By Thet Kaung Myat Oo, Communication Associate, World Vision Myanmar
Aung, 8, is in grade 3, and lives with his parents and siblings in a village situated along the bank of a river in Myeik Township, Tanintharyi Division, Myanmar.
Most of the families in Aung’s village rely on odd jobs and struggle for their daily living, and Aung’s parents are no different, working to feed their five children in paddy fields and rubber plantations, or sometimes doing traditional river fishing.
“I would rather go find work to earn money for my family or stay at home, rather than attend those kind of discussions,” replied Daw Yu Htay, Aung’s mother, when asked by volunteers and her neighbours to attend health awareness sessions.
Daw Yu Htay works odd jobs in her village, earning about 3000 kyats (around $3 US) each day.
“Although I was invited to attend malaria behaviour change discussions often, I never attended because I thought they were not important,” she said. “Sometimes we slept with an insecticide net, but sometimes we did not. I did not believe the transmission was from mosquito bites.”
One day, Aung got a fever.
“I gave him some medicines which I bought from the local shop that I use to treat my children when they are sick,” Daw Yu Htay said.
“My neighbours asked me to take my son for a malaria blood test, but I just ignored them,” Daw Yu Htay recalls.
Three days later, her son’s fever became even worse. “I could not swallow food and felt pain in my head and stomach,” recalls Aung.
Daw Yu Htay finally accepted the help of a World Vision volunteer. Aung’s blood test came back positive; he was seriously ill with Plasmodium Vivax (PV) malaria. PV is one of the five species of malaria parasites that commonly infect humans.
Despite the health volunteer’s urging, Daw Yu Htay didn’t want to take Aung to the rural health centre, because she had no money. However, the volunteers encouraged her to take him, and accompanied them.
From there, Aung was promptly sent to the hospital, where he received the necessary treatment. He recovered quickly, and is back at school enjoying his lessons.
World Vision paid for Aung’s medical fees and transportation charges.
“My son survived because World Vision helped us. I would regret it my whole life if my son had died from malaria. I neglected my children due to lack of knowledge, but now I have changed,” says Daw Yu Htay.
“We sleep with long lasting insecticide net every night. I keep my children from being bitten by mosquitoes,” she declared.
Now, Daw Yu Htay not only actively participates in awareness raising sessions but also encourages her neighbours to sleep with insecticide treated bed nets.
By Achel Bayisenge, Communications, World Vision Burundi
43-year-old Josephine is happy to be equipped with tools and drugs that help her fight against malaria
In the courtyard of a modest house in the rural areas of Burundi, Josephine, a Community Health Worker (CHW) is sitting next to a table with a metal box on it. The box contains a complete toolkit donated by World Vision to help fight against malaria. Josephine sometimes takes her box outside to make sure everything is in its place to avoid unpleasant surprises. Her box may run short of drugs and she would be unable to attend to the patients of her community. The living room of her modest house is a little dark and does not allow her to see everything clearly, especially when it comes to writing; she explains. She has to give a report to her nearby health facility so that needed drugs can be made available on time.
Josephine is a 43-year-old lady who lives on Ntunda hill in Ntunda ADP, northeast of Burundi. She is committed to fighting against malaria in her community.
‘’No child has died so far because of malaria on my hill, since we started treating children from home,’’ Josephine explains joyfully.
According to the WHO, more than 6 million people, including 2 million children, in Burundi suffered malaria from January to August 2016 alone.
More than 2500 of the affected people have already died.
Since World Vision became aware of the outbreak, the organisation scaled up its integrated community case management approach, focusing mainly on malaria management. This approach consists of treating the 3 main killers of under-five children in Burundi, namely malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Josephine is proud of being able to diagnosis and treat malaria that affects children in her community.
“We had a similar outbreak of the disease 15 years ago and many people perished, especially children,” she still remembers.
Asked if she had taken courses in medication before the World Vision project, her answer is no; World Vision trained and equipped 108 community health workers, including herself, throughout the whole commune of Gitaramuka to help them stop the Burundi malaria trend.
