“I have a friend from faraway”

Edwin Antonio

9-year-old Sponsored Child

Save the Children Mexico

October 15, 2018

Hello everyone! My name is Edwin Antonio and I am 9 years old. I live in a beautiful and colorful little town called Chemax in Yucatan, Mexico. I like it because we have nice green areas where I can play with my friends. In the mornings, I go to elementary school. I am studying in fourth grade, and I am very excited, as soon I will be in fifth grade – just like a big boy!

At school, we learn how to read using fun games and songs.

My school is also very pretty, green like my favorite color. I love it because we have a courtyard where my classmates and I play every day after class, and sometimes we ride our bikes there. As it is very sunny and hot over here, we drink lots of water from the filter we got thanks to our friends from Save the Children. Clean and fresh water that we can enjoy at any moment – this is something we did not have before. We had water at the school, but without the filter, we drank directly from the tap, which had unclean water and made us sick.

I like it when our friends from Save the Children come to visit us and we do nice activities that helps us to learn and have fun at the same time. For example, we learn how to read and sing songs from our books, and play games that help us learn how to talk about our emotions using puppets and other toys. We always have a great time when they come and we look forward to their next visit. My teacher says they have earned our

There are lots of kids like me that have friends that send them letters. We love it!

whole school’s love and appreciation.

There are days when I feel even happier because I get letters from my friend from far away. My sponsor is a very good person. In her last letter, she told me that she is a lawyer and she has a kitten named Berry. I like her so much so I sent her a nice letter made all by myself with a lot of colors and a drawing, I’m sure she loves it.

Having a friend like her is incredible because, even though I don’t know her in person, I know she thinks of me and always helps me in the ways she can. I am sure she is also happy to have me as her friend.

Many kids like me have friends that send them letters at our school. We are very happy to know we can count on great and kind people like my sponsor and Save the Children.

Did you know you could communicate with your sponsored child by email? This not only helps us save on postage and get even more money to our programs that benefit children, but also will help you get a faster reply from your sponsored child! Consider sending an email today by visiting your online account, at Sponsor.SavetheChildren.org/MyAccount.

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

Day of the Girl

By Olivia Schilder, Sponsorship Retention Marketing

Every day throughout the world, girls and women face discrimination solely because of their gender. They are forced to leave school to work, exposing them to dangerous situations at a young age. Many parents believe that if girls become educated, they will no longer perform household chores and will inevitably delay marriage. Because of this, it is customary that girls leave school as early as 7th and 8th grade. With the right kind of help and guidance, girls can overcome gender discrimination and change the course of their lives.

Adolescence is a time when children begin to shape their views and behaviors on the world around them. Thanks to our child sponsors, we implemented our groundbreaking Choices, Voices and Promises program in Nepal. This innovative program helps young girls and boys discover alternative, positive views of conventional gender roles and behaviors. Empowering youth is an approach to community development based on the belief that children can be actively involved in their communities, speak out about issues, communicate openly with one another and help solve community problems. We teach children advocacy skills and encourage leaders to mobilize resources to help create a more child-friendly environment. By giving children a voice, we are building the foundation for a future generation of thoughtful leaders.  

16-year-old Sonu holds onto her school textbook inside of her home.

Sonu first heard of Choices, Voices and Promises in 2015 while she was enrolled in the adolescent program at her school and quickly filled out an application to join. Initially, Sonu’s parents were hostile and questioned her choice about wanting to have involvement in the program. After some time observing Sonu within the program, they began to participate and were given videos to watch of parents with their children within their own community. The videos portrayed instances like a father helping his daughter with her chores so she has more time to study. It was after this that their mindset began to change.

Before the Choices, Voices and Promises program came into Sonu’s life, she was afraid to ask her older brother Ganesh for help with the household chores. She would wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to begin her day. Sonu began to find her voice through the program and felt more at ease speaking to   Ganesh about needing his help around the house. Ganesh has learned that simply helping with a few chores truly benefits Sonu’s future; he now helps his sister with the laundry and washes the dishes while she is at school during the day. “My hope for my sister’s future is that she completes her education, as I did not complete mine.” Sonu now feels comfortable speaking to her father and brother about her studies and her future. “Without the Choices, Voices and Promises program, my life would be very different. I would not be able to express myself as I do now or address my father and brother. I would also have been married by now, only completing my studies until grade 8 or 9.”

