Blog Thoughts / Talks

Every other thoughts & talks that matters

Your small sacrifice can bring about a big change!

By Emily Teoh
World Vision Child Sponsor and Volunteer

“I feel that as a child sponsor, I should write regularly to my sponsored child. When I visited Mae Sariang ADP, I noticed how much joy these letters brought to the children. That’s why I always try to convince other child sponsors to correspond with their sponsored child. These letters of encouragement will help the children grow up confidently and with courage”, said Emily earnestly.

In 2014, Emily and her niece took part in the Mae Sariang sponsor & child visit. Emily had the opportunity to see for herself the day to day lives of the children. Emily said, “The World Vision Area Development Programme has helped a lot of people. For example, drinking water is such a normal and simple thing for Malaysians; and when I see the children of Mae Sariang thoroughly enjoying clean
drinking water, the contrast caused such distress for me. Emily praised the World Vision staff and community for maintaining a good community, with a sense of people coming together to share good things rather than just doing their own thing.

Before embarking, Emily mentally prepared her city-bred niece. She explained that the situation of the village would not be comparable to the life she knew, that she might feel some discomfort, and that she would need to watch her actions and thoughts. At Mae Sariang, her niece quickly made friends with the local girls, effortlessly learning to fit in with them. She saw her niece growing in maturity by learning compassion for people who are different.

Under normal circumstances, a child sponsor and a sponsored child would not have the opportunity to meet face to face. This is why corresponding through letters is important. In Mae Sariang,  the World Vision staff told Emily that sponsored children who received presents or letters are extremely thankful. This made Emily realise how important letters are to sponsored children. Emily said that she felt guilty for missing her sponsored child’s birthday. However, she decided to send a birthday gift anyway to continue building the relationship. A sponsor’s acts of care through gifts and letters are meant to encourage the sponsored child and allow her to build confidence.

Other than being a child sponsor, Emily is also a World Vision volunteer. She regularly helps at the World Vision office with administrative tasks, allowing World Vision staff to save a fair amount of time and focus on other more important tasks. When she volunteers at roadshows, she realises that explaining sponsorship to a crowd is not an easy task. She has had to learn to be more patient with the people that she meets.

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In Emily’s own words: “Frankly, RM65 is not a large amount. Every bit forked out will reap a larger outcome. Helping others with what we have will bring much impact to those in need.”

The joy of giving is immeasurable. The child sponsorship programme brings hope for children while also paving the way for communities to fulfill their potential. Would you be interested to bring hope to those in need? Do take part in the child sponsorship programme today : https://www.worldvision.com.my/sponsor-a-child

发挥你的才华与天份行善助人!

李宣春
资讯传播
马来西亚世界宣明会

世界宣明会自推出「孩有你‧孩有希望」筹款活动以来,持续获得许多善心人士的响应。其中,拥有插画天分的侯思颖便绘制了27张明信片供义卖用途,她最终共筹获1,695令吉。这笔款项将用于支持世界宣明会在贫困社区推行的发展项目,帮助不曾放弃希望的孩子们茁壮成长。

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思颖从小就喜欢在纸上涂鸦,进入大学以后,开始画插画。思颖会选择用手绘明信片募款,其原因一方面是因为自己喜欢手写或手绘的「真实感」,使用电脑绘图或打字是无法呈现出那种一笔一划的触感或质感。另一方面,思颖认为既然明信片画来是要募款的,那么不如就亲手绘制每一张明信片,更能表达出自己的诚意。

这27张明信片当中,思颖一共画了三个主题。虽然明信片的主题有所重复,但是当你仔细去研究画作的细部,又会发现每张明信片都有差异,也可以说每张明信片都是独一无二的。

在绘制明信片的过程,思颖是这么想的:「一开始构想的时候,我的出发点是:得尽量多筹一些款项,因而就选了这三款我比较常画,看起来比较容易理解的画画内容,这些也是受朋友比较喜欢的画。背影的主题是『告别』,我喜欢画发丝,那个专注一条线一条线画的当下,可以让我暂时『告别』很多想不通的事;黑羊的主题是『孤独感』,在这个世界作为一个『异类』的那种孤独;星星的话,每次画的时候都想着祝福,祝福收到的人在每一个黑暗的时刻,都能感受到一点点的星光。」

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思颖也说「孩有你‧孩有希望」筹款活动的自由度很大,所以她有很大的发挥空间,并且可以透过自己喜欢的事,去帮助贫困社区孩童。

