Make the world great for all of our children

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Originally published on thehill.com

In the weeks following the election, when many of the divisions in our nation have come to the forefront, it has become clear that we need to find ways to bring Americans of diverse viewpoints together around issues we all care about. A divided America will not be made great again no matter how much we might wish it to be unless we focus on the foundation of our future: our children.

In my work for Save the Children over the last 18 years, I have visited children and families in more than 80 countries and across dozens of states. The desire of parents to give their children a healthy and safe childhood and an education that helps them gain the skills they need to find jobs and happiness is something I have seen in all corners of the world. Whether living in a wealthy suburb in America, a poor rural town, or in a refugee camp in the Middle East, the biggest sacrifices parents and communities often make are for our children.

We have a lot of work to do for kids here in America. Visiting a literacy program in rural Mississippi this October, I met children struggling with basic reading but who were making progress thanks to extra support for books and technology and caring teachers and specialists. Yet one in four children in the United States never learns to read. That’s 25 percent of our future parents, leaders, and workers. According to the Council for Advancement of Adult Literacy, as of 2011, America was the only free-market OECD country where the current generation was less educated than the previous one. Schools in poor neighborhoods of the United States are, and have been for decades, woefully under-resourced with too few books, no access to computers, and where parents are unemployed, or are working far from home. Kids in these communities are working against long odds and we need to put funding into these schools and provide parents with paths to real employment.

A brighter future for America must mean a better future for our poorest kids. In Mississippi, I met families – white and black – living in the toughest conditions you can imagine in a state that voted solidly for Donald Trump. These are the families that are truly disenfranchised and hoping that change in the White House will bring better opportunities for their children.

Last month, I also visited Jordan, a country that has taken on an enormous number of refugees from the Syrian crisis. More than 650,000 Syrian refugees, half of them under the age of 18, are living in Jordan – in refugee camps, or in poor communities where residents are often struggling, too. Jordan is working hard to meet its international obligations to refugees from neighboring countries, and the United States provides significant foreign aid for refugee programs there. Funding is used to feed young refugee children, to provide them with a chance to get back into school after years of being away from home, and on vocational training for Syrian youth to give them hope for a productive future.

This funding from the United States is critical for a country in the Middle East like Jordan, on the frontlines of a refugee crisis and doing its best to meet its responsibilities, and which exists in a complicated neighborhood. It is also essential if we are to avoid a lost generation of young people who eventually can help put their country on a better path to the future. The good news is that the cost is tiny in relation to the overall federal budget, with all foreign assistance to all countries of the world adding up to less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget. When I speak with Americans, they agree that programs for young Syrian refugees is one of the right things – and the smart things – on which to spend our small foreign assistance budget. They often donate to our work as private citizens, adding to the funding from the U.S. government to make those dollars go further.

There will always be people trying to divide humanity up into various formations of “us” and “them” – whether by race, nationality, class or geography. But in my work, I’ve seen people break down these barriers in the interests of children. We can help children both in the United States and around the world, and we must. A focus on making America – and the world – great again for every last child would be a lasting legacy for the new administration and something around which we could all support proudly. To make a safe and secure future for us all, we need not choose “our” children over “other” children. Many stand ready to help on this effort that unifies us rather than divides us, as parents and as humans.

How to Save the Children of Mosul

November 20, 2016. Qayyarah, Iraq. Children stand in the back of a truck as their family prepares to return home from Qayyarah Jad’ah camp.
Children stand in the back of a truck as their family prepares to return home from Qayyarah Jad’ah camp in Qayyarah, Iraq on Nov. 20, 2016.

                                  Originally published on time.com

The Mosul offensive continues—both militarily and in terms of help for civilians—but it is not too soon to help the region’s children start to recover from years of suffering. As Iraqi forces enter Mosul, they are not only faced with ISIS militants but also up to 1.5 million civilians still trapped, including about 600,000 children, who are growing increasingly desperate. In the short term, safe routes must be established so these families can escape the violence. We risk another Aleppo, where civilians are trapped inside a warzone, if safe passage is not possible.

