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Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: An aid-worker’s diary of desperation and hope

Story by Annila Harris, Wahana Visi Indonesia |  Friday, 5 October 2018

Living in a disaster-prone country like Indonesia, I’m not a stranger to any scenes of grief but the devastation brought by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Palu was unbearable to fathom.

When the earthquake hit our place last September 28, people were panicking and running for safety. I heard voices shouting “tsunami” repeatedly – warning everyone to go to higher places. The surrounding was noisy and people seemed confused where to go.

After the quake, huge waves came rushing through the villages of Palu – wiping off everything. While these scenes were unfolding, I sat around my colleagues at a World Vision office in Palu – praying, crying, and feeling helpless in one place.

It was shocking to see how the earthquake and tsunami swept away everything – even houses and tall buildings with strong walls came crashing to the ground. We still don’t know the extent of the damage in some of the remote areas as many communication lines are down. There was limited supply of food and clean water. And we heard that people resorted to looting the stores, grabbing whatever they can for survival. Our place was in a total chaos. We saw a lot of children with items salvaged from the ruins of a family member’s house in the neighbourhood of Palu. Desperation was visible everywhere.

Thankfully, our office has a huge open space for families to stay temporarily. We immediately set up spaces for infant, children, and families who lost everything. Many of them were children under 5 including pregnant, lactating women. There were around 200 families sharing the space.

Despite our worries, Wahana Visi staff immediately provided the families and children with food even with limited supply. We cooked some local food with Moringa leaves to provide better nutrition especially to the children including pregnant and lactating mothers.

It was a relief that our staff from Jakarta arrived immediately in Palu and we set up our first Child-Friendly Spaces quickly. Many of the buildings were destroyed so we’re managing a huge tent so children will feel safe especially during aftershocks. Nevertheless, I’m relieved to see children smiling again and somehow their smiles ease my fatigue.

Seeing the devastation and the needs of my fellowmen in Palu, I feel I have a lot of things to do. I’ve been deployed here since I first joined Wahana Visi Indonesia and the people in Palu have a special place in my heart. I share my strength with my colleagues who are working almost 24/7 in order to provide the needs of the affected families.

Our team is conducting a joint distribution with the government and we witness how families and children are in dire need. However, in the coming days, we will be distributing blankets, family kits, and shelter kits to the affected families. Our response will focus on providing food, water, health, shelter and child protection assistance with an initial target of 80,000 individuals.

I heard today that the death toll has increased to more than 1,400 thousand with two million people being affected. The rescuers are trying their best to reach all affected areas and Wahana Visi Indonesia is trying our best to deliver aid quickly despite many challenges.

With all the loss, pain and devastation, we remain grateful for the government and other agencies that are trying their best to provide immediate aid in Palu. We’re also thankful for the international community for raising funds for support including local volunteers who are pitching in to help. I’m grateful that my fellowmen remain positive despite this painful experience. I know that in due time, together, we will rebuild Palu again.

If you would like to donate to the Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami appeal, kindly click here.

May – the young footballer | A rising female star in Myanmar

13-year-old May was introduced to football at age nine – little did she know that she would be enrolled in an academy and winning prizes for her regional team just a few years later! Living in an impoverished community in Myanmar, May’s family often struggles to make ends meet, but World Vision provides support by helping them with school materials, rice and mosquito nets.

May practices in the 2,000 capacity stadium on a grass pitch. Football training is her favourite part of the week. Her position hasn’t come easily, but May also knows she’s lucky – not everyone has the talent or circumstances to reach the top. “My brother was a qualified player in the area where we live. He is really into football. However, when we both went in for an interview to qualify to attend the Institute of Sports and Physical Education, I was the one chosen,” said May. Since then, she has made her parents and brother proud.

“My father plays football with me whenever I need someone to practice with,” said May. Her father owns a shop that sells rice and curry near an area popular with tourists. World Vision provides their family with school materials, rice and mosquito nets.

At the academy a proper nutritious meal program is arranged for all the girls. May works hard to balance training with her schoolwork. The football training session in the morning is from 6-7am and the evening session resumes from 3-5pm. School lessons slots in inbetween from 8am until 12pm.