「我没有参与过这类的活动,这一次是抱着姑且一试的心态参与。另一方面,也想挑战看自己可以在短时间内能够手绘多少张图。」在这过程中,思颖也曾面对挑战:「白天需要上班,只能在下班后夜里画画,有时候太累,手绘又快不了,就会觉得很痛苦。」

只要有认真用心的付出,一定会有丰盛的收获;最终,思颖顺利达到筹款目标。

对思颖而言,这次的筹款活动是很好的经验。刚开始的时候,她其实非常担心自己的号召力不足,她自认不是专业的插画师,没有信心能吸引多少人支持。事实证明她的忧虑是多余的。

思颖在这次的筹款活动得到的最大感悟是:「一个人的力量再小,与身边的人凑着凑着,也足够给为这个世界贡献一点点力量,而一点点也是好的。」

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你是否也和思颖一样是个天赋异禀的创意奇才?欢迎你发挥自己的才华天份,为处境艰困的社区尽一份力。想知道更多详情,可登陆 https://www.worldvision.com.my/ch/tfec

Literacy: As simple as ABC?

By Edmond Lee
Communications
World Vision Malaysia

Today is International Literacy Day. In more developed countries, the ability to read and write is usually taken for granted. Most of us know our ABCs and every letter that comes afterwards.

Take me for instance: My mother tells me that I knew the alphabet when I was just slightly over a year old. Apparently, I could point to cats and proudly say “C”. When I was in school, the only subject I ever got ‘A’s in was English. My entire career up to this point has revolved around using the written word to connect with people. When people need a word, I usually have just the right one. I think I would use the word ‘bragging’ for everything you just read. Sorry about that.

So when UNESCO says that over 250 million children – including many of the most vulnerable – are not learning basic literacy and numeracy skills even though half of them have attended school for at least four years… it’s a reality check. Without a rudimentary grasp of reading and writing, these children may not make it to college or get a job. Their futures are essentially crippled before they even reach working age. It makes me realise how blessed I am to be in an environment that allowed me to cultivate my command of English.

And how blessed I am to be in an organisation that can do something about illiteracy.

A literacy success story in Cambodia

In November 2014, I had the opportunity to join a group of my colleagues on a visit to World Vision’s Stong 2 Area Development Programme in Cambodia. On one sweltering day, a group of children gathered under a canopy to learn English, led by the local Youth Group.

“Tuesday, 18 November 2014. A, B, C, D…”

Student after student walked forward and led their peers in reciting the words on the whiteboard. They are quick learners, and the constant repetition didn’t faze them at all. Later on, I had a chance to dig through a box of activities, books and games designed to improve children’s literacy in the Khmer language. Story books, word wheels, Velcro-backed Khmer characters and pictures give these children a leg up in learning their native tongue. Even as our guide was showing the materials to me, there were children picking up the books for a quick read.

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Earlier, we had the opportunity to visit a local school backed by World Vision. The classrooms are fairly basic, but the library is clean, cool and filled to the brim with books of every kind. And of course, no school library would be complete without the sight of children reading happily, the older students reading to the younger ones.

There’s always been a perception that the poor are ‘lazy’.  But watching these Cambodian children would quickly dispel that notion. They WANT to learn.  Grasping and understanding a new language is exciting to them. And again, they’re quick studies. When we taught them a song in English, they were able to sing it fluently within minutes. The question should never be: “Can these children really learn to read and write?” It should be: “Can we give these children more opportunities to learn?”

Through our community development work in Cambodia, more children are being given that opportunity. And much to their credit, they are seizing it with both hands. If anyone can lift themselves out of poverty, it’s them.

So this International Literacy Day, consider how you can give children the opportunity to learn basic literacy skills that will help them later in life. Consider sponsoring a child, which will help support education initiatives like children’s clubs and literacy programmes. And why not curl up with a good book. Literacy is a gift. Make the most of it.

Meeting Sopharan from World Vision Cambodia

Sopharan

World Vision Cambodia Operations Manager, Sopharan with children from a Children’s Club in Cambodia. Working with underprivileged children and transforming their lives through education is Sopharan’s biggest inspiration.

Meet Sopharan, field staff of Community Development in Stong 2, Cambodia

At this year’s 30-Hour Famine, we had the privilege to meet and hear from Sopharan, our colleague from Cambodia.

Sopharan has 10 years of experience working with World Vision Cambodia to bring about transformation to the communities in Kampong Thom Province.

Q1: Tell us a little about yourself and your role in World Vision.
As the Operations Manager, I oversee and lead the development work in seven Area Development Programmes, ensuring that the needs of the community especially the most vulnerable families and children are met. It’s been 10 years and yes, I do feel at times, that World Vision is more than a workplace to me; it is really my home.

