.

Transforming emergency care

As soon as we heard about the measles outbreak in South Sudan, my team was mobilized. Within two weeks of the outbreak being announced, we were on the ground vaccinating children in 18 clinics and 24 mobile outreach centers.

Tracking the population in South Sudan is difficult, especially since the outbreak of conflict and the huge movement of people it has caused. A rough estimate told us we could expect to vaccinate around 26,000 children. Three weeks later, we had vaccinated 44,447.

We linked up with local staff and infrastructure and worked with the community to raise awareness on our behalf and tell people we were here. Word spread quickly, and after receiving 60 children on the first day, numbers rapidly swelled to up to 400 daily. Reaching out to the community in this way is so important to our work in emergencies – we would never have reached as many children as we did without their help.

South Sudan sandstorm

The Emergency Health Unit team continued to treat children through sandstorms.

A medal of honor

The infrastructure in Mayom is poor – it’s difficult to reach this part of South Sudan, and many NGOs are reluctant to attempt healthcare here. We relied on an array of transport, including motorbikes and canoes, to reach the most remote communities. We travelled across rough, rugged terrain and collapsed bridges, and vaccinated children in the middle of sandstorms.

We hurried, carrying life-saving vaccines that melted at three times the normal speed in Mayom’s 40-degree heat in precious cool-boxes . All while wearing what my colleague Nathalie calls the ‘Mayom suit’: head-to-toe dust.

In one rural cattle ranch our team leader, Koki, was heavily spat on by an elderly man on our arrival. “Hey, what’s this?” Koki said at the time, wiping the slimy liquid from his forehead. It turned out this was a sign of appreciation from the old man, who in his lifetime had never seen any NGO reach his remote community. ‘’Being spat on by an old man signifies immense blessings bestowed upon Save the Children!’’ a local health official told us.

And this salivary medal of honor feels truly earned. It was an incredible achievement: in this most inhospitable of environments, we did whatever it took to protect the vulnerable children in this isolated part of the world. Our new system works: in just three weeks, 44,447 children were permanently saved from a potentially deadly fate. A catastrophe was averted.

Now – what’s next?

 

Nicholas Alusa Dr Nicholas Alusa is an experienced pharmacist and medical logistics expert working as part of our new Emergency Health Unit, a major change in our work. The Unit consists of immediately deployable teams containing the ideal combination of medical and operational specialists, strategically positioned in emergency hotspots around the world and fully equipped with the best tools for the job. We can deploy these teams in a matter of hours, putting them at a child’s side, giving them the treatment they need in those critical early stages of an emergency.

The Lost Days of Summer

Lost Days of Summer

Who doesn’t love summer? For millions of kids around the country, it’s a time to have fun and experience new adventures on family vacations, at camp or through locally-organized summer activities. But these experiences are often out of reach for the more than 15 million U.S. children growing up in poverty. Especially those in isolated rural communities such as the small town where Alayshia, 8, lives in Orangeburg County, South Carolina.

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As a result, children from low-income families typically fall two to three months behind in math and reading each summer. Meanwhile, more privileged children keep advancing during those same summer months. Summer learning loss is the biggest reason why children from disadvantaged backgrounds are often three years behind their peers by the time they reach fifth grade¹. Where Alayshia and her brother live, there are no summer programs for them to attend.

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There aren’t many places for them to go either. Sometimes, Alayshia, 8, walks to a nearby friend’s house or her uncle’s. The closest library is tiny and only opens for a few hours on certain days of the week. There is no swimming pool, rec center, or summer camp within reach. “We used to have a little pool,” Alayshia says. “It’s on the trash pile now because it got a hole in it.”

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Alayshia’s mother Novella recently got laid off from the factory where she’s worked on and off for 13 years. After Alayshia eats breakfast and plays video games in the morning, her mom has her and her brother sit down to do some math worksheets and practice reading for half an hour. “I wish there was a summer program for them to go to,” Novella says.

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In neighboring Barnwell County, South Carolina, Ja’Faith wakes up every morning at 5 when her father, a food service manager, returns from letting the milkman into her school. They often read together over breakfast, then Ja’Faith and her brothers play while waiting for the bus to take them to Save the Children’s SummerBoost Camp at their school.

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Ja’Faith, 8, had a tough start in life that her adoptive parents haven’t yet fully explained to her. But they say her early experiences made concentrating in a typical classroom setting challenging. The way SummerBoost Camp mixes games and physical activity with academics has been a big hit with Ja’Faith.

“She loves the program. She hasn’t missed a day,” says her dad, Jack.

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Ja’Faith looks forward to attending SummerBoost each day. “It’s fun,” she says. “I like to learn.”

