Child Sponsorship

Julia: The 14-year-old who works hard for change

Josephine Haddad, Communications Officer, World Vision Lebanon | 22 August 2017

It wasn’t odd for nine graders in Julia’s class to be speaking of engagements and weddings. Even two of her friends who aged only 14 years old were about to tie the knot. No matter how frequent these talks were among these young teenagers, Julia never stopped feeling like an outcast. She always thought that she was different, but she could never tell whether she was right or wrong – until she was introduced to World Vision (WV).

Julia is an active member in one of World Vision’s youth committees in Lebanon. With funds from Australia, many child-focused activities were being implemented by World Vision in several towns in the Akkar area – north Lebanon. Her uncle, who happens to be the town mayor, advised her to attend one of WV’s activities. “It was a session around violence against children,” she recalled. “I was absent-minded the entire way back home, after the event. I felt awful, because I sometimes hurt my younger brother, either by calling him names or hitting him.” Julia felt that she learned something valuable, and she felt the need to engage in more activities. Thus, she did and this is how Julia started her journey with World Vision, three years ago.

A series of questions passed through her mind: why are the instructors generous with the information they have? Why are they doing it for free? Mayada, a World Vision trainer, says that Julia stood out from the first time she attended a WV activity. “This girl is focused and a dreamer. She is exactly what we needed to start the change in this community,” stated Mayada. Julia understood the impact any good messenger could have on
his surroundings. “I learned from World Vision that if I share the information I have with one person only, I can make a difference.” Julia’s first step in sharing knowledge with her friends was after World Vision held a session around handwashing awareness. The following day, Julia took to school leaflets which show the different stages of handwashing and passed them to her classmates.

Nevertheless, the turning point for Julia was the day she was informed that their committee will be organizing a play, writing scripts, and performing in front of many attendees. “I told them I was open for suggestions in regards to the themes they choose, as long as they stick to the big title “Child Rights,” recalls Mayada. “I was surprised by how mature and smart these children are.” When it was time for Julia to pick a topic that is dear to her heart and child-related, she didn’t hesitate for a second before choosing Early Marriage. “I needed to raise my voice against something very common in my surrounding. I needed to tell the people around me that girls my age should study and play – not more.” Julia played the role of a young girl whose parents plan to marry her off to an
adult, and she was telling her secret to one of her friends. “I was overwhelmed with emotions. People were applauding before the scene ended,” she remembered. “My father still watches the play on video at least once a week; he is so proud of the messages I conveyed.”

Many activities left an impact in Julia’s heart after the play. One of them is her own suggestion– to paint on a big water tank, in the middle of the town, drawings about child rights. “I never felt as powerful as I do now because of World Vision. If I was able to spread awareness about several issues within these three years, imagine what all of us can do in one lifetime,” Julia stated.

The thought of World Vision ending its projects in Julia’s hometown saddens her; however, she is not worried. “World Vision gave me a treasure in these years. Teaching us about our rights is a life-long weapon,” said Julia who vowed to maintain this continuous work; even when she grows up and studies medicine. Her ultimate goal is to build a new hospital for her town, where all the people can receive treatment for free. “I dream of this because World Vision taught me to give a hand to the poor – especially the children,” said Julia who knows now that the speech of a 14-year-old should be full of powerful dreams and hopes for a better future.

Support children like Julia, 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 .

World Vision heals a broken heart

By Mong Jimenez, Field Communication Specialist

On the day of hearts, let us discover the journey of a little girl who battled a severe heart condition. Thanks to World Vision, she was given the opportunity to heal her broken heart.

Crystal, then 7 years old, and her grandmother Dolores, who raised her since she was an infant.

It was 7 AM in Negros Occidental, Philippines. The morning sun had just emerged from behind the towering Mount Canlaon. Children with newly washed hair and bulky bags were heading to school – excitement and joy evident on their faces. One girl, however, sat idly outside her home as she watched her playmates pass by. She had been missing class for days already.

Crystal was 7 years old when we met her. A thin girl with tousled hair, she was mostly quiet. On that particular morning, she was worried because she was not able to submit her homework that was due three days ago. A run of dry cough broke her silence.

In the kitchen, Crystal’s grandmother Dolores was busy cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast but her mind was preoccupied with something else. “Crystal has been missing her classes because of her condition,” the grandmother worriedly shared. “It gets worse every day.”