“I want to spread awareness to help girls like myself pursue their dreams.” – Sonu

Sonu currently attends 11th grade and has one more year left of school. After school, she hopes to study to become a social worker. “I wish to continue my studies to become a social worker because there are so many girls who don’t have the opportunity to pursue their education. I want to spread awareness to help girls like myself pursue their dreams. My hopes and dreams for girls in my community are that they are sent to school. I want everyone to have an education.”

The Girl Who Keeps on Giving

LJ Pasion

Communications and Media Officer

Save the Children Philippines

October 8, 2018

Twelve-year-old Beauven lives with her parents and older sister in a small house in the city of Caloocan in the Philippines. She enrolled in sponsorship in 2013 and has benefited from Save the Children programs ever since. Her father runs a small business selling meat and other food items, while her mother cares for her, her sister and their home. While they don’t have much, this doesn’t prevent Beauven from sharing what she has with those less fortunate than her. She is a shining example of helpfulness and generosity to other children.

Beauven is a consistent honor student, and a regular in school competitions. She has already won several of these, from spelling bees to science quizzes to newswriting contests. But, Beauven is not one to brag about her achievements. “When you help [others], you get more blessings in return,” she said.

In urban communities like Beauven’s, improving health and hygiene are big concerns for children.

“When I see street children begging, I usually spare some change for them,” she said.

Caloocan is one of the largest and most urbanized cities in the area, home to 1.4 million Filipinos sharing a packed 20 or so square miles of land. It has been labeled as one of the most crowded cities in the Philippines, and even the world. Because of the dense population, classrooms can reach up to 70 or even 80 students. Likewise, slum-like conditions in some neighbors make the spread of disease harder to control.

Today, Beauven serves as the president of her school’s student government.

In order to help combat these issues, sponsorship started the Child Health Promoters program in Caloocan schools to spread health and hygiene knowledge. Through the Child Health Promoters, Beauven found another outlet for her generosity and desire to help others.

In her role as Child Health Promoter, Save the Children trained Beauven on how to mentor and coach the younger kids in her school, and how specifically how to pass on important health information and skills to the first and second grade age group. In addition to the trainings, Save the Children also provides these student health leaders with teaching materials, such as colorful images that show the parts of the mouth and how to clean them.

 “We teach proper handwashing, tooth brushing and nutrition,” she said. By teaching children about personal hygiene and nutrition, she is not only improving their health but also helping the young students’ pursue their education, since healthy children are able to attend class and engage more with their learning than sick ones.

Being a sponsored child of Save the Children gave Beauven even more drive to share her knowledge and skills. She said she learned a lot ever since she became a part of sponsorship.

“I learned how to communicate well with other people, and how to take care of children who are younger than me,” she said, adding that she also made many friends in the process.

Today, Beauven serves as the president of her school’s student government.

Her confidence in herself also changed. While she has always been bright, before her work as a Child Health Promoter Beauven was shy and didn’t know how to express herself very well. As she became more active in school activities, her confidence and public speaking skills skyrocketed. Today, she serves as the president of her student government at school, and attributes her trainings from sponsorship as a big factor in shaping who she has become as an adolescent.

While she is not completely decided on what she wants to be when she grows up, one thing that Beauven is sure of is she wants to be successful in order to help other people. She is very thankful for all the support she receives, and this is what inspires her to do her best in life. She sees her new knowledge as blessings that should be shared with even more children.

“The help I receive, I want to share with others,” she said.