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At SummerBoost Camp, the day gets started with a call and response game that get the kids excited for a day of learning and fun. Children rotate through blocks of academically-focused activities and games, as well as community service, physical activity and team building.

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The summer program also includes two healthy meals – breakfast and lunch. During the school year, some local kids show up for school hungry on Mondays. For many, the summer months would be especially tough if they couldn’t eat at camp. “They get fed and they stay off the streets,” says Jack. Together with the learning, it’s a winning combination, he says. “Now when school opens up, it’s just a refresher course and they’re ready to go. They didn’t sit around and just watch TV all day or eat popcorn and chips.”

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During the school year, Ja’Faith participates in Save the Children’s after school program, which focuses on helping struggling readers catch up. She has made steady progress through the school year, and her SummerBoost coaches – and her friends – keep her motivated and learning all summer long. That helped Ja’Faith start first grade strong last year and even make the honor role. Her dad says, “I asked Faye a few times ‘What do you want to be? What do you want to do?’ She would always say ‘I want to work for Save the Children, or save a child in some kind of way.’”

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Since SummerBoost runs for six hours, Save the Children can expand its after school focus on literacy and health to cover the “STEAM” subjects – science, technology, engineering, art and math. Here, Ja’Faith and her brother have fun playing a game that helps them practice math equations.

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Back in Orangeburg County, Alayshia and her brother make up their own games in their backyard. When she started second grade at the end of last summer, Alayshia tested as reading at a low first-grade level. Over the course of the school year, Save the Children’s after school program helped her catch up and even reach a third-grade reading level. “She made a whole lot of progress, and I’m proud of her for making that progress,” her mom says. “Now, I’m afraid she might fall off back off and then have to work her way back up to that same progress.”

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With no funding to provide SummerBoost at Alayshia’s school, all that her Save the Children literacy tutors could do at the end of the school year was send home some books with Alayshia and encourage her to keep up her reading. But with no summer program, she also won’t get the extra help she needs in math, which was a big struggle for her this past year. When she returns to school next month, Alayshia will be repeating the second grade.

To learn more about Save the Children’s US Programs, please visit our website

Photo Essay by Susan Warner
Story by Tanya Weinberg

¹Cooper, H., Borman G., & Fairchild, R. (2010). “School Calendars and Academic Achievement.” In J. Meece & J. Eccles (eds.) Handbook on Research on Schools, Schooling, and Human Development (pp. 342-355). 

 

 

A Magical Day to Remember

Author Portrait_Jecel, a sponsored child from Camanava, PhilippinesJecel

Sponsored child from Camanava, Philippines

Translated and assisted by Sponsorship Staff

July 6, 2016

My name is Jecel, I am 6 years old and I am presently attending kindergarten. It is not every day that I have the chance to talk to other people besides my parents, teachers and friends in school. I always stay at home whenever I don’t have classes.

One day, a Save the Children community volunteer knocked on our door to say that my sponsor, Philip, will be visiting me and my community. At first I didn’t know how to react, because I have only met him through his letters. I got nervous, too, because I am not good at speaking English, even if it is my favorite subject in school. I am also shy when talking to others.

Jecel and her sponsor, Philip, posing for a funny shot
Jecel and her sponsor, Philip, posing for a funny shot

The feelings began to slowly change as I imagined what my sponsor looks like in real life, from one of the photos he had sent me. I also visualized what he will be like from the way he sounded in his letters. The fear and shyness was replaced by excitement and I found myself asking, “Is he a real person?”

The big day arrived in July! I had a lot more questions in my head, such as “How can I talk to him?”, “How can he understand me?” and “Will he be happy to see me?” As we arrived at our meeting place, no words came out. I never thought that my ‘magical friend’ (this is how I refer to him most of the time) is really real!

Jecel showing a photo sketch of her with Philip, and the other stuff they won in the play center
Jecel showing a photo sketch of her with Philip, and the other stuff they won in the play center

We played games at the game center and won prizes. We had lunch at my favorite fast food restaurant, and we ate fried chicken and spaghetti. He had lots of stories to share with me and my mother. He never failed to make me laugh, and he taught me things about animals. He even made the animal sounds and helped me learn them from the noises they make. He also showed me photos of wolves, grizzly bears and different kinds of snakes using his cellphone. We talked a lot about his job, and I really admire how he shares his blessings with children like me.

Everything happened so fast that day and it was like magic. I felt then that I was the most important child in the whole world.

Meeting him inspired me to study harder and to become a good person when I grow up. I want to become like him, so I can help other children who are in need. I will really treasure that dream-like visit forever.

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