Crystal has always been sickly. Her grandmother volunteered to raise and take care of her while both her parents work away from home. Her father, Ferdinand, is a security guard who earns the minimum wage each day. Her mother used to be a house helper but she stopped working to take care of Crystal’s siblings.

Crystal was accustomed to her recurring ailments. She usually went to school despite enduring a dry cough or a mild fever. But there were also days when she was forced to miss classes because of a severe flu or breathing complications.

Crystal was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease that causes many serious ailments like flu and pneumonia.

Worried about her granddaughter’s ailment, Dolores accompanied Crystal to the city hospital for a check-up. She was devastated when she learned that Crystal was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease. “According to the attending doctor, the heart disease was already present when she was born,” Dolores discussed. “It is the reason why she often got sick even when she was still an infant.”

The attending physician recommended a heart operation at the most immediate time to prevent other serious ailments to develop.

Dolores felt discouraged, knowing that a single heart operation would be too expensive for their family to afford. Crystal’s parents could not even buy a plane ticket to Manila, where the only public hospital that can offer cardiac surgery is located. Crystal’s parents were also shocked when they discovered the check-up result.

Every week that passed by was a struggle for Crystal and her family. Their accumulated savings were not enough to shoulder the heart operation and Crystal’s health got weaker significantly.

The situation seemed hopeless.

But somehow, a glimpse of hope shined upon Crystal when child-focused organization World Vision selected her as a sponsored child. She and thousands of other children in her community began benefiting from the organization’s development projects in education, health and nutrition, economic development, and disaster risk reduction. The sponsored children also became involved in regular child monitoring activities.

World Vision staff closely monitored Crystal after they learned about her condition. The organization helped shoulder her check-up and medical expenses whenever she developed a flu or a severe cough.

A World Vision Malaysia Youth Mobiliser plays with Crystal during a Philippine trip last November 2015.

On November 2015, a team from World Vision Malaysia visited Crystal’s community. They were saddened to hear about her condition during an interaction activity and left Crystal’s house full of sympathy and purpose. Crystal and her family were hopeful that help would come.

The World Vision team brought Crystal’s story to Malaysia and initiated a fundraising campaign for her heart operation. Thankfully, many supported the project and the team raised more than enough to cover Crystal’s heart procedure, including the hospital and transportation expenses. A schedule for a heart operation was set.

Crystal always carried her stuffed toy during her stay at the hospital.

On January 20 this year, Crystal, her grandmother, her father, and a World Vision Philippines staff travelled to Manila for Crystal’s heart operation.

The child, who has turned a year older, was admitted at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in preparation for her operation. She had to undergo several laboratory tests. According to her grandmother, Crystal remained calm and silent throughout the process. She carried a stuffed toy to make herself comfortable.

The day of Crystal’s operation finally arrived. Everyone in the room hoped and prayed for positive results. At around 7 AM, Crystal was brought to the operating room with her Lola Dolores at her side.

After three long hours, the family’s prayers were finally answered. An overwhelming feeling washed over Ferdinand when he heard that the operation was a success.

Today, Crystal and her grandmother are staying in Manila so they can return conveniently to PGH for regular check-ups. Their rent is also covered by the donated money. According to Dolores, Crystal can already walk and eat properly. She has become more energetic.

“This is an answered prayer,” Dolores zealously shared. “We never thought that God would use World Vision and other generous people to help Crystal. This is the greatest help that we have ever received and we will forever be grateful to everyone who made this possible.”

Support children like Crystal, 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 .

Student Beats Adversity with World Vision’s Assistance

Hloasi Motseki (22) leads a session in a classroom

By Atang Likotsi

Twenty-two-year-old Hloaisi Motseki of Lesotho is not a typical university student just pursuing his dream vocation. For his is a story of a grief-stricken youth whose dream is resuscitated when the odds seemed staked against him. Motseki vividly remembers his fears after the death of his parents.

“With the passing away of my parents, both father and mother in 2003 and 2005 respectively, I saw my childhood dream of becoming a doctor fade before my eyes. Being the youngest of four children, I could not imagine life without my parents… all hope was lost,” says Motseki.

But Motseki is in University today, thanks to World Vision Lesotho, who mobilised well -wishers locally to pay for his tuition fee, meals, transport, rent and other expenses. The funds enabled him to pursue a six-month bridging course in Journalism at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.

“During my time of grief, I spent most of my time writing poetry, music and literature to find comfort. Soon I realised my passion lay in writing. I decided to follow my heart and pursue a career in Journalism in spite of fears I might not attain my dream” says Motseki.

