Nadia’s Visit to Sarangani

Author Portrait_Cheeko Garcia, Media and Communications Officer, Mindanao
Cheeko Garcia

Media and Communications Officer

Save the Children Philippines

February 9, 2018

Early morning one day in August, we picked up Nadia, a sponsor who has been supporting Ariane and her community for more than a year now, by raising funds with her local karate club back in Italy. Although Nadia came all the way from Italy, I did not see a hint of tiredness on her face. Our two-hour drive to reach Ariane’s community was filled with stories between Nadia and Save the Children staff, talking about our many differences, and even more similarities.

When we finally got to our destination, we were greeted by cheerful teachers and a curious group of students. Though the teachers were expecting us, none of the children knew about our visit, except for one – Ariane. Her parents later revealed that she had been very eagerly waiting for this day to happen, when she would finally meet her sponsor.

Nadia, Ariane along with her family and teacher go for a tour of the school.
Nadia, Ariane along with her family and teacher go for a tour of the school.

Ariane is 7 years old and is growing up in a secluded, rural village in Sarangani, a province with a 230 kilometer coastline at the southernmost tip of Mindanao island. She is a bit shy, but nonetheless eager to learn in school. Her parents both work as tenant farmers, earning only a minimal wage which is barely enough for their family of five. She is among the many students in her school that Save the Children helps through its sponsorship program.

Though she had received letters from Nadia, and seen photos of her in those letters, it was the first time Ariane had met a foreigner up close, so she was initially a bit hesitant. Nadia warmed her up by showing her photos of the other members of the karate club. Ariane slowly became more comfortable and soon enough, they were smiling and taking photos together.

The school was so excited for Nadia’s visit that they prepared a bounty of fresh fruits and other local food, including freshly harvested coconuts. All of us, including Ariane and her family, shared an extravagant meal of locally produced rice, corn, fish, chicken and vegetables.

Nadia and Ariane pose for a selfie.
Nadia and Ariane pose for a selfie.

Shortly after that, we went to Ariane’s classroom where a story was being read to the students by their teacher. The storybooks provided by Save the Children are written in the local language, making it easier for the pupils to understand the content and allow them to actively participate during the discussions. A big part of sponsorship programs in the Philippines is spreading the use of mother tongue-based multilingual education, meaning teaching in children’s’ first languages rather than in the national language, Filipino, which is not necessarily spoken by families in these remote areas.

Trying my best to sum up a reflection on this experience, one word kept emerging – inspiration. Inspiration is contagious, and I saw it spread among the people I met through this day. Nadia and the members of her karate club back in Italy were inspired by stories of children who are in need. Nadia’s visit inspired Ariane to see more of the world and to fulfil her ambition of becoming a doctor. Ariane’s parents got inspired to keep her in school, and I, as a Save the Children staff, saw the connection between the sponsor and the child and it inspired me to reminisce the value of the work we do.

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

A Visit to Remember

Letter writing is a great way for a sponsor to learn about their child’s life; with letters, drawings, and pictures, sponsor and child are able to grow their friendship through correspondence. But some sponsors dream of meeting their children in real life – and actually make the (oftentimes long!) trip to visit them in person!

Last October, sponsor Heidi from the United States set out on the long journey to Saptari, Nepal, to visit her sponsored child, Jay. During her two day visit, Heidi was able to see the life-changing programs her generous sponsorship helps support with her own eyes. “This visit helped me realize how far my sponsorship money can go and all the great things that can be done because of my sponsorship,” Heidi said.

sponsor with family


During her time in Nepal, Heidi was able to spend time getting to know Jay and his family. “This visit meant a lot to me and my son,” Jay’s mom said. “I feel like I am a lucky mother because my son’s sponsor came to meet him from faraway. Not everyone gets such an opportunity to see and talk with their sponsor.” She also added, “I am the first mother in this school and in the community who got an opportunity to meet my child’s sponsor in person, so I feel very proud to be the luckiest one!”