I can identify with the children and communities we work with as I too was born into a poor family in Kampung Speu, a province 50km west of Phnom Penh. My large family of seven struggled to survive and my other siblings had to stop school at the age of 12 to support the family. I was blessed to have been able to complete Grade 12 but was at a roadblock when I wanted to enrol into university due to financial constraints. I am truly indebted to my younger sister, who was 18 then – she stopped studying and started working in a factory to pay for my pedagogy training.

What I regret most in my life is not being able to support my sister’s studies because when I found a stable job and had enough income, it was too late for my sister to go back to school.

Q2: How does World Vision work within the community?
There are three key components – community mobilisation, community empowerment and partnership.

World Vision sends the field staff to live and work alongside the community. Through the building of relationship and trust, we mobilise the community to help their people. In the assessment phase, World Vision tries to understand the needs and together with the community; we design a plan. We emphasise the empowerment of the communities themselves, i.e. for them to be agents of change.

World Vision does not work alone. We understand the importance of partnership. We partner relevant stakeholders when implementing development work within the community.

Q3: Share with us the work and current focus of World Vision Cambodia in working with the communities.
Our current objectives include reducing the high level of malnutrition, increasing the quality of primary education, empowering youths to be creative and active citizens, and protecting children from abuse and exploitation.

Our approach is simple – we work to address the needs of the entire family. For the children, World Vision has worked with youths and local authority to set up Children’s Clubs within the community where children can play and learn. For their parents, World Vision has worked to establish savings groups and together with relevant departments, we provide training such as animal raising and vegetable planting. This helps to improve their livelihoods so that they can provide for their children. In addition, we also teach them about health care, hygiene and to better care for their children.

Q4: Referring back to the issue of malnourished children, how is World Vision Cambodia working to address this?
Today, about 32% of children in Cambodia are malnourished and 38% of them are from Kampong Thom. Our field staff go directly into the villages and together with village volunteers, they identify children who are malnourished. Thereafter we work with the local health centres to conduct awareness and growth monitoring programmes. In addition, cooking demonstrations are conducted to teach caregivers about nutrition and ways to prepare affordable nutritious meals. Local villagers are mobilised to conduct these programmes on a monthly basis. We also conduct home visits to encourage and support each family, ensuring that the children maintain a nourishing diet.

Q5: Can you tell us why World Vision does what it does? And as a field staff, can you share what motivates or encourages you to keep going every day?
We, at World Vision want to see that children in the communities are well-nourished, educated and protected. Our vision is that ‘Every child enjoys life in all its fullness.’

I have many stories from the field to share and each encounter inspires me to do what I do. Surely, working in the field is not easy as we have to travel in the heat, rain and brave through the cold winter in the villages. But nothing can stop us from helping the children in our community. For me, the biggest reward is seeing the children I work with succeed.
There are two reasons why I do what I do every day. First, the opportunity to use my life to serve children, community and my country. Secondly, by working with World Vision, I also have the opportunity to serve our God to help the poor.

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Today, three million Cambodians live below the poverty line. 40% of children under the age five are malnourished, and more than 200,000 children are victims of child labour. Globally, there are many children who are still struggling in dire poverty.
Consider contributing to the 30-Hour Famine or sponsor a child to help those who are struggling with hunger and poverty!

A mother’s heart

by Annila Harris
World Vision Communicator

“Are you ready to go?” asks World Vision’s Operations Manager, Faith Chastain.

Was I ready to venture on a five hour long drive to one of the worst affected districts, by the earthquake, in Nepal? The images of the devastation that were all over the news still lingered in my mind; buildings crumbling to the ground, hospitals overflowing with injured families and death toll figures rapidly escalating. People desperately hoping that loved ones trapped within the rubble were still alive.

Landscape

With the tents, sleeping mats, sleeping bags and gear all loaded onto the vehicle, we head out to Gorkha. As we drive past the outskirts of Kathmandu, sights of dilapidated structures and people taking refuge under tarpaulins  no longer feel like glimpses of news stories, but a desperate reality that now faces the Nepalese people.

Soon the picturesque countryside, with its lush green foliage and high breathtaking mountains, takes me back to a tranquil time before the 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the country. How long it will take for the people to move from a state of constant panic to one of stillness and calm, I can’t imagine; the transition seems far away.

Sanzaar
Nine-year-old Bishal plays with his younger brother Sansaar in the open space close to where their parents work. Many schools are closed due to damage, and the boys’ educations have been put on hold.