Josephine is always ready to help out whenever a malaria case arises on her hill, she explains. The donated metal box holds a complete toolkit including drugs, gloves, needles, solar torch, para checks, report forms, and many items enabling her to serve better, she continues.
Josephine and her bicycle.
On top of the toolkit, World Vision supported her with a bicycle. A bicycle helps her move around in the community to follow up on the health status of children she has treated. If their status does not improve, she refers them to a health facility, she says. A bicycle is also used to transport children if she finds that there is a need for the sick child to reach health facilities quickly. She appreciates World Vision’s support with all this. What caused many deaths in the past was the long time mothers had to travel to reach nearby health facilities. For many of them, this involved walking for hours and hours while the child’s health status worsened.
During the current malaria outbreak, community health workers are receiving more children than ever before. Sometimes their metal boxes run short of drugs because of the many children in need.
Josephine is asking for more support from the Government and Donors to help ensure that other communities do not experience what happened in the past when community health workers had not started working.
By Xuan Thiem Le, World Vision Communications Officer, Vietnam
Ating 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.
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.”
By Alison Schafer
Senior Programme Advisor
Mental Health & Psychosocial Support
World Vision International
The Syria conflict has been raging for over six years. In times of war, children are among the most vulnerable groups. Even though most will survive the conflict physically, the immediate and long-term well-being of children remains a serious concern for humanitarian organisations, like World Vision.
Conflict situations commonly expose children to extremely stressful and terrifying events. World Vision has heard from children who have escaped Syria, speak about both witnessing and being victims of violence; losing parents and loved ones; and being displaced.
Children also tell us about the daily challenges they face living with those who love them, who are themselves dealing with personal experiences of war and displacement and unable to be as supportive or loving as they once were. These ongoing stresses can have strong and lasting effects on children’s socio-emotional well-being and their growing brains.
And a vast number of children have been impacted by this crisis: more than four million children in need in Syria, and more than one million child refugees now living in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.
Research suggests that the physical consequences of conflict on a child’s brain development can have adverse and marked consequences – with the potential for permanent changes to the brain’s architecture. Without adequate intervention and the presence of protective and caring relationships, Syria’s war could have a lasting impact on children’s learning abilities, memory, social interactions, stress and fear responses, and the ability to control emotions. The experiences of Syria’s war-affected children could lead to a generation of children experiencing long-term mental health, social and economic problems.
“My grandchildren have never had a beautiful day in their lives,” says the grandmother of Fatima, 4. “The older girls barely talk, and when other children cry, they curl up with their hands to their ears and rock.” Photo by Jon Warren
Click here for more information on how to help these children cope with stress.
It is a common misconception that young children do not understand stressful or violent events and so are not as affected as adults. But their young minds process much more than is often credited. World Vision has often observed this in children affected by crises: their developmental milestones can be delayed, their capacity for higher education attainment is jeopordised and their behaviour, emotional attachments and social environments are also impacted. Most often, crises induce severe and chronic stress among children.
Research shows that “toxic stress” – when the stress response system is activated over a prolonged period without the buffering presence of protective and caring relationships – leads to elevated levels of the cortisol stress hormones in the brain. This impacts the brain’s hippocampus and leads to children having learning difficulties, problems with short-term memory and difficulty controlling emotions.
Humanitarian organisations often see children exhibiting limited concentration, behavioural and emotional self-control in the remedial, recreation or education programmes they provide for children and adolescents.
During early childhood, the neural circuits of a child’s brain for responding to stress are particularly vulnerable to prolonged and elevated cortisol levels. This can have permanent effects on a person’s ability to regulate stress and fear responses later in life and means they are more likely to develop anxiety, depression and a range of other mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. The long-term impacts aren’t limited to the brain. Research also shows a strong correlation between exposure to adverse childhood experiences and higher rates of heart, liver and lung disease in adulthood.