Heidi also had the opportunity to visit Jay’s school, meet with his teachers and his principal. “I really enjoyed being able to speak with the teachers and school management committee members to hear how the support of Save the Children has made a positive impact on the attendance of children,” Heidi said.

“It was wonderful meeting with our donor in person and welcoming her in our school,” the principal of Jay’s school said. “We were very glad to thank her personally for her generous support. The changed school environment, better classrooms, improved reading and teaching materials…and awareness among parents and guardians about education are possible because of her support.”

sponsor with club members


For Heidi, seeing her sponsored child in person and understanding the context of his challenging life was an experience she will cherish forever. “I will never forget getting to meet my sponsored child in person. Being able to see the community that he is living in and meet his family was so special and it taught me a lot about what it is like to grow up in this rural environment and see some of the challenges that the community faces. I am very proud to be a sponsor for such a wonderful organization.”

The visit was memorable for Jay, too! “I am very happy to meet my sponsor in person and show her my classroom,” Jay said.

Learn how you can change your child’s life with a visit here.

A Letter to Save the Children

Author Portrait_Victoria Zegler, Multimedia Storyteller
Victoria Zegler

Multimedia Storyteller

Save the Children U.S.

June 19, 2017

“Thank you for helping refugees for us!” 7-year-old Miriam from New York wrote in her letter to Save the Children back in January. Miriam and her younger brother Simon, 6, both wrote letters to the organization thanking them for the work they do for refugees.

“I wanted to write to Save the Children because I am thankful for the people who help the refugees,” said Simon.

Simon and Miriam have two older brothers and a baby sister. The family was living in London at the time the Syria crisis began to pick up a lot of media attention, but has since moved back to the United States. After the more recent attention in the public eye on the Syria crisis grew even more, their mother Jo, felt compelled to do something.

Simon and Miriam wrote letters to Save the Children, thanking them for their work with refugee children.
Simon and Miriam wrote letters to Save the Children, thanking them for their work with refugee children.

Simon and Miriam first learned about refugees in 2015. Word got around their school about the viral photo of the 3-year-old Syrian boy, Aylan, who drowned as his family tried to flee from Kobani to Europe. The image shows the young boy, dead, washed up on the Turkish coast. This image began to raise questions in the family home.

“It’s important for me to know what’s going on in the world,” said Jo. “I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.”

“I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.” shared Jo, Simon and Miriam’s mother
“I really want to teach my children empathy so it’s important for me to talk to them about the privileges they have.” shared Jo, Simon and Miriam’s mother.

After writing their letters to Save the Children, the family received a letter back, introducing them to the kind of work Save the Children does for refugees.

“We got a letter from Save the Children and it had a picture from one of the girls at the refugee camp,” said Miriam.

The family hung this photo, along with the child’s drawing, on their refrigerator next to their family photos.

“I felt happy to know that all of them were happy and were having fun at the refugee camp,” said Miriam.

With Save the Children’s unique refugee child sponsorship model, a number of sponsors may be matched with the same child, who represents the many refugee children who will benefit from our sponsors’ generous donations, providing access to low-cost, high-impact programs that are the best chance for success for these children.

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

What is it like when a sponsored child receives a letter from their sponsor?

Patrick Sylvestre, Impact Area Sponsorship Coordinator

 Patrick Sylvestre, Sponsorship Coordinator

Dessalines, Haiti

January 27, 2014

Many sponsors confess they feel nervous when writing for the first time to their sponsored child. However, letters and pictures from sponsors have a special impact on children. Teachers report children spend weeks discussing what their sponsors write. At home, some children choose a secret place to save the letters and pictures so little brothers or sisters will not destroy them. These pieces of paper become a treasure.


Here are some reactions we’ve collected from the field.


Borguedy-7 years old-writing back to his sponsorBorguedy, age 7: “I was very happy when I received my first email from my sponsor a while back. At first, I was sad seeing other kids receiving letters and not me. So, when Priscille (the sponsorship agent) called my name that day in class I was really, really excited. It is so cool to have a friend from very far.”




