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Magical moments in the kitchen

by Laura Reinhardt
World Vision US

Cooking with your grandmother, sharing a meal with family—these are some of the special moments we look forward to during the Christmas season, or remember fondly from past holidays.

For 9-year-old Rosemary, the magic of cooking and eating together is a big part of her dream to become a chef!

See what’s making Rosemary’s dream possible.
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When I was a little girl, the Christmas season meant a trip from our Midwest home to my grandmother’s house in North Carolina. That was such a special time for me. She always kept a jar of Hershey kisses in her kitchen, which she called silver bells. And best of all, she let me help her with holiday baking.

I would pull a chair up to the kitchen counter and watch the magic as she creamed the Crisco and sugar. Then she added the eggs. Sometimes she even let me crack one. And then there were the dry ingredients to be carefully measured, sifted, and poured into the sugar mixture.

She taught me that in making cakes, once the wet and dry ingredients were added together I needed to be very quiet to prevent the cake from falling. Or maybe she just used that as an excuse for a little peace and quiet. I was a very talkative child.

Cookies were my favorite, though. I loved dropping dough by the teaspoon onto the cookie sheet. I might’ve snuck a few of those, though I’m sure I wasn’t as stealthy as I thought.

And then best of all, she let me lick the beaters and the bowl. I’m pretty sure that was my main motivation to help her bake!

One Christmas, I had the crazy idea to melt wax and pour the liquid into cookie cutters to create ornaments. My grandmother didn’t hesitate. She pulled old candles out of drawers and melted them down. And they weren’t even that bad as ornaments.

But to a child, having an adult who took my ideas seriously and believed in me—that meant the world to me. Her faith made me think that I could dream big.

This year, I got to witness that same special bond between a young Zambian girl, Rosemary, and her grandmother, Patricia.

Rosemary longs to be a chef. “I dream in my heart,” she says. Patricia fuels that dream by encouraging Rosemary to cook for her extended family.

Rosemary

Rosemary’s specialty is nshima—a corn porridge that’s a staple in Zambia. Watching the process reminded me of those holidays in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Patricia pulls the pot from the rack. It’s a special pot that fits 9-year-old Rosemary’s petite frame. Rosemary gets water from a tap near the family’s home and sets the filled pot on the wood fire.

Once the water boils, she adds finely ground corn flour and immediately begins stirring. That’s important to prevent any lumps from forming. Rosemary stirs while the porridge is still runny, but as it thickens, Patricia takes over with her work-strengthened hands. They sing together—their voices rising in harmony—filled with the joy of being together.

Then Patricia pulls out a little salt and adds it to the nshima.

This is significant because not so long ago, Patricia and her husband, Danford, couldn’t afford even this most basic staple.

They struggled just to feed their family. Patricia and Danford both came from impoverished families, and their own followed the same path. Their grandchildren, like Rosemary, were destined to continue in poverty.

But life changed with a gift of just five goats from World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

“Goats actually change everything,” Patricia says. “Goats give health to a family. Goats give education to a family. Goats bring food to a family.”

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Before the goats, Danford and Patricia took any sort of work they could find to provide meager amounts of food. But it wasn’t enough.

Patricia also used to walk a couple of hours just to get clean water, which took her away from her children.

When Rosemary’s father, Justine, was a boy, he had to leave school. He couldn’t concentrate because of his hunger. But today, he sees more hope for Rosemary.

The goats came just in time for her.

They’re multiplying rapidly, so by the time Rosemary enters secondary school, there will be plenty of goats to sell to pay for her education.

World Vision’s child sponsorship came to Rosemary’s community not long after the goats. Because of sponsorship, her school has brand new latrines. Her family also got new mosquito nets, helping to reduce malaria.

And Rosemary won’t have to miss or be late for school because of getting water. Child sponsorship brought clean water to just steps away from her grandparents’ home!

All of this combined means she won’t have to give up on her dream.

And what’s her dream? She imagines herself working in a kitchen—preparing nshima for dozens and dozens of guests instead of only her family.

Rosemary is free to imagine this future because of the gift of goats, her sponsor, and her grandmother’s nourishment of that goal. Just like how my grandmother fed both my body and soul during those magical moments in her kitchen.

And after all, isn’t that a big part of the Christmas season—a child’s beautiful dreams? Consider giving Gifts of Hope here: https://www.worldvision.com.my/goh-catalogue

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Rwanda: 20+ years after genocide

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After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. And yet, after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men have been able to become as close as brothers again. (©2013 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies. Rwanda was as ruined as any spot on earth — 800,000 people were brutally slaughtered in 100 days. How could the country ever overcome such hatred and horror? It would take a miracle.