This evidence highlights the need for humanitarian agencies to go beyond delivering food, water and shelter and ensuring a child’s physical safety. Displaced children living in refugee camps, or in isolation from host communities, commonly face boredom, social exclusion and lack of stimulating activities or opportunities for play. On the surface, this may seem a minor concern. However, a lack of adequate stimulation can also be linked to significant neurological shifts in the developing brain.
In childhood, only the neurons and neural pathways that get used are strengthened in the brain, whereas those that are not used die out. The brain is like a muscle. It requires frequent repetitive use and stimulation – through environmental cues, relationships with family, social engagement and education. Neglect and under-stimulation of children affected by conflict can lead to severe impairments in the cognitive, physical and psychosocial development of the child, creating a lasting legacy of war.
This can lead to emotional, cognitive, and behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression, emotional and interpersonal difficulties, and significant learning difficulties.
World Vision prioritises setting up Child Friendly Spaces – safe places where children can play, learn, make friends, develop routines and be monitored for behavioural and emotional issues. The spaces are up and running in Lebanon and are hosting Syrian children.
Our research on Child Friendly Spaces for refugee children living in Ethiopia and Uganda found children participating in such programmes showed more sustained and consistent mental, social and emotional well-being than those refugee children who did not have such opportunities. The research highlights the importance of these spaces in minimizing long-term damage for children.
Children will then only have to deal with tolerable levels of stress – levels that don’t lead to lasting effects on the developing brain.
World Vision is responding to the Syria crisis. In addition to water, health and cash programmes, World Vision aims to scale up its children’s programming. In Lebanon and Jordan we are working to establish or delivering: child and adolescent friendly spaces for recreation and psychosocial support, remedial education initiatives, and maternal and child health programmes that can promote children’s support with their caregivers.
It takes a world to end violence against children! Click here to learn more about the fears and dreams of the Syrian children.
April 7 marks World Health Day. This year, the focus issue is depression, an illness characterised by persistent sadness which affects a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks or maintain healthy relationships. Many depressed people suffer feelings like worthlessness and guilt. In the most severe cases, depression can lead to self-harm and suicide.
Worst of all, depression can happen to anyone, including children.
Emergency situations can be a major source of mental health issues. The WHO estimates that 1 in 5 people are affected by depression and anxiety during humanitarian emergencies and ongoing conflicts. For children, the trauma of being displaced and witnessing terrible things can leave scars that last into adulthood.
Whenever World Vision responds to an emergency, we are ready with food, water and other essentials. But we also recognise that fulfilling a child’s physical needs isn’t the end all be all; it is not enough for a child to be well-fed if they are suffering mentally and emotionally.
That is why we are always ready to give these children a place to heal.
Escaping the trauma of war
A World Vision staff member chats with a boy who was displaced by conflict near Mosul, Iraq.
During the recent military operations in Mosul, Iraq, many fleeing children arrived at relief camps petrified, struggling to express themselves, and in some cases too terrified to speak. Years of brutal occupation and terrible violence had taken a toll on their mental health.
“Many children have been stuck in their homes while bombings, sniper fire, or chaos ruled around them. Others have witnessed the death of family members,” said Aaron Moore, World Vision’s programs manager in northern Iraq. “Our Child-Friendly Spaces provide a safe place for children to come to terms with the violence they’ve seen and just take time to play as children again,”
One little boy had seen his 15-year-old brother killed when they fled. When he came under World Vision’s care, he was too terrified to even speak.
“Thankfully, with the support of a trained World Vision psychologist, he was able to say his name by the end of the day. However, this is just the beginning of what could be years of specialist support, as children begin to rebuild their lives and regain a sense of normality.”
Many children don’t want to play when they first come to the camps. “However, after a few days at the Child-Friendly Space with our staff, they’re slowly beginning to regain confidence and a sense of hope for the future,” says Aaron.
One important coping mechanism for traumatised children is art.
Faras, 11, remembers happier days in Syria. Now the happiest thing in his life is coming to the Child-Friendly Space, so he draws the bus he rides.
