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.
Dec 17, 2010

Bangladesh - Strengthening Girl’s Voices

Sarah and girls discussing what they had learned
Sarah and girls discussing what they had learned

This spring, I had the opportunity to step outside my role of supporting our Title II food security programs to conduct a qualitative assessment for Kishoree Kontha (KK), a four-year project in Bangladesh funded by the Nike Foundation. KK, meaning “Adolescent Girls’ Voices” in Bangla, focused on developing the social and financial competency of adolescent girls, empowering them to develop strong voices and shape a bright and healthy future for themselves through four key strategies: 1) community mobilization; 2) peer education; 3) parental education; and 4) post-learning cycle practice. Working with rural communities in three coastal districts in south central Bangladesh, Save the Children established “safe spaces” within villages to enable 10-19 year girls to come together and learn about a range of topics including personal hygiene, health, early marriage, critical thinking skills, disaster preparedness and financial literacy. In addition, the project piloted group savings with a select number of the safe space groups to test the impact of operationalizing the project’s financial education and open up opportunities for girls to contribute to their families’ livelihoods strategies.

The purpose of the qualitative assessment was to enable Save the Children to gain a deeper understanding of the activities, accomplishments and challenges of the project and contribute to the learning through this pilot program. The qualitative assessment provides the insight and detail that complements quantitative methods and assists in triangulating findings. I reviewed project reports and materials, conducted focus-group discussions with project girls, parents and community members, and interviewed project staff and individual beneficiaries. The focus group discussions used participatory and exploratory methods to collect details to build a picture of the communities in which KK operated and the impact of the work on the people in these communities. Additionally, because I was dealing with young girls and some sensitive topics (e.g., early marriage, traditional women’s roles, personal hygiene), I used a lot of storytelling and alternative techniques (drawing pictures, ranking exercises) to allow the girls to distance themselves from the information if they wished.

The information I gathered from the focus group discussions, interviews, and meetings with staff painted a rich picture of the impact of the project on the beneficiaries and their communities. The girls had learned a great deal from participating in safe space activities ranging from proper nutrition to how to budget and save and, most importantly (from their perspective), about the physical and psychological dangers of early marriage and pregnancy. The girls demonstrated a new confidence, reported feeling more respected within their families and communities, and related a new desire to be more independent, to continue schooling and to demonstrate their ability to contribute to the household income.  The girls and their mothers also recounted a number of stories in which group members had supported each other to delay an early marriage or postpone pregnancy.

The chance to meet with project staff and beneficiaries in the field was invaluable. I now have a first-hand understanding of the impact of our programs, the many challenges facing Save the Children staff during program implementation, and the importance of documentation and sharing lessons learned.

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Dec 17, 2010

Meet Raul Pineda

Raul Pineda
Raul Pineda

We are pleased to share an interview with Raul Pineda, Save the Children's Sponsorship Manager in Central America.  Raul's work focuses on Save the Children's programs in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatamala, and El Salvador.

  • What do you like most about working for Save the Children?
    • Save the Children represents the ideas that I like to defend. I identify myself with Save the Children’s mission and vision and working with a team who has that same vision is really encouraging and inspiring.
  • What is your greatest work-related challenge?
    • To build a bridge of understanding among peoples of different backgrounds and conditions.
  • Your message to new donors:
    • It is incredible how a small contribution helps to create a huge solidarity chain where everyone is pulling into the right direction to fight and eradicate injustice around the world.
  • Anything else that you’d like donors to know about you?
    • There is always a natural drive within yourself that directs you to do the right thing. This feeling is indescribable and the satisfaction at the end of your journey is so huge that any sacrifice you make is really insignificant compared to the real retributions you get: the smiles from children and from their happy parents. I love doing this job.
  • Favorite Quote:
    • "El dolor por el dolor ajeno es una constancia de estar vivo..." “Feeling the pain of your neighbor’s pain proves that you are alive…” - Mario Benedetti

Links:

Dec 17, 2010

Health and nutrition success story: Basid

Child and health worker in Afghanistan
Child and health worker in Afghanistan

Since 1985 Save the Children has been responding to the needs of Afghan children and families. The goals of these projects focus on three critical areas of childfocused development work. These are: basic education, water and sanitation, and childhood nutrition. One of the key elements of childhood nutrition is making sure that mothers are also taken care of. By working to improve the health, nutrition and hygiene of mothers, Save the Children is also securing a strong foundation of good nutrition for children.

The village of Frishqan-e-Kalan is located in the north-eastern part of the Sangchrak district of the Sar-i-Pul Province. The village is a very small community of about 360 families. The community’s main source of income is agriculture; the main products include wheat, barley, peas and grapes. It is here that we meet Basid and his mother.

Basid was one of the first children screened for malnutrition by Save the Children’s malnutrition team. At eight months old, Basid was very thin and looked malnourished—he only weighed 3.2 Kg. In speaking to Basid’s mother, Save the Children asked about Basid’s feeding, i.e. what type of food she fed him; who in the family was responsible for feeding him; how often he was fed; and whether she started feeding him using her own breast milk. She confessed that she had been feeding Basid on artificial milk obtained from the bazaar and that she had not yet taken him for vaccinations.

When she started attending Nutrition Education Rehabilitation Sessions, NERS, run by volunteers and Save the Children nutrition staff, there were immediate and significant changes in her and her son. Both mother and son’s hygiene improved, and Basid’s mother learned the importance of a balanced diet, the benefits of exclusive breast feeding, and the importance of vaccinations to protect children against preventable diseases. Also during those fourteen days of NERS sessions, Basid gained weight on a daily basis—a total of 700 grams.

Since then, Basid and his mother have been doing extremely well. Basid has received all of his vaccinations andnow weighs 7 kilos. Basid’s mother expressed her gratefulness to Save the Children for showing them that simple adjustments to their nutritional practices can produce enormous results, without spending too much money.

Basid’s story is not unique. Thankfully, it is replicated in hundreds of villages in Afghanistan where Save the Children implements nutrition programs. Your donation helps Save the Children to reach families and children in Afghanistan, and we are grateful for your support.

 

Child in Afghanistan receives care
Child in Afghanistan receives care

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