It was during these difficulties that Motseki developed compassion to improve his community, and took an interest in Developmental Issues. This led him to participate in a World Vision Children’s Committee workshop where he was immediately spotted as an intelligent and passionate young person.

“I was recognised as one who could represent other children during World Vision Lesotho national office Strategy Launch. It was during this event that a high ranking government official promised to provide me with financial assistance to further my studies. However, the official failed to deliver on his promise.

It is against this backdrop that the World Vision Lesotho team, with the guidance of its Advocacy and Child Protection team, mobilised the organisations’ Pitseng Area Program Manager and his team to solicit funds locally for Motseki.

“Based on my background of financial struggle, I could not imagine myself sitting in a lecture room at any university. But after the financial assistance mobilised by World Vision staff, my dream was resuscitated. The joy I am feeling is beyond measure. Like most young people my age, I am finally doing what I love,” says Motseki with a smile.

Motseki is presently enrolled at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, where he is honing his skills in creative writing through a BA (Hons) in Broadcasting & Journalism. He remains an active member of World Vision Lesotho Youth Committees.

He writes for World Vision Lesotho’s Children’s Voice Newsletter, participates in workshops, and represents children in many events at district and national level. Above all, he believes a future as a leader awaits him.

Support children like Motseki, 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 .

Stopping drought’s impact: Greenhouses in Lesotho help AIDS orphans

By Makopano Semakale

Greenhouses produce food for AIDS orphans during drought in Lesotho

Their dream is simple – to feed their children.

The drought which has consumed the country for the past six months has put more than half a million people, or a quarter of the population, at risk. The price of food and animal feed has more than doubled.

Yet, in Matelile, in southern Lesotho, a farmers’ group has not been deterred.

Instead of sitting and waiting for hand-outs, the Raohang Lesoma Farmers’ Association came together and built a greenhouse, putting into practice what they learnt from training provided by World Vision.

“We are devoting all our energies to the greenhouse because we can already see a future. We see ourselves feeding our families and, most importantly, helping the orphaned and vulnerable children under our care, as well as selling the surplus that we have grown,” says Mr Motlatsi Maile, Chairperson of the Farmers’ Association.

One in every 6 children in Lesotho is orphaned and more than half of those children have parents who died from HIV/AIDS. The situation forced many adults, like Motlatsi, to care for children and grandchildren. The Raohang Lesoma Farmers’ Association currently has 25 members who care for more than 100 orphaned and vulnerable children.

“I personally could see danger awaiting us if we did not take action. I could see poverty written all over our faces and those of our children,” Motlatsi says.

The idea started at the very height of the drought in October last year.

“We realised if we did not do anything, we were going to die of hunger…because the drought had affected everyone, asking for food from anyone was embarrassing. We then decided we will all come together to do something to help ourselves,” he says.

“We had to work hard to keep the members together and it was not easy because people were hungry and needed food immediately.”

“We realised if we did not do anything, we were going to die of hunger…
We then decided we will all come together to do something to help ourselves”

 

Many members were not sure whether what they were doing could take them anywhere. Even as they worked the land, their hopes were very slim because then rain had become little more than a memory.

The greenhouse was started and completed at the peak of drought in December 2014 and the farmers are currently selling produce from the greenhouse.

Some 18 members of the association went to two training courses. The first explained what a greenhouse is and the second was on how to maintain it.

After that, the Association used close to $10,000 to construct the greenhouse, complete with an irrigation system.

Members have since made a schedule for maintaining the greenhouse.

Each day, two people go to the greenhouse to ensure that produce is harvested for people who want to buy it. They use organic manure which is collected from animal sheds around the village and making it very cheap.

“Some members were beginning to lose hope in what we were doing, but thanks to World Vision, we were motivated by the greenhouse idea and now it seems to be working very well. You can see it is green amidst the extreme heat. We are able to sell some of our produce to other communities and our dream is to produce more. We are selling our produce to big supermarkets,” Motlatsi says.

Support these AIDS orphans from Lesotho, who deserve 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 today.

How three young boys survived South Sudan’s conflict alone

James*, Stephen and David look like any three brothers. They play Tumgbali – a game involving throwing small stones in the air and catching them – together, laughing. They like to play football together, they say, and going to school.

But these three boys, just 13, 12 and 8 years old, have already been through so much. Last year they fled South Sudan after their parents were killed in the ongoing conflict, and they arrived in Uganda alone.

