Kindness in the Classroom

By: Nimma Adhikari, Sponsorship Communication Coordinator

My first visit to Kapilvastu, Nepal, was back in 2013 when I had accompanied my then supervisor to meet sponsored children in schools supported by Save the Children’s Sponsorship Program. Of those schools, some had very small classrooms for a large volume of students, while others did not have enough students. Some were undergoing construction building new classrooms, early learning centers and age-appropriate water taps. This was the fourth year of Save the Children programs in Kapilvastu. 

Fast forward to 2019, and I meet 14-year-old Goma, a grade eight student in one of the schools we work at in Kapilvastu. She remembers how she and her friends studied in cramped classrooms when she was in her primary school. They did not have enough classrooms to house all the students comfortably, and on top of that, most teachers walked around with sticks in their hands reminding them to behave. Learning was not much fun for Goma and her siblings. It was a task that she did to please her parents — especially her father who had a brief career as a teacher but had settled as a farmer.  

“Many years ago, a bunch of people had come to take our photos. Soon after, I received a letter from someone who I was told was my friend from Italy. Her name is Paola,” shares Goma who first started participating in Save the Children’s sponsorship program in 2014. “My school is much better now and so are my teachers,” she continues, “especially Lila ma’am and Sushil sir. They teach us Nepali and math.”

Goma playing her favorite game, football, with a school friend

Trained by Save the Children, the teachers in Goma’s school gain the trust of students by being polite, attentive, and responsive to their questions and individual needs in class. Discarding all forms of corporal punishment are some important lessons given to teachers during teacher trainings. “Lila ma’am asks us several questions before starting her lessons. Once she starts the lesson, we realize the questions are related to the current chapter. This helps us remember and understand important points made in the chapter,” explains Goma. In addition to that, Lila and other teachers in Goma’s school make sure they connect with their students by sharing interesting general knowledge they have learned.

Goma sitting outside her school

Goma adds that Save the Children programs, as well as her sponsor Paola’s kind advice to study well and take care of her health, motivated her to become a doctor in the future. “Knowing about her concern for me, it feels like she is my sister even though I have never met her.”

This was probably one of my last visits to Kapilvastu, as Save the Children will hand over the programs for continuation to the community and local government agencies by early 2020. Save the Children has now moved to other impoverished areas in the Mahottari and Sarlahi districts where lack of quality education and basic health facilities, as well as child marriage are just a few of the greater challenges for children.


Creativity and Passion Brought to Teaching

By: Carlin Trevin Lenggu, Data Quality and Communication Officer

Every day, Tika’s father takes her to school near their home in a small village in Indonesia. Even heavy rain does not discourage her from making the trip — she is too excited to be learning how to read and write! Her excitement in gaining new skills through fun lessons and activities is thanks to the support and encouragement of her parents, teachers and Save the Children’s early childhood education program.

Tika and her literacy teacher Katarina

Tika also benefits from the special training her teacher, Katarina, has received through the program’s Literacy Boost for early grade teachers.  This specific training provides teachers with new strategies and tools to help bolster their classroom instruction.  For example, Katarina had trouble preparing material that was both engaging and easy to follow for her first-grade students.  The literacy training showed her new, fun ways to approach lessons that focused on the needs of her students. “Now my class is alive with attractive and colorful material and I am excited to see that there is a lot of improvement from the children,” she proudly explains.

For example, Tika is now a model student and enjoys helping her classmates with their reading and writing. She can also attest to the difference she felt in the classroom.  “My teacher taught us in a different way and now it’s fun,” she says. “She provided us with new games and songs of the alphabet, and decorated our classroom with colorful alphabetic drawings.” Laughing, she adds, “my favorite game is guessing letters written on our back by a friend using their finger.” 

Tika (middle) with her friends checking out books in their school library

Katerina understands that motivation, hard work and commitment are key to providing proper education to young children.  Through her creativity and passion, Katerina is able to foster a love of learning in her students and see the positive results of her efforts.  The smile on Tika’s face says it all!

Gaining Self Confidence

By: Samah Sabry, Program Coordinator

In a small community near Abnoub, Egypt,  Amany lives with her father, mother, four sisters and two brothers. She is 14 years-old, and likes drawing, coloring and knitting. She also likes learning and going to school – she wishes to become a doctor one day so she can save lives and help people in need.

