From a Celebrity’s Heart

Celebrities associated with our work share their experiences

Lee Sinje’s World Vision Visit to Bohol, The Philippines

The child gazes at this stranger in front of her.

She has strands of blondish hair and a petite frame hidden under loose clothing.  Her tiny hands rest on her lap as she sits cross-legged on the floor.


“I’m six,” says the child. When her parents and 7-year-old brother go to the dump site close to their home to collect garbage, she cooks and takes care of her four younger siblings.

She often feels hungry as she only gets two meals a day.

I hand the child some chocolate biscuits and she eats all of them immediately.

Tears swell in my eyes but I am determined to refrain from crying in front of her.


I am reminded of my mother’s family who was also very poor.

My grandmother had to carry two big baskets of sarong to sell at a hilltop, and every trip would last an entire week before she returned.

My then 7-year-old auntie has to wake up early every morning to cook, wash and take care of her five siblings.

“If we were hungry at night, we would mix the burnt rice in the pot with sugar water and drink it,” said my mother.

Once, my mother nearly died because my grandmother simply could not afford to take her to the doctor.

But fuelled by her optimism and strong will, my grandmother single-handedly raised all her six children.

I can still remember the times when she took me to the temple to offer alms to the monks or visit poverty-stricken families living at the hilltop. Her selfless acts of love helped her to raise and protect her family.

She is the source of my compassion for the needy today. Through her, I learn how to love the people around me, and I have seen how a selfless act of love can light up one’s life and even the world.


This is my fourth World Vision visit, and it’s a first for my husband. We are in Philippines, a country comprising more than 7,000 islands, with a population of over 90 million. Forty-one percent of the population lives below the poverty line, earning less than US$2 a day. This means that there are more than 40 million people who suffer from hunger every day.

The sun’s radiant ray shines through the crystal-clear sea water creating a breathtaking view of the sparkling coastline.

The leaves rustle as we take each step.

Finally, we arrive at an organic farm developed by World Vision in collaboration with the local community. We put a handful of earthworms into the organic fertilizer with our bare hands and join the farmers in harvesting at the organic rice fields with our sickles. The setting sun slowly lights up the youthful smiles on the farmers’ faces.



We decide to spend the night at a villager’s house, showering with the cold water that was carried from far away, eating the chicken the family had raise in their backyard, and sleeping in beds covered by green mosquito nets. In the dark, I can see the moonlight streaming through the wooden plank walls.

The living condition of the villagers has greatly improved with the support from World Vision. No longer are they living without electricity and water; they have started growing organic plants to increase their income and, at the same time, protect the environment; some of their children are World Vision sponsored children and they enjoy going to school.


I am overwhelmed by the kindness and passion of the villagers. Their homes may be simple and shabby, they may not be dressed in fine clothing, but they have the ability to impart the purest kind of love that touches the bottom of my heart.

On the other hand, our lives are built around concrete homes in dazzling cities and we are pampered by so much luxury. Yet, our hearts have grown distant from each other.

We own everything. We own the whole world. But the truth is, what do we really possess?


It is the second last day of our trip. We are at a dump site located in a suburb on Bohol Island.

The smell of rubbish which has been accumulated over the last 20 years is utterly nauseating. A group of children are playing in an abandoned dump truck. This rubbish dump is the main source of income for the community here. The adults and children wait for the dump trucks to arrive every day. Once the rubbish is unloaded from the trucks, they will proceed to scavenge for things that they can sell.


Afterwards, we visit a poor family who makes a living by scavenging rubbish.

We follow a trail in the bushes and arrive at a shabby wooden house. It is built out of branches and boards. There is only one room.

A one year-old boy is standing in front of the house with his feet soiled with faeces. His sister, who is only six years old, immediately takes him into the house and washes his feet as soon as she spots us approaching. The boy’s other brother and sister, aged 3 and 4, are sitting by the door. Their parents and their 7-year-old brother are at the dump site collecting rubbish. The 6-year-old sister is left to look after her three younger siblings.


I walk up to the house and sit next to the older sister. I hand out some chocolate cookies to all of them; the older sister instantly gobbles up the cookies, then she crouches and stares at the cookies left in my hand. I give her the whole packet. She takes it and eats the cookies quietly.

The children are hungry. The girl tells me she cooks them food and takes care of them every day. They only get to eat twice a day and they get hungry very often. When the children speak, their faces don’t display any expression… there is no sadness, no joy, no anger – just a faint response.

Have you ever experienced hunger? One hour, two hours… Can you imagine what it feels like to be constantly hungry every single day?