At a Child-Friendly Space in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, Syrian refugee children use art to express a wide range of feelings. When Faras, 11, draws a picture of his past in Syria, he sketches an idyllic landscape with a smiling sun, a rushing river, and a green field where he and his brother once looked after sheep. Habib, 9, uses a black crayon to outline a helicopter dropping bombs.
That’s appropriate, says Bassima, the supervisor, who is also a Syrian refugee. “We have a past that is both beautiful and ugly.”
Habib, 9, recalls a helicopter dropping bombs near his home. “The house is okay. The bombs exploded the neighbours’ house. I saw it; many were killed,”
Animators, the adults who lead activities for different age groups of refugee children, don’t ask them about their painful experiences and losses.
“We provide a peaceful place for them to feel their freedom. It’s a safe place for them to experience feelings and memories,” says Bassima.
Even as they help children come to terms with the past, the staff members attending to the children are also concerned for their present and future. Huda, an animator, says “Every day there is something sad [the children hear] about relatives in Syria. They need support not to be overwhelmed by sadness.”
Ahmad, a classroom animator for a group of 10- to 12-year-olds, echoes this sentiment as he pantomimes raising an umbrella in a circle of 12 boys and girls. As they mimic his motions, he calls the Child-Friendly Space an “umbrella of comfort and safety over your head.” Indeed, this ‘umbrella’ may be the only thing stopping these children from being washed away by a flood of fear, anxiety and depression.
As for what lies ahead, “The future is very important to us, the future for these children,” says Huda. “If we create this peaceful place for them, we’ve done what we can do.” Indeed, for children of conflict, a little peace may be all they need.
If you would like to support Child-Friendly Spaces (and physical relief) for children in humanitarian emergencies, please make a contribution to our Emergency Relief Fund
The stories and pictures in this post were adapted from articles featured on the World Vision US website.
Following the death of both her parents, Preaw found comfort in an unlikely source — a bow and arrow.
Preaw’s father died when she was 8; her mother passed away soon after. By then, Preaw was a World Vision sponsored child in her community in Thailand.
Preaw and her younger sister went to live with their uncle. When she was in sixth grade, a cousin introduced her to the sport of archery.
“Archery requires concentration and accuracy,” says Preaw, now 21. “I like archery because it helps me in my concentration.”
The thrill of hitting a target dead on became Preaw’s mission. As she continued her education, she practiced consistently in her extra time.
Preaw started to win local competitions and was selected to attend regional events. As she continued to excel, she traveled internationally, and her Canadian sponsor helped pay for contest entry fees.
In 2007, Preaw represented Thailand in the 24th Southeast Asian Games, where she won a bronze medal in recurve archery at a shooting distance of 70 meters. Next came the World Archery and Para Archery Championships in 2011 — and she’s not done yet.
“I’m not skillful yet. I still have much training to do,” says Preaw.
Her commitment to her sport is equaled to her commitment to her education. She loves to study and is not willing to miss school even for one day. Now a third-year student at Rattanabundit University in Bangkok, Praew is majoring in science and technology.
When there are no classes, she teaches archery to children interested in her sport, earning money for personal expenses and to contribute to her younger sister’s plans to attend nursing school.
“World Vision has given me love and support all along, advice in my studies and for my family,” Preaw says. “I really can’t imagine what my life would be like without [her sponsor] and World Vision.”
Violence can be hidden under the intention to educate or correct, but there are other more effective ways to raise children with love.
Raising children with tenderness asserts his dignity and strengthens emotional ties. Tenderness encourages dialogue and shows the comprehensive care we have for the needs of children, accompanying their growth.
1. Tenderness sets unconditional love relationships, communication, affection and respect
Children’s feelings must be treated with respect. Girls and boys with positive relationships will grow with enough confidence to become assertive adults who exercise their citizenship with ethical principles.
2. Tenderness guides children’s growth with empathy and understanding
Earn their trust so they share their dreams, joys and achievements, but also their fears, sorrows and insecurities. Children need limits and firmness; but they also need to feel heard and understood. With love and understanding they make good decisions.
