Emergency / Relief

News and Updates on relief works.

Ahmad – Engineer in Syria

Photo: Hussein Sheikh Ibrahim/World Vision

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

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

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

Raja – Volunteer Syrian Refugee Coach

Photos: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

In November 2015, coaches from the English Premier League travelled to Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan to train thirty-six people from several humanitarian agencies, as well as a number of Syrian refugee volunteers, in how to coach football. The coaches are now using what they learnt on a regular basis to teach Syrian children football skills. Playing sport in the camp gives children the opportunity to stay active, have fun and make friends.

26-year old Raja is from Dar’a, Syria. She has a 2-year old daughter and a 3-year old son and has lived in Azraq refugee camp for two years. She has been a football coach in the camp for about two months and shares her thoughts on girls given the opportunity to play football.

I find it extremely beautiful that the girls are given a chance to play football! I used to enjoy playing football back in Syria. I liked football more than any other game as a girl. Here 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 multi-purpose sports pitch feeling sad and release their energy and feel better. The girls talk to me about their problems, they open up to me. I sometimes cry with them.

I will talk to parents who don’t want their girls to play and explain the importance of playing. I tell them that people and strangers can’t see into the girls’ pitch and sometimes after I talk to them they send their girls to play football. Many families in the camp are very conservative so it’s important for them that the girls have privacy when they play.

Khalil – The Response manager

Photos: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

In July 2016 World Vision provided 4,212 primary health consultations through six health clinics in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

Khalil is from Lebanon. As a boy he was displaced by conflict and now works as World Vision Iraq’s Response Manager.

I know their feelings. I was once in their shoes. I slept as they are sleeping. Saw my father waiting for food kits in Lebanon.
I know their feelings. I lived the moment when I only had ‘A Dream’ to escape reality.
I know their feelings. Missing my home. Looking for hope in the eyes of others.
I know their feelings. When I only wanted to go back ‘Home’.

Akram – Volunteer Syrian Refugee Coach

Photos: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

During the current school holidays, there are two football sessions for children at the World Vision football pitches at Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. One in the morning and one in the evening. There is a break in the middle of the day as it is very hot.

30-year old Akram from Homs in Syria coaches the boys’ teams and the older youth team. He has been in Jordan for 2.5 years.

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.

I was once a kid and I had football coaches and they were my idols. I know that with the experience that I had, I can be a good example to these boys. The best thing about being a coach is putting a smile on the faces of the children. This generation has been deprived of so many things, it’s a bit of restitution for them, to give them hope.

The boys release their energy when they play football that could otherwise lead to aggression. It helps them release the extra energy that they have. If they didn’t have this space to play, they would play in the sand or think about stealing – instead they are occupied with football. When some boys first started playing football there was some aggression and we would ask them to leave the pitch for five minutes to calm down. We’ve seen a positive change, there has been development.

When new boys start playing football they need some time to adapt. The longer kids play football, the less aggression I see on the field.

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

Khalida – Driver at World Vision Jordan

Photo: Suzy Sainovski/World Vision

World Vision is currently constructing a kindergarten at the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan. It will open in late September. Khalida has worked as a driver at World Vision Jordan for two years. She is the only female driver.

Khalida is very expressive, friendly and quick to smile. Here the 50-year old shares her excitement for the role.

Being the only female driver is a unique experience. When I drive World Vision staff to other NGO offices, the staff at other NGOs can’t believe that I’m a female and a driver – once I got chocolates and coffee because of it! They are surprised that I drive everywhere in Jordan – the camps, Zarqa, Irbid everywhere.

I feel very happy and proud to work in this field. Before this job I was a driving instructor for 20 years. Women are willing to do lots of things. They just need the space. It was rare to have female driving instructors and when I started, my friends and family didn’t like the idea of me being a driving instructor. While I was an instructor I stopped learning new things after a while. I wanted to keep learning though.

At World Vision I meet people from different cultures and backgrounds, my English is improving and I feel like World Vision is a family. (Khalida did an English language course through World Vision.)

When I drive World Vision staff to the camps to do their work, I’m happy that I’m contributing to helping refugees. Before I worked at World Vision, I wanted to work for a humanitarian organisation – If I’m contributing to helping people it makes me happy.

When I was a driving instructor I put my children through university so they could learn, now in my job at World Vision I am learning.