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

A Teacher in the Making

Nasir Sarwary

School Health & Nutrition Assistant

Save the Children in Afghanistan

October 1, 2018

Hedayatullah, 17 years old, is a student in eleventh grade in a village situated in the beautiful mountainous range of Gorziwan District in Afghanistan. He lives in a small house made of packed mud, with his parents and five siblings. His father is a teacher in his school and his mother cares for their home and the children. His life is similar to that of any other boy his age in his community.

Before Save the Children started supporting their community, like many other children in their village Hedayatullah and his siblings were often sick and had to miss school. Medicine was costly for their family, especially with so many children to care for and such frequent illness. Attendance rates in the schools were low as children stayed home due to cough, fever and diarrhea.

In June 2006, sponsorship started health and nutrition programs in Gorziwan to help address these challenges. Save the Children found most people, especially mothers and children during their time at home, were not aware of how to keep up with their personal and environmental hygiene, and how simple steps like always using soap when washing hands could help keep their whole family healthy. In this area of Afghanistan, 90% of parents are illiterate and likewise their knowledge about health, nutrition and hygiene was very low.

Hedayatullah shared, “Before Save the Children programs, we did not wash our hands before taking meals and after using the bathroom.” He explained that they weren’t aware that good personal hygiene could help keep them from getting sick. “I didn’t even cut my nails regularly,” he remembered.

Hedayatullah leading a hand washing lesson for Hekmatullah and Samiullah.

Since he was 10 years old, Hedayatullah has been an active member of a Save the Children supported child-focused health education group. Through these groups, children learn how to adopt healthy practices, as well as promote and spread those healthy practices amongst their family and the community.

By being truly child-focused, the health groups utilize the way children think, learn and interact with each other to not only help children help themselves stay healthy, but also to use children as a resource to create change in their communities. This is not only a cost effective way to transfer knowledge, but also deeply involves community members and children themselves in shifting behaviors and norms, making those changes more sustainable. Save the Children supports by training group leaders and facilitators on problem solving, teaching methods and discussion techniques, and providing teaching materials for them to use, such as handout activities, storybooks with related lessons and posters.

While he happily learned in these groups from the age of 10, now as a teenager he volunteers as the group’s leader.

In this role, Hedayatullah spreads health messages to a group of friends and younger students in a casual way, using their local language and personal relationships to make learning fun and relate to each other during the lesson. The boys use games, songs, storytelling and role-play to make sure everyone feels involved.

Hedayatullah and his child-focused health group send their thanks to sponsors.

Since they are learning with friends, experiences and ideas are shared more freely. The environment feels more intimate and relatable than it would if an adult was leading the discussion.

As a participant in these programs for almost a decade, Hedayatullah has seen for himself how today more children practice good health and hygiene, for example regularly washing their hands with soap or boiling water instead of drinking straight from the river.

His experience leading the child-focused health group has even inspired Hedayatullah’s future aspirations. Since his role as group leader is similar to that of a teacher, he hopes to become a teacher one day to be able to work with students as a profession.

He concludes with a thoughtful smile, “I feel proud when all the group follows me and want to learn from me.”

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

Distance Means So Little, When Someone Means So Much

Pham Thu Trang

Communications Assistant

Save the in Vietnam

September 24, 2018

Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest. It’s about who has walked into your life, said “I’m here for you,” and proved it.

This is exactly how I would describe the friendship between Konrad and his sponsored child, Nguyen. They had only been able to get to know each other through the many letters they sent over a year, until the day they met face-to-face.

After coming all the way from Poland, Konrad next had to endure the long and tiring car journey from Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam – to Thai Nien commune in Lao Cai province, where Nguyen lives high in the mountains. Despite coming such a long distance, Konrad didn’t seem to feel exhausted at all. Perhaps the excitement made the way seem shorter.

Konrad arrived at the school where 13-year-old Nguyen is studying, and was greeted warmly by Nguyen’s teachers, friends and his father. When being asked to find Nguyen among his classmates, at first it was a challenge for Konrad to find the little boy he had only seen through photos. Over the past year, the little Nguyen had grown into a good looking teenage boy with tanned skin, but his smile remained the same. Konrad recognized him after a few seconds.

Nguyen and his friends in their sponsorship supported youth club.