Friends are vital for May and football helps create a team spirit. “My friends call me Thay Thay (meaning small) because I am so small. They love me very much,” May smiles.


May shows off the picture of her accepting the prize taken at the U14 Girls’ Regional Championship for Southeast Asia 2015, in Vietnam. Her team made Myanmar proud; reaching third-place and the prize for “Fair play”.

She has made her parents very proud of her. Her team won first prize in a match against another town. “It was the most amazing moment to win first prize and receive a cash award. The success is also the result of support from my parents,” said May. “I sometimes help my parents at their shop,” she said. “I gave the cash award to my father and mother. I am trying hard to help my parents open a bigger shop that sells rice and curry,” said May.


“I also try not to miss out on my studies. I don’t want to fail them,” says May. She does her schoolwork every day after 5pm when she finishes her football training. “It was because of my mother’s encouragement to attend the Institute of Sports and Physical Education, that I enrolled,” she said.


May’s brother introduced her to football when she was nine and she’s loved it ever since. Whenever her brother needs someone to play football with, she’s all too eager. Out of the two of them, she’s been the one fortunate enough to be chosen to attend the football academy. She is the second youngest of four siblings and her father said she has made the family and the country proud of her.

World Vision’s work in Myanmar started in the 1980s. In that time we’ve focused on providing healthcare, education and skills training to children living in the poorest communities, and giving a helping hand to families like May’s, providing them with better economic security.

Mun pads help women and the environment

Story by Maureen Lesley, World Vision Papua New Guinea | 6 June 2018

June has been an anticipated month for 12 women in the indigenous community of Hanuabada in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

After participating in a survey on “women’s views on reusable hygiene pads”, the 12 women patiently waited to be the first in their community to use the sanitary pads dubbed as mun pads.

Mun pads are washable cloth menstrual pads, which World Vision, through the New Zealand Government-funded Water and Healthy Life Project in Hanuabada, is helping introduce as an affordable and environment-friendly alternative to disposable sanitary pads and tampons, which are often too expensive for women from low income communities to afford.

“Many times I would see used sanitary pads and rubbish floating below houses and in the sea,” shared Dika Heni, 38 year-old mother of two children and one of the 12 participants to the survey. “This was never a good sight, but it happens almost every day,” she said.

Dika Heni, 38 year old mother of two, sits with her niece.

A big portion of the Hanuabada village is located near the coastline and many of its inhabitants have houses built on stilts over the ocean and on land near the sea.

Since 2016, World Vision has been helping communities in Hanuabada address water, sanitation, hygiene and solid waste issues that threaten the health and well-being of its 17,000 village residents. Menstrual hygiene management, a big component of the Project, helps mothers and their young daughters adapt good hygiene and sanitation practices to protect their health.

World Vision WASH Officer Claire Gangai explains to the women how to use the reusable pads.

“Most of the women in the community don’t always have ten kina (US$3.2) to spare for sanitary pads,” Dika said.

“For those who could afford, they don’t know how to dispose properly given the closely clustered houses and lack of areas for burning foul-smelled-items such as menstrual pads,” she added.

“The first time I heard about these reusable pads I was very happy because for a long time I used cloths for my menstrual cycle days and not plastic pads bought from the stores,” Dika shared.

“I believe that my fellow mothers will greatly benefit from the menstrual hygiene management training World Vision is providing us,” Dika said.

Dika Heni and fellow mothers sign-up to use the Mun Pads.

Dika Heni is a woman of influence in her community because she is the Deaconess of the church that most of her people belong to, which is the United Church.

“I am happy I can introduce mun pads to my 14 year old daughter, Kaiyah, who had her first period early this year,” she added.

Dikas intends to take Kaiyah under her wings to show her how to practice a clean hygiene behavior and become an advocate against plastic pollution” by using reusable mun pads.

Dika says attending World Vision surveys and awareness has made her realized how uninformed choices of disposing rubbish and unclean hygiene practices can harm her health and that of her family’s and her surrounding environment.

To know more of World Vision works and heartwarming stories from the field, kindly click here.

Giving back comes full circle

Former sponsored child Reni has built a successful career and gone on to sponsor children herself.

For Indonesian-born Reni Setianingrum, child sponsorship has been a gift that lasts a lifetime. The long-term support she received has had a lasting impact not only on Reni’s life, but also on the Australians who sponsored her – and now the children she herself has gone on to sponsor.

