To say it’s been a tough year doesn’t begin to describe it. The COVID-19 crisis has pushed many of us to breaking point. And in the process it's laid bare – and deepened – the devastating inequality that blights our communities and our world.
The challenges are staggering. But there’s also cause for hope.
Now, children and adults are taking it on themselves to find new ways to support their communities. And to start to build a better future.
You can read some of their amazing stories here.
We hope, like us, they’ll inspire you to question what’s happening in our world. And want to stand with children and adults taking action to change the future we all share.
Because when we all see the world differently, anything is possible.
THE POWER OF LEARNING
On a rooftop, in a slum in the Indian state of Bihar, an amazing change is taking place. Women and children who’ve never had the chance to go to school are learning to read and write.
Their teacher? A remarkable 16-year-old girl called Munni.
Munni’s story was nearly very different. When she was just eight she was under pressure from her dad and grandad to enter an arranged marriage – a common practice in their community, known as Musahars, which is one of the poorest and most disadvantaged in India.
But Munni’s mum, her brother and Save the Children project workers talked to her father and grandfather and persuaded them against the marriage. Instead she was able to go to school – supported by Save the Children.
“My child can do better in their life only if they are literate,” says Munni’s mum.
Munni hasn’t looked back. Four years after starting school, she decided, aged 12, she wanted things to change. So she started a literacy class for her community. With her friends as her first recruits, together they set about persuading other women in the community to attend.
At first, nobody took them seriously, but Munni didn't give up. She persuaded her mother and two other women to attend the class. From there, other women became interested. Now Munni has 20 women enrolled and learning.
The rooftop classes are potentially life-changing for these women – opening up opportunities to work, own property and have a savings account.
"I want to become a doctor and help my community.” Munni
Photos: CJ Clarke / Save the Children
In Uganda, Harriet is standing up for her right to learn
When Harriet, 14, fled war torn South Sudan, what item from home did she choose to bring? Her school uniform. It’s a sign of how much she loved school.
Harriet walked for three days to find safety – crossing the border into northern Uganda and a vast refugee settlement. The future seemed bleak. "I thought I’d never go to school again because of the war," she says.
But our staff at the camp helped Harriet put on her uniform again and catch up on her learning. "I started learning so many things,” she says. “I started learning leadership skills, how to make reusable pads, reading, writing."
"Most, I like to sing about education… girl child education…If girls were to rule, there will not be maybe some problems, conflicts."
"I want to be a lawyer because I don't want to see my people suffering."
Girl child education.
"Girl child education, girl child education,
Girl child education, can bring change in the world.
Our girls are driving, our girls get salaries,
Society benefits, our nation benefits, our country benefits.
I said remember in parliament, remember in parliament,
Can bring change in the world."
A song by Harriet
Photos: Louis Leeson / Save The Children
Education around the world
Over the past two decades we’ve seen real progress in the number of children at school. Before the COVID-19 crisis, more children were in a classroom than ever before. But many were still missing out. 250 million children – one child in five – were out of school.
The Pandemic has hit children’s education hard, right around the world. Earlier this year, as countries locked down, 1.6 billion children were shut out of school. Now there’s a danger that 10 million children will never return.
Photo: Sophie Hamandishe / Save the Children
How we’re helping children learn around the world
Last year our education programmes reached 7.7 million children around the world.
Provided essential education support to more than 290,000 children across 19 countries in 2018 through our education in emergency programmes.
In Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo we gave thousands of girls the support they need to stay in education.
With your help we can work towards a world where by 2030 every child will have access to a good quality, basic education.
LIFE SAVING MEDICINE
“If children don’t get a vaccination, they will be vulnerable to these diseases. We can only prevent these diseases – we don’t have the power to treat them.”
How can you reach children in the most remote areas of the world? By motorbike, of course!
Healthworker – and motorbiker – Hasan supports six health posts across the Somali region in Ethiopia. His outreach brings basic medical care to remote communities, as well as a vaccination programme tackling big killers like measles, pneumonia, polio and tuberculosis.
“If children don’t get a vaccination, they will be vulnerable to these diseases,” Hasan says. “We can only prevent these diseases – we don’t have the power to treat them.”
Through a partnership between pharmaceutical company GSK and Save the Children, Hasan has been given healthcare training. And a cross-country motorbike!
Photos: Hanna Adcock / Save the Children
Children's health around the world
Over the last 30 years, we've been part of a remarkable story of progress. Since 1990, the children under 5 mortality has almost halved.
