Persistent Work Leads to Positive Change

By: Cheeko Garcia, Media and Communications Officer

A graduate of Social Work, Stanley has been with Save the Children for five years now. He works as Sponsorship Assistant, his task requires him to work closely in rural communities. Over time, he has witnessed how the organization’s programs have improved the welfare of children.

Stanley, Save the Children Sponsorship Assistant

When Stanley first worked with Save the Children, he noticed that majority of Save the Children partner schools needed assistance even in the most basic things. Located in remote, mountainous, and hard-to-reach communities, these schools barely receive government support. “There were schools which do not have clean water for children to drink, children do not receive dental and health check-ups, there were not enough books to read, and other students go to class hungry,” he recalls. As a result, children often go to school weak, untidy, and distracted while others lose interest and chose not to attend school anymore. “I have also witnessed some parents who punished their children for misbehavior either by pinching or scolding them in front of other people,” he added.

Stanley devotes much of his time working in the field particularly with children and parents. Stanley travels to remote villages both in coastal areas and in highlands. Spending hours of travel through deep rivers, muddy roads, or rough terrain is common to him. Upon arriving in the communities, he walks through farmlands and around villages with huts made of dried nipa leaves and bamboo to look for children. As the bridge between sponsors and the children, he talks to the children to know how they are doing and have their photos taken. He also delivers to and collects letters from children.

Stanley conducts a workshop for volunteers from Maitum, Sarangani Province. The training is part of the organization’s commitment to capacitate its partners in delivering programs for education, health, and child rights, among others.

Save the Children provides much-needed help through its Sponsorship Programs. Through partnership, the sponsorship programs support schools and communities. The programs facilitate the delivery of basic needs such as clean water in schools, train teachers, advocate for public funds for children, develop school disaster preparedness plans, and provide assistance to children’s groups. Also through the programs, healthy habits for children, child rights, and positive discipline are promoted among the members of the community.

Stanley taking a photo of Honey Jean for the Annual Family Update

Today, Stanley says he has seen much improvement among parents and children alike. In schools, pupils wash their hands regularly, teachers conduct tooth brushing activities, and children teach proper grooming habits to their peers. Parents have refrained from hurting and humiliating their children. Students and their communities now enjoy clean drinking water in schools. Children who were trained by Save the Children have gained much confidence and have become more participative in school.

“I hope our sponsors will continue to extend help because I have personally witnessed the good impact of our interventions. My commitment to the work that I do stays strong because I see that children are happy, learning and protected,” says Stanley.

Learning to Have Fun in the Library

By: Ruth Carola Zambrana, Sponsorship Assistant, Save the Children Bolivia

“Teachers used to send their students to the school library as punishment (detention) but now students who are rewarded are sent to the library”, says Mariel a school librarian in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

Mariel’s school library has been growing thanks to the support of Save the Children, who began working with her school in 2012. Encouraging children’s literacy and love for reading was one of Save the Children’s objectives and to do so, teaching materials, posters, and books were donated in order to make this space welcoming and exciting for children. A year later, the longed-for library began to operate.

Genesis, Mariel & Samir in the library

Mariel shares with us: “When I first started working here, I simply worked in the library and didn’t know what I had to do to make children want to come to the library”. Given the need to make the library an attractive place for children to be in and start reading and learning new things, Save the Children held Socialization and Library Implementation guideline workshops with the specific objective of arising the curiosity in children on what the school library may offer them.

After participating in these workshops, we now see children at Mariel’s school during school recess run to the library faster than to the kiosk. Children really started to enjoy being in the library and this was thanks to Mariel’s dedicated work of applying everything she has learned to improve her library. She explains: “The library implementation workshop has taught us how to give life to the stories children read. We have done this with our children by working with them to develop their own stories, practice origami, organize story time sessions, act out stories and also create a story roulette for children to pick out a book”. Children enjoyed working on stories so much that during the presentation of the school’s library to the whole school, children’s work was highlighted and they were able to demonstrate their work. Children themselves have talked about how the library has improved and how they loved how we have taken advantage of the materials that Save the Children has given them.

Mariel at her desk in the library

Ashly, on of Mariel’s students and also a sponsored child girl remembers: “Ms. Mariel encouraged us to make our own stories… mine was about a toad.” “Mine was about a boy and it was shaped as an accordion. Ms. Mariel has motivated us to invent our own stories” points out Alira (Ashly’s classmate) who also is enrolled our Sponsorship program.

Save the Children U.S. Programs

Summer Boost Helps Kids Stay on Track

By Julia Morledge, age 15

Julia sponsors Emil, age 6

Edited by Jenée Tonelli, Sponsorship Communications Specialist

 

At 15 years old, my family has been sponsoring through Save the Children longer than I’ve been alive.  I’ve written to children over the years and received their letters and drawings in return, but have always wondered more about my sponsored child!  So, it was very exciting when my family and I visited the Save the Children Summer Programs in Tennessee.  Being from New England, it was so great to see what daily life was like for kids in rural, southern America!