Weslencia-6 years old-received a postcard from her sponsorWeslancia, age 6: “I was so happy when I got my first postcard from my sponsor a long time ago and again when I received an email. I am going to keep them in my schoolbag so they will not get dirty. I am happy I have a friend from another country.” 











Nedline-11 years old-replaying to her sponsor letterNedline, age 11: “It is nice to have a friend living faraway… I received first a postcard, then a long letter with lots of information from my sponsor. I took them to school to show my friends and the way they were looking at me made me feel very special. I am thankful to have someone that doesn’t even know me to care about me.”





Celinecia Chama-7 years old-making a drawing for her sponsorCelinecia-Chama, age 7: “I was thrilled when I receive my sponsor’s email. She told me all about her life and family. I will draw a nice picture for her. I will keep my letter in my pillowcase.”



As we look forward to your letters, we would like to remind you that you are building a relationship. Be simple and remember, you are writing to a child who sees you as a friend. On behalf of the children in our programs, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 

Delivering Smiles


Ahmed Ata

Sponsorship Operations Program Assistant

October 21, 2013

Happiness and
satisfaction are inner feelings that differ from a person to another. But there
is no doubt that the smiling face of a child and the happiness in children’s
eyes give us all this feeling of happiness and satisfaction.

Ahmed Ata with children in the field

Even, after 14
years of working with Save the Children, my favorite moment is when I am with a
child who receives a letter from their sponsor for the first time. You can read
so much happiness in the child’s eyes, smiles and unexpected, innocent

Most of the
first letters are brief. However, every single letter from a sponsor to a child
encourages her to discover more and more about herself or about the sponsor. Children
think about answers for the questions raised in their minds.

The majority
of children consider sponsors their new world, new family or magic supporter in
spite of distance, nationality and language. They are always eager to hear from
them, share their news, interests, happiness and challenges. This new relationship
inspires the children to know more about the world around them and motivates
them to dream of a better future – and sometimes to go beyond their dreams.

Children received thier correspondences

A letter may
take a few minutes to write, but it may change a lot in a child’s life. It
gives her self-confidence, hope for a better future and motivation to become a better

I am quite
sure that such a letter doesn’t mean something important only to the child, but
also to the sponsor, because adding a value to a child life brings much happiness
and satisfaction.


your child today.  Visit your
personalized homepage,,
to send your sponsored child an email!

How One Sponsor’s Words Colored a Little Girl’s Dreams

Pailyn Tan

Pailyn E. Tan, Sponsorship Assistant

South Central Mindanao Program OfficePhilippines

September 12, 2013


all began with her first letter to her sponsor. Gazelle, with a few crayons she
borrowed from a classmate, drew a simple picture on the back of her stationery
and carefully handed it to a Save the Children staff member. In school, she didn’t
draw or participate much in art classes because she felt she was not as good as
her classmates who excel in drawing. “They were so good and I was not, I
think,” she recalled.

later, a response from her sponsor came. At that time, she could not understand
English yet, so she asked her teacher to translate the letter.

are such a good artist. I hope you will send me more of your drawings,” the
letter said. Gazelle kept that letter for days before she finally replied. “I
thought of what to draw for her. I wanted it to be special. It made me happy
that she liked my work, so I wanted her to like my drawings more.”

the next letter came, she got more words of appreciation and encouragement. The
letter said her sponsor, Sandy, had put Gazelle’s drawing in a frame and
displayed it in her house. That made Gazellle so happy – her sponsor was the
first person to appreciate her work. She brought the letter home and kept in
under her pillow. Then, her mother found the letter and asked her about the
drawings. “My parents didn’t know that I can draw. And besides I didn’t own
crayons. Our money then was just enough for our basic needs,” Gazelle says.

