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World Day against Trafficking in Persons

In the next hour, dozens of young people living in Myanmar and Cambodia will leave home with the promise of bright jobs in big cities that will open doors to a better life. Unfortunately, this dream is often a nightmare.

Upon arriving in a richer country, they’re forced to work jobs that are exploitative. They work long hours for little to no pay. They are forced to do tasks that are dangerous. And they are left to stay in places that are humiliating. Today, on World Day against Trafficking in Persons, we advocate against human trafficking as a crime that exploits women, children and men.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.

 

Millions are trapped in jobs they were coerced or deceived into and which they cannot leave – primarily forced labour and sexual exploitation. Women and girls represent the greater share of forced labour victims, 11.4 million, or 55% of all trafficked in persons.

Here are the stories of trafficking survivors who compel us to continue our anti-trafficking work.

Phyu: Sold to become a bride

Phyu was 17 when she left school and decided to leave her home in Myanmar. A broker tricked her to work in China with promises of a good job.

When she arrived, a Chinese man paid $3,200 USD for her.

She was wed, beaten unconscious, tied and gagged before being found by police and returned to Myanmar.

After her return, World Vision helped her to attend sewing training and provided sewing machine to start her business. Now, Phyu is an advocate on trafficking and shares her experiences to educate other young women.

Pannha*: Smuggled into another country, jailed with her baby, forced to beg

(*Pannha’s name has been changed to protect her identity and safety.)

As a widow with a five-month old baby, Pannha trusted a relative when he offered her a job in Malaysia. Poor and hopeful to improve their living conditions, she accepted the offer.

Every day, she and her baby were dropped off early in the morning and brought home around midnight. Pannha and the baby worked over 10 hours a day. On some days, she was forced to beg on the streets.

“I did not deserve to fall in this trap, but unfortunately I did, and I had to endure this,” Panha says with upset face.

Although she worked hard hours, the money never came.

She was eventually arrested, thrown in jail and nearly had her baby taken from her. After revealing that she was cheated into this life, she was sent home to Cambodia.

Through World Vision, Pannha received counselling and was provided with basic living essentials: food, tools for farming and training. Now, she grows cabbage around the house with a few mango, coconut, pomelo and orange trees, and wishes to enjoy her future.

Suon: Labouring for pennies a day on a ship

In Cambodia, Suon owned plots of land but although he worked hard, the income he received wasn’t enough to support his family. He decided to work in Thailand and was told he would lift and move rice sacks.

Instead, he endured heavy lifting on Thai transport ships for 15 hours a day without a weekend. Suon worked hard, with the expectation of earning a lot of money to bring home to his wife and children.

One day, he asked permission from his manager to visit home and his wages. He was refused. Suon kept asking for the next few months but he was not allowed.

“I was afraid that I would not be allowed to come home forever,” adds Suon.

Suon was only allowed to return home after lying to his manager – “I told him [the site manager] a lie that my wife and child died, then he let me go home,” Suon says.

He returned home with only 1,100 baht ($34 USD).

Now, Suon reflects on his beautiful life with his wife and seven children. “I am happy to be at home working on a plot of land. What I enjoy the most is spending time with my children. I can take a rest as much as I want,” Suon says. World Vision provided the family with a water pump motor to increase their harvest and discusses with other men the dangers of trafficking.

You can help by signing up with World Vision child sponsorship programme where people like Phyu, Pannha and Suon has a second chance in life to live a full life. Click here to Sponsor A Child today!

Perseverance Is Her Story

By Michael Czobit

Yui near her home in Jatujak.

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 was featured on worldvision.ca

Jhumri Biswal is a beauty with a vision for the disabled

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

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).

Jhumri at her typewriter.

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 classmates 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.

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 disabilities at the state and national level, where they came up with recommendations which were then sent to various political leaders. Jhumri is one of 2,300 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 disabilities 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 a 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!

A Father’s Love

by Ramon Lucas Jimenez, Field Communications Specialist, World Vision Philippines

How do we measure a father’s love? Is it the amount of food he sets on the table for his family? Is it the beautiful and expensive material things he gives to his children? Or is it the attention he gives to his family and the quality time he spends with his children?

For Mark, an eight-year-old boy from a rural community in the southern part of Cebu, Philippines, a father’s love can be measured by the simple things his father does for him and his older brother to make them feel loved and special.

Despite being raised in a simple home, Mark has no problem being happy and cheerful every day, because his father is always there to provide him with his basic needs.

Aside from being supported by World Vision’s child sponsorship programme, the genuine love of their father helps Mark and his older brother live a life that is full.

Each day, his father wakes him and his brother up and lets them prepare for school. While they take a bath in a makeshift bathroom in their backyard, his father prepares food for their breakfast and for their packed lunches.

Mark enjoys breakfast time because they eat together and his father always prepares his favourite meal, fried eggplant.