World Vision began relief and development work in war-ravaged Rwanda in 1994. In 1996, when thousands of families began to return to their villages in Rwanda, World Vision started a reconciliation and peacebuilding department. Hostility slowly yielded to faith and forgiveness, restoring communities and relationships like that of Andrew and Callixte. Though they are now friends again, Andrew and Callixte endured a long road to healing.

“The process of forgiveness involves expressing how you feel and saying, ‘Now I want peace in my heart; please forgive me. I don’t want to keep connected to the bad memories of when you did evil to me. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my pain,” says World Vision’s Josephine Munyeli, who has worked in Rwanda’s peace and reconciliation programs for two decades. “When the memories come, I don’t want to be devastated by them. I want to be able to sleep.”

World Vision developed a reconciliation model that endures today: a two-week program of sharing intensely personal memories of the genocide, learning new tools to manage deeply painful emotions, and embarking on a path to forgiveness. The approach has been replicated all over the country and embraced by the government. Read more

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Changing hearts and minds

By Somluck Khamsaen, WV Thailand

Among neat rows of blue notebooks and piles of patient paperwork at Song Suem Sukapab Hospital, Sumitra Boonyuen, a former World Vision sponsored child, is seemingly worlds away from the hardships in her impoverished hometown.

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However, the hospital’s clean, professional setting rests just miles from Ban Pai, Thailand, where local farmers toil in rice fields and children used to forgo school to join them.

Fifteen years ago, children in Ban Pai were virtually cut off from any future outside their community. The poor condition of the road to the village made traveling difficult, and the path to education often terminated when children dropped out of school to work in the fields.

The rice farmers in Ban Pai are never far from Sumitra’s thoughts, even as she sits at her computer. Because Song Suem Sukapab Hospital serves the population of Ban Pai and its surrounding area, Sumitra’s work as a database manager directly contributes to the health of her community. She organizes and updates patient medical files, guaranteeing that doctors and nurses have current, accurate information as they treat patients.

Sumitra, now 27, overcame the challenges all children in her community faced — with her sponsor supporting her along the way.

As one of the first children registered for sponsorship when World Vision came to Ban Pai in 1999, Sumitra received help with school fees, uniforms, supplies, and transportation, ensuring she could continue her education. Her Canadian sponsor, whom she calls “Uncle George,” provided practical help and constant encouragement.

Though her family was poor, Sumitra’s parents, Sawat and Kammao Boonyuen, worked hard. With the same work ethic, Sumitra completed high school and set her sights on a university degree.

She was accepted to Lampang Rajabhat University, but her parents couldn’t afford the high price tag of tuition, deterring Sumitra’s plans. She explained her predicament to World Vision staff. They talked with Sawat and Kammao, who agreed to provide whatever they could afford. And, thanks to Uncle George’s continued assistance, World Vision helped her with tuition and other expenses.

“If it were not for World Vision’s support that day, I would not complete my bachelor’s degree and have the honor of working and helping sick people in my hometown,” says Sumitra.

While Sumitra earned her degree, Sawat also received an education. He began attending World Vision-organized meetings and livelihood training. Soon, he received four piglets, which he raised, bred, and sold.

“I sell them, and I get [about RM283] each time to pay for our family expenses during the school term,” Sawat says. “I raise the next group of pigs with the income that I get.”

Others in Ban Pai benefit from World Vision’s holistic development model, which rests on child sponsorship’s strong foundation. In a village where many parents pulled their children out of school to earn extra income, 70 percent of parents now acknowledge the importance of education.

“Their lives have improved,” says Sumitra. “World Vision helps children with school fees and supplies. Parents receive livelihood support and they have more opportunity.”

Other sponsorship-funded projects in Ban Pai include water filters in schools for clean drinking water; ponds for fish farming; and new techniques, training, and loans for farmers. As farmers implemented different methods, incomes increased and living conditions improved.

World Vision is a friend to the poor. They understand the problems of families at the grassroots level and provide the best solution for the situation,” Sumitra says.

The best solution for Sumitra was pursuing higher education. With hard work and Uncle George’s support, she graduated in 2010 from Lampang Rajabhat University with a degree in computer science — the third person from her village to earn a bachelor’s degree.