Driving gives me a sense of freedom. The people in my car are my responsibility, I like to be professional and I like taking care of them. In the future I’d like to do work where I am working with refugees directly.

Amira – CFS worker

Ralph Baydoun/World Vision

World Vision runs child friendly spaces (CFS) for Syrian children in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The spaces provide the opportunity for children to play, learn and spend time with other children. Psychosocial support activities help children process their feelings.

When asking Amira about the reason she works in a CFS, the simple answer that you expect is a typical, “because I love my work”. What one doesn’t know is that Amira finished law school, and had many opportunities to work as a lawyer  but she chose to work with World Vision instead.

Why? ones asks, “The smile of a child is worth everything in this world” Amira says. It’s probably her role as a mother that made her feel this strong attachment towards children and why she has dedicated her life to this cause, or as she describes herself, “I have a soft spot for children, all children”

Every morning Amira wakes up with high hopes about the day to come. Her challenge is to make a change in children’s lives especially the children who attend the CFS. “This is my motivation, this is what keeps me going.” Amira adds.

World Vision works in cycles when it comes to the CFS. Every cycle is for a duration of 3 months. Amira can’t help but talk about how unpleasant is to be attached to children for 3 months and then not see them ever again. “They become part of a bigger family”, Amira tearfully says. Even the children’s families come begging Amira and the team to keep their children for another cycle due to the significant progress they showed!

Amira who is a Lebanese woman in her 40s, lived and survived the Lebanese civil war herself. Seeing the refugees remind her of herself in an earlier stage of her life. She knows exactly how they feel and what they need, and tries as much as she can to help them through their pain. “Because I know for a fact the children are vulnerable and they are the most affected, when it comes to their hygiene, education and physical and mental growth!”

During the the interview Amira explains how beautiful her childhood was and what she tries to do is to ease the childhood of these refugees a little because she believes that every child should live their childhood to the fullest!

Helping Victims of Violence Against Women – Like My Mother

Today on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Kristian Foster of World Vision Canada shares her own story – and describes how World Vision’s work is helping change the stories of women and girls around the world.

I first experienced male violence when I was 12 years old. My mother’s boyfriend grabbed me by my arms and yelled at me for touching his beard. Little did I know it at the time, but he was schizophrenic. I wasn’t really the cause of his anger. Still, my bruises were more than skin deep. I would never touch another man’s face.

In university, my gender relations professor asked us to interview someone about their history with violence. I decided to interview my mom. This was the first time I learned that, before I was even born, she had been kidnapped and raped.

Thankfully, my mom had escaped after four days. She made life as normal as possible for me and my brothers in the years ahead. I don’t know how, but she somehow buried the experience deep down inside, and hid it from the three of us until we were adults. She worked hard to be a wonderful mom, in spite of what she’d been through.

I feel so fortunate now to serve with World Vision, an organization that helps women and girls all over the world. While my mom went through something too brutal to imagine, there was no question that, after her escape, she’d be able to return to our house. I’ve learned that in some countries, many rape victims don’t even have that option.

A weapon of war

Women and girls all over the world are potential targets of violence, whether by family members, boyfriends or strangers. Rape is often used as a weapon of war. The Democratic Republic of Congo has some of the worst rape statistics in the world. In North Kivu during the first half of 2012, it was recorded that 2,517 people, overwhelmingly women, had survived rape.

Safi* is one of those survivors. She was raped by soldiers two years ago while she, her mother-in-law and other women were coming back from the market where they were selling vegetable oil.

“After I was raped, my husband denied me,” she says. “I was rejected. It was so painful to get separated from my children. It was unfair because it was not my fault.”

s130292-1: Bringing Hope of a Brighter Life to Survivors of Rape in Eastern Congo
Safi was raped by soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and blamed by her husband.

Fortunately, Safi met a fellow survivor, Florence, who leads an organization supported by World Vision to provide help to victims of sexual violence.

The journey home

After their recovery, the women are welcomed into a community of other survivors: women and girls who understand what they’re been through. When a woman is ready, the organization reaches out to her family on her behalf, helping them understand that the rape was beyond her control. This begins a reconciliation process with the families, and helps the women start the next chapters of their lives.