Their bodies are so thin and small but what clear, beautiful eyes and pure hearts they have! They have the most beautiful smiles I have ever seen and they speak from their heart. They should grow up being surrounded by the light of love. But here, these children endure immense suffering and hunger. They have been robbed them of their childlike nature. Every day just seems hopeless.

My heart feels as though it is being pierced with a thousand needles. I try not to cry in front of them. I remember how I prayed for hope and miracles during those sleepless nights when I was a child, and now, I am once again reminded of my childhood fears and insecurities when I look at her; I promise to love this child with all my heart.

My grandmother, my mother and my daughter have nourished my life with their love. Children are all the same – they are little angels that need to be loved and protected. When I held the child, I felt strongly about how love can be extended to others. I now understand that much joy comes from giving.

You probably never knew that with a mere RM65 a month, you can change the future of these children. You probably never realised that your heart can be so close to a child who lives hundreds of miles away from you. You probably never discovered that you have the power within you to give hope to others.

Please join me in sponsoring a child through World Vision. Together, we can create a world filled with love and abundant life.

Written by Lee Sinje, World Vision Child Sponsor
May 3, 2010

















































Day 4 – The Final Day

by Daniel Lee

Widow and her brood

Mother of 2 children, she is HIV-Positive, and just lost her husband 4 months ago. He died of the HI Virus. Right now she stays with her mother-in-law at a very small hut.


When we visited their house, the mother-in-law showed the picture of her loving son that has just gone, and she just couldn’t control her emotion, and tears just came down from her eyes. Well maybe she really needs some time for her heart to heal.

But we are happy to see that the family is healthy and we didn’t even see any signs of complaint through their eyes, their responces, even they are staying in that small hut, even if she lives with HIV…

They seem to cope very well. The mother still able to earn a living and the children go to school as normal.

Young Couple

A 20-year old young man with both parents who have passed away cause of HIV, he’s now taking care of his grandparents, and his newly married bride.

They used to be very poor and he grew up as a child labourer in a tobacco company since he was 12. But after a year, World Vision has started to help his family. From a house that didn’t even have roof to a bricked house, he now lives comfortably and plans to start a family soon with his young wife.

Final thoughts by Daniel


Now I can really feel that, many people in India have a lot of sad stories because of HIV/AIDS. But we are glad that the number of people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS has dropped. Many of them are taken care of by World Vision through education and regular medication.

Day 3 – Understanding the Complexities of HIV/AIDS

After a brief hiatus, we’re back to continue Daniel’s journey in India.

By Daniel Lee

HIV/AIDS Drop-in Centre

It’s a place where most of the HIV/AIDS mothers and children gather together. For them it is a safe space for them to share their experiences, get counselling and supplementary nutrition from the doctors.

The mothers shared their experiences of being neglected by the community, of their children being neglected in school; some were even chased out from their rented houses.

Through the help of this Centre, the community began to understand more about HIV, and the people living with HIV/AIDS have been accepted. And now the community treats them better, but they still wish to reach out to more HIV patients and to help as many as possible.

But I’m glad that they are coping well, I feel that they should have brought this issue to the court for being treated this way.

And they were really happy to talk to us especially the children. I guess they just want to live normal lives.

Family of 5

In a very rural area, we met Raju*, his 3 children and his old mother.

Raju is HIV-positive; his deceased wife passed away cause of HIV.

The current situation showed that he’s very sick and cannot work, while his mother is about 75, too old and frail to earn a living.

Raju’s simple house

So the villagers work together to give them food every day, while the children were sent to a hostel for their schooling. And they are taken care by the villagers and World Vision.

Meeting the community under a tree

Hope of a Family

Husband and wife are both HIV-Positive, with 2 daughters.

World Vision was able to provide them with better opportunities.

Both husband and wife seems to be living health lives and working as carpenters

The wife also runs a small grocery stores with a public telephone and a refrigerator. And in the future she hopes that she can afford to run a cafe with a small hotel business.

HIV/AIDS is not as simple as getting an illness and curing it with medication. The fact of the matter is, HIV/AIDS has no cure, many factors come into play to complicate the circumstances for a family and the community. Do click here to learn more about the work World Vision does in terms of HIV/AIDS.

* Raju’s real name has been changed to protect his identity.

Day 2 – Getting adjusted

By Daniel Lee

School Visit

World vision has help the primary school to level the ground, build a water pump, construct a wall for safety and security and most importantly provided school materials, food and nutrition for the children.

So that they can have place to train, especially in sports. And I felt so proud to know that, they have always been the champion among the 42 schools in the area of sports.

They performed dances for us, and it was a joy to see them sing for us, we really enjoyed that.