After breakfast, his father often walks with him to school, which is just a stone’s throw away from their house. His father sometimes waits for Mark outside his school if he is not busy attending to his small vegetable and fish farm. He also helps his sons with their assignments at night before he tucks them into bed.

Single father

Chris, Mark’s father, has never left their village since he was born there. He is a farmer, a trade he learned from his father. He grows root crops, fruit trees and farm animals as a means of earning income.

Chris’ wife left their family. For years, Chris has singlehandedly raised his two sons with a father’s sustaining providence and a mother’s loving care.

It is also in their small village where he met a woman who eventually became his wife and the mother of his two sons. They were a complete and happy family then.

After more than 10 years of being married, Chris’s livelihood was not flourishing. Being a man who hadn’t set foot in college, his capability for supporting his family is limited to the meagre income he earns after he sells his harvests.

Hardships continued to follow, which made Chris’s wife leave for a decent-paying job in a distant city. After years of working away from her family, she never came back.

“She found another one,” shares Chris. “I wasn’t mad at her. All I thought about after I heard the news was the welfare of my children, now that they didn’t have a mother.”

Chris promised himself that he would double his efforts to provide for the needs of his two sons.

Being a loving father, Chris also makes sure that the motherly needs of his sons are attended to. He talks to them and guides them if they have problems in school; he also cooks for them and makes sure that they are nourished.

“I still want my children to feel a mother’s love. That is why I try my best to provide it to them. Sometimes when I am busy, I send them to their grandmother,” adds Chris.

World Vision helps Chris

Chris was thankful when he found out that his eldest son’s education would be sponsored by World Vision. His son is provided with school materials and timely gifts. Chris also shares the gifts with his youngest son, Mark.

“World Vision is a big help to our family, especially in my kids’ education,” says Chris.

Loving father

Indeed, Mark and his older brother are blessed to have a loving and caring father. They still visit their mother, who has already settled with a new family. But for them, their papa Chris is enough for them as their father and mother.

“Love nako si Papa kay palangga ko niya (I love my father because he takes care of me),” says Mark while sitting beside his father.

Planting a brighter future

By Xuan Thiem Le, World Vision Communications Officer, Vietnam

D410-0174-09-cropAting Ai with his cousins and a birthday greeting card he received from his Australian sponsor.

As a recent graduate of Quang Nam Forestry College in central Vietnam, Ating Ai, 22, speaks with passion about protecting woodlands and the natural environment.

His enthusiasm is not just a reflection of his academic studies. It arises out of painful firsthand experience of slash-and-burn farming techniques that kept his family desperately poor.

As a child, Ai camped out with his family on their plots of land in the hills around their home in the Dong Giang district of Quang Nam province.

“They cut trees in deep forests and burned them to plant more upland rice,” he recalls. “Unintentionally, they destroyed their forests and caused soil erosion.”

The primitive farming methods led to ever dwindling harvests. Although Ai’s father could sometimes supplement the family’s diet by trapping wild animals, they went hungry for three or four months every year.

To make matters worse, the desperate quest for food persuaded Ai’s parents to set their children working in the fields rather than sending them to school.

None of Ai’s three elder sisters completed more than two years of elementary education. For a long time it looked as though Ai might never enter a classroom at all.

Seed of Hope

The establishment of a World Vision development program brought dramatic changes for Ai, his family, and their community.

Ai was among the first children in his village to become a World Vision sponsored child.

One of the immediate benefits was Ai began receiving support to attend school at the ripe age of 9.

“I would have [remained] illiterate if my parents were not encouraged by teachers to send me to school when World Vision came to my village,” he says. “I still remember how joyful I was when I first came to my first class — although most of my classmates were several years younger than I.”

One of Ai’s most vivid childhood memories is running home to show his parents his certificate of merit after a stellar performance in his first year in school.

Further encouragement came from Ai’s Australian sponsor.

Ai still keeps and treasures the first letter he received from her. It was a card for his birthday — something that had never been celebrated before. The card was the first piece of correspondence Ai had received in his life.

“I still remember the strange joy when, for the first time in my life, I held in my hands such a beautiful greeting card,” he says.

Things began changing for Ai’s mom and dad, too. The World Vision development program taught local farmers improved agricultural techniques and animal husbandry.

As their agricultural yields grew and their fortunes improved, the family began raising cows and growing acacia trees to supply wood chips for the papermaking industry.

World Vision also supported villagers to set up a traditional community house is used for community meetings, harvest festival celebrations, and a place for children to play.

Ai helped carve and color designs on the building’s wooden beams.

“My favourite subject at school was arts. It helped me a lot to give a helping handing hand in decorating the house,” he says.

Future Growth

Ai’s mother died of liver cancer when he was 14; three years later Ai’s father succumbed to the same disease.

But by then Ai had sufficient resources to finish school and go on to higher education. As a college graduate, he hopes to secure a position as a forest ranger, preferably serving the community where he grew up.

Ai’s life experiences have given him a profound respect for those who reach out to help others.