As thousands of families flee and others are caught in the crossfire or by snipers and landmines, children must urgently be protected. However, in the long run, we will fail Mosul if we are unable to help a whole generation of children recover from the violence, uncertainty and lack of schooling that they have faced in recent years.

Thousands of babies were born in Mosul in 2003 and 2004 as the war in Iraq was taking place and fighting raged in the city. Now in their early teens, these children have lived the vast majority of their lives in a state of uncertainty.

By 2008, when these children should have been starting kindergarten, armed militants were using the city as their strategic center of gravity—a hub for funding and violence. UNICEF reported at least one-third of children in Mosul were out of school. Even as active conflict subsided, it remained a dangerous place to be a child. In December of that year, a bomb detonated outside a primary school as students were leaving for the day, killing three children and injuring 18.

The situation grew even direr in 2014 when ISIS invaded the city—just as children born in 2003 should have been finishing primary school. The group took control of schools, burned textbooks and instituted a new extreme curriculum. Children were to be drilled in lessons on ISIS doctrine. The curriculum was also militarized and encouraged children to fight and learn how to use weapons.

More than one million children who have been living under ISIS in Iraq have either been out of school or forced to learn from an ISIS curriculum. Many parents refused to send their children to school out of fear for their safety and well-being. Other families had to make the difficult decision to flee their homes to escape violence and intimidation and are now living in camps or non-camp settings that don’t always have educational opportunities for young people.

Now, with the offensive to retake Mosul underway, Save the Children staff positioned in nearby camps report meeting families with children who have escaped the fighting and who say their children are getting sick from breathing air filled with smoke from oil wells that ISIS set on fire. Many have already lost loved ones and they are dehydrated and hungry from long journeys made on foot as they flee ISIS-held areas.

Mahmoud, a father we met, recently escaped Shura, south of Mosul. As fighting approached the village, he and his family were taken deeper into ISIS territory, where they were reportedly forcing people to act as human shields. The family escaped and is now in a temporary camp.

“I have four daughters. Before IS the older ones were going to school and loved it,” he said. “When IS took over, the content of the curriculum changed, so we stopped sending them. Every lesson became militarized. Even math lessons—they would teach the children ‘one bullet plus one bullet equals two bullets.’ They’ve now been out of school for two years.”

We know from our work in Iraq and other conflict zones that getting children back into school is absolutely critical. Being in a classroom setting provides a child with a sense of normalcy that they miss during times of conflict or displacement. Trained teachers can help students process the trauma they have experienced, and a quality education can help young people acquire the knowledge, tolerance, and critical thinking skills necessary to help rebuild their country and make a constructive contribution to society.

The government of Iraq and international partners can show their commitment to education in Iraq in four ways:

For those families who have already fled or who are desperately trying to, children need to be provided with quality education and psycho-social support inside camps established for internally displaced people and refugees. Save the Children is establishing temporary learning places in tents in one of the camps where people have fled, but much more is needed.

The Iraqi government should also work with international partners to reopen schools in retaken areas as soon as it is safe to do so. Repairs to schools should be prioritized, and school buildings should only be used for classes, not by the military.

Additionally, special attention needs to be given to children who have been forced to serve as child soldiers. They need extra help to make up for time lost in the classroom, tools to regain their self-confidence, and assistance reducing stigmas that might exist in their communities.

Finally, make sure that all Iraqi children can go to school. Iraq was once a country where more than 90% of children were in education, but it now has about 3.5 million children out of school. Donors must ensure that the UN’s 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan is fully funded—at the moment education has only 40% of the funding it requires.

Securing Mosul is crucial, but unless we include education in the immediate recovery plan, it will be almost impossible to build a prosperous city and region. Children of Mosul have suffered for many years and have missed out on enough of their childhoods. Getting them back into a safe positive school environment is critical to starting the recovery process, giving them hope for the future and breaking the cycle of suffering in Mosul.