After using what she learned to earn a living and impact her community, Sumitra has plans to do more.

In 2012, she returned to college to pursue an additional degree in public health. With a job waiting at another hospital — which provided a scholarship for her new degree — next spring Sumitra will begin a new career teaching others how to stay healthy.

She says she owes all of this to the generosity of Uncle George, who not only provided the funding for her first degree but also wrote her letters of encouragement.

“If I did not receive help, I would be in great trouble today,” Sumitra says. “If I have a chance to meet Uncle George, I will thank him for helping me to have a new life and good future.”

Story courtesy of World Vision Magazine.

Unusual angels: Gift Catalogue chickens a family’s saving grace

By Laura Reinhardt, WVUS

“He’s a town boy.”
That’s how World Vision Zambia communicator Agatha Mali describes 4-year-old Chansa Dibula.

She means that his life is easier than many other children in rural southern Zambia. He’s not malnourished. He’s physically healthy. He doesn’t have to walk for miles to gather water. His family has reliable income so that when he’s old enough, he’ll be able to attend school. They’ll have the money for the fees, uniforms, and school supplies.

That’s still a few years away. Right now he’s content to spend his days at the home of his maternal grandmother, Esnart Sianchwale. He loves hopping around on one foot across the family compound. Sometimes he’ll play soccer with his uncle, 9-year-old Resheal, who’s more like a brother to him. Life is good for these two boys.

But Esnart, who is also Resheal’s mother, remembers a time when they only had hunger and heartache.

‘The story turned upside down’
Esnart’s first husband died in 1999, leaving her to care for her children and elderly mother. He was the family’s breadwinner so his death meant disaster for the family.

“When he died, the story turned upside down,” says Esnart’s 18-year-old son, Bee. “It was easy to notice the difference. I used to wear nice clothes. I used to eat every day.”

Both Bee and his older brother, Under, excelled in their studies, but without food to fortify them, they faltered. “I would lose concentration in school. I wouldn’t want to be with my friends because I was hungry,” says Under, now 25. He dropped out of school in grade 10 and never returned.

Bee also struggled in school. “My performance was being affected. I couldn’t concentrate,” he says. He had to repeat sixth grade because he missed a full term. “It was hard to cope with hunger.”

When Esnart found piecework, she earned just a bit of mealie meal — ground corn used as a staple in Zambia. Sometimes that was all they would eat for a day, and many times they had no food.

Esnart’s own struggles with hunger were nothing compared to the guilt and anguish she felt over watching her children suffer. The children came to her and said, “’Mommy, we are hungry. We need food.’” She sometimes ran away from them into the bush just to sit alone with her grief. “Why are my children going through all this? What am I going to do? Am I going to manage to take them out of this situation? Am I going to be able to see them reach their potential?”

esnart
The answer to the last two questions seemed to be ‘no.’ Esnart remarried in 2003 and hoped that things would improve, but frequent fights between husband and wife meant no return to the better days of her first marriage. A few years later, Esnart became deathly ill. Her husband didn’t take care of her, so she took her children and returned to her home village.

Esnart recovered from her mysterious illness. She had her HIV status checked but thankfully tested negative. A few visits from her husband and attempts at reconciliation left Esnart pregnant with her youngest child, Resheal. Ultimately her marriage failed, but things did begin to look up for Esnart’s family. It came in the most unlikely of forms — chickens.

Gift Catalogue chickens bring hope
Through World Vision’s Gift Catalogue, she received four chickens and one rooster.

Owen Sikuneta, World Vision’s Community Development Worker in the area, comes from this area. He knows of his neighbors’ struggles. One of the families who stood out as having special need was Esnart’s. So when it came time to choose families to receive the chickens, he knew he would recommend her.

Before the chickens arrived, Esnart received training on best practices in building a chicken coop. She hesitated to begin because she didn’t dare to hope for a better future.

“Please make sure you’re going to do this. We are telling the truth” Owen told her. “These chickens are going to be a stepping stone to move your family from one level to another.” So Esnart got busy building the chicken coop.

“My heart was ignited with so much joy,” says Esnart. When the chickens arrived, she named them.

“I gave them names because those chickens were a gift,” she says. “I had a special relationship with those chickens.” She wanted to be able to call them and have them respond to those names.

Esnart learned about livestock management from World Vision. Experts educated her about the right foods to feed her chickens so they would produce more eggs, multiply, and thrive.

And thrive they did! From five, within a year Esnart’s animals numbered 200 roosters, 124 chickens, and eight baby chicks.