It was a normal December day when the boys’ parents went to work spreading cassava seeds in the bush. The children could never have imagined that was the last time they would see them alive.

While they were gone, shots could be heard being fired near where their parents were working. A neighbour went to check on them, only to find their bodies shot dead. He took the boys in and looked after them, but when the killings intensified in January this year, he refused to flee.

James, only 13 years old, believed it was the best possible chance of survival for he and his brothers, so he decided they would go alone. They packed only one small bag each, and ran.

It’s impossible to imagine how hard that decision must have been for someone so young. To take responsibility for his brothers, while still just a child himself.

Thankfully, James and his brothers are now being cared for by a foster family, thanks to the help of World Vision. Another refugee family has taken them in – an unbelievable act of generosity.

And it’s generosity that characterises the response to this refugee crisis. From the refugee families themselves, to the hard work of NGO staff – many of whom have lived in tents in the camps for months on end – to the Ugandan government.

When they arrive across the border, each family is given vaccinations, food rations and a plot of land. They’re encouraged to settle, get jobs, plant food and send their kids to school, but they’re free to move on if they want to. There are no restrictions. Space has even been left in the settlements for refugees who get married and start a family, so they can have land of their own.

That generosity extends further still to host communities; we heard of Ugandans asking for more refugees even though it means sharing already scarce resources.

It’s the kind of radical kindness that offers hope for the future – and James can’t wait to make the world a better place; responding in kind to the generosity he’s been shown.

When he grows up, he wants to become President of South Sudan. With his smart shirt buttoned up all the way to his neck, it’s not hard to imagine.

He knows already what his first law will be: “I will tell everyone to cooperate with each other,” he says. “All people come here because of war. I want there to be no war when I become President.”

And his brothers? They’ll help him in his new role, James says. “It feels good for us to be together.”

Support children like James*, Stephen and David, who deserve 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 or donate to the South Sudan crisis relief.

Soccer for Syrians: Bringing football to the children of Azraq

Simple things like giving children a safe place to run around and express themselves makes a huge amount of difference to refugees living far from home. From the exhilaration of scoring a goal and working as a team, to the comfort of finding emotional support, children and staff share the ways they’re benefitting from the football pitches we’ve built in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp…

13-year-old Shaima (centre) loves coming to the pitches to play football – something she’d never done until she came to Jordan.

“I like coming to the football pitches to meet friends. I like to play football and I come here every day, I’ll even be back in the evening later to play again!” she says.

It’s currently school holidays in Azraq. There is a long break from football from about 12pm to 4pm during the heat of the day, but then football sessions resume in the cooler evening. “I encourage the other girls to play football as it keeps us active.”

“I used to play for a famous football team in Syria called Al-Karamah. We got to the semi-finals in the Asian champions league in 2006,” says Akram. He has been in Jordan for two and a half years, coaching the boys’ teams and the older youth team.

“I was a kid once and I had football coaches and they were my idols. Now I have some experience and I can be a good example for these boys.”

“The best thing about being a coach is putting a smile on the children’s faces. This generation has been deprived of so many things. It’s a bit of compensation for them, to give them hope. The boys release their energy when they play football that could otherwise lead to aggression.”

“It’s a beautiful thing that there are Syrian refugees in the Olympics. It’s good that people still have determination to compete. When they eventually go back to Syria, the athletes will take those achievements back to Syria with them.”

11-year-old Yaman is from Damascus, Syria and has been in Azraq refugee camp for almost two years. Ever since the football pitches opened for business last November, they and Yaman have been inseperable.

“I’ve made a lot of friends playing football at the pitches. I love all my friends. My best friend is Yehia, he plays in another team.”

World Vision distributes juice and bars made from dates to children attending formal schools in Azraq camp, and they give children like Yaman energy to play football and to enjoy themselves.

“We’ve memorized the food pyramid. Eating good food is important. I know carrots strengthen your eyesight!”

Of Syrian refugees competing in the Olympics, Yaman says – “If they win gold we will be very proud. They are heroes and we are very proud of them.”

Raja is from Dar’a, Syria and has a two-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son. She’s been living in Azraq camp for two years but has been a football coach in the camp for just two months.

“It’s beautiful for the girls to play football. I used to enjoy playing football back in Syria, and liked it more than any other game as a girl.”

“I enjoy teaching the girls. I feel like they are my children. The girls come and play and release their energy. Some girls come to the pitches feeling sad and release their energy and feel better”

For Raja, the football pitches not only bring children together, but also offer them a place of emotional support.

