Morsal’s Bright Future

By:  Farida Holkar, Sponsorship MEAL Officer

Morsal is a five-year-old resident of Shahchinar village in Sar-i-pul province, Afghanistan, where she lives in a small house made of mud with her mother and siblings.  Since the death of her father due to cancer, Morsal’s family relies solely on her mother Khalida’s monthly teacher salary of $95, leaving little extra money to spend on toys to play with or access to educational materials at home. “My daughter was not smiling much and not interacting with others,” explains Khalida.  “I was busy working and doing home chores, and I knew I was not spending enough time with Morsal and that she wasn’t learning like she should be.”

Fortunately, in 2017, Save the Children established a sponsorship-funded school-based Early Learners program in the village to serve marginalized groups of children between the ages of three and six.  A one-room building, including wash facilities, was constructed and two teachers were hired and trained to provide early education in such areas as language and communication and knowledge with letters and numbers.  So far, this program has served almost 6,694 pre-school age children and 6,286 adults in home-based Early Learning groups, school-based centers and various parent groups within the community.

Morsal (far right) playing and having fun at her school

The positive impact sponsorship made on the village’s youngest residents was felt right away.  “One prominent change is that our community children like Morsal became more and more courageous in speaking,” explained classroom teacher Zahra.  “Before, the children in this age group just walked around the village, and did not do much when their parents were busy with work.”

For Morsal and other children like her, the program opened up a whole new world – a safe space to learn as well as take part in interesting activities, including storytelling, games, singing, dancing, drawing and sport. Morsal now joyfully takes the lead on games and activities and she is not shy to be the first to answer any question asked by her teacher and classmates. “I feel excited to go to ECCD center because there are so many toys, good friends and games. Now I can read and write my name.”

Morsal (center) playing dolls with her friends at the center

With tears welling up in her eyes, an appreciative Khalida explains just how impactful Save the Children’s Sponsorship has been to her family, “We had never heard and seen this kind of early childhood care and development program in our village. Now every morning Morsal always asks me to take her to the center because she wants to learn more and play with her friends.  We see a positive difference.”

Malina is a Clever Girl

Author Portrait_Benafsha, School-based ECCD TeacherBenafsha

School-based ECCD Teacher

Save the Children in Afghanistan

April 7, 2017

I am Benafsha. I live in Maimana City of Faryab Province, in Afghanistan. I have been an Early Child Care and Development (ECCD) teacher for three years now. I love my job. I enjoy teaching little kids and preparing them for entering primary school. I think ECCD is a very important program because it prepares children for a better future early on in their lives. I have many great stories from each day of my life as an ECCD teacher, but Malina’s story is one of my favorites.

Malina is a six-year-old girl. She joined our ECCD classes two years ago. Her family is very poor and her parents are illiterate, like many of the children in my classes. When Malina first joined ECCD, she was not behaving well and had difficulties communicating. She was very shy and barely spoke to anyone. Her parents were worried about her.

Benafsha and her smiling ECCD students.
Benafsha and her smiling ECCD students.

Thanks to Sponsorship’s ECCD programs, our classroom is full and colorful. I have also received trainings from Save the Children that help me make my lessons engaging for my young students. Each day here Malina is greeted with a child-friendly and safe environment that helps encourage her to learn and play. As teachers, we help children develop their cognitive, socio-emotional and language skills, as well as skills in early literacy and math. It turned out, all this was exactly what Malina needed.

I encouraged Malina by welcoming her into opportunities to play and participate in different activities. She took the chance to communicate with the other children once they were all playing together. Day by day, Malina gained the courage and confidence to talk more and more. Today, she is a very active and intelligent little girl, which makes her mother very happy. Her mother proudly shared, “Malina is a very clever girl. She is happy and very sociable.”

A happy Malina (middle) and her sister Madina and Malya.
A happy Malina (middle) and her sister Madina and Malya.

Children who graduate from our ECCD classes perform much stronger in school compared to classmates who did not receive any pre-primary school education, and are usually the top of their class. Malina’s mother tells me, I have five daughters. All of them had normal childhoods and thrived. However, Malina struggled with talking for years. I was very worried about her future. I sometimes cried thinking about her. Fortunately, Save the Children established the [ECCD] centers for our children, and it has been two years since she started attending ECCD classes. She is very active now. She sings songs for her sisters, dances and tells us stories. We are very grateful to Save the Children for giving this great opportunity to our children.”

As an ECCD teacher working directly with the children, I find my work fulfilling although it is sometimes hard. I push my limits to go beyond my work and always try to give a little more, helping more children because they deserve to be served and they are the future of our country. I give my special thanks to each of our sponsors, and I hope their support continues so more children like Malina can have brighter futures.

We thank you, Benafsha – our programs would not be possible without hardworking, caring and dedicated teachers like you. Thank you for being our partner in changing children’s lives for the better!

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