Letter Delivery Party

Did you know there is a World Letter Writing Day? It is celebrated every September 1, and the idea behind this initiative is to encourage the practice of picking up a pen and paper to write a letter to someone special. This might sound archaic in these modern days of texting and social media, but you wouldn’t believe how meaningful receiving a hand-written letter can be for a child.

Save the Children has an initiative called Letter Writing Parties – events organized at local companies in the U.S. to provide employees with the opportunity to learn about Save the Children programs. The occasion also provides a chance to write a letter to a child who doesn’t receive letters regularly from his or her sponsor.

Katerine and her classmates working on artwork for their lettersRecently, we received dozens of these letters in our community near the impact area of Sonsonate in El Salvador, and I had the opportunity to witness a delivery “event.” We gathered two groups of around 20 boys and girls, and we told them we would be hosting a Letter Delivery Party! The children were surprised with all the colorful letters that came to us, and although some of them didn’t understand at first what was happening, they soon learned the letters contained messages of love and care for them. They were happy that someone from far away had taken a bit of his or her time to write a special letter just for them.

“I felt very happy today with the letter I received,” explains nine-year-old Katerine who has never received a letter from her sponsor. “I think if people want to say something important sometimes they write a letter, and when you get the letter they tell you that important thing. On the letters we read today, people wrote about their dogs, daughters, or that they are from Texas.”

In El Salvador, we have more than 12,000 sponsors, but only 1,500 of them write letters. That is more than 10,000 children who don’t get the chance to establish a friendship with his or her sponsor. That’s why the Letter Writing Parties initiative is so important – it gives children who do not regularly correspond with their sponsor an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sponsorship. “To the person who wrote this letter for me today (his name is Shawn), I want to thank him and tell him that I have a dog named ‘Doggie,’ and a little sister who is three years old,” says Katerine.

Katerine reading a letter from her new friend Shawn

We know it can be difficult to find the time, but we encourage you to pick up a pen and a piece of paper, and send an inspiring message to the little girl or boy you sponsor – we assure you it is worth the extra effort!

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.