Nguyen was a little bit embarrassed at first when they caught each other’s eyes. As for Konrad, I felt like this full grown man turned into a shy and clumsy boy when standing in front of his friend, whom he was meeting for the first time. “I know Nguyen is shy because I also feel nervous,” said Konrad.

However, the barrier of shyness was broken as soon as they danced and played shuttlecock-kicking, a game in which players use their feet to keep the shuttlecock from touching the ground. Konrad found himself embarrassed again when being asked to dance in Nguyen’s classroom, but he overcame his hesitation and danced for everyone! I never thought that he could dance like this! A real dancing machine. He was also pretty good at playing shuttlecock-kicking. Sports really have the power to bring people together!

It’s also true that food unites people, bringing us together and bridging gaps. After some time spent playing games, Konrad joined a cooking class and helped Nguyen and his friends make a traditional Vietnamese salad. The salad is made with banana flowers, green papayas, carrots, boiled pork, lean pork paste, crushed peanuts and a special sauce which is made with fish sauce, sugar, lemon or kumquat, chilly and garlic. The class was divided into 3 teams and Konrad was nominated as a judge of their cooking contest. While everyone was focused on the competition, Konrad enjoyed talking with Nguyen as if nobody was around. They talked about their favorite sports – bicycle riding for Konrad and soccer for Nguyen – as well as shared experiences, memories and just had casual conversation about their lives.

Konrad and Nguyen together in the cooking class.

As a teacher, Konrad has a great concern for education, especially for the school where Nguyen is studying. During the visit, the head teacher showed him around the school and provided detailed information about matters that he was concerned about. Konrad was impressed, and asked about the child-centered teaching techniques being used and about the youth club available at the school, all supported by sponsors like him. The youth club is a great place for adolescents to share knowledge and learn about sexual and reproductive health, and other problems faced by teenagers. Konrad was even able to participate in one of the youth club meetings, and was happy for the opportunity to share his viewpoints about the importance of friendship. He made an example of the friendship between him and Nguyen – a friendship without borders.

Konrad is an energetic man but his voice was shaky and barely covering a sob when saying goodbye to his dear sponsored child. A handshake, a hug and a best wish from Nguyen was a priceless farewell gift that warmed his sponsor’s heart. “Thank you for visiting me. I hope you are happy and healthy every day,” Nguyen said to his sponsor. Konrad promised to come back and I’m really looking forward to that day, when we can make the best memories together again.

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

After School for D’Miya

Melissa McCaughan

Sponsorship Communications Specialist

Save the Children U.S. Programs

September 17, 2018

D’Miya is 8 years old and lives in Mississippi. She is entering third grade and participates in the after-school program supported through Save the Children in her community. Once a shy child, she now beams with confidence. Her smile lights up a room and she has blossomed, because of sponsorship.

D’Miya comes from a very low-income area. Jobs are scarce and many people can’t afford the basic educational resources, like books or school supplies, needed to support their children’s education. D’Miya’s grandparents inquired about the after-school program because they felt it could help her be more successful in school. Her basic reading skills were not quite where they needed to be for students her age, and she was having difficulties with writing as well. She also generally wasn’t excited about school or her classes, and didn’t feel motivated to participate in lessons.

Since entering the program and receiving the additional support outside of school that she needed, D’Miya has made new friends and her test scores in reading have improved. D’Miya’s teacher describes her writing as excellent and notes improvement on her literacy assessments too. She is now able to read more books and has the opportunity to use computers in the afterschool program. D’Miya now describes school as “fun!”

D’Miya writing to Laura and her students at the Primrose School.

“You get to read in school!” smiles D’Miya. She has a positive attitude now and has become more active in class discussions and activities.

D’Miya also enjoys writing to her sponsor and seeing the pictures that her sponsor draws. “I feel very, very thankful,” says D’Miya, in regards to having a sponsor who writes her. She likes having someone to write to that she hasn’t met, who can tell her about life outside of her community. It makes her feel good to receive a letter.