As a youngster he wanted to become a soldier because he often saw them abandon their guard duties to help with the rice harvest or repair villagers’ homes.

“I still keep those caring images in my heart,” he says.

Today, he hopes many more children like him will find sponsors.

“I learned from my parents’ farm that plants grow strong from fertile soil,” he says. “I experienced through my life that my sponsor’s love and care fertilized my hope to shoot up to a brighter future.”

This story was featured in World Vision Magazine.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

by Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia

My little bit is making a difference somewhere in the world; that’s what I’m conscious of everyday,” said child sponsor, Joyce Lai who is CEO of Educ8 Group Sdn Bhd as well as a merchandising company. Joyce currently sponsors two children through World Vision Malaysia.

Her first sponsored child was Shalini (age 14) from Kangayam, India, whom she sponsored from 2008 until early 2014 when World Vision successfully phased out of the area as the community is now self-sustainable.

“When I first decided to become a child sponsor in 2008, it was because I wanted to help children and was looking for ways to do so.”

A few months after becoming Shalini’s sponsor, Joyce went on a Sponsors’ Visit to Kangayam, where she saw firsthand how her contributions were being utilised to help Shalini and her community.

Joyce surrounded by children during her visit to Kangayam, India

Joyce surrounded by children during her visit to Kangayam, India

“The entire visit was overwhelming and emotional for me, mainly because I was really quite amazed at how my contribution was making such a big difference.

“If you look at the value of money today, RM65 is not much. What I like about World Vision’s model is that it’s all about sustainability: developing skills and investing in permanent solutions.

“It’s not about handouts or about giving for eternity; it’s about pulling them up to their feet and then giving them a little boost so they can carry on themselves,” she said.

During the visit, Joyce was also deeply affected by the work of World Vision’s field officers.

“I felt like my heart was expanding like a big balloon and would burst.

“They sacrifice and give up so much of their own lives, living with the communities to gain the trust so necessary to transformation; their faith must be very strong,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

When Joyce returned home, she began corresponding with Shalini, who wrote back with tales of everyday life in school and at home. Once, Shalini sent her an entire scrapbook describing her family, community and interests.

In return, Joyce sent storyboards filled with images and short descriptions, introducing Shalini to her family and friends, her work and her travels. She would also send practical gifts.

Looking back on the six years in which she was able to journey with Shalini, Joyce hopes her letters and personal stories have inspired the teenager to hold on to hope.

“I believe we as child sponsors can be the ‘satellite’ that opens up their world to the possibilities beyond their circumstances. We plant hope and dreams in them so they can be inspired to do well in life,” she said.

Joyce finds it rewarding and liberating that Kangayam and the people there are now able to stand on their own feet and believes that their lives will continue to improve from there.

What was the best thing about being a child sponsor?, Joyce replied, “It is learning how every little bit counts in the path to sustainable change.

“Many of us tend to say, ‘Ah, someone else can do it lah.’ But when you’re conscious of what’s going on, you’d take the five minutes or spare what you can to be more caring and giving

“It’s my little bit that is making a difference somewhere in this world; that’s what I’m conscious of everyday,” she said.

Joyce beams as she proudly holds up the scrapbook her sponsored child, Shalini made for her.

Joyce beams as she proudly holds up the scrapbook her sponsored child, Shalini made for her.

Indeed, every bit counts. When you sponsor a child, at least six more children in the community benefit. To find out more about child sponsorship, please call +603 7880 6414 or email admin@worldvision.com.my.

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Hands up!

by Michelle Chun
World Vision Malaysia

This week (May 1-8) is World Vision’s Global Week of Action – millions of people raising their hands to help children live to see their 5th birthday. While many of us remember our fifth birthdays as a colourful blur of cake, presents and balloons, more than six million children all over the world will simply not live long enough to celebrate five birthdays.

Although the number of children dying under the age of five has decreased by nearly 42% and maternal mortality by 47% over the past two decades, many countries will still not meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for improving child and maternal health by 2015.

Child Health Now is World Vision’s five-year advocacy campaign that spans 50 countries and is seeking to end child and maternal deaths. We need to mobilise governments, donors, supporters and organisations toward accelerating the progress made and reducing the number of children and mothers who lose their lives each year.

As Malaysians, let’s stand up this week and raise our hands in support of ending the more than six million deaths of children under five each year. Take a photo, (hands up please) and post it on our Facebook page so children can #survive5!

 Pledge for #survive5 in five easy steps!

1. Whip out your camera or phone

2. Get your family and friends together, explain the Global Week of Action and why we need to remind leaders that all children should ‘Survive 5’.

3. Take a picture of the group members with their hands in the air. Even a photo of one or two persons work!

4. Hashtag #survive5 for your pictures.

5. Upload your photo to: http://bit.ly/GWAsurvive5, where you’ll join thousands of people around the globe campaigning for change. Share your photo via your Social Media channels and inspire as many as possible!

We want every child to #survive5!