95 years dedicated to children's rights

Our History

In 1919, children in war-ravaged Europe were living in horrendous conditions and dying of hunger. Moved by their plight, Oxford-educated teacher and sociologist Eglantyne Jebb started up Save the Children.

During her first attempt to raise awareness of the starving children, Eglantyne faced angry views that she was helping "children of the enemy" and was arrested and fined for distributing leaflets in London. However, convinced by her arguments, the judge was her first donor and the first Save the Children relief scheme started in Austria, supplying food to malnourished children.

Eglantyne believed strongly that children – whoever they are, wherever they are – have the right to a healthy, happy, fulfilling life. And in 1923, she helped change the world's attitude towards children by writing the first Declaration of the Rights of the Child. This was adopted by the United Nations and became international law in 1989 – known as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Her vision of children's rights now forms part of the laws of nearly every country in the world, including the Philippines, protecting millions of children long after her death. 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the CRC - click here to see what has been achieved so far.

Save the Children in the Philippines

Present in the Philippines since 1981, Save the Children has been working with Filipino children and their families for over 30 years. Through our emergencies, education, health and nutrition, child protection, disaster risk reduction, child rights governance, and livelihoods programs, we are supporting children growing up in the poorest and most challenging of circumstances. In 2012, we reached over 1.9 million Filipino children, and directly impacted the lives of 560,000 children.

Save the Children started its first program in 1982 on Guimaras Island in western Visayas, reaching out to impoverished children and families with health, education, and livelihood projects that benefited over 3,000 children. We then expanded to new areas like Ilocos Norte – where we built bridges and classrooms for school children and monitored child health and nutrition – and Metro Manila where our urban poor program focused on land acquisition with help from the National Housing Authority and UNICEF.

From this initial start over 30 years ago, Save the Children has expanded its programs throughout the Philippines, helping to support children by:

  • securing good quality early and basic education for those children who need it most;
  • improving children's access to the food and healthcare they need to thrive and grow up healthy;
  • working with Filipino families to help them out of the poverty cycle, so they can feed and support their children
  • providing life-saving supplies and emotional support for children and their families caught up in natural disasters – all from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, to the Bohol earthquake, and the many tropical storms and typhoons such as Ondoy and Yolanda;
  • working with the government on policy change to improve children's rights – such as children in the justice system (using child-friendly and sensitive procedures for interviewing children and handling children's cases) and corporal punishment (strengthening positive discipline methods and developing a Bill that bans corporal punishment);
  • protecting vulnerable children, including those separated from their families through natural disasters, extreme poverty or exploitation.

Want to learn more about our history in the Philippines? Click here to download a detailed overview of our work over the last three decades.

Save the Children globally

Today, Save the Children is a truly global movement. Save the Children in the Philippines is part of Save the Children International, our global network which enables us to work together in 120 countries around the world, foster partnerships with local organizations and provide training and resources to build healthier and happier communities where there are children in need.