“The girls talk to me about their problems, they open up to me. I cry with them sometimes.”

12-year-old Omar originally came to Azraq from Damascus, Syria.

“It makes me happy that there is a place to play football in the camp and I’ve been playing on the pitches since they opened. I feel happy when I score a goal but I enjoy playing football and spending time here, even if we don’t win.”

As the crisis in Syria continues, an important part of our ongoing response is to support refugees who have sought safety in the surrounding region. In addition creating facilities at Azraq refugee camp, we’ve been providing remedial education for children, distributing food and water vouchers and running child friendly spaces to ensure vulnerable children get the support they need.

Support these children from Azraq, who deserve 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 or donate to the Syria crisis relief.

This grandma in Congo saves granddaughter through locally available malnutrition busters

Wednesday, December 21st 2016

Worried of her granddaughter’s health, 61-year old Seraphine Dana joins World Vision training for mothers and finds solution through locally available malnutrition busters.

Séraphine Ali was born three months and three weeks premature. Her mom died after delivering her after six months of pregnancy. She has a twin but she died at birth. Séraphine, now three months old, was frail and sickly. Under the care of her 61-year old Grandmother Seraphine Dana, feeding her was a struggle. “It was difficult to feed my granddaughter as healthy food suited for infants is extremely expensive,” said Seraphine Dana.

“I got concerned when my granddaughter started losing weight. I was worried of losing her after I lost her mother,” added Séraphine Dana. A widow, she is jobless and found it difficult to work and earn some money to support her family. “I used to earn selling water to get enough to provide for the needs of the house. Now I cannot leave her behind and nobody to take care of her,” she explained.

“I do not worry of Seraphine Ali any more. I have learned a lot for my family to survive”

To help address this nutrition deficiency in the community, World Vision works in association with community-based organizations to improve children’s health and increase those who can properly read, write and calculate at the end of their primary schooling. The Fondation Famille D’accueil (FOFAD) is one of the community-based organizations that World Vision supports. The organization takes care of 300 malnourished children in the community, along with their families. When Séraphine Dana learned about World Vision’s assistance, she decided to contact FOFAD to check the nutritional situation of her granddaughter and seek help.

Her resourcefulness paid off. Séraphine Dana got trained on preparing healthy food for infants and young children. She learned how find local ingredients that provided children with a balanced diet. She learned that “masuso” – a mix of corn, sugar and soya – can help maintain the health of her granddaughter. Together with Seraphine, 375 mothers also trained on preparing nutritious food for their children using local resources.

Gallery: How we’re tackling child malnutrition in DRC

Putting to use all the knowledge she learned, Séraphine Dana watched as her granddaughter started to grow up. “Now, my granddaughter is healthy. She gained weight from eating a mixture of corn, sugar and soya. All this I learned after the training by FOFAD supported by World Vision,” says Séraphine Dana.

“I do not worry of Seraphine Ali any more. I have learned a lot for my family to survive,” Séraphine Dana says. World Vision, through FOFAD, has provided the families to generate income through small livelihood projects made possible by the support of the savings group program.

According to Mbuta Mafuta, the National Nutrition Coordinator for Gemena, the levels of malnutrition in the area has several levels:

  • 9.5% acute
  • 47% chronic
  • 26% with weight insufficiency

Dr. Ngenda Chiza Phillipe, and epidemiologist and World Vision’s Health and Nutrition Advisor, says the main causes of the children’s health problems are related to under-nutrition and deficiencies in micro-nutrients.

Read or watch a video about the “grandmother-inclusive approach”

Support children like Séraphine Ali, 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 or donate to Health and Nutrition fund – through World Vision’s Gifts of Hope today!

A Kenya childhood: Growing up without clean water

By Samuel Irungu

Today, Sam Irungu works as a software engineer for World Vision USA. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Growing up in rural Kenya, Sam Irungu knew the daily struggle of collecting dirty water from the early age of 5. Today, he works as a software engineer for World Vision!

He attributes this change to God: an answer to his mother’s prayer to redeem the life of God’s children for a better tomorrow. Hear about his journey!

* * *

When you see children healthy: Love them, respect the greatness that lies within them, and wish them well. This is because you never know where they will land.

This is a true testament of my life’s journey that leaves even me wondering how on earth this came to be. But I call to mind that God has a plan for me — a plan for a better tomorrow that my mother used to pray for.