Yet, due to being a stunted child, Amany encountered many obstacles in her early years. This means that Amany faced impaired development due to poor nutrition.  Although she attended an inclusive school, her schoolmates did not understand her challenges. They started to annoy and make fun of her, and did not usually involve her in school activities. Amany found herself increasingly isolated, and did not participate in class and preferred to be silent even if she had questions related to her lessons. As a result, she failed her first year at school.

“She is very kind and smart, and she did not deserve this bad treatment because of her condition,” explains Amany’s father who was very worried about her.

Amany’s teachers did not have any previous experience or knowledge on how to deal with her situation, but fortunately, her school was one of 11 others in Egypt that received specific teacher training as part of the Child Protection Program.

The program objective is to improve the school environment to help children receive a better education, and aims to enhance children’s skills and cope with and report cases of abuse and bullying. In addition, all students are encouraged to accept differences, and adapt to their surroundings inside school and society.

Eventually Amany had the courage to ask for help from School Psychologist Ms. Safiya and the Social Support Officer Ms. Sanaa. “I went to them because I understood that they are here to teach and protect us students,” said Amany.

Amany with one of her teachers

Both teachers intervened by holding several group sessions with Amany and the students, connecting them together through activities that focused on acceptance, and understanding of differences. After a few sessions, teachers started to notice that the children were reacting positively and participating with Amany, especially in the games of relationship building.

Now in her second year of preparatory school, Amany has restored her self-confidence, and is making friends. She is a member of the girl’s football team and participates in school clubs like the Broadcast Group. She is also active in class and getting better grades.

Amany working in the science lab at school

Amany’s father was relieved when he learned that she was doing better at school. “I was very happy when the students started to treat her well,” he explains. “Amany wants to be a doctor and I will do everything I can to help her achieve her dream.” With her newfound confidence, Amany is well on the path to doing just that.

Save the Children Bangladesh

Dreaming to be a Teacher

By: Md. Hasan Iqbal, Deputy Manager–Sponsorship Communications and Data Quality

Delwar dreams of becoming a teacher one day in his village in the Meherpur district, Bangladesh. The 14-year-old ninth grader loves reading books and spending time with friends, his two brothers and his mother, Momotaz, who takes care of the family. Up until just a few short years ago, Delwar’s dream would be considered far-fetched at best.  His early years were full of hardship. His father worked very hard in the village selling kitchen utensils, but as the only earning member of the family, that was not enough to meet basic needs. So he moved abroad to work as a construction worker where he could earn more. 

“I have passed my childhood with misery.  I did not have a joyful time when I was small,” recalls Delwar.  Due to malnutrition, he could not walk or talk properly. The family found it difficult to eat well three times daily, could not find adequate medical care and his physical growth was slow. His future looked very bleak.

However, thanks to sponsorship, in 2013 Delwar was able to enroll in school through the early learners program, which played a vital role in improving his circumstances.  It was through this program that he learned many crucial skills, including proper hygiene like hand washing before and after meals, and visits to the lavatory. He learned reading, counting and writing through sponsorship, and his speech improved where he could talk easily to his friends, family members, teachers and neighbors.

Delwar with his pet goat

Delwar soon moved up to primary school and was selected as a Sponsorship Child Leader to a group of schoolchildren from his neighborhood. He received training to help Save the Children’s Field Workers learn more about other families in the community, sharing important updates regarding sicknesses and accidents with Save the Children staff who could provide necessary assistance. Nominated as a “Little Doctor,” Delwar learned how to use first aid kits — knowledge that he shared with his classmates, increasing awareness of correct health and hygiene habits.

In addition, he plays another important role in his community – regularly making home visits to students who irregularly attend school and encouraging their families to send them. “It has become a regular task or habit of mine to take the irregular students with me to school,” he proudly boasts.

Delwar discussing schoolwork with his classmates

Delwar is now on track to become the teacher he dreamed about and now that Save the Children’s work in Meherpur is winding down, he’s grateful for all sponsorship has done for him.  “Although Save the Children will leave us, our learnings, good practices, manners, awareness on education, health and hygiene will remain with us for long time. Many thanks to my friend Kim Moonjeong for her support for many children in our community.”