“I love school because I get to read and play there. But my school is closed now because of the earthquake. There are cracks in the walls. I am waiting for my school to open, I want to meet my friends. When the earthquake came I was in the field with my relatives. The field was shaking and I was about to fall. I just held the ground till it stopped. I was scared and shouted ‘what is happening?’ but I did not cry,” Bishal remembers.

Unlike his brother, little Sansaar takes time to approach me. Enticed by the yellow safety-whistle hanging around my neck, he slowly moves closer. In a flash, he blows hard on it, making a loud whistling noise. A sheepish grin beams across his face. Excited about his new experience he runs back to his mother, clutching onto her dress and occasionally peeping to see where I am.

Picking him up, Sansaar’s mum, Sita, recalls being in the house when the earthquake struck.

“The house jolted and I was thrown to one side. When I got to my feet I ran out of the house and went to search for my children. Thankfully my children were safe. But our house is damaged.”

“As a mother I have lots of plans for my children. I hope for them to study and have a brighter future for themselves. The earthquake has affected my children’s studies. All schools are closed. The school building is cracked.”

The heart of a mother wants safety and security for her children. I know of cases where both the mother and child have lost their lives because of the earthquake. But I imagine those cases where the mother has survived and the child died, or where the child survived and the mother died – my heart goes out to them. We cannot compete with nature but for those who have survived we need to try to live happy lives.” It’s at times like these, Sita says, that we really value what we have and what we could lose.

Driving through the mountainous terrain, we stop at a roadside restaurant before pressing on towards Gorkha. At the empty restaurant 38-year-old Sabitri is busy with preparations for the day, in the hopes that travellers will be stopping in to buy food.

A mother of two, whatever Sabitri earns is invested in her children’s education.  But she tells us that her business has taken a severe beating since the earthquake.

“Tourists used to come visit the nearby temple. They used to come to my restaurant to eat my famous fish. But now, after the earthquake the business has gone down. I see no tourists now but relief workers. My sons are in college and were due to have exams but they have been postponed because of the earthquake. The college is damaged too,” she says.

As a working mother, Sabitri clings to the hope that her situation will soon improve. As we continue our journey, we encounter similar scenes of destruction across the rural landscape. The earthquake spared no one.

Finally, we arrive at a small village that had recently been a spot for tourists to rest and immerse themselves in the local culture. But the earthquake left no stone unturned as it swept across the country, destroying the entire village and reducing it to dust. Here, Savita, a mother of two children describes her brush with death.

Savita
Savita with Pritam, 7, and Pushkal, 3, living temporarily under the tarpaulin given by World Vision

“When the quake hit I was washing clothes. I just left everything and gathered my children, clutching them closely, and ran out into an open space. I screamed ‘help, help!’. The house shook like the trees sway when strong winds blow. I saw my house collapse before my very eyes. For 18 years we have been in that house. My children were born there. All my memories of motherhood are attached to that house. But it is just a house, I have my children with me and they are safe,” she says.

Finding temporary shelter under the tarpaulin provided by World Vision, Savita is trying to piece her life back together, but is still contemplating where to begin.

As I make my way through the bludgeoned, torn-down village, some villagers are still trying to salvage what they can find.I take a moment to try and grasp the mammoth loss suffered by the people of Nepal. In a flash, the earthquake stripped many of them of everything they’d ever possessed – their homes, their livelihoods, their material possessions. But the quake was unable to tarnish the vivacious spirit of the Nepalese people.

Dhurga

Upon arrival to her devastated house, 82-year old Durga offers me a banana. “You have to eat something. These are organic bananas from our field for you.”  In the midst of all her loss, she shares her limited stock of food with me. Durga was in her house when the earthquake struck. Holding on tight to the doorpost she survived. So did her entire family.

As we left for the day, I reflected on Sanasaar and Bishal, and thought of their mother and the other incredible women I had met. Motherhood is universal. The heart of a mother looks out for her child, their protection and their safety, no matter the circumstances. As she fed me bananas from her garden, Durga kept telling me that she sees herself in me. She left me with a motherly advice – always be good.

Aid is still urgently needed to help the people of Nepal, please consider donating : https://www.worldvision.com.my/donations/emergency-relief-fund

I’m running… to free children from abuse

By Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia

Duncan Chen likes to run. The nine-year-old swept past the finish line at the recent Oral Cancer 5km Run on 16 Feb with a finishing time of 30 minutes. He was the fastest child to complete the race.

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Perhaps it was also the cause Duncan is fundraising for, that kept him going; for this little boy is not running for nothing. He’s running to support the protection of women and children in Tulid, Sabah.

“I want to run for them to protect them and their family from being hurt or abused,” he says. All in all, Duncan raised a total of RM1,690 to help World Vision’s child protection initiatives in Tulid.