I grew up in Lower Subukia, a remote rural village in Kenya’s Rift Valley, brought up in an area that receives scarce rainfall because it is located on the leeward side of Mt. Kenya. Drought and famine frequently hit the locals of this land.

Traditionally, it is the responsibility of women and children to fetch water. Children from as early an age of 4 to 5 are trained using small containers on how to fetch and carry water. They would accompany adults in this noble mission. Fetching water is done early in the morning or late in the evening so that whoever is fetching the water is protected from the scorching sun. They can then have the remainder of the day to either till land or run other chores like cooking for the family, fetching firewood, or even looking after domestic animals such as goats, sheep, and cows.

Fetching water is a daily activity that would overly consume time depending on the water point. During dry spells, we would on some occasions go five miles one way. This would definitely take half of your day. By the time we were back home, our bodies were exhausted to engage in any other activity or house chores.

Growing up with my five siblings, we would — in turns during lunch time or evenings — go to the river with our animals so they could drink from these water points. My mum would ask me to carry water containers so we could bring some on our way back as a means to multi-task.

Returning to his previous home in Kenya in 2014, Sam draws water from a water well. (©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu)

There were two ways in which we would carry water. The most common was where we would tie a rope to hang the 20-liter (5.28-gallon) containers on our back where the rope would go over our head. Or we would use commercial or homemade wheel barrows where we could push two or three 20-liter containers. This seemed an efficient method preferred by boys and men since it required enough energy to push the wheelbarrow uphill. Girls and women shied from this method and opted for the former.

However, the carrying water from the back or head had its own short comings. Girls and women often complained of backaches and headaches. I recall my sisters and I having impression marks on our forehead due to this daily repeated activity. This also would trigger migraines if we would place heavy water-loaded containers over our head. The method is dirty because of mud at the fetching point or dust as we walked home carrying them.

I remember growing up and being cautioned not to drown while drawing water. Bathing at the river, which is a health hazard, was the order of the day, or even washing clothes by the riverside.

I remember very well how many families had Saturdays dedicated as a day to wash personal clothes, especially school uniforms. It was the standard, especially for kids, to have a full body bath only once a week. Twice was uncommon or done by few adults who maybe had to work in offices. Washing the feet, head, and hands before going to sleep was a daily routine in many families. This was for two obvious reasons: to not soil beddings when going to sleep and also to prepare for school in the morning.

©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu

My family was living this way when humanitarian organizations including World Vision started projects to find alternative ways of supplying water. They were funding boreholes and drilling wells or building water reservoirs from high mountain elevation points. This also involved laying out pipeline infrastructure to close water points for human and animal consumption.

Since some classrooms were not cemented and the elementary school had tree seedlings that needed to be watered, it was mandatory for all grade three classes to bring to school at least 3 liters of water to water school plants or to sprinkle in the dusty classrooms after sweeping. This was intended to mitigate jigger infection (a type of parasitic sand flea).

Taking water to school alongside your books was cumbersome. Any student who failed to oblige would be sent back home to bring double the amount. This was considered a violation of the rules.

I am forever thankful that through well-wishers and international organizations like World Vision, today boreholes and wells have been drilled near our neighborhood that reduced the amount of time we would spend in a day to get just 80 liters (21.13 gallons) of water for our households.

I grew up believing that this was the way of life. But after getting the opportunity to travel to the city when I was 10, I had a different experience and yearned for a better life than the one I had lived in the hot valley of Lower Subukia. My home was dusty and the scorching sun took a toll on our water resources.

Tragedy hit when I lost my mum and dad in my teenage years of 13 and 14, respectively, due to poor living conditions. This brought another variable into a hard livelihood equation that in some ways made me realize that for us to survive as a family, we needed a change of life. My older brothers sought employment in the cities. My sister dropped out of school to find a job in Nairobi. With the help of generous donors — the angels sent my way by God — I was able to go to boarding school.

When I took my final high school national exam, I earned an average grade of B+. So I qualified to join Maseno University, one of the major public universities in Kenya.

All my life, I dreamt that one day I would become a software engineer. I ended up majoring in education science, focusing on mathematics and computers, but never gave up on my dreams.

Using government funding through loans, I was able to meet my education expenses until I graduated with a bachelor’s in education science. After I graduated, I did two years as a high school computer teacher in Kenya, then headed out for further studies abroad at Eastern Oregon University.