The Community Volunteer Experience

Author Portrait_Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín, Community Volunteers in Cuyagualo, Sonsonate
Rosa Marroquín & Carolina Marroquín

Community Volunteers

Save the Children in El Salvador

March 2, 2018

 

A dedicated nurse helping to improve the health of people in need, and a devoted teacher shaping the minds of future leaders. Those were the dreams of Rosa and Carolina, two sisters who have been community volunteers with Save the Children’s programs for nearly 8 years now. Unfortunately, when they were just teenagers a tragedy struck their family – their father passed away and their mother found herself overwhelmed with 6 children. Rosa and Carolina’s mother took the difficult decision of taking them out of school so they could work and help with the family income. Rosa and Carolina desire for their own children, and for all children in their community, the educational and development opportunities they couldn’t have for themselves. With their work, they are making Save the Children’s vision come to life: a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Before Save the Children came to our community, our leaders used to think only about projects to improve the infrastructure, mainly paving dirt roads. So when Victor, Save the Children in El Salvador’s Community Mobilization Coordinator, presented sponsorship programs to us, people were at first not very interested because it was about education, health and protection for children and adolescents, more than direct and more tangible improvements like new roads. Some people even told us that Save the Children was evil and they would steal the children in our community. Ignorance and indifference dominated people’s minds. It wasn’t easy, but after attending the community mobilization sessions, the leaders came to understand that Save the Children had to involve the entire community in these programs in order to implement them, and that no decisions would be made without their input. In these sessions we also discussed the importance that having a strong educational foundation, and skills in personal hygiene and health, would have for our children. Little by little, the minds of community members began to change.

Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!
Little Idania, who at 18 months already can say 55 words!

We’ve been community volunteers for almost 8 years now. Back when we started, we had just one group of 5 – 10 children in our Early Learners programs. Today, we have seven active groups with nearly 30 children each. We’ve reached the hearts of so many mothers over those years, and now they know the importance of starting learning very early, before children enter primary school. Even the teachers are happier and satisfied, because children already know things such as how to hold a pencil, colors and vowels when they start kindergarten.

Another success has been changing people’s minds about the future of adolescents. In the past, adolescents would only study until 9th grade, then opt for the traditional, and considered easier, path of becoming a farmer, security guard, getting married or even joining a gang. Now, adolescents don’t want that anymore. They want to finish high school and go to college. With sponsorship support, our community management group has learned how to create projects and opportunities for adolescents. So far, we’ve managed to get 18 scholarships for students to continue higher education in high school or college this year. Our community now has adolescents with technical studies in computer engineering, who have become role models for the younger ones. Adolescents are also part of the community management committees.

Rosa with her niece, Idania.
Rosa with her niece, Idania.

The only regrets we have? All the wasted years without the knowledge we have now, the early childhood education we couldn’t give to our own children because we didn’t know anything about it. Our own children are grown-up now, but with our younger nieces and nephews we have put into practice all the strategies we teach to the other women in the community. We know for sure the Early Learning programs work, because we’ve seen the success in our niece Idania. She is just 18 months and can already say 55 words! Even the doctor is surprised with that!

We could share so many stories about the work we are able to accomplish in our community thanks to Save the Children, but in the end all of these success stories make us proud because we consider them our little triumphs!

Without dedicated community volunteers like Rosa and Carolina, Save the Children’s programs would not be possible. Children and families in their community are sure proud and thankful for having them, and being a part of their community’s growth themselves!

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

 

Mangane, an Example of Community Leadership

Mengos

Mr. Mengos

Basic Education Coordinator

Mangane, Mozambique

August 3, 2015

 

Mangane is one of the impoverished communities in Mozambique where the majority of people have no job opportunities, and resort to farming as their daily activity for survival and to sustain their families. Luckily, it is a community where sponsorship programs such as Basic Education, School Health and Nutrition, Early Childhood Care and Development, and Adolescent Development are all being implemented.

School

Mangane Primary School before Save the Children intervention

Prior to Save the Children sponsorship, the school dropout rate had been increasing because parents and caregivers did not value education. A total of 283 children were enrolled in school in 2013, and in 2014 that number has increased to 392, demonstrating an increase of nearly 40%. The sponsorship program helped community mobilization and bringing community leaders to play a role in children’s education. Mangane had only three poor classrooms, both uncomfortable and with unsafe conditions for both children and teachers. However now with the help of sponsorship funds, the community has four new conventional and furnished classrooms and an administrative block, as well as improved and separate latrines built for girls, boys, and teachers. Save the Children is also providing sports equipment to ensure that the school environment is fun and friendly!