“This issue is important to me because the children who suffer are just like me. I’m very lucky to be part of a great family who loves me and takes care of me,” he says.

World Vision Malaysia’s community development programme in Tulid, Sabah, works with children and families in the local communities to eradicate the root causes of poverty through sustainable and long-term initiatives.

Child protection programmes are part of World Vision’s work in Tulid. Children and parents are educated on children’s rights and how important it is for every child to grow up in safety and dignity.

This was Duncan’s first official run for charity, and it won’t be the last. When asked how the 5km was for him, he answered, “A little tiring, a little hard. Next time, I’ll do the 10km.”

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The primary student believes it is very effective to fundraise for a cause through running. Not only does he maintain good health, he says, but it really does make a difference.

“My life motto is to ‘Be brave and do what you can do to make a difference’. I think we just need to be brave.”

We at World Vision thank you for your courage and efforts Duncan!

Reflections on an impossible road.

By Edmond Lee, Communications, World Vision Malaysia

For 2 days, I was stuck in the back seat of a truck belonging to the Elite 4×4 Search & Rescue Squad as we attempted to reach the most isolated Orang Asli villages in Kelantan on a medical mission. Here are some of my thoughts from the trip.

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Roller coasters.

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I have never liked roller coasters. But right now, I would rather go 5 hours on the world’s most terrifying roller coaster than spend another second slowly traversing these mountain roads. At least roller coasters have basic safety standards.

Pow! Bang! Crash! Every jerk, every twist causes you to be thrown into your fellow passengers or the truck door next to you. Waves of nausea overtake you every time you shudder up and down an uneven hill. When you lean out over a vast hole where the side of the road should be, it’s like staring death in the face. It takes every ounce of energy to stay upright. More than I have sometimes.

I am so glad for these trucks. They are tenacious, taking the teeth-rattling roughness of these roads in their stride. Our driver Chok is no slouch either. The truck fights his every move, but he fights back, muscling it up roads that nearly any other wheeled vehicle would find impossible to navigate.

It always strikes me as absurd that anyone has to travel these roads. But the Orang Asli do. What choice do they have? The maddening geography makes the chances of consistent aid deliveries close to nil. They travel to the Kuala Betis relief centre every day, and every one of them will have to navigate a treacherous path to get there. They will lift their motorcycles over debris. They will climb massive hills. They will cross bridges that don’t even look safe enough to step on.

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The writer is pictured here in orange

They will do it as many times it takes, because their community needs them.

Mud.

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Rain causes it. Children play in it. No one would build a road out of it.

Here though, roads are nothing BUT mud. Mud that can stop a huge 4×4 truck dead in its tracks or cause it to slide and lurch just out of the range of human control. Mud that sloughs off at the slightest provocation, leaving gaping holes and ruts where solid ground should be. Mud that catches your feet in its clutches and refuses to let go without a fight.

If the roads here were JUST hard and bumpy (and they are), maybe the long distances that must be travelled to reach these remote villages would almost be tolerable. The steep hills and sheer slopes are bad enough, but when a truck simply can’t move for the mud, the time needed to get anywhere grows exponentially.

Time. That’s what the Orang Asli don’t have. In the hours it may take a relief convoy to move five feet, how many Orang Asli children will die because of dirty water? Or hunger? Or a preventable illness? We haven’t heard news about any children dying. But again, it would take time for news to reach us. Time we’re spending stuck in place.

I hate mud.

A bridge too far.

When you’re riding a motorcycle, a river or sudden gap can become an insurmountable obstacle. For the Orang Asli who live in the most remote villages, a river is literally the difference between reaching the aid station or turning back empty handed. When people are starving, thirsty, or ill, the latter option is unacceptable.

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Building bridges must come naturally to the Orang Asli. With no real infrastructure to speak of, they have been forced to rely on their own creativity to get over the obstacles nature has set in their path. It’s almost an art form: Strong young men heaving heavy logs down the slopes, grunting in military-like unison. Others float more logs down the gentle currents of the river, swinging them against said currents to put them into position.

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They are glad for any assistance you can give them. They accept sturdy ropes and metal ties gratefully; another flood could wash their hard work down the river, so any security is welcome. A hard, heavy axe and a truck winch makes short work of felling trees.

As the work continues, we are told that there are over a dozen villages across the river, with more than 2,000 people. I’m sure there are actually far more than that. But even if each village sent a representative to Kuala Betis, how many bags of aid could each of them possibly bring back? Two? Three, maybe? That’s hardly enough, but it’s better than nothing at all. Some will walk for three days to get a few bags of food or water. They will walk three days to get back. Rinse and repeat.