Ferdousi Brings Learning Home

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Fahim Shahriar

Deputy Manager

Save the Children in Bangladesh

December 28, 2016

 

 

“My older child is in good health and learning well. Also, I have got a healthy baby very recently who is 15 days old.” Ferdousi, age 26, tells us. She lives in Rayerbazar, a slum community of Dhaka city, with her family. Her husband Saddam, age 36, works as a day-labourer, meaning without a fixed income and hired in the short-term, while she tends to their home and two children. Her oldest son, Shahadat, is over two years old now. He and his mother joined Sponsorship under Bangladesh’s new programming, Maternal and Child Health, in 2015.

Since then, Ferdousi has benefited

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Ferdousi with her children at their home in the slums of Rayerbazar.

through the provision of counselling sessions which began when she was still pregnant with her younger son, Sazzad. Thanks to sponsorship funds, Save the Children in Bangladesh is able to offer training for pregnant women and moms of newborns through community center-based sessions or home visits, on topics like danger signs to be aware of during pregnancy, the importance of vaccinations and having delivery in medical facilities, and other essentials of newborn care and services. Ferdousi explains from her own experiences, “Previously, I did not know about the risks for a pregnant mother and a newborn, and also the care they need. But, I have learned about those dangers and necessary measures during my recent pregnancy. My husband also took much [more] care of me and I saved some money for the delivery period.”

Similar sessions are provided for parents of babies and up to toddler-aged children under our early stimulation parenting programs, another way sponsors are helping parents in Bangladesh aid their young children’s development. Early stimulation parenting programs teach parents how to use playtime to promote language and communication development, utilize gentle discipline, manage healthy hygiene practices and provide healthy and nutritious foods to their children. Both parents and children learn with illustrative cards and colorful picture books. Being a regular participant in this kind of Sponsorship programming, Ferdousi tells, “My older son can identify distinct vegetables, tell their names and mention their shapes. He likes books with colorful pictures. Besides, I learned to take proper care of his health by maintaining cleanliness and feeding for his nutrition.”

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2 year-old Shahadat is very happy to play football (soccer) and be active outdoors.

Even in addition to this, Save the Children also supports Ferdousi and her family by helping her track Shahadat’s height and weight to ensure he is getting the nutrients his growing body needs. Ferdousi adds, “I like Sponsorship support, because I learned to take care of my children to grow with good health and learning.” Their little baby Sazzad, a boy just a couple weeks old, has already benefited in the extra care Ferdousi took during her pregnancy.

 

This family of four, Ferdousi, Saddam and the two boys Shahadat and little Sazzad, send their love and thanks to our sponsors of Bangladesh. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for your support!

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

 

Haiti Is Facing A Humanitarian Crisis We Can Solve — So Why Aren’t We?

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Originally published on huffingtonpost.com

Of the many humanitarian crises challenging the world today, none is as solvable as the human disaster that Hurricane Matthew has wrought in southwestern Haiti. The threats to human life in Haiti’s Sud and Grand Anse departments are entirely within our grasp to address immediately: starvation, exposure and disease—cholera, from contaminated water. And we have the solution at hand: food, shelter, clean water, medicine and sanitation supplies.

The only barrier is the collective will and resolve to act. Not doing so now — as we approach the one-month mark — means certain death for thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands.

Hurricane Matthew hit the United States with wind, rain and floods that have tragically killed more than 40 people, but gave its hardest punch to southwestern Haiti. The category 4 storm made a direct hit on the remote peninsula, killing hundreds and pummeling the landscape with brutal 145 mph winds and as much as 40 inches of rain. The wind stripped trees, ripped off roofs and toppled block walls. Overflowing rivers tore out bridges and spread cholera bacteria. Crops not killed by wind were drowned by a surge of seawater; ocean water also flooded wells, contaminating precious sources of fresh water.

As a result, an estimated 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, many without food, safe water, shelter or basic health services, and children are often the most vulnerable.