In Safi’s case, the process is working. She is back in her community with her family, and now runs her own business. The proceeds have helped the family build a sturdier shelter than they had before. It seems that, as with my mom, rape has not got the better of her.

“I am happy today,” says Safi. “I have all my children with me. My husband also accepted to take me back. I have built a house where (we) can stay. I feel so grateful. Other women like me are still living in huts and under plastic sheets. Others are still being raped or taken hostage in the bush. I can’t forget them, I pray that God’s hands reach and help them just like me.”

A way to help

Many countries have grassroots programs for women and girls who are victims of violence. They offer things like medical care, counselling, and places to live as the victims heal. Like Safi, many rape victims are blamed by their friends and even families. They need advocates as they ease back into normal life. As part of its ongoing work against poverty and injustice, World Vision provides support to many of these grassroots programs.

Safi is living proof that there is hope, even in the darkest conditions. If you are looking for a way to help girls and women, you can choose to sponsor a girl child through World Vision Malaysia.

*name changed for protection

This story was originally shared on Huffington Post Canada.

A day I will never forget

By Mona Daoud
Communications Officer
World Vision Lebanon

Saturday, July 25, 2015 is a day I will never forget. My family decided on a big gathering in a village in Northern Lebanon; a place we visit every summer. I told them that it might be difficult for me to join. They insisted on my presence. It turned out that they were preparing a small surprise to celebrate my birthday. I promised to join them at night as I had to work in the Bekaa Valley that morning.

In my line of work at World Vision, I interview Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Often, they tell me that they have no choice but to send their children to work, because they do not have enough food to eat. When I tried to get more details about the children’s circumstances, the families answered “Come and see for yourself”.

On July 25, at 10 A.M, I went to see the situation first hand. On my way there, I saw open-top trucks going back and forth, packed full of Syrian refugee children and adults standing with limbs hanging out the side of the truck.

Thank God I had another colleague who was able to lead the way and find the agricultural land where the children work, as it was located in a very isolated area. I started to feel scared.There were no road signs, no buildings, no houses. Only landmine warnings.

Our car stopped. My heart stopped.

Stepping out of the car on to the agricultural land where the children and mothers work took me back two years to when I tried to watch the film ‘12 Years a Slave.’ My attempt to watch it failed as I am a very sensitive person when it comes to witnessing extreme violations of human rights, especially when it comes to physical torture. I only managed to watch 15 minutes before I left the cinema, leaving my friends and husband inside.

I did not expect that two years later I would have to watch the same movie again, but in real life. This time, I could not walk away.

I walked robotically towards the land owner who was holding a stick hitting Syrian refugee children in the field.  I said “Good Morning, I am Mona from World Vision”. He replied “Welcome”. He ran to an 8-year old child wearing yellow; hit him with the stick on his back, once, twice, until he fell to the ground. Then, he approached the child and pulled him roughly by his ear until it turned as red as a tomato.  The child in yellow shouted “Mom”. He kneeled on the floor and cried, once, twice, until his mother came to him and said “Ibrahim honey, do not cry”. She spoke quietly. She could not even hug him. She is not allowed to leave work for more than 30 seconds; otherwise her child will be hit on the back.

Ibrahim (in yellow), an 8-year old Syrian refugee, has to work for long hours in
a field in Lebanon, earning $6 (RM25.50) a day.
His family has no other choice to survive.

During those few minutes, while Ibrahim was crying, the land owner shared something with me. “You know, madame, dealing with sheep is much easier than dealing with these Syrian refugee children”. My ears were with this man. My eyes were on Ibrahim. My heart was nowhere. It was broken.

I needed my mind to stay alert so I could record all of the details that will help me tell the world about this violation of children’s rights. “Madame, why are you worried? This stick does not hurt. It only makes the child afraid so they work and produce more.”

Thank God, it was time for the only 15-minute break of the whole day for the children and mothers working in the field. I used the opportunity to run to Ibrahim. Ibrahim was smiling. Like any innocent child I guess, Ibrahim could easily engage in happy moments. But, God only knows how he feels when he lays down to sleep at night.

Ibrahim’s face seemed okay, but his body didn’t. His backbones were visible and his back was hunched. His eyes looked down as though he’d committed a sin. I asked him to raise his head and know that he is a hero. His eyes fluttered. I asked him how he feels. He was too shy to speak. I managed to hold my tears and get my voice out. I told him: “Be sure that God will not leave you”.