win a most coveted art set and continue to draw for her friend from a faraway
land, Gazelle bravely joined a drawing competition in her school, which was hosted
by Save the Children. Her teachers and schoolmates eyed her with scepticism on
competition day because they thought she couldn’t possibly win. But armed with
determination, inspired by her sponsor’s encouraging words – and the desire for
that art set – she shrugged off their stares, and she won!

first thought when I opened the pink box was that I could draw more beautiful
pictures for Sandy,” she smiled. And that’s what she did. The first time she
used her set was to draw pictures for her sponsor. For two years now, she has
been drawing wonderful pictures. Sandy’s letters, telling her that she enjoys
her drawings, never fail to make Gazelle happy. “Her words encourage me to
improve my skills,” she smiles. “I give back by drawing beautiful pictures for

The Words that Changed a Little Girl’s Life: “You Have a Bright Future”

The words that inspired Elizabeth to
imagine a future beyond her family’s limited means and expectations, and
empowered her to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, were written by her
sponsor. Save the Children’s Dr. Elizabeth Bocaletti was once a sponsored
child. This is her story.

Img010 - Elizabeth as a little girl in Guatemala (second from right)_sized
Elizabeth as a little girl in Guatemala (second from right)









Elizabeth grew up in a large family of
modest means in rural Guatemala. She was a good student, but opportunities were
limited, especially for girls. And yet, Elizabeth dreamed of becoming a doctor.
In fact, she was determined to do so. Elizabeth attributes her high aspirations
to the letters she received from her sponsor.

DSC02466 - Elizabeth leads a community children activity in El Alto, Bolivia
Elizabeth leads a community children activity in El Alto, Bolivia











“These letters said things like, ‘You
are a great girl, a good student. You will go far. You will have a bright
future,’” Elizabeth remembers, “And I know that these words influenced my life
– the way I understood my future. They opened my mind to new possibilities.
They gave me a certain determination to make an impact on the world.”

DSC00072 - Launching of the Neonatal Strategy at the Panamerican Health Organization
Launching of the Neonatal Strategy at the Panamerican Health Organization with Charlie McCormack, former Save the Children President and CEO












Elizabeth did fulfill her dream,
earning her MD in Pediatrics, and then a Master’s degree in Public Health.
Today, Elizabeth works for Save the Children as an Advisor on our work helping
children survive and thrive throughout Latin America, where she continues to
make an impact on the world every day. The dream even lives on in her own
children, both of whom are studying to become doctors.

DSC01030 - Working with SC staff in Dominican Republic
Working with Save the Children staff in Dominican Republic









Elizabeth will always treasure her
sponsor’s words of inspiration and empowerment – and we thank her for sharing
them, and her story, with all of us.

DSC01130 - Introducing the Regional Neonatal Strategy in Washington, D.C.
Introducing the Regional Neonatal Strategy in Washington, D.C.











“Never underestimate the power of your words

on the life of a child.”

 – Elizabeth Bocaletti, MD, MPH,

Save the Children Advisor, and former sponsored child

DSC03393 - Visiting Save the Children programs in Sinaloa, MexicoVisiting Save the Children programs in Sinaloa, Mexico











Brighten your sponsored child’s day – and future – by writing a letter today.

If you are not already a sponsor, become one today.

Hopes Written Down

José Tobar

José Tobar, Sponsorship Officer

El Salvador

May 13, 2013

Having the
chance to work on translating letters between children and sponsors is kind of
like witnessing a journey between two worlds. On one hand, we have a person
who’s usually writing from a developed country.

Emerson, it is great to be your sponsor. My name is Michelle, and I hope we get
to know each other and that you reply to this letter soon. I live in California
with my two children and my little cat. We live near the San Diego beach. How
is it where you live? What are your hobbies? What do you want to be when you
grow up? ”

El_Salvador_RICA_Anita_answering_1On the other
side there is child who lives miles away from them. What bonds these two? Some
may say it is the will to lend a hand from one person to another whose needs
are greater, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a set of hopes shared by them
both; one hoping to see a change in this world and willing to do something to make
that happen and another who is just starting to live and might still not fully
understand his or her reality, just a heart full of wishes, aspirations and
goals. The basic mind of a child who knows what he or she wants to become
without considering all the obstacles that may arise.