“God was so good. He made the chickens reproduce very fast, as though he was looking forward to reducing our hunger,” says Bee.

In fact, when World Vision gathered all the chicken recipients together to evaluate, Esnart’s chickens from the Gift Catalogue had reproduced the most. World Vision gave her more wire for her chicken coop to accommodate her expanded brood.

When Resheal was only a tiny boy, he developed a knack for knowing which hens were ready to lay eggs. He discovered their roosting hiding places. Then Esnart would come across him with eggs boiling in a pot. He smiles shyly as she tells this story.

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To this day, his favorite food is eggs with beans.

Prospering despite hard times
“The chickens have been a foundation,” says Esnart. “Without these chickens, my family would have been wallowing in poverty.”

At that time, the chickens acted as a sort of savings bank for Esnart and her family. She began selling chickens to local restaurants. Through those sales, Esnart bought turkeys and cattle along with seeds and fertilizer to increase the size of her garden.

Esnart’s family used to do all the work by hand and couldn’t grow enough food to feed even themselves. Owning cattle means they can plow their field so they’ve been able to expand the size of their crop. That means Esnart can feed her family and even have crops left over to sell.

World Vision’s Owen says, “I feel good to see my community have three meals. I don’t like seeing them suffering.”

Most mornings, Esnart works in one of two fields filled with maize, mbambara nuts, and cowpeas. When school is out, Resheal joins her.

“As a result of all these things put together, we are food secure despite that we are experiencing drought now. Hunger is a thing of the past now because we do not depend on maize alone for our survival,” says Esnart. “World Vision already laid a foundation for us, which has made it possible for us to survive even when times are hard, as the case is now.”

Much of Zambia depends on Sinazongwe’s Lake Kariba for its hydroelectric power. With the water levels receding, many parts of the country face rolling blackouts to try to conserve electricity.

kariba
Picture of Lake Kariba from zambezitraveller.com

El Nino has led to drought across southern Africa, causing crops to fail and people in southern Zambia to face hunger. Thanks to the chicken savings banks and the work that World Vision had done to train farmers on drought-resistant crops, many of the families within World Vision’s Area Development Projects (ADPs) aren’t feeling the pangs of hunger.

A better life through education and child sponsorship
Esnart wants her children and grandchildren to have access to a better future. “I chose to educate my children because I wanted them to live a better life later in the future, not a difficult life, like what I had myself,” she says.

The animals allow her to keep Resheal and Bee in school, something she couldn’t do for Under. The young man tested well in exams and wanted to be a doctor. Sadly, that’s a lost opportunity for Under.

Leaving school early meant that he didn’t learn to speak English. In Zambia, the more profitable jobs require fluent English. That means lost income potential for Under. He yearns to be setting an example for his younger brothers. “I should’ve been supporting my siblings,” he says. “My siblings were supposed to look up to me.”

Bee and Resheal both dream of being doctors, so perhaps Under has been more of an influence on his brothers than he knows.

One thing that’s certain, Chansa looks up to Resheal. They spend much of their free time together when Resheal isn’t at school. (Zambian children attend school for three months, followed a month off throughout the year.) When they’re not playing, sometimes Resheal brings Chansa with him to get water from a nearby borehole. What Chansa really wants to do is go with Resheal when he herds the goats. But Resheals tells him that he’s too young and needs to wait a little while longer.

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The goats arrived a couple of years ago for Resheal — also coming through World Vision’s Gift Catalogue. He feels so responsible for them that sometimes he’ll skip lunch out in the field because he worries that something might happen to them. When he first got the goats, he put them inside their pen and says, “I spent time gazing at them. ”Like the chickens, the goats multiplied. Now they have more than 30 goats.

The animals aren’t the only benefit World Vision has offered to Esnart’s family. Bee, Resheal, and Chansa all have sponsors in the US. Bee’s and Resheal’s sponsors have written letters, encouraging both boys to pursue their studies — advice they take to heart.

Resheal’s sponsor sent him clothing. Bee’s sponsor donated extra gifts, which allowed Bee to reroof his room and also to buy a wooden bed — the first bed he’s ever owned. Bee says, “If we meet or see each other, mostly I would want to thank him so much from the bottom of my heart because he has done so much to help me.”

Esnart considers the sponsors to be friends of her sons and grandson.

Starting to save
In 2011, World Vision began savings groups in the community.  These groups helped to change the mindset of people in Zambian rural communities.