D’Miya’s sponsor, Laura from the Primrose School, sends her birthday cards and drawings. Laura’s young students in the toddler room she teachers in also write special messages to D’Miya. She receives letters from Laura every couple of months, and responds telling her about her newest favorite books. She also loves drawing pictures for her sponsor.

Outside of school, D’Miya enjoys playing on the swing set at the park, swimming, running and riding her bike. Her hero is her daddy who plays with her and shows her how to fix things.

When D’Miya was little, her mother passed away, and although she has great admiration for her father he isn’t always around to take care of her. She now lives with her grandmother and grandfather. Without any brothers or sisters, D’Miya can get lonely. However, writing to her sponsor has fostered an emotional connection for her that she would not have had otherwise.

D’Miya’s grandmother hopes that D’Miya will “succeed in life to the fullest and have the opportunity to go to the college of her choice.”

D’Miya reading with friends at the afterschool program.

The sponsorship coordinator at D’Miya’s school, Deanna, said, “I believe she will accomplish anything she sets her mind to. She is determined and driven when it comes to completing a task, so she has great potential to do big things. I feel as though her love for helping others will be seen throughout her future in one way or another.”

Deanna describes D’Miya as having a bubbly personality and a great sense of humor. “She has opened up more to others rather than staying more to herself. She has grown as an individual, and made great improvements in school,” said Deanna.

Long after Save the Children moves out of her community, D’Miya will benefit from the impact it has made in her confidence and her success in school. Likewise, the connection she has formed with her sponsor will benefit her for a lifetime.

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

Gerald Gets Healthy

By Sam Labu

Community Sponsorship Officer

Save the Children in Uganda

September 14, 2018

Gerald is a 10-year-old boy from Kakiri sub-county in the Wakiso District of Uganda. He is in 3rd grade and is an active member of his school health club, which was set up through the sponsorship program in his community. The goal of this club is to provide an avenue for children to learn and participate in improving their personal health and hygiene.

In Uganda, school pupils face a number of challenges related to poor hygiene and sanitation. Before Save the Children started working in Gerald’s community, children did not have access to safe drinking water at school.

Drinking contaminated water from the nearby wells and harvested rainwater was the order of the day for pupils. This caused many diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid which caused students to miss school a lot. “I used to miss school because of diarrhea and stomach aches, I didn’t know that it was because of the water we were drinking at school,” says Gerald.

Through Save the Children’s Healthy Girls and Boys program, our goal is to improve the health and education status of children to enable them to learn and develop to their full potential. School health clubs were set-up in every school reached by sponsorship to empower the pupils with the knowledge to keep themselves healthy. In Uganda, we’ve reached over 80 schools with this type of health education program, including mentoring and training for nearly 3,000 girls and boys.

The pupils and their teachers as well were educated on the dangers of drinking unsafe water. Along with that, access to safe drinking water was provided to the schools. For example, sponsorship provided SODIS devices, which stands for solar disinfection of water, and safe water tanks to store boiled drinking water in. The teachers in each of the schools were also trained on how to incorporate health education into the classroom, for example teaching children how to use and maintain the new water tanks. Gerald’s school received spouts which use a ceramic water filter – a type of filter which purifies and disinfects water using a layer of silver nitrate.

Gerald, as a member of his school health club, has also learned how to guide the other students in where to access the clean water and encourages them to drink it, to keep themselves hydrated and avoid needing to drink from the dirty water sources. “I always remind my classmates to drink the safe water from the spout because it will help them not fall sick and miss school.” says Gerald. He and his fellow club members are also responsible for keeping their school compound and classrooms clean and orderly, as well as maintaining handwashing facilities at school and assisting the younger students in washing their hands.

With access to safe drinking water in the schools, the pupils no longer miss school because of diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid. They are healthier and more eager to learn.

“Thanks to Save the Children, I am healthy, I go to school every day and I am working hard to be a lawyer in the future.” Gerald said with a hopeful grin.

With support from Save the Children through the school health clubs, Gerald and other pupils know the dangers of drinking unsafe water and are empowered to be great advocates for better sanitation and hygiene practices in the community.