Reni, now 38, was sponsored by Tasmanian couple Lyn and Norm Huett when she was seven. At the time she was living in a Lombok orphanage, where her mother worked as a cook.

Inspired by Lyn and Norm’s letters, Reni began learning English. “It definitely gave me hope for me to keep on going, to study, and to be a good kid. Knowing that someone on the other side of the world, knowing that they care about me and making me feel part of the family, knowing life is not so bad, kept me going as a student,” she said.

Reni studied hard and finished school. She then secured a job on a mine in Indonesia. In 2006, she applied for a mining job in South Australia – and got it.

In 2013, Reni travelled to Tasmania to meet Lyn and Norm and personally thank them for the important role they played in her life. “It was amazing,” Reni said. “It’s like a dream come true, meeting the people that are part of me, who I am and what I’ve become now.”

Lyn and Norm also later met Reni’s parents, being among a proud group of family and friends attending her university graduation ceremony in Melbourne. The graduate diploma in management helped Reni gain her current role as a contracts coordinator in Adelaide.

Reni credits being sponsored as the spark that drove her to achieve. Aware of the opportunities she gained, she wanted to give something back – and now sponsors two children through World Vision.

“I want to repay the favour, I want to give hope to another child in a similar situation to where I was years ago,” Reni explained.

In 2013, she had the chance to meet her own sponsored child, Aldo, in Peru. “His family are farmers and [sponsorship has] given them facilities and training to manage animals. My donations also mean Aldo can do things like study and play soccer.”

Reni is living proof that giving to those in need can shape entire lives. “Sponsorship doesn’t just improve living conditions,” Reni said, “it gives children hope – and that’s the greatest gift of all.”

Reni with her former sponsors Lyn and Norm at her graduation ceremony in Melbourne.

Support children like Reni, who deserves the opportunity to grow up and live healthily. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child .

A community empowered in the aftermath of disaster

Story by Mark Nonkes | February 5, 2016

Despite tears caused by lost loved ones, in the village of Pulot a group of nearly 100 women are celebrating the tsunami. Photo by Mark Nonkes, World Vision

The best thing?

The worst natural disaster of the last 40 years was the best thing that ever happened to Khairani?

Did she just say that?

She clarifies.

“There are many valuable things we got from the tsunami,” 30-year-old Khairani repeats. “When God took something from us, he gave back more than he took. The tsunami was not a punishment for our community.”

Remembering the disaster

Khairani doesn’t say this lightly.

She remembers the horror of the disaster.

She lost too.

As a university student who had just moved to the city of Banda Aceh, Khairani remembers the warning.

“We saw the tsunami, it was at our back, just about five metres away. It was a miracle we were saved. Even our neighbours were not. But we rode away on our motorcycle. I thought it was doomsday,” Khairani says.

She also remembers trying to return home to her oceanfront village, to her mother.

“One day after the tsunami, I finally found some relatives and I asked about my mother. They told me she passed away, that my village was destroyed,” Khairani says quietly.

Visiting her hometown in ruin

Khairani needed to check for herself.

The scenes from that journey still reduce her to tears. She continues to be haunted by that boat ride.

“I saw bodies floating in the sea. I was crying. I thought maybe it was my mom,” she says.

“At that time I prayed that it would be better not to find the body of my mother if it were in that condition,” Khairani says.

“All my friends have depression and stress because they saw the bodies of loved ones,” she adds.

Helping children recover

In the months that followed, Khairani threw herself into her education. She focused on her training to be a teacher.

When she graduated in 2005, she joined World Vision’s emergency response. She became a Child-Friendly Space facilitator, helping heal the emotional trauma children affected by the disaster faced.

“We had many activities with the children – it healed me from the pain,” Khairani says.

In April 2006, Kairani married her best friend, Surdirman, a man who lived in the village where she grew up. A year later, the couple had a baby girl and Khairani stopped leading Child-Friendly Space sessions.

Khairani, her husband Sudirman and their daughter Alifa at their small business started after the 2004 tsunami. Photo by Mark Nonkes, World Vision

Leading a group of women to success

Instead, Khairani got involved in another World Vision supported activity — a women’s group.