Owen, the community development worker, explains that it used to be if someone had small amounts of money such as 2 or 5 kwacha (RM0.90 – RM2.20), they would just go spend it, because they couldn’t see the value of saving such a small amount.

World Vision explained that the tiny amount, when saved in a savings group, could result in earnings of up to 20 kwacha (RM8.80). That’s a sizeable sum of money in these rural communities.

These savings then are available to members to borrow. They’re encouraged to take loans because the interest on repaid loans increases everyone’s earnings. Each group sets their loan repayment period to between 6 months and a year. They also determine interest rates, although most groups tend to set it to around 10%.  Owen says he’s seen lots of changes as a result of the savings groups in his zone. Some women have been able to build new homes or shops. They’ve paid school fees for their children, bought livestock, and bought nutritious food for their family.

“The savings groups have proved to be [one of] the best of World Vision’s interventions,” he says. “No group has stopped. They’re opening new ones all the time.”

Esnart embraced the savings groups. She’s even become a trainer, which means she visits savings groups around the country, teaching them about the process.

Esnart dreams big about her own future. She’s started a small business selling fish from Lake Kariba. She plans to borrow money from the savings group to expand her that business by buying a refrigerator in which to store the fish. She now owns property in town now and just needs to build on the land. Then she’ll rent out the homes when she’s finished. She’s always seeking to diversify so she’s not dependent on one thing to support her family.

The savings group has also opened up higher education opportunities for her children. Owen says, “Bee is now at a boarding [high] school. On her own, she could not have managed.”

Zambia recently passed new legislation requiring elected government officials to have completed their education at least through twelfth grade. Owen says proudly that now people in his community can be part of governing their own country because education has become more accessible, thanks in part to World Vision’s work in communities like Sinazongwe.

Neither Resheal nor Chansa seems interested in politics at this point in their lives, but it’s great to know that the option is open should they decide to pursue a future in government.

Resheal is already starting to work on his medical skills. When his elderly grandmother stepped on a thorn, he tenderly pulled it from her gnarled foot. It was good practice for the 9-year-old doctor in waiting.

“I want to be treating people. I want people to live a healthy life and I would want to take people out of their old life,” he says, his megawatt smile lighting up his whole face.

Esnart knows that due to the foundation laid by the Gift Catalogue chickens and the ongoing support of sponsorship and the savings groups, she’ll have the money she needs to support his education.

“He will help the nation as a whole,” she says. “My dream [for Resheal] is that he would have a fruitful future; that he would have a productive future.” She wants him to be self-sufficient, but also willing and able to help others in need.

A loving example
Helping others is so important to Esnart that she’s already instilled it in her children and will do so to her grandchildren. She knows the ramifications of desperate poverty.

She understands the physical and psychological effects it imprints on people.

Most of the people in southern Zambia belong to the Tongan tribe. Tongans measure worth by the number of animals owned. “In the past, when I lacked all these things, nobody could even walk to my home,” says Esnart. “They shunned me because I was poor.”

Now many people in need come to her. Esnart refuses to turn them away. If someone asks for a chicken to feed their family, she gives it to them free of charge.

Her faith enables her to forgive. “I need to show them an example of how they need to live,” Esnart says. “God is using me, not just for my well-being, but also for the well-being of others.”

Her example has taken root. Bee says, “One friend came and said he did not have a blanket. I did not deny him one because I realized problems need to be shared. So, I gave him a blanket. They say the hand that gives is blessed.” Shortly thereafter, World Vision provided Bee with another blanket.

Chansa and Resheal are learning these same lessons in generosity, but thankfully they haven’t learned the hard lessons of want. These boys don’t have to wonder where whether a meal is coming. They won’t feel hunger gnawing at them as they struggle to learn.

Instead, they will be free to grow to their full potential, and that’s an overwhelming desire for any parent.

Through the gifts of chickens, goats, and sponsorship, Esnart’s faith has grown. “It has made me realize that God came like sending his own angel to come before me,” says Esnart. “Those years I spent struggling and praying, he heard me and answered by sending that angel.”

Who would have ever believed an angel taking on the form of a chicken?

To learn more about World Vision’s gift catalogue, please go to https://www.worldvision.com.my/goh-catalogue Or to learn about how sponsoring a child is the start of a miracle for children and communities living in poverty, do click here, https://www.worldvision.com.my/what-is-child-sponsorship

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

The year of forgetting myself.