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

When You Meet Your Other Family


By Agus, Edited by Suciati Bobu

Sponsorship Operations Staff

Save the Children in Indonesia

September 6, 2018

On February 13th, 2017, I was spending time with my friends playing around our home, when my teacher came to visit. As I approached wondering what news the teacher had brought in to my parents, I was called, “Agus, please come in! I’ve got something to tell you!” The teacher waved me to come closer, “You know what, you are going to have your sponsor visit you soon,” she told me. “Your parents are okay with the visit. What do you think?”

I thought, “Wow, there is a foreigner coming to visit me! Is it true? Is there someone who wants to come a long way to visit me in my village?”

I live in a small farming village in the mountains on an island, where it is very rare to receive visits from outsiders, even from the little town here. Expecting a foreigner to visit me was beyond my imagination. As a school ambassador of Save the Children, I have a sponsor in Korea whose name is Mr. Choi. We write to each other through letters. Is this Korean man sure he would like to come to see me? Questions boomed in my head.

Agus writing a letter to his sponsor, Mr. Choi.

“Yes!” I gave my short answer with a big nod. It was a ‘yes’ with a mix of wonder, many questions and of course, excitement.

Time flew by and it came the day of the visit, the 5th of May, 2017. My parents came along to school to meet Mr. Choi and his family. I was excited about meeting them. “What will they look like?” I saw a group of people stepping out of the car. I could see four beautiful people who looked different from the others. They were Mr. Choi, his wife, and their son and daughter – Wonho who was 5 and little Yunji who was just 3. The other two were Save the Children staff who helped facilitate the meeting. “They are here, it’s unbelievable!” I thought to myself.

When it came to the introduction part, I was so nervous. I did not know what to say to Mr. Choi and his family. I had no clue how to speak Korean, even English. Luckily, the people from Save the Children helped me. It was surprising to know that Mr. Choi still remembered my dream of becoming a pilot. I recalled that I once mentioned it when I wrote a letter to him. He knew and remembered that about me, and much more through the letters I sent. He told me how keen they were to visit me. I felt so special.

Agus’s family and Mr. Choi’s family meet up at school.

We then walked together to see the other students. As Mr. Choi is a dentist, he brought hundreds of toothbrushes. We shared them with the other students at school. In class, we learn about how to have good personal hygiene and nutrition, and learn about how and when to brush our teeth, too. Just like Mr. Choi does at his job!

Before leaving, Mr. Choi came to me and said, “I’ll try to come back. Please study hard to reach your dream. Go to school every day and obey your parents!” It was just a few of hours meeting, but seeing them leaving was heart breaking. Yet, I know that we would still communicate through letters. Most of all, I am now confident in studying even harder in order to pursue my dream.

I know that I have my other family in another part of the world who always supports me.

Have you written to your sponsored child lately? A quick note with a few words of encouragement can make a world of difference for a struggling child. Consider sharing a message with them today!

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

 

Celebrating the African Child


Annette Malilo Konsolo

Information and Communications Officer

Save the Children in Zambia

August 27, 2018

The atmosphere at one of our local primary schools was special this day, as it was hosting an important day in the lives of many children. With the Zambian flag flying high, teachers struggled to keep children together as there was so much to see. Younger students could be seen peeping through the classroom windows, trying to catch a glimpse of the older boys moving around outside the school, carrying drums over their shoulders while the girls set-up decorations in the school hall. They just couldn’t wait to dance to the rhythm of those big drums.

International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16th every year since 1991, after it was initiated by the OAU, the Organization of African Unity. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising on that day in 1976. In the Soweto Uprising, black South African students led protests against the discriminatory policies of the Apartheid government. The event is historically significant for the extreme police brutality the students faced, and its role in bringing international attention to the cruel realities faced by black South Africans. The Day of the African Child brings with it an important aspect in the lives of African children and those of different nationalities across the world alike.

Sara with her best friend Rose during Day of the African child celebrations.

