The ruffling of papers. The scratch of pencils writing. The bell ringing to end recess. When you think about going back to school in the United States, you might remember that sort of thing. But school doesn’t look the same everywhere. Sometimes classrooms are a few chairs under a tree, and the commute to school isn’t a school bus but a five-mile walk.
But thanks to people like you, more and more children can go to school and change their futures. Keep reading to learn about what school is like in some of the countries you’re supporting through Plan International USA.
On Sunday, June 3, the Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala suddenly erupted, killing more than 100 people and causing hundreds to be reported missing. But because of people like you, Plan was ready to spring into action. A month after the eruption, classes started again for thousands of children affected by the disaster. Thanks to you, more than 500 students can continue their education in six new temporary learning spaces. You’re also helping to provide mobile latrines, school supplies, cleaning kits and school furniture.
Diffa is a town in southeast Niger that’s normally home to about 55,000 people. But recently, that number jumped to 85,000. Why? Because of the Boko Haram crisis across the border in Nigeria.
Thousands of children and their families have fled to escape the violence, leaving their homes — and their schools — behind.
But because of you, Plan is there for these children. With the support of generous donors, Plan has built additional classrooms for schools overflowing with new students. Many of these children haven’t had the chance at a formal education at all, since they left Nigeria when they were very small and have been on the run ever since. For these students, mostly between the ages of nine and 12 years old, you’re helping to provide an accelerated education program which condenses three years of early education into nine months. When they complete the program, they’ll be ready for primary school, where they’ll keep on learning and achieving.
Kaenthong (right) is 14 years old, and a member of the gender equality club at her school. With support of donors like you, Plan is helping girls like Kaenthong share information about gender-based violence and encourage their communities to value girls’ education.
“We have taken part in a number of training sessions by Plan International,” she said. “The training focuses on the issues girls face and we come up with ideas to solve these problems, both at school and in communities. Before, I was less confident and didn’t know how to deal with gender inequality or harassment, but now I am more confident and know more techniques to solve these problems.”
You can’t control when a disaster strikes, but you can prepare for when it does. In Paraguay, more than 3,000 children and adolescents have learned about disaster risk reduction thanks to the support of donors like you. Children from 10 schools in Paraguay discussed their thoughts on how disasters affect communities, how they can prepare and how people can work together to prevent disaster.
Thousands of underage girls are sex workers in bars dotted throughout Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Many men don’t like using condoms, so it’s not long before the girls become pregnant. Born to unknown fathers, many babies are sent to live with relatives.
With support from donors like you, Plan International’s PEVUS (Partnership for Empowerment of Vulnerable Girls and Women in Urban Slums) project set up pre-schools for children of sex workers and other vulnerable girls. Now, mothers can train for new jobs while their children learn in a safe space.
In this farming community in Zimbabwe’s Mutoko district, water is scarce and droughts are frequent. Oftentimes, girls are kept out of school so that they can collect water. Some girls have to walk as far as 12 miles each day.
Because of donors like you, Mukoto now has a water pump right at the school. In this picture, you see girls washing their plates after lunch at one of the new taps — girls who are now more likely to attend school thanks to the new supply of water. In addition, the school can now maintain a vegetable garden and a small but thriving goat and pig farm. These projects support the school meals program, and serve as valuable tools for students to learn about agriculture. The school even has a student committee in charge of taking care of the animals!
In Timor-Leste, just one in 10 preschool-aged children are enrolled. The country is mountainous, meaning that children in remote areas often can’t travel to schools far away. Because of supporters like you, a new preschool is bringing education and care to some of these forgotten students. The new building has space for 24 children to learn how to read and write, have access to books and educational posters, and play with toys in a clean, safe space. There’s also a bathroom, with separate stalls for boys and girls, so that students can practice proper hygiene.
One of the school’s first students is five-year-old Jaimito. He says he enjoys learning so much that he sometimes writes what he learns on his arms to tell his siblings about it when he’s home.
8. [Bonus] Indonesia
You may have heard about the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that recently rocked the island of Lombok in Indonesia. So far, authorities estimate that the natural disaster killed more than 500 people, most of whom died in collapsing buildings. But on top of that, the damage to houses has made about 350,000 people homeless.
In disaster situations like these, children are uniquely at risk: their safety, their health and their education are all in jeopardy. The photo above shows one classroom in a badly damaged school in the Loloan village in North Lombok.
Children and their families need your help in order to get back on their feet. Your gift to the Humanitarian Response Fund will help families in need during disaster situations like the one in Indonesia.