Of course the rest is history after I landed here. My heart to give back and help others in the community I grew up in has been a very personal goal I am passionate about. This has contributed to why I am here at World Vision. The projects being undertaken to reach out to some of these communities are very personal to me.

Sam pumps water from the new kind of well that World Vision installs in communities after drilling for water. (©2014 photo courtesy of Sam Irungu)

On my recent trip back to Kenya, I witnessed a sustainable project by World Vision still being undertaken in my home area. Piped water and a reservoir have been mounted in major water points for clean water consumption by humans and animals. This has reshaped and redefined the way of life for communities.

I am always thrilled to see how lives can be turned. Without a decent way of living, no clean water, no education, or sustainable employment, my life was on a downhill path alongside my siblings’ and the fellow neighbors I grew up with.

I can only attribute this change to God above, having answered my mother’s prayer to redeem the life of his children for a better tomorrow. This is exactly what happened. Working here at World Vision is a true testament of the fervent prayers of an upright woman who had a strong faith of seeing and making a better tomorrow.

To God I give all the glory and honor he is due. He has proved faithful.

Support people like Sam, where World Vision focuses in long term sustainability of the community which elevates them from poverty. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Clean Water Fund today!

Perseverance Is Her Story

By Michael Czobit | Photography by Michelle Siu

Yui near her home in Jatujak.

A soon-to-be formerly sponsored child in Thailand earns a degree despite family illnesses

Yui’s university classes started at 8 in the morning and ended at 4 in the afternoon. Work started at 6. Sometimes, her shift would be just a few hours. Other times, Yui would be at the 7-Eleven until 2 a.m. Then in the morning, back to class. Depending on the day, she’d also make the time to take her grandmother to the hospital for hemodialysis, which was needed three times a week. “I was very tired,” Yui says. “I felt discouraged, depressed, stressed. But I didn’t lose hope.”

It’s February 2015, and I’m sitting at her home in the Jatujak community in Bangkok. Yui, 21, is actually a nickname. Her first name is Pairin. She tells me how she had found ways to cope. She’d read manga (Japanese comics), talk to friends and listen to rock music. “I am happy that you are here today,” she says. “I am glad that I can tell you my story, because telling you my story also encourages me. Telling you about my hardships, my pain, is relieving.”

She no longer works at the convenience store, and a few months earlier she finished her degree in finance and banking studies. Her reaction to earning her degree is understated. “Life as usual,” she says. But don’t be mistaken: Yui was happy. I could understand her anticlimactic reaction—she had worked so hard and still, there was more to do—but I disagreed with her assessment.

Yui had recently passed on a job at a bank and was now waiting to hear back about another in the finance department at a Thai brewery. She was hopeful about her prospects. Why she wanted one job over the other came down to two factors: location and hours, both favourable at the brewery, which would allow her to continue to care for her 70-year-old grandmother, Ampai.

Yui’s parents separated when she was born and she has lived with her grandmother ever since. Yui’s uncle, his partner and his daughter also live at the home. But caring for Ampai, who has struggled with several illnesses, including diabetes and failing kidneys, has mostly been Yui’s responsibility. Thankfully, her uncle has a job that covers the majority of Ampai’s medical expenses.

My own grandma had hemodialysis when I was young. My family took care of her; although it was a group effort, my mom did the majority of the care. The countless appointments and worries can be overwhelming. I always admired my mom at how she carried on during those years, and I knew that what Yui had managed, caring for her grandmother while attending university and keeping a job, required extraordinary effort. But I had no doubt about her strong feelings for Ampai. “I love my grandmother very much,” she says. “I don’t want to leave her by herself.”

While Yui grew up, Ampai was the family’s breadwinner. Yui’s grandfather died soon after she was born, and to support her, Ampai worked as a street sweeper. So yes, hard work runs in the family.

Yui and her grandmother at their home.

Also while growing up, Yui became sponsored by a Canadian through World Vision’s sponsorship project in Jatujak. Before her granddaughter’s sponsorship began in March 2006, when Yui was in Grade 7, Ampai wasn’t earning enough to buy Yui’s school supplies, uniforms and books. That changed, and in more ways than just materially speaking: Yui learned. She participated in educational field trips and day camps. She took part in leadership and health workshops, including one about HIV and AIDS that, too, changed her life.