Charity, the headteacher at the school, together with other members of her school staff, took their places as everyone joined them for the national anthem. Afterwards, Charity and Save the Children staff spoke to the crowd on the day’s activities. The atmosphere was filled with pride, as Zambia has enjoyed 52 years of peace. Looking around the crowd, one could also see the pride that came along with being an African child, as children eagerly listened in.

Standing beside her mother, 8-year-old Sara struggled to sing the anthem to perfection but still understood the meaning of the song and the words to it. Probably one day when she’s a bit older, its words will mean even more to her.

“She’s so anxious to learn new things and never stops asking me questions. Being a Caregiver myself, I have no problem as I teach younger children so I understand her,” says Sara’s mother, Phales, who is in her mid-twenties. As a Save the Children Caregiver, Phales teaches in the Early Learners center in their community, working with children ages 3 – 8 in developing their learning skills in sponsorship supported programs. She also assists sponsorship operations, for example, helping children reply to sponsor letters.

Sara dancing with her classmate Reuben during Day of the African Child celebrations.

A spectacular show filled with drumming, dancing, and educational poems had even the children in the back rows of the hall on their feet, as they struggled to see what was happening ahead. Poems were also shared by children on topics related to child protection, equal opportunities, and child empowerment. Luckily for Sara and her mother, together with some of the other younger children, they were given seats right in the front row.  

With organizations like Save the Children giving a second chance to the lives of many children through bigger and brighter education opportunities, every last African child can shine and contribute positively to their society.

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

Working with Communities


Zewge Abate

Internal Communications Manager

Save the Children in Ethiopia

August 20, 2018

My first fieldwork with Save the Children took me to the area of Central Tigray, where I was also able to visit Axum, a town I always wanted to see. In Axum, I wanted to make a connection with our great past through the city’s remnants of ancient civilizations and rich heritage.

Standing in the background of the great obelisks, I felt like my world was dwarfed by the wisdom and tall spirits of my ancestors. Touching the stones that have long fended the ancient St. Mary’s Church left me with a great sense of perseverance and vigilance. A little weary of the deafening urban noise and congestion in Addis Ababa, I thought it was also refreshing to experience people’s sense of calm and the town’s modest vibe. From the shuttle driver who took me to my hotel, to the young jewelry vendors who left me smiling when I told them I was not a buyer, to the waiters who took my orders for dinner – the local people looked politely proud or proudly polite. I could not for sure tell which.

Children attending class under makeshift structures and using stones and logs as seats.

I was part of the Save the Children team attending a launching event for the sponsorship program in Central Tigray. I learned this program is designed to last ten years, in order to reach some 200,000 early learning and primary school students in about 200 schools across Central Tigray. These efforts would reach students ages 4 to 14, working to improve quality of classrooms and learning materials, teaching skills of teachers, involvement of parents in children’s educations, and much more.

In the first three years alone, we plan to reach 52,000 students in 63 schools.

From what I saw during my visit, there was a long way to go. Class was held in semi-permanent structures, with little protection from the elements save a shade above the children’s heads to keep them out of the sun. Children sat on stones or logs, which caused discomfort as the day went on and made it difficult for them to concentrate. The walls were practically empty, with no colorful, engaging or print rich materials to see. There were no books or toys, and almost no learning materials to be seen either, except a small blackboard – overall it was not a child-friendly space.

Despite the harsh environment, children are eager to learn.

Although I’ve only been a part of the sponsorship team for a few months, I’ve already been able to witness the high level of determination the communities have to work with Save the Children. Local families feel ownership in these interventions because we involve them every step of the way, in all decisions. Their trust in Save the Children is clear. With organizational support from sponsorship staff, the community members had raised their own money, despite meagre resources, in order to help support construction of the new classrooms.

Now, the community at large and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) are working together with Save the Children to monitor the construction of the new classrooms. The classrooms are nearly complete and the school benches and other learning materials are being purchased. The timing cannot be more perfect as the Ethiopian academic year is starting soon. When school opens, these classrooms will mean the world to the children here.

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