By Edmond Lee, Communications

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Proverbs 11:25 (The Message Bible)

As another year winds down and we look forward to the Christmas season (and the holidays!), it’s worth taking some time to reflect on the year gone by.

Geopolitical upheavals, financial uncertainties, war and tragedies… 2016 has been a long, eventful, and often tumultuous year. It can be easy to give in to pessimism when we turn on the news and see, for example, the latest updates on the civil war tearing Syria violently apart. Some days, one can feel a deep frustration with the world. And when you combine that with the pressures of daily life, it can feel like too much to bear. I’ve been there.

And yet, 2016 has been instructive in teaching me the value of looking beyond myself.  As a writer with World Vision, I know that every word I type makes an impact for the people we serve. If I can convince just one person to sponsor a child or give to a worthy cause through my writing, that could make all the difference for a child and a community trapped in poverty.

On certain days, that responsibility can be overwhelming. But on others, it energises me. It forces me to power through and discover creative energies I didn’t know I had. Sometimes my writing falls short of its potential (apologies to my long-suffering editor) but on good days I turn out something authentic that can move hearts! Most importantly, focusing on the needs of someone else helps me to forget myself, if just for a moment.

So as we look towards 2017 and the new uncertainties it may bring, maybe that’s one lesson we can take with us: When all we have to think about are our own fears and insecurities (which we often feed for no reason), the world can drag us down.  But when we can channel our energies into serving those who suffer, the light of hope we bring into their world may just light up ours as well.

May the light and joy of Christmas surround you this Christmas, and here’s to a very bright 2017.

Making a difference every day!

By Edmond Lee
Communications

All World Vision staff are passionate about children in need, and are equipped with the skills to help children – and their communities – lift themselves out of poverty.

But we can’t do it all alone. Whenever we need help coping with thousands of hungry young people at a stadium, creating awareness at malls across Malaysia, or stuffing envelopes with brochures and letters, there’s ONE group of people we can count on to help us make a difference. Our amazing volunteers.

Today, we celebrate some of these individuals.

On the road

Have you ever stopped by a World Vision Malaysia roadshow? If you have, you surely would have noticed a small band of individuals in black t-shirts working alongside our staff dressed in bright orange. These are our valiant volunteers!


Our volunteers (in black) at a recent World Vision Malaysia roadshow.

For hours on end, these tireless young men and women navigate the crowds and reach out to the curious public at malls, churches and other venues across Malaysia. They sign up child sponsors, answer questions about World Vision Malaysia, and even keep children entertained while we talk to their parents.


Bringing the message of World Vision to the public.

Being a public face for World Vision is no easy task. You have to be personable, know your facts, think on your feet, and even handle rejections! (For every person you convince, dozens more may turn you down or just breeze by you.)  But with their ready smiles and upbeat attitudes, our volunteers are true champions of our cause whenever World Vision hits the road.

4 hours to go

Question: How many people do you need to keep thousands of youths (who have fasted for the last 26 hours) entertained and enthusiastic for another four hours of fasting?

Answer: An entire World Vision Malaysia office, and around 1,000 volunteers!


Our volunteers bright and ready to register Famine Campers at the 2016 30-Hour Famine Countdown.

Planning and executing the much-anticipated Famine Countdown is a massive undertaking. Every year, we call for volunteers from across Malaysia to help us make the Countdown an event to remember for the passionate young people who raise funds and go hungry for those in need. And every year, close to a thousand volunteers answer the call.


These water-sellers help Famine Campers stay hydrated at the 30-Hour Famine Countdown.

Whether they direct traffic, register Famine Campers, sell water or assist performers backstage and more, our volunteers are always on top of their game. Thanks to rigorous training prior to the event, every volunteer team is a well-oiled unit on Countdown day, ready to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.

So the next time you see photos and videos (taken by our volunteer photographers and videographers) showing excited, happy Famine Campers enjoying the 30-Hour Famine Countdown, spare a thought for the 1,000 volunteers who made sure they had the best time possible.

Changing lives every day

In the United States, Make a Difference Day is commemorated every fourth Saturday of October, where volunteers from around the country come together to improve the lives of others. Here in Malaysia, we don’t officially mark this Day, but we have the greatest admiration and gratitude for the faithful service of our volunteers – every day of the year!

As far as we’re concerned, every bit counts when it comes to making a difference – be it handling administrative tasks and phone calls (shout out to our office volunteers!), ensuring security at the 30-Hour Famine Countdown, or even clearing the post-event garbage. We appreciate your every effort.

