Save the Children Statement on U.S. Executive Order on Suspension of Refugee Resettlement

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Negin Janati 203.212.0044 (M)
Erin Taylor 267.250.8829 (M)

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (January 26, 2017)

In response to executive action by the United States Government regarding refugee resettlement, Carolyn Miles, President & CEO of Save the Children, released the following statement:

“The United States has long been a beacon of hope for the millions of children and families trying to escape war and persecution. The world is facing its largest crisis of displaced people since World War II, with more than 65 million people forced to flee their homes. More than half of all refugees are children, whose only chance for survival and a better future relies on access to safety. We all have a moral obligation to help. Refugee children have been terrorized; they are not terrorists.

“I have met with hundreds of refugee families—in the U.S., Germany, and throughout the Middle East and Africa. I have heard firsthand their stories of unrelenting war, and triumph over incredible hardship that no one should have to endure. Nearly every family I’ve met has told me that their main reason for fleeing was so their children could have a childhood, an education, and a chance at a future. Now is not the time to turn our back on these families, or our core American values, by banning refugees. We can protect our citizens without putting even more barriers in front of those who have lost everything and want to build a better future in America.

“The reality is that the U.S. refugee resettlement program saves lives—namely of women and children under 12, who make up 77 percent of the Syrian refugees in the U.S.—while helping to ensure the safety of our country. Refugees already go through extensive vetting: a refugee’s identity is checked against law enforcement and intelligence databases of at least five federal agencies, a process that takes nearly two years. If there is any doubt about who a refugee is, he or she is not admitted to the United States. Save the Children takes no issue with proposals to further perfect the vetting process to protect our nation’s safety, but we must remember that resettling refugees reinforces our security by supporting key allies that are disproportionately affected by forced displacement.

“The United States should continue to show leadership and share in our global responsibility to provide refuge to the most vulnerable, regardless of religion or nationality. Welcoming refugees sends a strong message to groups that want to do us harm: the United States remains a leading pillar for stability and liberty in the world.

“Since its founding in 1919, Save the Children has worked tirelessly to help millions of refugee children and families—providing lifesaving assistance, improving access to education and quality healthcare, and protecting children from exploitation. We are committed to continuing this vital work, regardless of ethnicity, religion or any other factor.”

To help us support refugee children and families, click here.

Save the Children gives children in the United States and around the world a healthy start, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We invest in childhood — every day, in times of crisis and for our future. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Behind Smiling Eyes

Author Portrait_Phan Thi Kim An, Field Project Assistant Phan Thi Kim An

Field Project Assistant

Save the Children in Vietnam

January 26, 2017

Taking a trip down memory lane, I remember nostalgically it was on a sunshine-filled afternoon during a trip to a mountainous commune that I met her – a 7-year-old girl with such a beautiful name, Yen, which means “peace” in Sino-Vietnamese. Sadly, her life is not as peaceful as that name…

Being born into a needy family with 4 siblings, Yen’s older brother had to drop out of school in order to make a living even though he was still young. She also has 2 sisters, her older sister in grade 8 and her younger who has just turned 3. In a twist of fate as entering the first grade, Yen unfortunately had a serious accident and suffered burns to nearly half of her body. Hardly ever can anyone avoid feeling sad, thinking about the great pain that little girl has suffered since her early childhood, when they see her.

Yen playing with her siblings outside their home.
Yen playing with her siblings outside their home.

Schooling is always a modest dream of every child in the communities where Sponsorship works in Vietnam, and on traveling the rough road to school that the vulnerable children here endure, the strong will of Yen is really something to be admired. Due to the deep burns, part of her lovely face is deformed considerably and an arm is made difficult to move. This makes studying much tougher for her than her peers. Gently holding her little hand when I met with her at her school, I touched the scabrous skin, asking if it was painful. She shook her head in silence.

Holding the day’s lesson book in her scarred hands, the little girl tried to speak though the old burns make her lips hurt. Each word was pronounced slowly, but clearly. We were all deeply moved and understood her heartfelt desire to learn like her other classmates. Hard as it is, Yen painstakingly goes to school every day. Shy, she often keeps her head down when meeting strangers but laughs happily with mischievous eyes during moments by her siblings’ side. I always keep in mind the image of Yen’s father, the man standing quietly outside the class, watching his daughter with sad and distant eyes. Sometimes, a few students make fun of her, saying that she is ugly, which makes the poor child burst into tears.