“We’re bringing our community to a higher level,” Khairani says.

The group started a savings and loan program and trained individual members to start their own small businesses. For the three following years, World Vision provided training on accounting and running a cooperative and helped the women get legal status for their cooperative.

“Now a mother who just finished her elementary school education can make money so that she can ensure her children go to school. From their businesses, women are adding rooms to their houses,” Khairani explains.

Reducing abuse

There are 97 members in the saving and loans group. Now, across their village, women are running businesses from their homes. They sell snacks, bake cookies, serve coffee or dry sardines, among other things.

“Abuse in the family is lower than before the tsunami. Women are more respected by their husbands. They (the men) want to listen to the women’s opinion now. Things are better. They can listen, not just speak.”

Optimistic for the next generation

Outside her own small shop that sells candy, coffee and cleaning products, Khairani tells us these are the reasons she’s grateful that the tsunami came. Not for the loss or destruction. But for the opportunities it presented.

Today, Khairani is a third grade teacher. Her baby girl Alifa Iza Salsabila is now seven and learning to read and write.

“I want her to study more than me,” Khairani says as she watches her daughter do her homework. “Maybe Alifa will get her master’s. She should get something higher than her parents.”

Support people like Khairani, who deserves a second chance at living life to the fullest. You can help turn their life around by donating to our Livelihood Fund .

Killing worms, gaining weight

Story by Phoebe Naw, photo by Khaing Min Htoo | July 10, 2015

Hnin started out as a happy, healthy baby in Myanmar.

Her mother, 36-year-old Chaw Yupar, exclusively breastfed Hnin for months after she was born.

“When my daughter turned 6 months, I went out to work and left her at home with her elder siblings,” Chaw says. “They fed her snacks that were available from the local shop. I fed her my breast milk when I returned home in the evening.”

But when Hnin turned 2, she became very sick.

Worms leech nutrients out of tiny bodies

“She suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhea,” Chaw says. “I tried to treat her at home with my limited knowledge. She lost her weight as well. I had no idea what happened to her.”

Out of ideas, Chaw talked to a midwife, who told her Hnin had worms. She recommended Chaw take her daughter to the hospital.

“When I reached the clinic in Thabaung, the doctor accused me of delaying to bring my child,” Chaw says. “I didn’t understand at first, but later realized that if I had not brought her in, I would have lost her.

“The doctor gave my daughter medicine and deworming pills. After taking the treatment and pills, she felt better. World Vision supported all the medical costs.”

The medicine saved Hnin’s life, and she recovered.

Mothers learn healthy eating and hygiene habits

Chaw returned to work, again leaving her child with her older siblings. But once again, the siblings fed Hnin cheap food from the local snack shop. The food didn’t have the proper nutrients to support growth, so Hnin’s weight dropped, and she became severely malnourished.

This time, a World Vision intervention program in Chaw’s village helped. The program leaders identified 18 children in the community to participate, including Hnin.

The 12-day program taught mothers how to feed their children affordable, locally available foods to promote healthy child development. They also educated the moms about proper hygiene and health practices.

“At first, my daughter didn’t like the food, and she refused to eat,” Chaw says. “But she finally ate it.”

A new, healthy way of living

At the end of the program, Hnin’s weight had increased by 2.2 pounds to 21.2 pounds. Still, Hnin continued in another round of the program.

“I was surprised to see my daughter’s weight increase to 10.3 kilograms (22.7 pounds) after two sessions,” Chaw says with joy.

Things didn’t just improve for Hnin, but also for Chaw as a result of the program.

“Before, when I return home from the fields, I would immediately hold my daughter and feed her without washing my hands,” Chaw says. “I think my daughter got diarrhea because of this. I learned to wash my hands first before holding my child, as well as before feeding her.

“Now, I do not need to push her to eat. She asks herself. She also eats rice and curry at home. I try to prepare foods based on the ‘3 Food Groups’ chart [received in the program].”

As Chaw welcomes her seventh child into the world, she knows her new baby will not suffer from worms, diarrhea, and malnutrition like Hnin did.

“For this baby, I will practice the hygiene behavior and take care of the baby well so that she or he will not suffer like Hnin,” Chaw says with a smile.