It is never easy to speak with someone about health issues, and when I share personal information about someone or her family, I always ask for permission, which Yui gave me. In 2009, Yui’s father, Ampai’s son, learned he was HIV-positive. This news scared Yui. Her knowledge about the disease was limited and her father’s status strained their relationship. Two years later, in her first year of university, Yui attended an HIV and AIDS workshop held by World Vision. It was a revelation. “When I received the training, I learned how to live normally with my father, how to spend time together,” she says. Her fear went away and their relationship improved. She says she is now close with her father and that their bond has been renewed. (World Vision has also supported Yui’s father with medical assistance.)

In all her time as a sponsored child, Yui stayed committed to her education. She desires a job so she can support her grandmother, and she dreams of paying off a school loan and buying a home that sits on non-government-owned land. Through her sponsorship, which lasted into her first year of university, Yui, participated in a bachelor’s degree project that paid for her books, uniforms and some home expenses. “I want to thank the sponsor for giving me an education,” she tells me. But I know that as much as she has received, Yui has already matched, and in many ways surpassed, it in her own efforts.

In her last years of schooling before university, Yui had taken a vocational course in accounting where she learned about the stock market, which sparked her desire to earn a banking degree. Just as she has never invested in the stock market looking for a quick buck, she earned her success with perseverance. Not easy to accomplish, and impossible not to admire.

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of Childview Chinese-English edition.

Support children like Yui, who deserves the opportunity to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Education Fund today!

Jhumri Biswal is a beauty with a vision for the disabled

By Impuri Ngayawon Shimray and the Media team, World Vision India

She is a finalist of the Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired, 2017

Out of 46 contestants from all over India, Jhumri Biswal, age 20 from Bhubaneswar, is one the 12 shortlisted finalists for the first ever Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired to be held at Mumbai in January 2017 by the National Association for the Blind (NAB).

At the tender age of eight Jhumri was hit by a truck and sustained a head injury. The blow to the head lead to a breakage of an optical nerve and after a few days, Jhumri lost all sight. Once home, Jhumri was taken out of school, because she was “blind.” Jhumri was happy in the beginning because she could miss the drudgery of school, but soon realised that her class mates were moving on and were learning and experiencing new things. Blindness restricted her mobility and that affected her playtime, going out, hanging out with friends, and having fun. Sadness and depression started setting in and the feeling of being left out and always being dependent on others ate into her. Jhumri’s parents understood this and felt helpless.

She believes this contest will give her a platform to share her story and show others that disabilities need not be limiting.

A local health worker suggested Jhumri join the local school that taught blind children through Braille. This was a life-changing experience for Jhumri, because it gave her a channel to learn new things and grow. She continued to learn through the tactile writing system for two years, after which she returned to regular school to continue her education. Braille books were available for students till grade seven. But after that, she had to depend on an audio recorder and a Braille typewriter that she received from World Vision’s outreach program. Her sister would read the chapters from the book and Jhumri would make notes on the Braille typewriter. Her speed at typing also grew in these years.

With her interest in knowledge and the zest to learn more, Jhumri was motivated to participate in community activities, especially on the issues of rights of special children. She participated in World Vision India’s “Our Voice Assembly,” a platform for children with disabilities to come together to talk about the issues they face, learn their rights and entitlements, identify challenges; and advocate for themselves. Jhumri was part of many consultations of children with disability at the state as well as national level, where they came up with recommendation, which were then sent to various political leaders. Jhumri is one of 2300 children with disabilities that are part of “Our Voice Assemblies” across 18 states in India.

Jhumri was later chosen to represent the voices of children with disability at the World Vision Triennial Council in Tanzania. In Tanzania, she highlighted the apathy of the current educational system towards disability—about 99% of children with disability don’t go to school because of lack of study material, disabled-friendly spaces and trained teachers.

But these barriers did not stop Jhumri from continuing her education. She is pursuing her graduation (3rd year) at Ravenshaw University in Cuttack. In early 2016, she heard of the first ever Miss India Contest for the Visually Impaired organised by the National Association for the Blind (NAB) and wanted to participate. She believes this contest will give her a platform to share her story and show others that disabilities need not be limiting.

Jhumri is looking forward to the finals in January 2017 and while she may win or not win, she is already a winner with a vision!

This article by World Vision India originally appeared in the Huffington Post under the following:

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/world-vision-india/jhumri-biswal-is-a-beauty-with-a-vision-for-the-disabled/?utm_hp_ref=in-

Support children like Jhumri, who deserves the opportunity to realise their dreams they never thought of. You can help turn a child’s life better and filled with so much hope by Sponsoring A Child or donate to World Vision’s Education Fund today!