And what about the children who need to go to school? There are few good schools near the villages so they have to attend school in Gua Musang or go out of state. And what if they get seriously ill? There aren’t enough good doctors and the better hospitals are in town. More long distances. More treacherous paths. More bridges to be built.

Speaking of which, it has taken more than two hours to finish a rickety bridge that just barely supports the weight of three trucks. It’s going to be a long day.

Kg.Tohoi

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Kg. Tohoi is almost idyllic. Nestled in among the mountains and shrouded by fog, it feels like a postcard. The other trucks have moved on to the next village to delivery some relief goods, and I am here with Dr. Rashidi as we examine the village chief. I feel inadequate as a writer to say that I never got his name.

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He has a variety of complaints. His wrist is in pain, and his legs are weak. During the flooding, he had to be carried to safety because he can barely walk. I do not hear the diagnosis. I’m glad journalism isn’t my current career.

Dr. Rashidi examines the whole family. He is disturbed by their heartbeats. Something is irregular. He checks peculiar rashes inside a child’s ear. They are red and angry-looking. He borrows my flashlight to look down a girl’s throat. His concern mounts. There is clearly some sort of major health issue facing the community. He doesn’t have any medication on hand, but it’s obvious that he wants to come back here. They need medical help badly.

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Suddenly, a drop of rain falls from the sky. Oh no. This is not good. The worse the rain gets, the worse the roads will be. We come here to save people, but are we the ones who will need saving? The trucks arrive. We rush for them. We need to get on the road now before it’s too late. There are a few more trucks with us. More things that could go wrong. We’re off.

When the convoy makes it back to the makeshift bridge, we find to our dismay that it has been washed away by a strong current. The rain is still coming down, the sky is darkening, and it’s just not safe to go any further. We’re stuck.

Stranded.

When you’re cold, damp and hungry in the middle of the jungle, a cup of instant noodles is a tasty treat. A tent stretched across the tops of the trucks isn’t a house, but you’ll take any shelter you can get. The inside of a truck is too cramped for sleeping, but… well, you get the picture. When you’re stranded out here, making do is a requirement.

The career adventurers in our group are cavalier about the whole thing. They’ve been in worse fixes than this. Like earlier on, when we were trying to beat the rain back to the bridge. Water was splashing across the road, turning it into a waterfall. Robert, a bulky man who rides a souped-up motorcycle, was stuck in the middle of the deluge, the back wheel of his bike slipping out from under him. We had to use ropes to pull him to safety. A night in the woods is a walk in the park.

I’m not feeling the same way. I haven’t been at my best all trip long, but this situation is the nadir for me. I am physically and mentally exhausted. Crammed into the back seat of a stuffy truck with colleague Dawn, who takes up two thirds of the back seat, I get no sleep at all. I can hear the others chattering outside as they watch over the fire they built. I wish I could share their enthusiasm.

There are two female colleagues with me on this journey, and they’re both doing better than I am. Dawn in particular. She is a small woman, but she has thrown herself into every situation with brio and enthusiasm. She has a deep faith in God, and it’s not uncommon to hear her uttering words of prayer in dangerous situations. She is a comforting presence to have around.

Once again, my thoughts drift to the Orang Asli who travel these roads for days to reach help. When they can’t find shelter, where do they sleep? Do they lie out under the trees, exposed to the elements? Are they accosted by wild animals? Actually, are there wild animals out here?

Suddenly, I’m glad for this cramped, stale truck.

Plan B.

When you’re stuck at a bridge that you can’t cross, you need a Plan B. When you’re stuck on the other side of a bridge that isn’t there at all, you need a Plan B.

This whole trip was defined by Plan B. Some of the absolute worst routes we took came about because the shortest possible paths weren’t available to us. And sometimes, the best moments came about because our first plan didn’t work.

This brings us back to the bridge that was swept away. We had every intention of repairing it, and in fact, most sections of it were completely intact. The ropes had saved them from floating off entirely, and we were able to pull them into position.

But this process was too long and cumbersome compared to Plan B: The water was shallow enough. Why not just set up a winch on the other side of the river and use it to guide the trucks through the water? They are built for river crossings after all. The bridge was a necessity for the Orang Asli, but we had to get ourselves unstuck first.

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And wouldn’t you know it, the alternative plan turned out to be the best one. Seeing the trucks splash through the river, water gushing from the wheel wells, was a spectacular moment that lifted the spirits of everyone who experienced it. Except for the occupant of truck 279. It stalled midway through the crossing.

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But we made it. While we attempted to get truck 279 fixed, we turned around and saw the Orang Asli who had gathered nearby… busy fixing the broken bridge.