Support children like Hnin, who deserves the opportunity to grow up and live healthily. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child .

A small amount of money transformed 400 children’s lives and counting

Sophie Hoult, VisionFund International

Eight years ago, Cho Cho and her husband were living separately in order to make ends meet. He was in Malaysia working as a taxi driver; and she lived near Myanmar’s capital doing what she could to survive.

While struggling with her husband’s absence in a community where men have more authority Cho Cho noticed that young children were lacking basic life skills that was affecting them at school later in life.

With a dream and a small amount of money Baby Bright Education Centre was born.

When we arrive at the centre on a hot day in January the nursery children are asleep. Lined up in rows, quiet and still. In the next room, teenagers are dutifully yelling responses at the teacher, as they work towards their enrolment exams.

Not long after we arrive, the rows begin to stir, and small, joyful faces file past, on the way to their lunchboxes. After lining up to have their hair combed, the afternoon begins, and the small sleeping figures transform into a mass of smiles, curious gazes and boundless energy.

Cho Cho smiles at the children and tells me that a year after the school opened, she heard about VisionFund (World Vision’s microfinance institution) through a friend and received her first loan of about NZD$290. With it she proudly purchased supplies for the pre-school, something she has done with a subsequent 10 loans from VisionFund. Baby Bright is so successful her husband moved home from Malaysia and he too now runs his own business thanks to VisionFund. Currently they earn NZD$2,170 a month, more than double their income eight years ago.

As we move through the centre, I realise how it is only the size of a small house. Cho Cho has managed to utilize this space for nearly 400 students, over 100 of which are nursery children. Space is definitely an issue, so Cho Cho tells me she continues to work and save, in the hope of expanding and improving the lives of more children.

She turns to me with her big smile and shares her dreams of opening a private school, and continuing to combine her business nous with her calling to serve and empower children. As the economy in Myanmar continues opening itself up to the world, women like Cho Cho will be at the centre of preparing children for the global world, and giving the next generation the best possible start.

Support people like Cho Cho, who shares the same belief as us that children deserves the opportunity to live healthily and to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by donating to our Giving with Vision fund.

A $4 meal for a taste of home

For Mayssa, a Syrian mother displaced by conflict, the $4 she rations for each meal is enough to give her three children a little taste of home. What would you be able to make with $4 per meal?

What to cook today? It’s a question posed by many families regardless of their background or nationality. For Mayssa, a Syrian mother of who fled to Lebanon, the priority of her meal planning is cost. “I set a limit of four dollars each meal,” she says.

Before the outbreak of war, Mayssa had never needed to budget for her family’s meals. Mayssa fled Syria in 2013 with her husband Abed, and her three children, Shahed, 10, Amjad, 6, and Omar, 5 after their home was bombed and destroyed. They had hidden in a neighbour’s basement during a bomb attack and emerged to find their house and possessions destroyed. The place they had once called their home was nothing more than a burning pile of rubble. This prompted Abed to ask Mayssa; “what are we still doing here? What more shall we wait for?”

“We knew we would have a hard time supporting our children in Lebanon, but at least they would be safe” said Mayssa. When they first arrived in Lebanon, Abed supported his family by working day and night as a labourer. He travelled daily an hour and a half each way to Beirut to find work.

“My husband provided food and shelter, and we were very grateful. However, in the past two years, his health deteriorated and he couldn’t breathe properly anymore,” said Mayssa. Abed’s asthma had become worse and he was no longer able tolerate the dust and sand. He was forced to choose between his health and his work in construction. Despite the financial setback, Mayssa was happy her husband chose to take care of himself.

Mayssa and her family became forced to rely on income from her sister, Ghayda, though Ghayda also had three children of her own to provide for. “When she learned of Abed’s situation, Ghayda stepped up and informed us that she will work in the field to help us in supporting both families, and she did,” says Mayssa.

Even with Ghayda’s hard work, there was scarcely enough to go around to feed nine people. Mayssa recalled; “every day I woke up and asked myself: how will I feed all six children?”

Mayssa and Ghayda’s situation improved when they were added to World Vision’s monthly cash assistance programme. “I can only say that it was life-changing,” said Mayssa. Receiving the cash assistance meant being able to cook the Syrian meals the children craved; food that reminded them of home.