Because the few roads that serve this region are badly damaged, towns along the southwestern coast were without help for days. In Port-à-Piment and Port Salut, some health clinics and cholera treatment centers are damaged, but functioning with limited supplies and an increasing patient load. Food is scarce and the vast majority of homes are damaged or destroyed.

Cholera, a deadly diarrheal disease, is a serious concern with more than 3,400 suspected cases in the three weeks following the storm. Patients are arriving at cholera centers, but without additional, ongoing deliveries of large quantities of IV fluids, water purification supplies — tablets or even bleach — and basic sanitation items such as soap and gloves, the disease will most certainly expand its deadly reach, making the hurricane’s death toll a footnote. In some damaged health facilities cholera patients are treated alongside children and pregnant women, increasing the risk of infection.

In the hardest hit communities, 100 percent of homes are destroyed, there is no food, little water and no aid deliveries. Understandably, people in the region are becoming increasingly desperate. With their livestock dead and crops stripped, survivors can’t subsist without outside help. Without shelter, they are at risk of exposure. When all water sources are most likely contaminated with cholera bacteria, they can’t safely take a drink. And with roads blocked and no aid trucks in sight, all hope is gone.

The Haitian government and local communities are doing their best under tough circumstances. Our organizations with decades of experience working in Haiti are also mounting significant relief responses. Like partners and peers, we have qualified teams on the ground with many Haitian staff members leading the charge and are rushing aid to as many communities as we can. But our experience tells us that these collective efforts are not enough. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “A massive response is required.” The need for food, shelter, medicine and cholera prevention and treatment supplies is too urgent. The United Nations is seeking $119 million for Haiti’s recovery but so far only 28 percent of that has been raised. Will the commitment be met by member nations? If so, when? There is no time to find out.

This disaster requires mobilization at a huge scale and fast. The U.S. government has deployed resources but if it does more, it will signal the urgency to others. Individuals, corporations and foundations need to support the work of qualified relief agencies that can save lives.

Amid the spin and noise of the news cycle, let’s not tune out the voices expressing human needs. There are a lot of complicated things in the world. This crisis is not one of them.

The world’s fastest-growing population needs our help

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Originally published on devex.com

One hundred and ninety-three countries are represented at the United Nations General Assembly this week. Another, despite having a population larger than the United Kingdom, lacks an ambassador, a foreign minister, or a president to advocate for it.

Given that, leaders gathering in New York for UNGA have an obligation to make sure that the world’s 65 million forcibly displaced people — a population large enough to form the 21st largest country — are protected, provided with quality education and health services, and given access to jobs. Empty promises will not be enough.

The scale of the problem has never been this large. In 1945, the United Nations was created to mitigate and prevent conflicts such as World War II, which had left tens of millions dead and caused more than 40 million men, women and children to become refugees.

Landmark documents such as the 1951 Refugee Convention were drafted to define who is a refugee and to which rights such people are entitled. Signed by 145 countries, the convention was designed to protect those forced to flee until they could go home or be resettled in a new country.

Fifteen years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere have shown that the post-World War II system is taxed, and many of the assumptions under which it was created no longer hold true. Today, millions are forcibly displaced by violence, to say nothing of the millions of other “survival migrants” who are forced from their homes due to climate change, economic conditions, or hunger that threaten their lives and the lives of their children. For many, displacement last years or becomes permanent.

It is time to acknowledge that protracted conflicts and the displacement they create require new ways of thinking and problem-solving. Nothing illustrates this need as clearly as looking at how the world’s 21st Largest Country would compare to actual countries in terms of economic opportunity, education, health and other development indicators.

The results show both the challenges faced by refugees and internally displaced people and the contributions they could make if given a chance and the tools to succeed. In a new report, Save the Children conducted this analysis, and found the following:

The 21st Largest Country is the fastest-growing in the world, expanding by 9.75 percent in the past year. At this rate, the population would become the world’s fifth largest by 2030. Such growth demonstrates the scale of conflicts around the world as well as the urgent need for governments and the aid community to help millions of people in crisis.

