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.