I could say no more. I waved goodbye and left. I went to meet my family as I’d promised to do. I decided to keep my feelings on hold until Monday. But, even that failed.

When I arrived and saw my nephews, I experienced a very new and weird feeling. I hugged Mohamad, my 5-yeard old nephew, seeing Ibrahim in front of me. I hugged him for a long time. I turned to see Fouad, my 4-year old nephew running and laughing around the pool. I imagined Ibrahim playing instead of working in the field at the mercy of the stick. I ran to my room, put my face on the pillow, and could not stop crying.

Almost two months have passed since that day. The memory of my 27th birthday celebration has faded but the images of those children working in the field and being beaten by a stick are seared in my memory forever. Now I understand why so many families are risking their lives to flee to Europe.

Today, on 21 September, the International Day of Peace, I am calling on the world to help children like Ibrahim. I see him every time I look at my nephews. I imagine him saying: “My body cannot tolerate the stick anymore”. Peace is not only about ending the war. It is rooted in treating refugee children with dignity and humanity.

There are currently over 4 million Syrian refugees in countries including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, around half of those are children. World Vision has reached approximately 2 million refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable host community members with assistance including food, water, sanitation, health, child-friendly spaces and remedial education. In response to the needs of Syrian refugees in Europe, World Vision has started distributing baby kits and items for Syrian refugee mothers and their families currently living in camps in northern Serbia. Visit https://www.worldvision.com.my/syria-crisis to find out more.

Giving Assistance to Kak Wani, Chung Hwa Primary Temangan, School Canteen Operator

Photo taken on 18th May at the school canteen

In January 2015, Kak Wani started work as the school canteen operator.

She was really excited to start her new business, but the flood in December 2014 scattered her hopes as the canteen was badly damaged, cooking utensils either broken or swept away by the flood waters.

She felt sad, lost and worried after seeing the post-flood conditions of the school canteen, as Kak Wani is the sole breadwinner in the family.

Her husband has chronic diabetes and cataracts. So he is not able to work anymore. While her eldest daughter has serious kidneys problem and needs money for transportation and monthly treatment fees.

Kak Wani works at the school canteen during the day and opens a food stall in the evening till midnight to earn extra income.

She often feels tired from working so much and driving is taxing to her as she has poor eyesight but can’t afford to pay for glasses.

World Vision supported her by:
: buying new cooking utensils & canteen equipment
: providing her with a model to start her business
: supporting with Child Friendly coupons – to encourage students to eat healthier meals at the canteen & in turn it gives her better business
: getting her a pair of glasses
: getting a food rack for her food stall

As a result, Kak Wani’s food is not praised by the students and teachers alone but also by the parents. This was through the feedback forms we got from students and parents, they stated that her food is much cleaner, tastier, cheaper and has more variety than the previous canteen operator

She expressed her gratitude for the support that she received from World Vision Malaysia and she’s very glad that she can provide better for her family and make new friends too.

She hopes, the mural painting at the canteen will encourage more students to eat at the canteen.

We hope that one day Kak Wani can afford to hire 1 more helper to assist her, so that she can rest more. While at the same time continue to provide yummy and healthy food for the children and be able to cut down on her workload.

USM students in Kelantan also contributed back to the local school, read more here.

Mural Painting at Chung Hwa Primary in Temangan by USM Volunteers

Photo taken on 24th May at the school canteen

Volunteers are all 3rd year dentistry students, this year is their clinical year. It is the most hectic and stressful year for them.

We at World Vision are grateful that despite the busy schedule of lectures and postings, they were still willing to spend their time and energy in the mural painting activities.

We were at the school for 8 days to complete all paintings.

They started painting in the morning and only stopped at night

This team was lead by Yap Hao Zhi (sitting third from the right). We approached him on the 15th of March. He then gathered his friends to join in the activity.

He recently injured both his knee ligaments but insisted on completing the mural painting.

He thanked World Vision Malaysia for this opportunity to do something meaningful and he found that he and his friends were able to relax their bodies and mind and relief stress during the painting.

“Thank you for the opportunity to make some memories and for the past few weeks while in preparation and painting, I felt like I had achieved a great milestone in my life.” – Yap Hao Zhi

To read more on how assistance was provided to Kak Wani, click here.