3. Hug and kiss each day
The touch strengthens affection, relationships and promotes positive behaviors. Show your love by hugging and telling them that you love them.
My sponsor always tells me in her letters, to work hard at school. I am trying because I want to be a nurse in future. Najat has never met her sponsor but she knows how she looks like. She is one of the children in the Ashanti Area Development Program sponsorship program who often receives greeting cards, photographs, colored pencils, writing pad and photographs, among others, from her sponsor.
Sponsorship is about more than just giving money to help people in need — it’s about letting children know they are loved.
Taking time to write letters or send small gifts and cards can create a meaningful relationship with your sponsored child. Many sponsors find that investing in this relationship is more than a blessing for their sponsored child — it also changes their own life.
Read on to learn how you can create a lasting relationship with your sponsored child.
1. Write a letter.
Letter-writing (do check out the guidelines on page 2) might feel intimidating at first, but your letter doesn’t have to be perfect to be encouraging to your sponsored child. He or she is curious to know about who you are and what your life is like!
Introduce yourself and your family members. Share your age, hobbies, sports you watch or play, and other activities you are involved in. Who do you consider to be a part of your family? Share about their ages and interests to help paint a picture of daily life for your sponsored child. It’s important to focus not on possessions — your sponsored child might not have many of those — but rather on relationships and activities.
Taking the time to write your sponsored child conveys the message that he or she is valuable and loved by you.
2. Send photos.
Photos of you and your family will be treasured by your sponsored child, and they’ll help him or her feel more connected to your life.
Like letter-writing, it’s important to focus on people, not possessions. Remember how connected you felt to your sponsored child when you saw his or her picture? Sending photos of your own will help your sponsored child feel similarly connected to you.
3. Send a small gift.
Many families don’t have money for anything extra, so small gifts (do check out the guidelines on page 2) can mean a lot. Your gift will need to fit in an A4 sized envelope. Stickers, hand towels, socks, coloring books, colored pencils (with a sharpener!) are a great place to start.
If you have children or grandchildren, you can also send their drawings or photos.
4. Write an email.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time to create a meaningful connection. You can now email your sponsored child. Your child will respond via regular mail, so it may take several months to receive a letter back.
Here are some step-by-step tips on emailing your child.
5. Send a card.
After you sponsor a child, World Vision will send you colorful card template to send to your sponsored child. It is one of the easiest ways to make a connection with the child — simply fill out the card and email ([email protected]) it back us.
The card will be sent to the World Vision office in your child’s country and translated into his or her language. Children receive these cards around birthdays and holidays. Greeting cards can brighten your child’s day, and your card will be treasured for months to come.
Know that the letters, photos, and packages you send will bring joy to your sponsored child and help foster a deeper connection.
If you have written a letter or email to your sponsored child, it might take some time to receive a reply. World Vision staff members are hard at work processing, translating, and delivering your messages. Please don’t let that discourage you from reaching out to your sponsored child. Doing so will be a blessing and encouragement — for your sponsored child, and for you!
The Syria civil war, now in its sixth year, is “a slaughterhouse, a complete meltdown of humanity, the apex of horror,” U.N. emergency relief coordinator Stephen O’Brien told the U.N. Security Council Jan. 26. The war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced more than 11 million from their homes. In many cases, children caught up in this crisis have fared the worst, losing parents or friends to the violence, suffering physical and psychological trauma, or falling years behind in school.
Here is a little bit about the conflict, its effect on families, and how World Vision is helping them.
Syrian refugee crisis explained: Fast facts
– 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance due to a violent civil war that began in 2011.
– 4.9 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.1 million are displaced within Syria; half of those affected are children.
– Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school. View these photos to see life through
the eyes of Syrian refugee children.
– Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; slightly more than 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe.
– Peace negotiations continue despite a fraying and piecemeal ceasefire.
Children under siege in Aleppo
“The children of Syria have experienced more hardship, devastation, and violence than any child should have to in a thousand lifetimes,” says Dr. Christine Latif, World Vision’s response manager for Turkey and northern Syria.