Everything World Vision does is about changing the lives of children and families who live in poverty, and because of our volunteers, we can achieve that goal more successfully. To all of you, once more we say THANK YOU from our hearts.

If you’d like to get further acquainted with the people helping us making a difference, here are some of the best volunteer stories from the World Vision Malaysia blog:

Passionate about being a child sponsor
Having a Heart for Children
Your small sacrifice can bring about a big change!
Or, if you are interested in volunteering with World Vision, click here
Get regular updates from the World Vision Malaysia Volunteers Facebook page.

Lydia – serving in Sabah

By Lydia Lee
World Vision Malaysia

My name is Lydia and I am responsible to initiate and oversee World Vision Malaysia (WVM) community development programmes (CDPs) in Sabah, provide direction for the growth of CDPs in Malaysia, capacity building of local staff, engage with stakeholders and explore partnering opportunities, collaborate with like-minded organisations and am one of the spokespersons for the media.

Before embarking on implementing any transformational community development programme with an aim towards a community’ self-sustainability, relationships and trust must be built with the community. The initial phase in starting in Tulid CDP starting from October 2011 was tough – no one in the area has heard of World Vision, WVM had no past track record in Sabah, the communities had limited engagement with NGOs. In one of the villages, some leaders actually thought I was from a new political party when they saw my orange World Vision shirt.

A lot of hard work and sacrifice was made, achievements were slow to come by (for example, it took one whole year of generally working alone in Sabah throughout 2012, before we had the first two Sabahan co-workers, and later on more Sabahan staff as field facilitators), plans can be suddenly thwarted by unexpected, unannounced events (such as the 13th General Elections and the Sulu crisis in 2013 when we planned to facilitate a series of participatory programme design workshops in several clusters of villages).

Personal life is usually at the backburner as a high degree of flexibility is needed to shuttle between West and East Malaysia to accommodate stakeholders’ timing. In spite of having the ‘best laid plans’, community development work in Sabah inevitably takes priority over other commitments, resulting in feelings of guilt from bailing on commitments to my husband, family and friends, or simply not committing to events and gatherings for fear causing disappointment later. Nevertheless, I am grateful that they continue to be supportive and I hope to do better in the area of being a good wife, daughter and friend.

I am touched by the care and hospitability of the community in Sabah and also a partner NGO, Good Shepherd Services when I first started working in Sabah. They took me in as one of them, allowed me to join them in their day-to-day activities even though I had zero farming knowledge – unable to chop trees and slow in moving tree trunks to clear lands for planting, slow in harvesting paddy and unable to distinguish edible and non-edible wild vegetables.

During the early, relationship-building period I got to know the community better. Through spending more time with the community, they opened up when they share their thoughts. Mothers, fathers and youths share their dreams and struggles. People really desire to do something to improve their condition, but lack the opportunities.

Successes are – when you are able to witness for yourself that children have shown increased confidence and motivation to learn, when field staff increase in their capacity, confidence and commitment, when a community showed initiative, motivation and ownership in setting set up their own pre-school in their village for their children’s well-being. Parents are willing to sacrifice for their children’s future. After seeing improvement in their children, parents are motivated to be good role models, even to the extent of changing their old habits for the sake of their children.

Last year, we responded to the floods in Kelantan. It was WVM’s first local disaster response. I was responsible for the relief and rehabilitation work among the orang asli communities in Gua Musang. It was a steep learning curve, I was further stretched to juggle a precious resource, i.e. time, in working in three locations – Sabah, Kelantan and Selangor.

The amazing grace of God, even though I do not have the ability to teleport or to be omnipresent (my occasional wishful thinking and outrageous daydream), God had protected me from major physical injury caused by accidents, and I have been safe from any serious harm that may have happened to a female staying alone in a village(s).

Throughout my time in World Vision Malaysia, I grew in my relationship with Jesus Christ. It is in times of struggle, uncertainty and knowing you are not able to do things with your own strength that leads you to a deeper dependence on God. When I was nearing the brink of burn-out after expending physical and mental energy throughout two months without a break, He brought forth renewal, sustained me from simply giving up and reminded me that He is my source of strength and hope.

He has also provided help in the form of people – people who are really committed to serve by availing themselves to be full time staff. I am very grateful for everyone I work with, for without such committed people giving their lives to do this work, we would not have gone very far.

What keeps me motivated? Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”  These words drive me to focus and do my best in every circumstance, that ultimately what I do will be pleasing to God.

