Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Oct 27, 2010

Safe Water and Healthy Practices

Yordi: Helping his Family through Safe Water and Healthy Practices

In 2008, Save the Children began implementing a health education program in the city of El Alto, Bolivia one of the poorest areas in La Paz Department as well as the country. In the Gran Poder neighborhood, for example, there is no easy access to basic sanitation services and as a result, intestinal infections are common in this unprotected population – especially in younger children. In Save the Children’s 2008 baseline study, we learned that 22 percent of children had giardiasis[1], a diarrheal infection largely associated with poor hygiene/sanitation and the consumption of contaminated water or food.

Yordi, a 9 year-old fourth grader, lives in Gran Poder and goes to the Santísima Trinidad School. Yordi’s family includes his mother, father, four-year-old brother in kindergarten, and a three-year-old sister named Milenka. With his classmates, Yordi participated in Save the Children’s Improving Our Lives (Mejorando Nuestra Vida). In this program, Yodi learned about the importance of better hygiene practices and safe water consumption. For example, he learned how to disinfect water and avoid diarrhea through the simple SODIS method.[2]

Yordi tells us, "Now I practice SODIS in my house." He also said that his little sister Milenka used to drink water from the sink and get sick with diarrhea: "Her tummy really hurt and I felt sorry to see her feel so bad." When he learned about SODIS in Improving Our Lives, he started making two bottles every day so that his family had safe water to drink.
Yordi's mother, Maria, says her son places two bottles every day in a small, outside hut. Yordi told her that he learned this in school and that if they drink SODIS water, his little sister will not have diarrhea. “Before this program, nobody was worried about children…but now, even little children say that they must wash their hands.” Rephrasing Yordi’s words, Maria tells us: “We can prevent sickness by just washing hands.”
In addition to safe water through SODIS, Yordi taught his mother how to prepare Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), how to drink it slowly and properly, and why ORS is important. Maria noted that when her daughter Milenka had diarrhea, she was so upset and nothing worked – Milenka kept vomiting and getting worse. “It was as if she had deflated like a balloon.” By attending parent workshops through Improving Our Lives as well as Yordi’s knowledge about ORS, Maria saw Milenka recover and get back to normal: “It was as if the balloon reinflated after taking ORS.” Escuchar

Yordi is one of 195,289 children in Bolivia who participated in Improving Our Lives and now shares vital health information with family members.

After three years of school health and nutrition programming, Save the Children saw demonstrated improvements in children’s knowledge and health practices:

  • The percentage of children that properly washed their hands before eating increased from 8.3% to 90%.
  • The percentage of children who could explain why and when it is important to take Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) increased from 5.5% to 38.7%.
  • The percentage of children who did not know how to prepare ORS decreased from 84.6% to 33.6%.

Save the Children implemented Improving Our Lives in four departments throughout Bolivia in both rural and urban settings.


[1] Giardiasis is also known as giardia, and for people with compromised immune systems it can be deadly. In children, giardia can lead to malnutrition and poor physical growth or “failure to thrive.”

[2] Through SODIS, children put water in clear plastic bottles – usually soda bottles – and set them out in the sun on a simple structure with a corrugated tin roof to disinfect the water. SODIS has proved to be particularly beneficial for children in rural areas with limited access to safe water.

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Sep 23, 2010

Food Security in Northern Nicaragua

Food Security and Income Generation for Families of Workers on Coffee Farms in the Departments of Jinotega and Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Save the Children’s project to reach children and families of Jinotega and Matagalpa Departments in Nicaragua completed its first year of operations at the end of May.

From October to February, families in our project area work as day laborers on coffee haciendas to earn cash. After that period, they dedicate themselves exclusively to the cultivation of basic grains for self-consumption, with a goal of storing food for the months of scarcity. Through this project, Save the Children provides families with technical assistance and improved grain storage to help them sell their new-found surplus and generate income, improving families’ overall health and livelihood.

Over the past year, poor families have been helped through: inputs and seeds for the planting of beans, maize and vegetables; metal silos for storing basic grains; inputs for establishing nurseries; materials for grain pre-dryers; micro-tunnels for the production of seedlings; materials for building stables for goats and chicken coops and 285 hens for the production of eggs. The above has helped 374 families store 266,105 kg (586,661 pounds) of basic grains by May.