Children in the 21st Largest Country are being held back compared to children in other countries. According to UNHCR, only 50 percent of refugee children attend primary school — one of the worst school attendance rates in the world, behind only Liberia, Eritrea and South Sudan. In terms of health, the leading causes of death for refugee children under 5 are preventable and treatable illnesses: pneumonia and malaria. We also know that child marriage tends to be most common in communities facing crisis, because parents often see it as a way to shield their children from poverty and exploitation. Data on child marriage among refugees and displaced people is not readily available, though we do know that early marriage among Syrian refugee girls in Jordan rose from 12 percent in 2011 to 32 percent in 2014 — an alarming 167 percent increase over three years.

The global refugee crisis is one of the central issues at this year United Nations General Assembly gathering, including at private sector forums highlighting the role of business to address the challenge.

The frustrating thing about this is that there could be positive news for displaced children if political leaders chose to address these issues. Efforts to increase access to education, improve health, and lower rates of child marriage have been successful when there is the political will and financial resources to do so.

We also determined that the 21st Largest Country could have the world’s 54th largest economy, having calculated the collective value of forgone production among refugees and internally displaced people. Displaced people want to work, to support their families and provide a future for their children. The figure represents an opportunity for countries who understand the benefit of increasing their human capital and growing their economies.

I have met with refugee families from all over the world, most recently in Germany and Connecticut. Just like citizens of actual countries, people in the 21st Largest Country are a diverse group in terms of ethnicity, socioe-conomic status, religion and political opinions. But regardless of how a family got to Tempelhof refugee camp in Berlin or under what circumstances they resettle in the United States, everyone I have spoken to wants educational opportunities for their children and to be a contributing member of the society in which they live.

Now is the time for leaders to commit to new and greater help for refugees and the countries that host them. Three actions are most important to help families and children:

First, leaders should commit to have no refugee child out of school for more than 30 days after crossing an international border. Children want to be in school. In a survey we recently conducted of Syrian and Afghan refugee children in Norway, nearly 4 in 10 said education was their top priority, compared with needs such as water and shelter. Quality education not only helps children process the violence and trauma they have often experienced in their home countries and on their journey to safety, it also helps them develop skills they will need to be productive members of society.

Government leaders and the private sector also need to commit to increasing job opportunities for refugees. Jobs promote self-reliance and address the role that poverty plays in perpetuating harmful practices such as child marriage and exploitation in informal employment.

Finally, governments, NGOs, and the private sector need to work to increase humanitarian funding and ensure that money for development projects can also be used to address the education, health and protection needs of displaced people.

One year ago, leaders committed to making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality by 2030. This week, states pledged to help refugees and migrants at two high-level summits. Commitments now need to be translated into action in order to prevent life from getting worse for families and children in the 21st Largest Country.

One of the best things I took advantage of in my life

[El Salvador_IA Ahuachapan_Blog post 2_Sponsor Joey and sponsored child Karla_Posing for their very first picture_the joy in their eyes is contagious]Joseph Mollica

Sponsor

Save the Children in El Salvador

December 23, 2016

 

Have you ever wondered what a true champion looks like? Perhaps you already know more than one and you haven’t realized it yet. We’re talking about the extraordinary people who decide to make a difference in the life of a child in need: our sponsors! They not only support Save the Children’s programs around the world, but they commit to a longtime friendship with a child and his or her family. As said by one of our sponsors, Joey, “The feeling is indescribable, one that cannot be put into words.” For 3 years Joey has been sponsoring a 6-year-old girl in El Salvador, and he recently shared in a life-changing experience when he met her for the first time.

Karla was shy at first, but finally made a connection by playing and doing fun activities together.
Karla was shy at first, but finally made a connection by playing and doing fun activities together.

When I laid eyes on Karla for the first time I had butterflies. I felt so incredibly happy to see this beautiful little girl with whom I’ve been in contact with for years. It was a moment I will forever cherish and always remember.