“I know I have to use the money wisely – even when it comes to food. Therefore, I set a limit of $4 to each meal,” she explained.

Meal preparation has become a family event with Omar helping with the shopping and Shahed helping in the kitchen. Peas and rice is a family favourite and they gather together for lunch each day. “Its delicious!” shouts Omar.

While serving food for her children, Mayssa shared the recipe:

“In a big pot I add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. When the oil is warm enough, I add the meat until it is no longer raw. I then add the peas and mix them with the meat. I wait for a couple of minutes before adding the spices. For this, I use one tablespoon of black pepper and three cubes of Maggi seasoning and I mix. At the same time, I wash the rice. In a separate pot, which I fill most of it with water, I pour in the rice and wait for it to boil. Usually, I use one cup of rice to two cups of water, but when I’m cooking for the entire family, I sort of lose count,”, she joked. “Shahed helps me in stirring the rice every couple of minutes. When the rice is almost done, I add the peas in the same pot. My last step would be adding one tablespoon of salt to the meal. Finally, I turn off the heat and wait for 10-15 min for the meal to cool off.” Mayssa prepared three plates and served in each plate Peas & Rice. In separate glass cups, she poured yogurt and explained, “it is a Syrian tradition to eat yogurt with this meal.”

Ingredients for ‘Peas & Rice’:

1 bag of long-grain white rice
Half a bag of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of Black pepper
3 cubes of Maggi seasoning
2 tablespoons of salt

The Syrian crisis is now in its seventh year. Over a million Syrian refugees currently reside in neighbouring Lebanon. Our work in Lebanon has been providing Syrian refugees with education, WASH, child protection and cash voucher support to households. So far, we have helped 240,886 people in Lebanon, but many more need help. Find out how you can support our work in Syria.

From Youth Leader to a Promising Assistant District Officer

© 2016 World Vision Foundation of Thailand | 29 March 2017

“I had ideas but didn’t have the courage to express them,” reflected Asanai Poonsawad (Kung) on his past. He was one of the 60 people to receive the 2016 Model Youth Developer with Ethics and Morality pin from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn as part of the Youth Developer project. Recalling the turning point in his life which brought him to where he is today, Kung said, “I participated in activities organised by World Vision (WV), which encourage youths to express themselves. It made me more outspoken.”

Kung is the son of a farmer in Chaloem Phra Kiat district, Nakhon Si Thammarat province where WV’s Sa Plaeng project works to improve the well-being of the local people. It was how Kung became Sa Plaeng project’s sponsored child back in grade 2. Throughout his primary school years, he received school uniforms, socks, shoes, books and other supplies that equipped him for schooling and lightened his family’s expenses. As he advanced to higher education levels, he joined the skill development camps. They served as the key that unlocked his hidden potential.

Kung shared, “The camp activities gave me the courage to start expressing myself. After attending the camps several times, I grew more outspoken until a WV staff let me become a mentor at the camp. Later I participated in activities that enhanced youth’s leadership capacity …(organised jointly by Sa Pleang project and state agencies).”

Receiving continued support not only enhanced Kung’s leadership, but also gave him the foresight to dream of studying up to university level.

Nevertheless, life is full of uncertainties. Kung’s mother passed away when he was studying in grade 9. The death of a beloved person uprooted his life. “At that moment, I thought there was nothing left for me anymore. I wanted to quit studying.”

At the time, encouragement and warm embraces from the people around Kung helped him regain strength.


“My father told me that he wanted me to be successful and would do everything to support me. WValso contributed a lot. My sponsor who sponsored me on behalf of his family wrote letters, encouraging me to study hard for my own future and family,” Kung said.

As such, Kung persevered to achieve his dream as well as joined youth leadership activities. Eventually he was selected to be the class president for Chaloem Phra Kiat Somdet Phra Srinakarin School in Nakhon Si Thammarat province when he was in grade 11.

Kung is currently pursuing his second year at Rajabhat University in Nakhon Si Thammarat province, studying Bachelor of Local Administration under the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is simultaneously performing his duty as a youth leader without fail.