“Did you feel sad, Yen?” I asked her. She nodded in silence. “Why?” She answered sadly, “Because I’m different from others…”

I obsessed over those simple words for a long time, thinking about the bitter difference the little child could feel between her and the outside world. Thinking about true values that Project Officers like me keep pursuing each day, I remembered Save the Children’s “We will be the voice” promise to children in need. Through providing trainings and activities for teachers to boost teaching methods for handicapped students, we wholeheartedly hope to break all invisible distance and ensure children with disabilities enjoy an equal and sociable life with the others. We also run social events that raise community awareness on the issues these children face, for example, by arranging “tea talks” with families of children with disabilities and community members.

Yen learning at home.
Yen learning at home.

“Yen, do you like going to school?” I asked.

She did not say but nodded her head with a bright smile. At that moment, the smile on her scarred lips was as vivid and shining as the sunlight on that afternoon. There is something that lit up her eyes, something that makes me believe that one day, the little girl will keep her head high, and answer in her own voice confidently and proudly “Yes, I do!”

As our programs continue to grow in her school and community, I’m confident her life with continue to improve as well. Day by day, thanks to our sponsors we reach more and more people with our approach to children with disabilities, and I’ve seen firsthand that things are beginning to change.

To learn more about sponsoring children like Yen, please visit: Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/Future18.

The Day of the African Child

Author Portrait_Memory Mwathengere, Quality Communications Officer Memory Mwathengere

Quality Communications Officer

Save the Children in Malawi

January 19, 2017

For many people, the 16th of June represents a special day every year, as the Day of the African Child. This day has been celebrated since 1991, originally honoring the South African children who marched against the government in their mission to receive a better quality education. Today, celebrations are held every year in all African countries with the aim of raising awareness on the challenges children currently face across the African continent. Themes for the celebration are chosen on an annual basis. The 2016 theme was Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting All Children’s Rights.

The aim of this theme was to elevate the child protection agenda in conflict situations in Africa, as well as generally furthering the well-being of the African child.

A group of teens presenting with the large crowd behind them.
A group of teens presenting with the large crowd behind them.

The commemoration took place at a Sponsorship-supported primary school. Save the Children, together with other stakeholders such as local youth groups, universities and government partners, supported the day’s activities, and it was a very flamboyant event! The day started with a street march led by a police band, who walked from the community’s trading center to the school grounds where the celebrations would take place. The brass ensemble, clad in their standard khaki outfits, pulled crowds to the ceremony as they played in beautiful rhythm. All around gathered many spectators and children, visibly dressed in the Day of African Child t-shirts Save the Children had provided.

Children while watching the days festivities
Children while watching the days festivities.

Though it was scorching hot, it did not quench the children’s excitement. Songs were sang, plays were staged and their voices were heard. Teenagers in particular had fun role-playing for the crowd to demonstrate the harsh realities many children face. The messages from the children were clear: stop abduction and killing children with albinism, protect children from hunger, stop sexual abuse of children during crisis. Government representatives and stakeholders pledged their support in protecting and promoting the rights of children, and the children joined them in their commitment as partners for the future.

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

 

Uli and His Dream of a Better Future for His Daughter

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Malini Ribut Setiawati Febriliani Lalo

Project Assistant

Save the Children in Indonesia

January 12, 2017

Life in Weihura, Wanukaka may not be easy for Uli, a hard working farmer. Yet he never fails to welcome each day with a smile. With that gap toothed smile, he shows his daughter how to appreciate simple beauties in the midst of life’s difficulties. Ignoring his constantly sore back from ploughing the paddy fields, he still carries his four-year-old little girl, Tika, on his shoulders to kindergarten. “I want all my children to be well-educated so they can have a better future. There is no future without education. I will do whatever it takes for them to get the education that they need,” he said enthusiastically.

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Sponsorship staff member Malini meeting with Uli to hear about his experience in parenting classes.

Uli is one of the many parents who has seen the kindergarten in his community make a big difference in his child’s life. It is one of the kindergartens in which Save the Children implements its early learning programs, thanks to Sponsorship funds. This Sponsorship program includes trainings for teachers, the provision of teaching and learning materials, and even parenting classes for the parents. Uli enjoys his daily routine of taking his beautiful daughther Tika to school and picking her up afterwards. For Uli, nurturing and taking care of children is not just a mother’s responsibility, but also a father’s. At home, Tika always shares her endless stories about her activities at school with him. Uli always wonders what his daughter will learn the following day, and is always ready to hear about it. Will it be singing, dancing, or making crafts? Will she sit on his lap and show him her drawing? He tells Sponsorship staff, “Tika learns much faster now as they have learning materials available at school. Her teachers also know well how to treat children and how to learn and play with them.”

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Eli’s daughter, four-year-old Tika.

On certain days, Uli attends parenting classes with other parents at school. In these classes, he learns how to communicate with his children in a better way. He used to get angry very easily with them even at their small requests. Now he has found himself more patient and communicative. He has also found that Tika is getting closer to him. They now spend time after school playing together. There is no longer fear on Tika’s face every time she comes to him for a question. He has learned how to explain things to her very gently, “It is redemptive to experience the better connection between Tika and I. I feel like I am a good father to her,” he proudly said with a big smile on his face.