Participating in a Sponsorship programs visit opened my eyes to exactly how much work and effort Save the Children puts into providing a better future for children in need. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well Save the Children seemed to partner with government entities and other local institutions, such as the community health clinic, in making sure the children were being well taken care of.

I feel that Sponsorship really does so much more for children compared to many other organizations out there. Save the Children uses its resources in a variety of ways to help children receive the necessities of life, such as healthcare and education. They are also big on taking into account children’s rights and safety – which I am a firm believer in. It is thanks to this organization that countless children’s lives are being saved.

joey and Karla with her mom, dad and sister posing to have a memory of a great day.
Joey and Karla with her mom, dad and sister posing to have a memory of a great day.

To all the sponsors out there, if you can make the time to travel to El Salvador, or where ever it is you sponsor, to meet your sponsored child, I encourage you to do so. Please do so. You and your sponsored child will never forget the experience. These children hardly ever get to put a face to the letters we send them, so actually coming out to see him or her will be a life changing event for both of you. My visit with Karla is one of the best things I took advantage of in my life. I definitely plan on seeing my sponsored child again and reliving this incredible experience.

Have you ever thought about visiting your sponsored child? Contact our Sponsor Visits team via ChildVisits@savechildren.org today to get started on having a life-changing experience of your own!

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

To Reach the World’s Most Excluded Children, Data is Fundamental

nora-oconnellNora O’Connell

Associate Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy at Save the Children U.S.

December 12, 2016

As it’s sometimes presented, the concept of foreign assistance data transparency provokes drowsiness, but accurate and timely data can be of grave importance, particularly in humanitarian emergencies and with marginalized groups.

The importance of data was demonstrated during the 2014-2015 West Africa Ebola outbreak, where data provided at the right place and the right time helped save lives.  When doctors first started treating patients, the lack of electronic medical records hindered patient care.

To address the lack of data, Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders adapted an open-source platform to confront the outbreak by providing timely information on everything from the direction the outbreak was moving to which doctors were due for payment.

Recently, as part of the speakers’ panel for the release of a Friends of Publish What You Fund (PWYF) report, I emphasized that, like the example above, data can have real – and sometimes life and death – consequences. I know this through my own work with Save the Children and the communities that we engage around the world. At Save the Children we see the role of data in development as central for two primary goals:

  • To better inform development and humanitarian decision making, and
  • To strengthen accountability, particularly for marginalized groups including girls and refugees

Better and timelier development data has acquired an increased impetus globally as a crucial tool to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and actionable data is foundational for Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign aimed at the world’s most excluded children, including migrants and refugees, ethnic and religious minorities, and girls. To make the case for these children and to create a strategy to realize this goal, we need disaggregated data.

As the PWYF “How Can Data Revolutionize Development” report states, U.S. foreign assistance broadly has made important gains in aid transparency, but continued progress – from both U.S. foreign assistance agencies and development implementers – is required to make timely, accurate, and user-friendly data central pillars of U.S. government development policy and practice.

As the world’s largest bilateral donor, the U.S.’ commitment to generating and disseminating development data would help set an international benchmark for the global development community. On that count, while the U.S. has made progress, we still have a way to go to become a global leader. To achieve enhanced U.S. data transparency, the report cites three areas of focus:

  • Implement the U.S. commitment to publish humanitarian aid data
  • Invest in gender equality through publication of robust gender data
  • Improve U.S. aid transparency for stronger U.S. global development

The focus on gender disaggregated data is particularly important for Save the Children’s Every Last Child campaign, which includes girls as one of the largest excluded groups of children globally.

As the PWYF report states, “Whether seeking to increase equality, economic growth, peace and security or improve outcomes for children and families, supporting women and girls are considered one of the best investments for a country’s future.” But data relevant to gender equity is often nonexistent. The report continues, “Although gender-specific and disaggregated data are critical tools…the state of this data is woefully underdeveloped and difficult to use.”