World Vision staff say the situation in Aleppo city is the most dire they have ever seen it. Health supplies and clean water are urgently needed. Aid hasn’t reached the city since mid-July.
“Civilians have been continually in harm’s way, caught in the cross-fire and changing front lines. Civilian infrastructure has been targeted, leading to mass civilian casualties, including women and children,” says Angela Huddleston, program manager for the World Vision’s Syria response.
World Vision is helping about 100,000 people fleeing recent violence in Aleppo with:
– Clean water and sanitation services
– Primary and mobile health clinic support
– Women and young child centers
– Support for a women and children’s hospital with equipment and supplies
Help children and families fleeing violence in Syria. Donate Now
Why are Syrians leaving their homes?
– Violence: Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, as many as 386,000 people have been killed, including nearly 14,000 children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war has become more deadly since foreign powers joined the conflict.
– Collapsed infrastructure: Within Syria, 95 percent of people lack adequate healthcare, 70 percent lack regular access to clean water. Half the children are out of school. The economy is shattered and four-fifths of the population lives in poverty.
– Children in danger and distress: Syrian children — the nation’s hope for a better future — have lost loved ones, suffered injuries, missed years of schooling, and witnessed unspeakable violence and brutality. Warring parties forcibly recruit children to serve as fighters, human shields, and in support roles, according to the U.S. State Department.
Most refugees from Syria are still in the region. They’ve fled violence and sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt. Around 10% are taking the dangerous journey to Europe.
How does the war in Syria affect children?
Read about how the war is affecting Syria’s children in a special report from World Vision magazine, “Syria Crisis and the Scars of War.”
– Children are susceptible to malnutrition and diseases brought on by poor sanitation, including diarrheal diseases like cholera. Cold weather increases the risk of pneumonia and
other respiratory infections.
– Many refugee children have to work to support their families. Often they labor in dangerous or demeaning circumstances for little pay.
– Children are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation in unfamiliar and overcrowded conditions. Without adequate income to support their families and fearful of their
daughters being molested, parents — especially single mothers — may opt to arrange marriage for girls, some as young as 13.
– Between 2 million and 3 million Syrian children are not attending school. The U.N. children’s agency says the war reversed 10 years of progress in education for Syrian children.
What are the refugees’ greatest needs?
– Syrians fleeing conflict need all the basics to sustain their lives: food, clothing, health assistance, shelter, and household and hygiene items.
– They need reliable supplies of clean water, as well as sanitation facilities.
– Children need a safe environment and a chance to play and go to school.
– Adults need employment options in case of long-term displacement.
– Prayer: Learn how you can pray for Syrian refugees. Join with others as we pray for refugees.
– Compassion: Read this article in Christianity Today by World Vision President Rich Stearns about treating refugees with the compassion of Christ.
How is World Vision helping refugees and others affected by the Syrian refugee crisis?
Since the Syria crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped more than 2 million people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Learn more about how World Vision responds to emergencies with short-term relief and long-term recovery.
– Syria: Food aid, health assistance, hygiene support, baby care kits, water and sanitation, shelter repair kits, and winterization supplies.
– Iraq: Food aid, health services, water and sanitation, baby kits, stoves and other winter supplies; for children: education and recreation, programming for life skills, peace building, and resilience.
– Jordan and Lebanon: Personal and household supplies, clean water and sanitation, education and recreation, Child-Friendly Spaces and child protection training for adults, winter kits, and psychosocial support for children.
Reporting from Brian Jonson and Patricia Mouamar, World Vision communications staff in Lebanon and Jordan, and Chris Huber, Kathryn Reid, and Denise C. Koenig from World Vision U.S.
Newly married, Saviour Dene had a big problem. Her new husband would not accept her daughter from a previous relationship as his child.
He told Saviour that he’d married her, but not her daughter.
Saviour did not know what to do so she talked to World Vision community development worker, Seth Siamugande.
“If I had power, I would swallow my daughter so she is no longer there,” Saviour told Seth. “It’s a big burden.”