The Save the Children Programs help to keep kids on track with their learning over the summer to make sure they don’t fall behind while school is out. My family and I sponsor because we have always believed that reading is especially important for these kids to learn, as our current society requires literacy to be successful.

One large goal of the program was to make reading fun for these kids. Everything they did with the kids was learning disguised as fun, which was really amazing to see. Before going out to see the programs, I was expecting a generic type of daycare for parents to drop their kids off while they worked. However, these kids were having a great time participating in all of the fun activities Save the Children had to offer while learning at the same time.

I was also so happy to see there was a connection between the staff and the kids that seemed to drive them to want to learn and accomplish more. For many of these kids, the Save the Children staff are their number one supporters.

Julia reads with Lareina in her home as part of the Early Steps to School Success program

I’m more convinced than ever that every one of us has the power to make a difference in this world, and by investing in our young generations and teaching them how to become ambitious learners, we are investing in the future. Save the Children provides support to these kids and gives them the tools to help both themselves and those around them.

Something that I take for granted are the many supporters surrounding me, constantly pushing me and wanting me to succeed in life. After seeing many children who didn’t have much or any support at home, I could see clearly that Save the Children was providing much needed support for all of these kids. With just one group of cheerleaders, my sponsored child is being given the opportunity to break the poverty cycle and seek a better life for himself.

I’ll never forget how inspired I felt watching these kids develop a passion for learning! It gave me hope for the future of our world.

Now Christine Can Go to School

01
Madrine Amuge

School Health and Nutrition Senior Officer

Save the Children Uganda

October 21, 2016

Christine, a nine-year-old girl and second born in a family of five children, lives with her parents and is enrolled in the Save the Children Sponsorship program in Uganda.

In the past, Christine was often sent away from school, not able to attend without the basic requirements like paper and books. When she was permitted to stay in class, she was not able to take any notes because she had no notebook to write in, preventing her ability to learn.

senior-officer-madrine-helps-christine-compose-a-letter
Senior Officer Madrine helps Christine compose a letter.

“Before I joined Sponsorship, I would feel sad going to school without exercise books, pencils or anything to color with. I would often be sent home from school because I didn’t have a book for a particular subject,” remembered Christine quietly.

As a result of Sponsorship funds, the community has been provided with enough scholastic materials to ensure all children are able to go to school and learn. Today many more children, including Christine, enjoy being in school thanks to this funding.

Christine was very excited to receive a pack of books, lead pencils and colored pencils from Save the Children, which has enabled her to develop a love of learning. In addition to the scholastic items, Christine receives frequent correspondences from her sponsor that she happily replies to. We’ve found that letter writing increases children’s interest in reading and writing and their engagement in their studies. This is certainly true for Christine, whose reading and writing skills have greatly improved – she proudly boasts her handwriting is the best in her class.

Christine proudly holds the letter she’s finished for her sponsor.

Also through Sponsorship program interventions, Christine has learned how to stay clean and healthy while at school, by keeping her fingernails short and by washing her hands with soap before eating food and after visiting the latrine.

Christine is very optimistic that she will finish school and achieve her dream of becoming a nurse one day. She is very grateful for her sponsor’s support and encouragement. Her sponsor’s words help motivate her to continue being dedicated to her studies.

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

Sponsorship Comes Full Circle

Formerly sponsored child, Gloria
Formerly sponsored child, Gloria.

Save the Children U.S. Programs

October 12, 2016

Gloria has accomplished much in her 57 years on this earth. Born in 1959, she continues to live in the land of her birth. She has raised 2 children, and now has 4 grandchildren, 2 of whom she also raised herself, Anthony and Anfernee. The twin boys, now 19, and their successes are her greatest testament to a life well lived.

Gloria is the perfect example of Save the Children’s work coming full-circle. She was a sponsored child herself growing-up, and has many fond memories of corresponding back and forth with her sponsors. That relationship left a life-long impact on Gloria. Her sponsors’ encouragement to pursue her education led her to be one of the few in her community to go on to college.

Gloria reads a story to children during our literacy programs.
Gloria reads a story to children during our literacy programs.

Growing up in Arizona, the east coast of America might as well have been another country, but Gloria’s sponsors – a couple who sponsored her jointly – painted vivid pictures through their words in letters to her, so that she could imagine such a place. They talked about pets, school and what Gloria’s life was like with her family on the reservation.