The story of data to help identify and target vulnerable groups is mixed. As Brookings Institution Senior Fellow George Ingram stated at the event, “Transparency moved from a little discussed concept to being the norm in what we want to achieve.” But to sustain progress, U.S. development agencies and implementers should continue to make data transparency a priority – particularly in the world’s most fragile nations and among the most vulnerable and excluded groups.

The Challenges of Teenage Girls in Nacala-a-Velha

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Osvaldo Simão

Provincial MEAL Coordinator

Save the Children in Mozambique

December 9, 2016

In Nacala-a-Velha, Mozambique, Sponsorship’s Adolescent Development program benefits 12,000 teenagers, aiming to help them develop practical knowledge about how to be prepared for adult life. Unfortunately, traditional practices in the communities where we work increase the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies in adolescents, which makes it hard, especially for girls, to continue their education. Girls in this part of the world, starting as young as 11 years old, are taught that to be productive members of their community their primary obligation is to have children and to care for their husband and their home.

In order to mitigate these challenges, Sponsorship programs lead groups of adolescents and community members in activities that spread awareness on sexual and reproductive health skills, such as by discussing topics like contraception, family planning and the dangers of early pregnancy for girls. The goal of this programming is to reduce the high rate of unwanted pregnancies in these areas and to prevent the transmission of sexual diseases in adolescents. Awareness campaigns, radio broadcasted messages and theatre groups are among the strategies used. The radio broadcasts for example, spread awareness on how adolescent girls who become pregnant are forced out of school and cannot continue their education, which in turns hurts the development of the community as a whole. Teenage listeners are able to call in and discuss with adolescent peers participating in the radio programs topics they may be uncomfortable discussing face-to-face or with adults, like those regarding sexual and reproductive health.

Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.
Adolescents sharing their messages on health over the community public radio.

Adult community members, such as female teachers or doctors, also hold sessions to explain the benefits of withholding sexual activities until an older age to teenage female students, and act as role models – showing the girls it is possible to fulfill their dreams and ambitions.

The community of Namalala, one located in Nacala-a-Velha, has a particularly high rate of early pregnancy. Here, Sponsorship is working hard to train teachers, school staff and healthcare providers on how to implement friendly adolescent services. Since starting our programs here, we have seen the community members join these efforts in a massive way, helping to organize weekly activities for adolescent students that encourage them to express themselves, for example through theatre or poetry readings. We’ve since seen early pregnancy rates go down, and likewise students’ dropout rates have significantly decreased.

Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.
Osvaldo poses with adolescents who benefit from our programs.

“Many of my friends had dropped out of school, but now we are informed that we should only marry when we [are] the proper age and after we finish our studies.” shares Ancha, an adolescent belonging to our Sponsorship programs in Namalala.

Thanks to our sponsors, we are hopeful these trends will continue in Namalala, the wider area of Nacala-a-Velha and perhaps one day spreading throughout our country of Mozambique. We thank you for your partnership!

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

 

Treasure Box

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Rosmery Mendoza Villca

Sponsorship Operations Assistant

Save the Children in Bolivia

December 9, 2016

 

What is it like when a sponsored child receives a letter?

Hi, I’m Rosmery and I work as a Sponsorship Operations Assistant for Save the Children in Bolivia. I am very lucky – every day at work I experience beautiful stories of children who receive letters from their sponsors.

I want to share with you Jazmin’s story. She is a ten-year-old girl who has benefited from our Sponsorship programs, such as those that work to improve the quality of education at her school, since 2011. Today, I was able to visit Jazmin at her home in Cochabamba and give her a letter her sponsor had sent her.

 Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

Rosmery will send Jazmin’s letter for her to her sponsor.

I could see her bright smile and a twinkle in her eye while she carefully read every word of her friend’s (as many children call their sponsor) letter. I asked her how she felt and she replied, “Very happy. I have a friend with a big heart and she is very important in my life, like my parents are.”

As I watched her get ready to write back, I thought to myself, how would her sponsor feel if she could see her smile and gratitude? Does her sponsor also feel the same way when she reads Jazmin’s letters?

Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.
Jazmin with her ‘treasure box’ full of letters, photos and small gifts.

After she finished writing, Jazmin showed me all the letters she had received over the years, that she lovingly stores in the ‘treasure box’ she built, to keep her letters safe and with her.

In one of her letters, her sponsor told her that she came to Bolivia and adopted a little Bolivian girl, just like her! She is all grown up now, and has 3 children of her own, Jazmin told me. We agreed that her sponsor must truly have a really big heart.

For those of us working in Sponsorship, we hope that every sponsored girl and boy could receive notes from their sponsors, so that we are able to bring smiles to their little faces and have more stories like this one.

There are still many people in the world who selflessly help children like Jazmin improve their self-esteem and gain access to a better quality education. We call those people our sponsors. The children call them their friends.

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

A Special Visit for Programs in Haiti

author-portrait_faimi-p-moscova-sponsorship-manager
Faïmi P. Moscova

Sponsorship Manager

Save the Children in Haiti

December 2, 2016

We at Save the Children in Haiti always encourage sponsors to visit our programs in order to see first-hand how our work together changes the lives of Haiti’s children. We are always very excited and happy when we receive a request for a sponsor visit because we don’t get to host too many of them. When we do get to organize a visit, we do everything we can to ensure that both parties have an enjoyable and memorable experience. I wanted to share this story to show the impact a sponsor visit can have, in just a few short hours.

Ten-year-old Love Dayana has been enrolled in Sponsorship since 2013, a year after Save the Children first began implementing Sponsorship programming in her community. Her sponsor Daniela contacted us to let us know she was interested in visiting Love Dayana and seeing how our programs benefit children in Haiti in person. Love Dayana tells us that the visit that took place over just one day was the most exciting event that she had ever experienced. This was the first time in her life that someone she exchanges communications with from afar wanted to meet with her, face-to-face! She was thrilled at the opportunity to see her sponsor in person.

Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela.
Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela.

As the day began, Love Dayana met and welcomed Daniela to her rural community, along with her mother and two Sponsorship staff members. Love Dayana acted quite shy, and from a distance but with a smile looked her sponsor over from head to toe. After they introduced themselves to each other, the unforgettable visit started.

At first, Love Dayana’s mother did all the talking and she quietly but happily listened. Slowly, she became more open and friendly towards her sponsor. They exchanged some stories and discussed personal cultural values between the two different backgrounds. Love Dayana talked more and more, sharing about her school and her interests. They were able to hold lively conversations since Daniela knew some French, which also helped create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Together they traveled around, visiting some sponsorship supported schools and local historical monuments. They ate lunch together – a special traditional Haitian cuisine that Daniela welcomed with pleasure. As the day winded down both were feeling emotional. Love Dayana was visibly comfortable and at ease, hugging her sponsor and holding her hand as they walked. As they said goodbye, she hugged Daniela again and thanked her for the visit, saying, “I hope you will come back again soon to see me,” and Daniela replied “Me too, I hope I can come back soon to see you again.” Love Dayana then asked her sponsor to use her cell phone to take a ‘selfie’ of them both together.

Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela, taking a selfie.
Love Dayana and her sponsor, Daniela, taking a selfie.

Love Dayana shared that she hopes that all the children enrolled in Sponsorship could have the same opportunity, that one day their sponsors will come to see them. “Since the day my sponsor left, I became very popular in my community because I am the first and only child who ever had a sponsor visit!” concluded Love Dayana proudly. She will carry this feeling of self-worth and confidence with her into school each day for long into the future.

This was just the second sponsor visit that Save the Children in Haiti has hosted since the implementation of the Sponsorship program in Dessalines, back in January of 2012, so it was a great honor to be a part of it. To our dedicated sponsors, we thank you! Know that you are making a difference in these children’s lives every day. You are most welcome to come and visit Save the Children in Haiti for yourself. Seeing your sponsored child face-to-face is truly a wonderful and unforgettable experience! It would be our great pleasure to host you.

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