Seth knew exactly what to do. He took the little girl, Modester, under his wing. That was 2007. Today Modester is 18 and still Seth’s favorite.
“She is one of the children that I have on my heart,” he says. “That child has gone through tough moments.”
I am their mother
Children living in rural areas in southern Zambia face a thorny path. Education isn’t a given. Nor is food. Being an orphan limits access to these even more.
Modester considers herself a single orphan — meaning she has one living parent —though Seth says she rarely sees her mother anymore. Now Modester lives with her 80-year-old grandmother, Noria.
In addition to being rejected by her family, Modester faced hunger. Sometimes she ate only one meal a day. She envied neighbors who had three meals. Sometimes when they had nothing, Modester would go into the bush to find wild okra, which fills up empty bellies, but doesn’t offer much nutritional value.
Grandmother Noria is raising Modester’s cousin, Evelyn, along with two mentally and physically disabled grandchildren—Sydney and Junior. It’s too much for such an elderly woman so Modester has assumed a lot of the parenting responsibilities for her younger cousins. A girl who grew up practically motherless now has three charges of her own.
“I am their mother,” she says, now that Noria has left to care for a sick relative leaving the younger children in Modester’s care.
Modester and Evelyn holding a baby goat.
“She helps us with the preparation of our food. Also she draws water for us,” says 9-year-old Evelyn. Modester spends time helping Evelyn with her homework.
Modester says, “I encourage her to go to school and study. Sometimes I get a piece of paper and we do a bit of solving mathematics.”
Evelyn wants to be a teacher. She looks up to her cousin. She appreciates the hard work the teen does for herself and her cousins, but she also admires Modester’s education.
It’s an education made possible partially by the gift of a goat.
Goats: A gift that lasts
What a difference a single goat makes. It’s offered her a path forward toward higher education. “Without the goats, I might have been married,” she says.
In the Sinazongwe Area Development Program, World Vision offered a gift of a goat to orphans or especially vulnerable children. Modester qualified and when she was in the second grade, she received that gift. It didn’t take long for that single goat to reproduce. Her herd expanded to 12 goats.
As the goats multiplied, so did Modester’s hopes.
“Goats gave me hope because I started to dream of who I wanted to be and I have seen that dream come to pass,” says Modester. Her dreams include being a nurse because she likes helping others.
Modester sold a few goats at a time, always being careful to keep a couple of the animals in reserve for emergencies. Some went to pay people to work in their fields so the family had enough food to eat. Some went toward clothing for the children in the family. Some paid for her education needs.
Goats are part of the equation and child sponsorship is another. Modester appreciates how supportive the staff has been, especially Seth. They’ve provided for both the family’s physical needs as well as her education. Seth is always there with advice about things like school and boys and sometimes even a little pocket money,
“World Vision staff kept encouraging me to work hard in school and to remain focused,” she says.
And focus she did. Modester just completed university-level exams. The results were astounding. Modester, a girl whose family threw her away, is one of the top students in all of Zambia. That’s very unusual for a youth from a small, rural community.
Faith strengthened by World Vision
The staff also nurtures the spiritual growth of all the children in the project. Seth started a Good News Club and Bible study for the sponsored children when he came to Sinazongwe ADP. Through Seth, Modester learned more about God’s love for her and her faith grew.
She now has a father who will never abandon her.
She always goes to God with her needs. She knows that He answers prayers because: “Whenever I prayed asking God for something, it happened and among those whom God used to respond to my needs is World Vision and the staff.”
Her faith and prayers are being put to the test as she prepares for university. These school costs are too great even with the assistance of the goats. So she hopes for either a scholarship or someone to help pay for the university fees.
A university degree will bring her closer to her dream — one that goes beyond becoming a nurse.
“I think when I have enough money I [will] think of helping orphans,” says Modester. “That’s important because I’ve felt what being an orphan is. It’s very hard.”
But things that are difficult won’t stop this determined young lady — not with Seth, a herd of goats, and the love of a faithful Father leading her on.