Michelle, This is Emerson and we are very happy to meet you. I also live near
the beach! I am going to first grade and I love riding bicycle with my friends.
I want to become a doctor when I grow up and I live with my mother and grandmother.
I thank God for letting me meet you and I hope that I can meet you personally
some day. Take care, Emerson.”

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

What Makes Sponsorship Special to You?

Karisten StrongKaristen Strong, Sponsorship Marketing Associate

Westport, CT

Wednesday, September 1, 2010  

 When you sponsor children through Save the Children, you have the unique chance to change lives and to build relationships with girls and boys in need. One New Jersey family has made sponsorship an integral part of their lives. Kim, Tom, and their daughter Felicity sponsor four children from Egypt, Mali, Nepal, and Haiti.  

The best thing about sponsorship is that the family is connected to the Felicity 2world around them. Kim noted that it allows them to support Save the Children’s programs that work to impact lives and build strong communities. She realizes it takes time to achieve sustainable changes and sponsorship allows her family to remain engaged through these community transformations.   

Felicity, 11, raised over $3,000 in February for Save the Children’s relief efforts in Haiti by selling cookies and she is currently raising funds for our relief efforts for children affected by the flooding in Pakistan through selling pins.  

Kim and Tom instilled their passion for sponsorship in their daughter at a young age. Felicity began writing to her family’s sponsored children when she was just 6. She was encouraged to write to their sponsored  girl in Mali named Korotoumou when she began learning French. Felicity now writes to her family’s sponsored children monthly. “I am very happy and excited when I get a letter,” Felicity says.

Felicity 1
“I’m interested to find out what they are doing, about their cultures and what has happened since I last heard from them—it’s wonderful!” 

In their letters, they share what they are learning in school, stories about their families and pets, and about their favorite activities. 

Felicity’s advice for letter writing—keep it simple! Felicity understands the importance of being involved in sponsorship. She says, “You have to start young and take the time to be part of the close relationship you can gain from giving to others.”   

What makes sponsorship special to you? We’d love to hear from you!

How to Write an E-mail They’ll Always Remember

Robin-Carina#3 Robin van Etten Associate Director, Sponsorship Marketing

Westport, CT

July 22, 2010

I read and delete dozens of emails every week.  Which ones do I save?  The ones that make me feel good.

Imagine the joy in a child’s life of receiving JUST ONE message like this – a message that says someone is thinking about them, too.Ahmed, a sponsored child, studies at his school in Egypt.

When you sponsor a child through Save the Children, you connect with a child in need. Now think how much it would mean to your sponsored child to get a personal message from you – their joy would be indescribable.

Sound impossible? It’s not! It happens every day. A sponsored girl or boy somewhere in the world has an email or letter from their sponsor read to them by a Save the Children staff member. Or that girl or boy is writing a reply, to be translated and forwarded by Save the Children to their sponsor. Are you that sponsor? You can be.

The simpler your message – about you, your family, your own children and what it’s like where you live – the better. And asking simple questions about your sponsored child’s day, their school or their favorite foods shows that you are interested in their life.

While you wait for a reply, know your e-mail messages, letters and photos you send become treasured possessions to your sponsored child.

Have I convinced you to try it?
Loudouide, a sponsored child in Haiti, in her community.

Here’s the easiest way to start: as a sponsor, sign up at This is a direct link to your sponsored child’s Save the Children country office. The email you write to your child through our office will be printed, translated, and personally delivered by our staff.

Writing a letter and mailing it to your sponsored child in care of Save the Children’s country office is another way. If you don’t have the address, call 1-800-728-3843 to speak with a Save the Children staff or email

What you say is not as important as how you say it. Each communication with your sponsored child shows her or him how much you care.

If you are not yet a Save the Children sponsor, click here to become one.