Abacar Fadil, is a community leader from Mangane, testified in his own words, “… My name is Abdul Fadil, I am a community leader and also a school council member. I know for sure and see how fast Mangane Primary School changed. A high number of children at school is now visibe from the time [Save the Children sponsorship] came to implement programs in our community. Awareness on parents and caregivers was raised in order to make them understand the importance of school.

School_kids

Mangane Primary School after Save the Children intervention

I remember the time when parents were suffering a lot, every year rearranging the classrooms with local materials, children used to be with no lessons, during the rainy and windy days. Now everyone in the community is happy with what is happening, thanks to SCI programs and I would like to see this happening in other communities to help more children in need.”

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

Sharing Her Dream

Agnes Zalila, Sponsorship Manager

Agnes Zalila

Lufwanyama, Zambia

February 2014

 


Her name is Clara and she is 29 years old. We met her at an Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) center at Chibanga in St Joseph. She is small-bodied and articulate.

Clara’s schooling came to an abrupt end in 2002 when her parents died suddenly. Poor and alone, she was desperate. Then, in 2003, she married an ambitious young man who had a big heart and big dreams.

His first step after their wedding was to enroll her in school. Today, she is about to write her Grade Nine examinations.

Clara’s story might have ended there. However, she felt she needed to find a way to inspire children who may be in the same situation as herself. That’s why she is an ECCD volunteer teacher who, though penniless, says she intends to become a qualified teacher and, one day, to be on the government payroll. 

ClaraClara is among the 48 volunteer ECCD caregivers/ teachers who have partnered with Save the Children and the Ministry of Education in Lufwanyama to promote quality education and development through the sponsorship-funded ECCD centers. She was given ECCD caregiver training and continues to receive refreshers to update her on new methodologies.

Meanwhile, Save the Children is supporting her in completing her own education. Her husband continues to help too. Early in the year, when their baby was a few months old and Clara had to help at the center, her loving husband escorted her and would babysit while she worked.

Clara is a role model of what determination can help you achieve. She intends to teach in rural Chibanga where she is already becoming a legend – and an inspiration to the children.

 

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

Not Your Average Teddy Bear

Dhheadshot Dave Hartman, Save the Children, Internet Marketing and Communications Specialist

Westport, CT

Monday, December 6, 2010

 

My favorite stuffed animal from my childhood was a light-blue bear that I dubbed, Bear. Not the most creative name but I was nine-months-old so cut me some slack.

Bear was my best friend for two reasons. One, he always took my side in an argument with my mother. And two, he was always open for a hug. 

The ever-innovative geniuses at IKEA are behind a new initiative to make stuffed animals not just cute, cuddly and good listeners, but advocates of universal education. 


 

In real life they don’t actually make signs, give speeches or march on Washington but the impact is just as powerful. (Disclaimer: No, they are not alive either.)

For every soft toy sold IKEA donates 1 euro to Save the Children and UNICEF to support our education programs. 

In October, four IKEA employees and two IKEA customers traveled to Vietnam and Bangladesh, respectively, to see first hand the problems facing children, their families and communities and the difference that the money raised by the IKEA soft toy campaign is making.

To say the least, they were all wowed: 


 

 


 

Here are some quotes from the video that capture the impact that education can make in children’s lives.

“Investing in education sounds fantastic, but it’s not until you’re here and you see on the ground the difference its making and the positive ripple effect that it has on communities that you understand the difference that’s being made.”

                                             -Keith McLeish, IKEA Edinburgh  

Our children are studying, so their prospects are so much better.They are mixing with good people and are confident and safer.”

                                             -Mother of Bangladeshi student 

“Even to get to school some kids have to travel 10-15 kilometers, and it’s not by car. They have to walk. So even getting to school is a challenge…If that challenge is met by the children then it should be met by us.

                                              -Nigel McGarry, IKEA Belfast

So in honor of my old chum Bear, who now resides in the attic, join the soft toy movement and help every child realize their right to education.

Behind the Sponsorship Scene: Malawi- Part Two


Kathryn koonce Kathryn Koonce

Global Sponsorship Operations Manager, Save the Children

Thursday, September 30, 2010

 At the end of Kathryn's first post she was leaving a child-care center in Malawi supported by sponsors like you and administered by Save the Children.
 