“I’ve just partnered with WV in organising youth volunteer travelling activity. I brought youth leader volunteers from 5 schools in Chaloem Phra Kiat district to build fences at Ban Nam Sap School in Pak Phanang district. I was also the facilitator at WV’s youth leadership capacity building camp. Right now I’m also a member of the province’s children and youth council,” Kung articulated with pride, his wide smile revealing his white teeth. He added, “Doing this work gave me opportunities to work with the community and other people, which I think is very fulfilling.”

And this is what inspired Kung to write his own future as he aims to become Chaloem Phra Kiat district’s assistant officer after he completes his education.

“I want to develop my own hometown, improve the administrative system, education, sports and public health. I also want to promote the morality and ethics of the community people,” Kung said.

WV believes that over the next few years, Chaloem Phra Kiat district will celebrate the arrival of a skillful district assistant officer by the name of ‘Asanai Poonsawad’.

Support those like Kung, who deserves the opportunity to live healthily and to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child .

Former sponsored child passes the torch of learning

In Cambodia, Phally Pheng’s passion to teach began with her sponsor’s encouragement

Michael Czobit | February 2015

PHALLY PHENG LIKES GETTING kids’ hands up in the air. A former sponsored child who now teaches in northeast Cambodia, she works hard to teach in ways that engage her students. She wants her students to participate — for their hands to spring up in excitement when she asks a question.

One morning, the 21-year-old teacher calls a boy to the blackboard. He doesn’t hesitate to pick up the chalk. This boy, like all the children in her classroom, is sponsored. Phally knows education can change their lives — just as education changed hers.

Phally’s only dream as a child was to become a teacher. “I told my sponsor this, and she encouraged me to study hard,” she says. If the boy working diligently at the blackboard follows his teacher’s example of adding determination to sponsorship, his dream could also come true.

Sponsorship sends Phally to school

Phally remembers well the days before World Vision and child sponsorship arrived. Her parents were farmers, but they didn’t earn enough to support her and her younger sister and brother. Phally’s parents had to borrow money from her aunt to pay school fees.

But then, when she turned 9, someone began to sponsor her through World Vision, and Phally was able to go to school. She initially attended classes held outdoors because her community didn’t have a building for the children to learn in. Phally says, “We weren’t encouraged without a building.”

But as World Vision’s work in Samlot continued, the community changed in many ways. “There was a lot of development,” says Phally. “World Vision built a well, roads, and school buildings.” Phally adds that the well, in particular, made life easier. “We used to fetch water as far as eight kilometers (nearly five miles) away. But after we had the well, it was easy for us to get water.”

Ready access to water is helping more children go to school instead of carrying water throughout the day. As a result, all children in Phally’s community are now enrolled in primary school, and 60 percent of younger children attend preschool.

Because of her own experience in school, Phally chose to become a teacher.
(Photo: ©2014 Paul Bettings/World Vision)

Nurturing the seeds of learning

As Phally progressed from grade to grade, she saw the need for more teachers to plant the seeds of learning in young minds like hers. She began to think that perhaps she too could be a teacher one day. “When I was growing up, we didn’t have enough teachers,” she says. “I found this didn’t encourage us to go to school. I wanted to help my community.”

Along with benefiting from the work that World Vision did in her community, Phally also enjoyed an ongoing relationship with her sponsor, who sent her letters twice a year. “She would ask about my family and my schooling,” Phally says. “She wanted to know how I was doing.” Phally would write back and tell her sponsor about her life and successes. In one letter, she shared about her dream of becoming a teacher.

“Faith is very important to people. People need God. I believe it will shape people to do good things.” — Phally Pheng, Former Sponsored Child

Her sponsor encouraged her to pursue that dream, a message Phally took to heart. After she finished high school, Phally went to college. Her Christian faith also motivated her to keep striving. “Faith is very important to people,” she says. “People need God. I believe it will shape people to do good things.”

For the past four years Phally has taught a number of grades and a variety of subjects. Her favorite subject is literacy because, she says, “I love reading.”

In class, she proudly wears a traditional Cambodian dress, but her pride in her students is even more evident. “Through sponsorship, children have a chance to gain knowledge,” she says. “They receive what they need.” Phally is proof of this — through sponsorship, she received what she needed to realize her dream.

Support those like Phally, who deserves the opportunity to live healthily and to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and fill it with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child .