The tragedy of HIV/AIDS

Just about a week ago, World Vision got to know of this 20-year old young man, taking care of his family of six = the grandpa, grandma, mother, 2 sisters and himself. The father committed suicide over the pressures of being HIV-positive and couldn’t handle the burden of taking care of the family. The mother who is also HIV-positive, is quite ill.

The family lives in 2 simple huts next to a railway station.


And all the while, this young man worked as a hard laborer on a farm.

Right now, the situation is still not so good, but World Vision has just started to help them as they are able.

In a month’s time, World Vision will help him to open a sundry store next to the railway station. And will help to take care of his mother and the grandparents’ health, and as a first step, see that the sisters get an education.

And we feel that, at least everything will be okay for them.

Light at the end of a Tunnel

At the end of the day, we met Rehenna. She was a World Vision sponsored child for the last 13 years.

She came from a poor family, but with the help of World Vision, she was able to continue her studies, and now able to pursue her Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Logistic.

We are thankful that World Vision Child Sponsors have given these children hope and success.

Conclusion of Day 2

Today, we have seen some very difficult stories, we see little children with so much energy, passion and hopes, we saw a family struggling to survive with the basics of healthcare and living in dire poverty, and we also saw a very successful child that has been blessed by World Vision.

Day 1 in India – Understanding the Situation

By Daniel Lee

Day 1

Slums in Vijayawada

We’re now visiting a slum area in Vijayawada, near the Krishna River. In the slum we could see families having this own small space of home, while the ladies are washing clothes in the river and drying it directly on the ground.


Story of Heartbreak

Jaya*’s husband is a lorry driver that always travels for work and lives away from his family for a few months at a time. And he is HIV-positive, so the wife was also infected.

From her expressions, we could feel that she was very depressed about this matter. Before they got married, her family was proud of him and considered him a good man to marry, but when things changed, everyone held her responsible for marrying him. She was very upset at first, but had to just face it.

Well we are glad that she looks healthy and cheerful. But she’s worried about her daughter who is now only 1 and a half years old. She’s worried of one day needing to leave this world, and who will take care of her daughter?

Saree Seller

Rani*, a 20-year old girl, her parents passed away because of HIV/AIDS, and she was the one left to take care of her brother and sister. She earned money by selling sarees from house to house. The 3 of them are staying in a rented house, with a walkway to the entrance that is just about 2 feet. Every morning she wakes up, she cooks for the family, then she go out to sells the sarees for a living.


When we asked her about her dream, she meekly says that she couldn’t afford to dream for herself, but she wishes that her brother and sister be good and study well. And maybe one day she can own her own sewing machine.

Well, we are very glad for them, and wish that they could always stay happy together.


A 10-year old boy Raja* who is HIV-positive lives as an orphan. His parents passed away when he was very young. The father passed away when he was 3 months old, and the mother when he was 3 years old. Right now he’s taken care by his elder sister and grandma.

We’re not sure how much he knows about HIV, but he knows that he is different from other children. However, his friends and people around him treat him as a normal child.

And when he grows up, he speaks of wanting to to be a policeman, cause he wants to help people. While the grandma just hope that he studies hard and is able to get a job that doesn’t involve hazardous work, so that he doesn’t need to work so hard.


After visiting these families, I actually think that they might not live in dire poverty, but being HIV-positive and losing family members has given them a very hard time.

But we are glad that they are strong enough to face it.

And thru World Vision, they are at least taken care, and educated about healthcare, especially HIV/AIDS.


*all names have been changed to protect the identity of these people.

Daniel’s First Foray into India

by Daniel Lee

Landing in the Land of Hyderabad, India

It’s 1am in the morning, 20°C, we are on our way from the airport to the city of Hyderabad.


Other than the presence of a lil’ bit more Indians, and the Hindi signboards, It doesn’t feel like I’m actually in India. Maybe they speak the English we normally hear from any of our Indian friends in Malaysia. And the Hyderabad airport is not very much different from KLIA.

Riding World Vision’s jeep into the city, it just feels like the Malaysia I know. Two lane highways, drivers driving on the left hand side, orange coloured street lights, trucks on the road, shop houses like that in Changlun…

But now further from the airport, the road becomes a lil’ more bumpy.

Still Don’t Know What to Expect

Along the way, from this very small airport to the hotel, this small corner of Hyderabad city seems to be quite developed. They actually have a very big rice field, while further away, they have this very beautiful hotel that we are staying in, ice-cream shops, branded jeans stores, cars showrooms…

So I still cannot imagine, how’s the village that we are visiting gonna be like?

Finally Vijayawada

With the Kingfisher turboprop, we finally land in Vijayawada a very cute town in India, with a small airport. This place is so beautiful, with plots of big rice fields.


Do check out Daniel’s India journey through the entire week of  22 February 2010.