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We had helped to extricate the logs and secure them, but the speed with which they pulled the assembly back together was stunning. They are architects and builders of the highest order. Soon, motorcycles were driving over the bridge like it was never gone. Will it stand up to another flood? Probably not, but never doubt they have a Plan B.
We took another detour back to Kuala Betis. It was among the worst terrain we had ever seen. Oh well. It’s good to be back.

Epilogue.

This was always going to be tricky to write. It’s hard to compress so much into so few pages. (At 8, I think I’m pushing it). And it’s even harder to end it, because everything I’ve talked about is still going on. The health problems, the impossible roads, the bridges. The Elite 4×4 team is still out there, helping the Orang Asli communities. The relief efforts may be winding down a little in other parts of the country, but here, they’re just getting started.

Do me one favour: Don’t forget about the Orang Asli. These people are resilient and ingenious. And they need you. They need all of us. It will be hard, but nothing is impossible.

If you’d like to contribute back to the rebuilding of communities and lives, please consider and give here : https://www.worldvision.com.my/donations/emergency-relief-fund

Children running for children

By Michelle Chun, World Vision Malaysia

Tee Seng Jian is nine years old. Armed with a cheeky grin and twinkling eyes, this young boy from Klang loves to play, eat and go to school. However, Seng Jian has another big passion: helping those in need around the world.

A boy of action, Seng Jian recently ran in the Batik Sarong Charity Fun Run through Run for Hope Global, an online fundraising platform for sports enthusiasts and athletes to give back.

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Seng Jian’s aim was to raise RM1,000 in support of World Vision’s efforts to combat hunger around the world. “Mommy said that one out of eight people worldwide go hungry every day. I don’t want them to go to bed hungry, so I decided to run to help them,” he said.

The enthusiastic runner exceeded his target by nearly 200%, raising RM2,820 for hungry children all over the world. He was very happy to hear he had raised the amount, and said that he has always wanted to help people.

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“I just didn’t know how to do it. But now I know,” he said, adding that no one is too young to make a difference in the lives of others.

Even as Seng Jian has finished his race, a fellow nine-year-old boy has picked up the baton, running for World Vision Malaysia’s work in child protection in our Tulid community development programme.

Duncan Chen, who will be taking part in the Harmoni Charity Run on 1 January next year, wanted to run for the children and women of Sabah after learning about several issues faced by the community there, among them the prevalent problems of alcoholism and abuse.

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“Mummy, I want to help them! I want to run to help them,” Duncan told his mother. He will be running alongside Run for Hope Global co-founder, Kent Ong.

Ong, a marathoner and certified swimming coach, is hugely passionate about building up a new generation of people with a passion for sports and a heart for the less fortunate.

“As you can see through our logo (An adult’s shoe and children’s shoe), we hope to bridge the gap between adults and children, connecting two worlds that work together to help children in need,” he said.

Labour prompted by Love

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Here’s Michelle sharing a lighthearted moment with Mr Lam, Lac Son ADP Manager

By Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia

The tall, narrow buildings looked like colourful blocks as our bus left busy Hanoi and headed into Vietnamese countryside. Suddenly, the tiny green patches I had seen from the plane became lush paddy fields stretching far and wide until towering mountain ranges stopped them from conquering the horizon altogether.

I was on my way to Lac Son, a province in northern Vietnam. World Vision Malaysia is the support office for an Area Development Programme there, and we were taking a group of Malaysian sponsors (and their companions) to visit their sponsored children.

Having been in World Vision Malaysia for three months, I still feel new. Every day poses a new challenge, a new climb. When I was asked if I would be willing to travel to Lac Son and gather stories for some of our publications, my first thought was, “God, is this You?”

I had come into World Vision after months of an incredible struggle between surrender and safety. Having taken unpaid leave from my previous job to attend a three-month Bible school, I had already felt that something new was coming. And when He told me to leave my job and simply trust Him with my future, I knew the something new had come. It was terrifying.

Three months later, after many tears, crippling fears and learning to utterly depend on a God I knew I could trust but was many times afraid to, I found myself in World Vision.

Another three months on, and there I was: sitting in a crowded bus, surrounded by Manglish chatter and an almost tangible air of excitement as we left the colourful buildings behind. Settling into the steady jolting of the bus, I had a quiet conversation with God, thanking Him for this rare opportunity and asking Him to keep my heart close to His. I really wanted the trip to be more than an assignment; I wanted to know Him better.