Today, Gloria is proud to be the Save the Children Program Coordinator for one of the schools we partner with. She has over 9 years of experience in that role, and truly grasps the fundamental importance of Sponsorship programs, and their ability to enhance children’s lives.  She has also been working as the Sponsorship Liaison for 2 years, and enjoys facilitating the relationship between sponsors and children through letter correspondence, as this was the very relationship that she enjoyed so much as a child herself.

Gloria works with Sponsorship programs to help children develop a love of reading.
Gloria works with Sponsorship programs to help children develop a love of reading.

Gloria’s daughter was sponsored, as were her twin grandsons. Anthony and Anfernee participated in Save the Children literacy programs and went on to graduate high school this past year. Their success is Gloria’s success, and our success! Gloria’s personal relationship with sponsorship is so special to the rest of the U.S. Programs team, and the children we work with too – a living story of sponsorship success!

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

The Joys of a Letter Shared with Friends and Neighbors

Author Portrait_Nazma Akter, Sponsorship Program OfficerNazma Akter

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Bangladesh

August 23, 2016

“It’s for the first time. A letter to such a little child is not only a new experience for us, but also a great joy for us.” said Sufia, age 27. Her two-year-old son Sabbir has just received a letter from abroad, sent to him by his sponsor.

Sufia is a home-maker and her husband, Delowar, age 32, works as a day laborer. Sabbir is their only child. Together they live in a slum settlement in the Rayerbazar community of Dhaka North city.

Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father
Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father

Enrolling children between the ages of 1 and 3 in Sponsorship has been recently introduced in Rayerbazar, in 2015 through our new Maternal and Child Health programming. Despite that this is a new initiative for Save the Children, the team in Bangladesh has already seen Maternal and Child Health has made sponsors excited. Sabbir received his first sponsor right after being enrolled in Sponsorship in August, and received his first sponsor letter immediately after that, in September.

Sabbir is still too young to understand what makes this letter so thrilling, but the happiness and excitement is greatly shared by his parents, despite that neither of them are literate. His mother explains, “We don’t know reading and writing. But we have loved reading the letter and replying to the sponsor with the help of [Sponsorship] staff. This letter has made us feel proud, as only Sabbir in our [entire] slum got a letter. We have shared the letter with our neighbors also. We are very thankful to the sponsor.”

In addition to making this connection with Sabbir’s sponsor, Sufia benefits from sponsorship support by attending early stimulation parenting sessions regularly. Our early stimulation parenting program is implemented through regular home visits or monthly group sessions with parents of newborns and toddlers. During these sessions, parents are taught how to aid in their young children’s development with playtime, language and communication, gentle discipline, healthy hygiene practices, feeding and nutritious foods. Parents and children alike learn with helpful learning materials, like illustrative cards and colorful picture books.

Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement
Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement

Sufia tells me, “Previously I didn’t know how to take care of a young child. But now, I have learned about the needs and care, including hygiene, food and nutrition required for Sabbir’s growth. Now, I can take proper care of him. We are happy to get Save the Children’s support.” Sabbir’s mother understands the importance of the Sponsorship program in helping her community, and how sponsors’ contributions directly benefit her child and family’s wellbeing.

Sufia wants Sabbir to have a good quality education. She wants his sponsor to keep writing to Sabbir, so that he too can learn from these letters and one day respond to them on his own. She is happy to know that her son has the opportunity to grow up with Sponsorship in his life.

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

Bourama Rises to the Occasion

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

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

 

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

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

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

Picture of Bourama in 2006
Picture of Bourama in 2006

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

22-year-old Bourama today

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

Child Satisfaction Matters Most

Agnes

Agnes Zalila

Sponsorship Manager

Lufwanyama Communities, Zambia

August 31, 2015

 

When we sit at our tables every day, developing strategies, writing reports, and completing many other management and programming procedures, we rarely realize what matters most in all the things we do. How does the child feel about all we do? What matters most to them? 

Group (1)

A group in the Lufwanyama communities.

This year we had our first Country Office review here in Zambia. The staff on my team were all very anxious, especially since the review team was comprised of very high powered Save the Children officials. Everyone wanted to prove and show that they were doing the right thing and following the guidelines.

On the other hand, I realized children did not really care about what everyone thought but wanted to have fun and enjoy their school and outside sessions as usual.

So it was after two days of meetings that it was time to meet the communities and children we are working with. Our group began the long drive to the Lufwanyama communities, winding and bumping along difficult roads. After hours of driving we met with core group members, teachers, and center care givers. Yet the most fascinating and humbling of the people waiting were the small beautiful faces of children.

After exchanging greetings, the children quickly forgot the strangers in their midst and went back to their usual sessions. They sang songs, danced, and spent time with their teachers.

When parents and teachers were asked about the impact of sponsorship programs, one parent proudly said “My child now teaches us hygiene as she learns from school which she never did before now.” Another proudly spoke about how the parents were working together to ensure that they built a permanent shelter for their children to learn in.