Lydia Lee currently serves in World Vision Malaysia under the Malaysian Programmes team as a Manager.

Jessica – the journey of 5 years

by Jessica Choong
World Vision Malaysia

More than 5 years ago, I joined World Vision Malaysia. I was excited to be part of this organisation that from my understanding was committed to helping the poor. Little did I know that World Vision’s work carried such depth and breadth worldwide. I am proud to be part of this dynamic community that is dedicated in serving the poor, even though most of us within the Malaysian office work indirectly by working hard to fundraise for our programmes in the field. Over the years I’ve come to better appreciate how the different parts of World Vision help contribute in their own unique ways for the greater good. It is also within this sphere that I’ve been able to grow professionally, socially and spiritually. Here I’d like to share some highlights from the past 5 years that has made it memorable being with the World Vision family.

My various roles in the Programmes department have provided me the opportunity to learn about both sustainable community development and emergency responses. When I first started, one of my first few responsibilities was to monitor the progress of child sponsorship programmes in a few countries. From there I learned about the holistic approach that World Vision uses to work alongside the poor, respecting their voices especially children’s and desiring for genuine transformation in the lives of those World Vision works with. I had the opportunity to visit some of our programmes to which I was able to witness the enthusiasm of communities wanting to improve their lives; discover the passion of committed field staff that have dedicated their lives to the poor; and hoped alongside children that believed that they could have a better future.

As a child sponsor, I’m glad to have the opportunity to journey with my sponsored children and their communities in this process of transformation. Having the privilege of meeting them has continued my desire to see them grow well and be hopeful for the community’s growth in the upcoming years. The connection that I have with a child in a programme allowed my work on community development to come alive, knowing that there are precious lives that really matter behind a report filled with words.


As I moved on to another role that coordinated fundraising efforts for disaster relief, I had opportunities to be deployed to be part of World Vision’s Syrian Crisis Response in the Middle East. There I served as a Programmes Officer, tasked to write grant proposals and reports to donors to fundraise for the needs of the affected community. During both deployments, I worked with international and national colleagues of various backgrounds who came together to use their skills, knowledge and passion to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected. In World Vision, it is amazing that during a time of adversity, a group of people with such diversity can come together to help others from diverse backgrounds.

Only by being part of an emergency response team, working closely with operational staff did I realise the complexity of an emergency response especially for a crisis such as Syria’s. We faced unprecedented challenges and often had to think outside of the box but still meet the needs of the affected children and community, as this was not your average or typical emergency response. This experience brought me one step closer to the field and although I did not work directly with those affected, I was able to see how my desk contribution could still bring some form of relief to those who needed them.

Looking back, it is hard to believe how swiftly five years has passed. This was made easy as I work with a great bunch of people. I have the privilege of working alongside fellow colleagues here and in other World Vision offices that are dedicated to the work at World Vision and have grown together with many professionally and spiritually. Our working relationship and focused goal of helping others has created a bond of friendship that I continue to treasure. This passion and commitment together with fellow colleagues help make the work more fulfilling and meaningful. I hope to continue to contribute in my own ways with my fellow colleagues on the work that World Vision does. And hope many will also see the small contributions we make in the lives of those we work with.

Jessica Choong currently serves in World Vision Malaysia under the Malaysian Programmes team as Programmes Coordinator.

World Humanitarian Day 2016

We share with you the stories 6 different individuals bound together by their quest to help the displaced.

There’s a female driver, two volunteers who give their time to coach football, an engineer in Syria and two others who have personal experience with conflict and now give back to help those in need.

Amira who works with children
Khalida who uses her driving skills to benefit others
Akram the Syrian footballer and volunteer
Khalil who works in Iraq
Raja the mother and volunteer
Ahmad who works in Syria

We are grateful to our colleagues who work in the World Vision Middle East and Eastern Europe offices for providing these stories to us.

Ahmad – Engineer in Syria


Photo: Hussein Sheikh Ibrahim/World Vision

In July 2016, World Vision reached over 400,000 people with clean water, emergency toilets and waste disposal services in northern Syria.

Ahmad Nassan is a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Field Engineer with World Vision in Syria.

‘We can see the impact the project has for the people, the provision of clean water, installing toilets and water tanks, we can see how satisfied they are and how happy these activities are making them. It is all based on evidence and need, ensuring that we can provide the services long-term. We do this with the hope that people can go back to their homes, to a rehabilitated community.’