Our nutritional education initiatives have benefited 330 families. Community board members and health brigade members were trained in 24 communities on improving food security, the nutritional value of local foods, and the commitment of participants to replicate these activities in their communities.

Another development in the project is the introduction of the PROCOSAN (Community Promotion and Vigilance of Children’s Growth) strategy. This strategy strengthens the role of the family, particularly empowering women to continually observe the growth and development of their children. During this period, we have also worked with community health workers that are directly involved in the PROCOSAN strategy and are using the nutritional education modules to train 320 families, including men, to raise awareness and support for children’s consumption of healthy, local foods.

Finally, the project is helping to organize families into cooperatives to strengthen their organizational capacity, promoting collective sales and group participation in business matching, market soundings and creation of value added. The associative strategy has already facilitated improved product commercialization for 56 families, generating a total income of 12,544 USD from the sale of beans and oranges in the first planting cycle.


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Sep 20, 2010

School Health and Nutrition Program

Education and health services were severely affected during the years of conflict in Afghanistan. Many rural communities still do not have access to basic health services and countless children and their families don’t know how to prevent or protect themselves from communicable and preventable diseases.

Save the Children’s School Health and Nutrition programs help to fill this critical gap through a variety of initiatives including: Child-focused Health Education, micronutrient campaigns, vitamin distribution, de-worming, school-based vision and hearing screening by trained teachers, and trained first aid committees and kits.

Our program supports 42 schools and their surrounding areas and reaches approximately 34,000 school-aged children in the northern districts of Faryab and Sar-i Pul.

Since 1985 Save the Children has been responding to the needs of Afghan children and families, whether in Afghanistan or refugee sites in Pakistan, by working to help them improve their lives through programs in health, education and child protection. We have done this throughout years of war, sociopolitical turmoil, drought and oppression. Save the Children is committed to helping Afghan families and communities.

Habiba: Helping Other Children in Her Community

Habiba, an eighth grader at Dong Qala School in Gorziwan District, has volunteered for three years in a Child-focused Health Education group and is a first aid facilitator. She is proud of her work that helps other children in her community.

Recently, Habiba spoke with one of our staff members: "I remember when I was younger and Save the Children had not yet started working in our school and community. I remember how teachers used to hit students when they didn't know their lessons or didn't do their homework. I remember when parents were reluctant to send their children, even boys, to school. I remember when we didn't know how to prevent catching diseases. "

Now the classes are more active, friendly and interesting. My parents were one of the hundreds of parents in my village who didn't want their children to go to school. My parents are now PTA and ECD Committee members. They encourage other parents to send their children, especially girls, to school and this is why that I am in the eight grade and still continuing my education.

When Save the Children started its school health and nutrition activities in our village I wanted to attend the child focused health group. My group volunteer facilitator was one of our community girls and I too wanted to be a volunteer one day. I feel very fortunate to have been selected. Now I am not only learning about health, but also facilitating a group myself and helping other children to learn as well as providing first aid to injured children. The programs have helped us to change our lives in such a big way.

In the Child-focused Health Education program, Habiba has learned how to prevent diarrhea, coughs, colds and intestinal worms. She has also learned about the benefits of washing hands, iodized salt, safe water and vitamin A. She is also a member of her school’s first aid committee and has learned how to help a child with diarrhea and how to prepare Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS).

Habiba says, “Before I joined the program and received this training, my parents were not giving water and fluids to my siblings who had diarrhea thinking that fluids would worsen the situation. Then I learned in my groups that children with diarrhea need more fluids to be rehydrated. Once in the summer, my younger brother got a diarrhea and my mother was not giving him fluids. I remembered what I learned in my group and told my mother about ORS and went to the small local drugstore near my house and got a sachet of ORS and prepared it while showing my mother how easy it was and then asked my brother to drink. He got well in two days after drinking it regularly.”

Afterwards, her mother requested that she also teach her friends and neighborhood women how to treat diarrhea and prepare ORS.

Habiba hopes to be a doctor one day and help her community and other people.


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