We rush off to a nearby primary school that holds more than 2,000 children to catch the 1st-3rd-graders in the St. Martin district before their day ends. There are half a dozen one-story brick buildings on a barren piece of flat sandy property. The teachers are inspiring and the children are engaged and enjoying their studies. After visiting a sixth grade class, I sit outside the head master’s office. More than 20 kids crowd around me, wondering where I come from, staring at me, and waiting for me to take their picture. They scream as soon as they hear “click,” and retreat. Moments later they inch closer and closer until they get another “click” out of me.

Reading camp tree

Students gather under a tree for "Reading Camp"

Our last stop is the Literacy Boost “Reading Camp,” a voluntary after-school program where children in grades 1-5 practice reading and play word and alphabet games. When we arrive they are reading together, playing and having fun with locally-made materials. The volunteer facilitators are great at keeping the children (who have already attended a full day of school) engaged and interested. They read a book with lots of “L” words, then discuss names with the letter L and draw names and words with L in the sand with their fingers. The Malawian music blasting from a nearby house and what looks like a 200-pound, gray pig wandering about makes the atmosphere cheery and comfortable.

Teacher and class

A teacher poses with his students

I am inspired by the passion of the volunteers, teachers, and caregivers, and encouraged by the smiles on the faces of the children. In this region, where many parents cannot read, they are compelled to send their children to get the best education they possibly can through the early learning centers, schools, and reading camps that Save the Children supports.

I will leave Malawi comforted by the smoky scent and vibrant cloths, and most of all, the sparkle in the smiles of the children.

Sunset  

All Photos Courtesy of Kathryn Koonce

_____________________________

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more

Behind the Sponsorship Scene: Malawi

Kathryn koonce Kathryn Koonce

Global Sponsorship Operations Manager, Save the Children

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

This post is the first in a two-part series written by Kathryn while on a trip to our sponsor-funded schools and community centers in Malawi.

Driving down a reddish dusty road in a four-wheel drive vehicle—the only car on the road—there is a pleasant smoky smell in the air and we are covered in a layer of grainy auburn dirt. We pass women in colorful cloths, some of them with children tied to their backs with another piece of cloth, gracefully carrying unthinkably heavy weights on their heads with ease. Brick houses and small shops dot the flat, dry landscape and neatly organized mounds of dried manure border the road. The manure will fertilize maize and vegetable crops during the rainy season which starts in November.

We are in southern Malawi, driving from Blantyre to the Zomba region where loyal Save the Children sponsors like you help support child care centers, schools, and “reading camps”. We are a team of Save the Children staff from our home offices in Connecticut and Washington, D.C. working with our colleagues in Malawi to makes sure that the sponsorship programs you support are delivering the maximum benefits possible to girls and boys. We’re accompanied by our Malawian colleagues – two education experts, a writer, and a driver.

R08-ML___811_52900
Three-year-old Elufe playing with colored blocks at a Save the Children supported ECD center in Malawi.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Bisceglie

When we arrive at the child care center staffed with volunteers and packed with children under age 5, we are greeted by curious mothers with babies in tow, tied to their backs, some of them holding another child by the hand. A group of giggling children from the primary school run up to us to see the car and the visitors inside. They share bright smiles and wave cautiously at the unfamiliar site. A large group of young children enthusiastically repeat after their teacher in Chichewa, the local language, under a thatched roof in a red brick structure with waist-high walls that let parents see in and children see out. Hundreds of bricks are rested in piles nearby to eventually expand the center. Two mothers stir a large pot of porridge and fill a bucket with water from the nearby well for hand-washing.

R08-ML___475_50642
Four-year-old Peter playing with a toy truck. He attends a sponsorship supported Early Childhood Development program in Malawi. Photo Courtesy: Michael Bisceglie

We meet with the school leaders as well as the caregivers who staff the center – many of whom are parents of the children attending the program. They sit on straw mats and bricks; many of the women nurse and calmly tend to fussy babies as they speak with us. They explain that they are happy with the positive changes they see in their kids. Before – the children would hang around the villages with little to do. Now, they interact with each other and with their caregivers; they talk, they sing, they jump and clap. The parents also talk about the benefit of having time to do other things like prepare goods to sell at the market or tend to their crops while their young children are safely cared for by trained volunteers at the center.

_____________________________________

Click here to find out about the rest of Kathryn's journey and learn how other Save the Children supported schools are doing in Malawi!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to find out more