Thanks to our sponsors, parents like Uli in Indonesia are learning how to better connect with their children each day, not just in terms of their learning but also emotionally. Building the relationship between fathers and daughters is so important, not only in the places where Sponsorship works but also here in the US. Do you have a special father-daughter memory you can share with us?

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

Keeping a Baby Close to Your Heart

Alicia Adler

Program Officer at Save the Children Malawi

January 9, 2016

Imagine spending at least 20 hours a day, 7 days a week with a baby strapped to your chest. Imagine you must eat, sleep, work and care for your other children along with a tiny baby who depends on your continuous skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding for survival. This is the basis of kangaroo mother care (KMC), a costeffective intervention to help meet a premature or low-birthweight babys basic needs for warmth, nutrition, stimulation and protection from infection.blog2

For Malawi, with the highest preterm birth rate in the world (18 per 100 live births), KMC is a critical lifesaving intervention. But too few premature babies receive KMC due to lack of awareness, limited resources, and stigma against both KMC and premature/low-birthweight infants. It is not surprising, then, that direct complications of preterm birth are the second leading cause of child deaths after pneumonia, and result in more than 14 newborn deaths every day in Malawi. 

To commemorate World Prematurity Day 2016 on November 17th, Save the Children staff in Malawi accepted the KMC Challenge. Participants practiced KMC with a baby doll for 24 hours – holding the doll throughout work hours, around town and at home for the night. The challenge was accepted by other partners across the country and globe.

Jessie Lwanda, an IT coordinator said, “By doing this challenge, we are saying, ‘let’s give these babies a chance to survive by showing them love and carrying them close to our heart.’”

I have a passion for every child to survive, said Mavis Khondiwa, a Save the Children grants coordinator based in the United States. Through this challenge I could understand what kind of burden those mothers with premature babies face. I really feel for them.

blog1Over the course of the day, 20 men and women got a glimpse into the life of a mother with a premature baby and all the issues it presents. Through what I experienced as a man doing the challenge, I think women need more help, said Nyashadzashe Kaunda, an awards management officer. Men should also be taking care of the child and helping throughout the whole KMC process, he said

At the end of the 24 hours, colleagues returned the dolls and resumed their normal lives. For women around the country, it isnt so easy, though, as their childs life depends on their continued commitment to practice KMC until the baby reaches a healthy weight. In a country where neonatal mortality accounts for 40 percent of all death in children under age 5, it is everyones responsibility to champion KMC, and not just on World Prematurity Day, but every day. 

Save the Children is helping shift norms around the value of newborns in Malawi through the government’s social and behavior change communication (SBCC) campaign, Khanda ndi Mphatso (A Baby is a Gift: Give it a Chance), helping establish KMC sites of excellence in district hospitals, and collaborating with the Ministry of Health to develop a national routine reporting system for KMC services in health facilities.

To learn more about our work to improve newborn survival, click here.

Alicia Adler is a program officer and Global Health Corps fellow with Save the Children in Malawi.

Meet Mikenzie: All Smiles Because of Sponsorship!

Child Portrait_Mikenzie, Sponsored ChildRebecca Poehler

Program Operations Coordinator

Save the Children U.S. Programs

January 5, 2017

Mikenzie is a happy first grader who participates in our in-school literacy and Sponsorship programs. Mikenzie usually has a smile on her face, but when she receives a letter from her sponsor this causes an even brighter smile to appear! She loves receiving letters in the mail and keeps them in a memory box at home. The encouragement and praise she hears from her sponsor about her schoolwork has had a big impact on her confidence.

Mikenzie had some anxiety related to reading and had been diagnosed with dyslexia before participating in our literacy program. Through the in-school program, she has discovered a love of reading and now has a drive to learn new words and challenge herself. Her current favorite book is “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss, but she hopes to learn to read “big, hard books.” Mikenzie’s teacher has seen a difference in the classroom with her reading fluency and her confidence.

Mikenzie playing a math game.
Mikenzie playing a math game.
 

Mikenzie’s mom reports that Mikenzie cannot wait to get to school. She now has a love for learning that her mom has never seen before. The Save the Children program also provided much needed support when Mikenzie recently lost her grandmother, whom she was very close to. When asked what changes she’s seen in Mikenzie since she began participating in Save the Children programs, her mom says, “I never knew it was possible but she smiles more.” The Save the Children literacy and Sponsorship programs have helped Mikenzie develop a love of reading and learning, provided a strong support system and boosted her confidence.

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