Needless to say, He never disappoints. Throughout the entire trip, I felt as though I was on a journey into the middle of His heart. Each day revealed a little more of God’s heart, a greater revelation of who He is. And as I discovered more of Him, I learnt more about myself, my faith and my work.

Growing up, I’d always wanted to love and serve God perfectly. But it hardly seemed attainable. I eventually burnt out after years of trying to be the ‘good’ Christian, disillusioned and discouraged. It was in Bible school that I reconnected with Him and embraced the knowledge that He has a great purpose for my life. All I need to do is trust Him.

My time in Lac Son was where He reassured me that World Vision is where He wants me to be, right now. I had always wanted my work to be my ministry, and it’s definitely easier to find that place in a Christian organisation. However, it’s also easy to lose sight of it. In marketing, I sometimes find myself chasing numbers instead of looking to the One who brings in the numbers. In Lac Son, the Lord brought everything back into focus.

It was also during this trip that I saw this truth in action: God is love. I’ve known this phrase ever since I could read, but I have begun to see it with greater clarity.  He is love. As a Christ-centred organisation, World Vision therefore works from a place of love. It is His vision of love we weave into people’s lives with each step we take toward community transformation.

I saw His love everywhere. It was in Canh—an ADP sponsorship staff—who knew the name of every child running up to her trying to steal a hug and hello. I saw it shining through the gentle Mr Lam, faithfully leading his small but passionate team of staff committed to serving the poorest of the poor. I saw it amongst the child sponsors as they lugged their big suitcases and bigger hearts, bearing gifts for the children.

And I saw what His love brings—the shining confidence in Nguyet’s eyes as she recounted how, through World Vision’s training and help, she became a successful chicken farmer; the contagious joy in the children’s laughter as they darted around muddy puddles and yellowing columns; the beads of sweat glistening on young Minh’s forehead, proof of a healthy boy no longer suffering from a debilitating heart condition but now able to play football with friends.

I now realise my work extends far beyond the confines of my cubicle and the tapping away of fingers on my keyboard. From child sponsors to sponsored children, fundraising staff to field staff, volunteers to donors—we are all part of His vision of love. Immersed in His love, it spills out in everything we are and do. It starts with Christ, and ends with Him.

So I pray that my eyes remain fixed on Jesus, and that I live in the reality of my Father’s love for me. For I know that as long as I stay in that place, I will carry His vision of love—in my work, in my home and in my world.  As the Thessalonians lived, I too want my work to be inspired by faith, labour to be prompted by love and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

That’s my world vision.

Gratitude

by Yuen Shalyn
Communications
World Vision Malaysia

The word “Famine” took on a whole new meaning since I started working at World Vision Malaysia. 2014 is my third year participating in this annual event. It never fails to bring about a new perspective each time. This year, I learnt about GRATITUDE.

All staff are encouraged to fast together for 30 hours and this included a time of reflection. It was July 7 when all of us went through our usual day of work without food. It was initially liberating to go hungry for such a cause as we stepped into the shoes of those who struggle with hunger on a daily basis.

But as the day progressed, lethargy kicked in. With the stomach rumbling away, I found it difficult to concentrate. At that moment, the story of children struggling to stay attentive in class cause of hunger became real to me.

Did you know that 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world? (WFP, 2012)

Well, it was more than a number for me. The truth is that each hungry child is not able to concentrate, learn and perform specific tasks because hunger is very real. Education is one of the basic elements needed to create a safe place for children to thrive, while school meals will provide children at least one full meal a day. This helps children to learn better.

One of themes of this year’s 30-Hour Famine is on Child Safety. Every child should be safe, secure, protected and cherished. When it comes to children, the first thought that comes to mind is my 4-year-old daughter. How we, as parents will always try our best to provide an environment where our little ones can grow and flourish. Some of our concerns may be to provide our children the best education, a comfortable home, and to help cultivate their talents. But for many who are struggling with poverty, their main concern is to SURVIVE with basic provisions such as food, water and healthcare. I feel for the children but more too for the parents who by default are their pillars of strength and refuge.

My personal reflection on gratitude does not stop here. Yes, we should be grateful with how blessed we are while many are striving for mere survival. But more importantly, we should be more conscious on the needs of those struggling and start acting on how we can make a difference in their lives.

We were indeed grateful that our ‘next meal’ was served at 4pm, July 8 (after fasting for a total of 30 hours).

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The entire office breaking fast on July 8, 2014

For many, their hunger continues on. Leading up to the Famine Countdown, all of us at World Vision are reminded of how we together with the thousands of campers can do our part in creating a safe place for every child and for them to have hope of a better future!

To learn more about the 30-Hour Famine movement, check it out here: http://famine.worldvision.com.my