But despite this leap forward, there's a danger we're leaving many children behind – because of poverty, ethnicity or gender.
5.9m children still die annually, many from preventable causes, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Newborn death rates aren't falling fast enough, and malnutrition remains a stubborn challenge. We're determined to change this.
Photos: Hanna Adcock / Save the Children
How we're saving children's lives around the world
Last year Save the Children’s global health and nutrition programmes reached 26.8 million people.
We're pressuring governments and working with global partners to improve health for millions.
Every day, our doctors, nurses and health teams are saving lives in hard-to-reach communities around the world.
Our Emergency Health Unit means we have supplies, logistics experts and skilled surgeons, doctors and nurses ready to send anywhere in the world in the event of a major disaster or conflict.
For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo we're renovating, training and improving medical supplies in partnership with GSK. Over 5 years, we aim to bring essential healthcare to 700,000 children.
With your help we can work towards a world where by 2030 no child under 5 dies from a preventable disease.
FOOD FOR LIFE
In her own quiet way, Papiya, 15, is making an impact on her rural community in Bangladesh – by telling mums about the importance of good nutrition. And by the power of her cooking!
"I like cooking for everyone. I like it because it brings everyone together... The food is for the kids to eat, they’re using the different ingredients for nutrition. It’s boring to eat the same thing every day and it’s good to eat different types of food – for your health."
Papiya lives with her aunt, Rojina, who is a peer leader in our nutrition programme called Suchana. Our programme helps families improve young children’s nutrition – including working in communities to support families’ livelihoods, providing nutrition advice and promoting breastfeeding. When Rojina hosts community sessions on nutrition, Papiya helps out. She helps tell mums about the importance of a good diet so that their "children are healthy and don’t catch diseases".
When Papiya grows up she wants to be a teacher so that she can keep sharing this message!
Photos: Tom Merilion / Save The Children
Everybody knows Forget
She’s called Forget, but she’s someone to remember.
Forget is a mother of four living in a village in northern Malawi. Through the Scaling Up Nutrition project that we support, with funding from the EU, Forget learned what makes up a healthy diet for her children and about the importance of hygiene and sanitation to prevent disease. She also got training from local farmers on how to grow nutritious food all year round.
Forget took this information in and ran with it. Now she grows her own fruit and veg and uses it to cook healthy, balanced meals for her family. And she saw such big improvements in her children’s health, she wanted to spread the message.
So Forget became a Community Nutrition Champion. Now she teaches other people in her community about healthy food and good hygiene practices.
"This village was lagging behind in its knowledge of good nutrition practices," she says. "I’m popular in this area now because everybody knows Forget carries nothing but good nutrition messages!"
Thanks to her hard work, she’s seen improvements in her community. Malnutrition and stunting rates have started to decline.
"In this village, life has changed. We now eat the six food groups and we have healthier bodies. Our children don't get ill often they look healthier."
Photos: Fredrik Lerneryd / Save the Children
Hunger around the world
There's enough food in the world for everyone. But poor breastfeeding practices, lack of support to women, poverty and rising food prices means many children don't get a healthy start.
At the same time, climate change threatens to increase the frequency of droughts and food crises.
Relentless hunger weakens children's immune systems and leaves them vulnerable to infection, disease and death. And for those who survive, malnutrition is a life sentence.
Nearly 1/4 children in the world today suffer permanent damage to their bodies and minds because they don't get the nutrition they need, often due to lack of breastfeeding practices.
Photo: Sacha Myers / Save the Children
How we're helping children get a healthy diet
We're committed to ending child deaths from hunger. Our teams provide skilled counselling, support on breastfeeding and complementary feeding, screening for malnutrition, distributing vitamin supplements and helping families improve their income.
And we're pioneering new methods of predicting food crises so governments can take action sooner.
We’re supporting children’s nutrition in many countries. For example, in northern Nigeria we’re giving out small grants and dietary advice – with support from UK aid – to help 60,000 pregnant women and mothers get the nutritious food they and their children need.
And across the border in Niger we’re supporting pregnant women and children under the age of two to get the nutrition they need to grow and develop.
With your help we can work towards a world where by 2030 no child will die from malnutrition. Every child has the right to good food to enable them to grow and develop.
See the world like a child
When we see the world as children do the possibilities are endless. There is optimism, honesty and impatience for change. Children challenge the norm and fight for equality, they see what is unfair and question it.
If we saw the world through the eyes of a child, who knows what we could achieve. No problem would be too big or too complicated to change.
We've already come so far, but we're not done yet.
Some names have been changed to protect identity