Dancing

Dancing in the Lufwanyama communities.

But what do you think the children said, on what they loved most and what more they wanted? “I like it when the teacher teaches me how to dance and sing”, or, “I like playing with my friends at school”.

While you and I are thinking of big, expensive, visible, and tangible physical development, that is not what matters most for the children we serve. For the child, what we may think is very small matters most to them.

All the way back to the office I could hear everyone talking about their favorite child’s song, or how they all enjoyed dancing with the children, and how we all remembered our own childhood. Even the CEO could not help but sit and be swamped with the many children who wanted to just sit with him. Those are the little things that really matter, to put back the smile on that child’s face. Learning must be fun. Our role is to make it so.

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

The Dream Weavers

Mona

Mona Mariano

Sponsorship Manager

T'bolis Village, Philippines

August 24, 2015

 

In one of the southern parts of the Philippines where Save the Children works, you will find the colorful tribe of the T’bolis. Upon visiting their community, you will notice the assortment of distinctive and colorful clothing against the green backdrop of the hills. The native clothes of the tribe, made of T’nalak, make the brown complexion of the people shine. 

Group

A group of young girls wearing their T'nalak to school.

The T'nalak cloth comes from the leaves of abaca, dyed and meticulously weaved. The intricate interlacing of bold colors is a recognized community craft. The cloth is revered and can be seen in special ceremonies throughout a person’s life span, such as child births and weddings. 

The typical T'boli textile is history in itself. The unique patterns of the costumes are born from deep-rooted rituals that are passed from generation to generation. The weaving is a tedious job and would take women several months to finish one complete design. The patterns conceived by the weavers are believed to be imparted to them in dreams from their ancestors and from the spirit of the abaca called Fu Dalu. Because of this, the T’nalak makers are also known as the “dream weavers”.

Only women are allowed to lace the T’nalak. Men are forbidden to handle the abaca fiber until the weaving process is complete. There is also a saying that the weaver should not couple with her husband during the weaving time because it may cause the abaca to break or destroy the design sent across a dream. 

Twosome

Two young girls from lake Sebu are encouraged to wear their traditional costumes at lea.

T’boli communities observe the T'nalak festival annually in July, during the foundation anniversary of their province of South Cotabato. During this festivity, colorful street dancing can be seen throughout the cities with performers decked in native costumes of the various tribal groups.

As a people who value rich cultural heritage, T’boli women and men learn to adorn themselves with their native costumes from early childhood. Aside from their wonderful T’nalak outfits, men wear turbans and women are garlanded with hair accessories, combs, and colorful beads. In their very simple lifestyle, these traditional adornments markedly stand out and are a source of community pride.

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

A Recent Graduate Joins Our Mission

Fransheshca

Fransheska Quijada

Staff Member

Panama

August 17, 2015

 

My name is Fransheska Quijada and I grew up in El Salvador, a country located in the middle of Central America. I went to the U.S. in August of 2012 to obtain my Masters in Public Policy at the University of Kentucky (UK). I wanted a graduate program that included field practice because I wanted to prepare myself to become a specialist in the planning, execution, and management of public education and community development initiatives. It was through my Master’s internship program that I had the opportunity to join the Head Start team at Save the Children the following year.

Boys

Christian and Robert enjoying U.S. Programs

Through my internship with Save the Children, I had the chance to work with a dynamic, multidisciplinary, and passionate group of people. At the end of the day their mission is, “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives”. Everyone involved with the U.S. sponsorship team, from the Director in Lexington, KY to the sponsorship liaisons operating in schools nation-wide, is committed to enhancing children’s lives in the present and creating a brighter future for them in the years to come.

Hearing the sponsorship team talk about sponsors with such reverence and appreciation truly helped me understand that it is the sponsors who are indeed the driving force of bringing positive change to the lives of the children we work with. Without them, Save the Children’s reach would not be nearly as vast or impactful as it is today.

Hanging

Christian and Anabella enjoying U.S. Programs

I still recall when Amanda Kohn, Director of U.S. Programs Sponsorship, came to UK and spoke to us about Save the Children’s work. I could feel the passion and commitment that she felt for her job. Amanda spoke about her team, coworkers, their work environment, and the high level of commitment that all of them have. It was in that moment I knew that I wanted to work for such an organization. A few short months later, I was the newest member of their team.

Currently I am living in Panama, another country located in Central America, working to transform communities through educational and health projects. My experience working with the sponsorship team at Save the Children helped me realize that when dynamic, positive, and passionate people get together to change the world, they can do it!

Have you had a similar inspirational moment in your life? Think of a time when you worked with a group of committed individuals who were passionate about the project at hand. We would love to hear some of the ways you have seen dedicated work pay off in your community, home, or work environment. Here at Save the Children sponsorship we believe loving what you do is very important!

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