6天的印度之旅 (6 Days in India)

Check out this space as we bring to you Daniel Lee 李桀汉’s diary through World Vision’s work in India.










6 Days in India

I’ve never thought that I would, or ever have a chance to go to India in my life. So I really didn’t know what to expect in this trip. And I was quite unsure on what I could actually do as me or as a part of World Vision.

But everything’s seems to be great and cool, I thought it was fun and I learned a lot. I’m gonna miss the curry, the crazy traffic, the children and families that we met, and everybody from Malaysia in our trip.

And thru the trip, I learned that poverty might be an issue for the people, but the toughest thing to see is people living with HIV, as it’s a serious issue in India. Some of these people lose their health, some lose their loved ones, and it just changes their future somehow. A lot of them suffer because of HIV, then it affects their financial support and also children’s education…

Thankfully World Vision has helped this community a lot, in terms of healthcare, medication, education, financial and social supports, to decrease the number of HIV and poverty. And to increase the awareness about HIV, at least everybody understands that the innocent people who are infected should have the same treatment.

So we really hope all of us who are more blessed, can give a hand to World Vision, to help these people.



Mrs Ornanong and Richard Supat – lives that inspired me

Last month, I had the privilege of meeting two former World Vision sponsored children from Thailand and The Philippines, who were in town to offer their voices and share their lives with the Malaysian public. And because of my job scope, I had the honor of sitting through their interviews with the media. With that, I try my best now to share with you their stories. Simple yet powerful stories, of how lives were transformed. Stories of hopes that became realities. Stories that made a person pay attention to listen, not because one has to but because one is attracted to.

Once in a while, we meet people who inspire us, who made us believe in the goodness of humanity again. Such were the sweet encounters with Mrs Ornanong Panyawang Awakul, from Thailand and Mr Richard Supat, from The Philippines. One was a former Ms Thailand 1992, who is now a well known actress, TV host and a celebrity in her home country. The other, holds a degree in Mass Communications and an MBA, spearheading the Human Resources Department of a location-based services in his home country. Neither of them ever thought that their lives would take such a turn.

Richard Supat

Both were born into a poor family, struggling to survive on daily basis. Richard’s parents were working in a peanut butter factory, depending on daily wages. Richard, who grew up in the ‘shanti’ (slums) area of Metro Manila known as the ‘sin city’, got emotional when speaking to The Star journalist, reminded that sometimes he only had rice with salt. Life took a gradual turn after he got selected into World Vision’s Child Sponsorship programme, teaching him values beyond classroom education – learning to be thankful and to be a good steward of what has been given. I believe lessons like these are the ones that shape a person’s world views. Richard eludes a quiet yet friendly persona and his humility amazed me when we met. When he sang “You Raised Me Up” at our This Is My World Vision Campaign launch, each word came alive from a soul who truly understood the lyrics. I must say, some of the audience present were at the verge of tears.

Richard Supat

In his interview with BFM 89.9 BFM 89.9, Richard said “Never in my entire life, I would imagine that someone I don’t know would help me. So that is a big responsibility and that has taught me to love other people who you do not know and just be there for them.” This is the beauty of the World Vision Child Sponsorship programme, it not just about a programme or the donation of RM65/ 80 per month but more than that, it is a journey together – the sponsor and the sponsored child.


Mrs Ornanong, was always pleasant and one of the most down to earth celebrity I’ve met. She was always polite, even when speaking through an interpreter and there was a certain radiance about her smile. This was a child who came from a family of 7 siblings and her father was a construction worker by day and a tricylce taxi peddler by night, relying on daily wages. Her mother was a factory worker and sold fruits in the market. Growing up, she taught she would turn out to be a fruit vendor like her mom.


World Vision came to the school she was studying one day and identified the poorest families, offering if they would like to be a part of its Child Sponsorship programme. The rest, as they say, is history for her. She kept her grades at school and eventually learned the traditional Thai dance, which contributed to her winning the title of Ms Thailand in 1992. She made public her background of poverty and that she was a sponsored child to the media upon winning the crown, believing that one should not be ashamed but instead, be grateful of how much her life has been changed because of the generosity of others. Today, she sponsors 6 children with her husband, saying that she can relate to them because she was once in their shoes. This is her way of encouraging the sponsored children that they must not give up on their dreams.

“World Vision is like a boat, it collects people on-board along the way and bring them to their destination”, she said through her translator to New Tide magazine journalist. Will you join us in this journey? Thank You, Mrs Ornanong and Richard, for being such amazing living testimonies.

I am writing this entry, not because its part of my job as a staff but because I truly believe in the work World Vision does. I hope you too, can believe in us to Build A Better World For Children. You can be that person for someone else too.