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.
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.”
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.”