Tag Archive: world vision

Indonesia earthquake and tsunami: An aid-worker’s diary of desperation and hope

Story by Annila Harris, Wahana Visi Indonesia |  Friday, 5 October 2018

Living in a disaster-prone country like Indonesia, I’m not a stranger to any scenes of grief but the devastation brought by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Palu was unbearable to fathom.

When the earthquake hit our place last September 28, people were panicking and running for safety. I heard voices shouting “tsunami” repeatedly – warning everyone to go to higher places. The surrounding was noisy and people seemed confused where to go.

After the quake, huge waves came rushing through the villages of Palu – wiping off everything. While these scenes were unfolding, I sat around my colleagues at a World Vision office in Palu – praying, crying, and feeling helpless in one place.

It was shocking to see how the earthquake and tsunami swept away everything – even houses and tall buildings with strong walls came crashing to the ground. We still don’t know the extent of the damage in some of the remote areas as many communication lines are down. There was limited supply of food and clean water. And we heard that people resorted to looting the stores, grabbing whatever they can for survival. Our place was in a total chaos. We saw a lot of children with items salvaged from the ruins of a family member’s house in the neighbourhood of Palu. Desperation was visible everywhere.

Thankfully, our office has a huge open space for families to stay temporarily. We immediately set up spaces for infant, children, and families who lost everything. Many of them were children under 5 including pregnant, lactating women. There were around 200 families sharing the space.

Despite our worries, Wahana Visi staff immediately provided the families and children with food even with limited supply. We cooked some local food with Moringa leaves to provide better nutrition especially to the children including pregnant and lactating mothers.

It was a relief that our staff from Jakarta arrived immediately in Palu and we set up our first Child-Friendly Spaces quickly. Many of the buildings were destroyed so we’re managing a huge tent so children will feel safe especially during aftershocks. Nevertheless, I’m relieved to see children smiling again and somehow their smiles ease my fatigue.

Seeing the devastation and the needs of my fellowmen in Palu, I feel I have a lot of things to do. I’ve been deployed here since I first joined Wahana Visi Indonesia and the people in Palu have a special place in my heart. I share my strength with my colleagues who are working almost 24/7 in order to provide the needs of the affected families.

Our team is conducting a joint distribution with the government and we witness how families and children are in dire need. However, in the coming days, we will be distributing blankets, family kits, and shelter kits to the affected families. Our response will focus on providing food, water, health, shelter and child protection assistance with an initial target of 80,000 individuals.

I heard today that the death toll has increased to more than 1,400 thousand with two million people being affected. The rescuers are trying their best to reach all affected areas and Wahana Visi Indonesia is trying our best to deliver aid quickly despite many challenges.

With all the loss, pain and devastation, we remain grateful for the government and other agencies that are trying their best to provide immediate aid in Palu. We’re also thankful for the international community for raising funds for support including local volunteers who are pitching in to help. I’m grateful that my fellowmen remain positive despite this painful experience. I know that in due time, together, we will rebuild Palu again.

If you would like to donate to the Sulawesi Earthquake and Tsunami appeal, kindly click here.

Return on investment

By Collins Kaumba
World Vision Zambia

Yule
Yule Mwewa with his wife, Mirriam, and their two children, Natasha and Emmanuel.

Yule Mwewa’s list of accomplishments could make any Ivy League graduate envious. Valedictorian. Successful entrepreneur and business owner. Certified accountant. Board member of a major nongovernmental organization.

But none of those would have been possible for the 33-yearold Zambian without another distinction: “All this is because I was once a sponsored child,” says Yule.

The spark of sponsorship
The sixth of eight children growing up in Kawimbe, a rural town in northern Zambia, Yule was one of the first children sponsored when World Vision started working in his village. The support was timely, as “survival was extremely hard,” says Yule. “[My parents] could not even afford to provide basic meals for us.”

His sponsor, Kay Mason from Arkansas, supported Yule through primary and secondary school with uniforms and school fees. Her sponsorship was the spark he needed to excel.

“World Vision’s sponsorship motivated me to work even harder,” says Yule — and his hard work produced results. Yule graduated from high school at the top of his class, ensuring automatic admittance to the University of Zambia.

But that didn’t mean he could afford tuition. Refusing to give up, he started a small business to earn money for college and instead enrolled in an accounting program at Chingola School of Accountancy in 2002.

Three years later, Yule’s parents desperately needed financial help to send his younger siblings to school. Armed with a new accounting degree, he headed to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city.

“By God’s grace, I got my first job with an audit firm,” he says. Soon he was able to help his family with school expenses. Two years later, Yule became the accountant for World Vision’s Mwinilunga area development project.

Sponsorship served as a catalyst for my career,” he says, “and with the experience I got as an auditor from my first job, I felt that I needed to serve at World Vision and contribute to its success.”

Family cornerstone
Today, Yule’s position as a finance and administration manager in the government’s science and technology ministry enables him to provide for his wife of nine years, Mirriam, and their two children, Emmanuel, 7, and Natasha, 3.

Yule’s other distinctions far outweigh his professional accomplishments. As a husband, father, brother, and son, he sees himself as the cornerstone for his family. He built new houses for his parents and family members, financed his siblings’ educations, and runs several small businesses that generate extra income to help others.

“God’s grace is so sufficient in my life. I believe that I am a channel of blessing to others. What I have received, freely I should give,” says Yule. “I have chosen to share what I have with others, just as my sponsor demonstrated to me through World Vision.”

Though he takes pride in what he has attained, Yule is quick to point to God’s goodness as the source of his accomplishments. And his sponsor, Kay, says she “is pleased that Yule gives most of the credit for his success to God and that he has been active for God throughout [his life].”

Heavily involved in his church’s ministries, Yule is a spiritual leader and serves on the church board. He’s even pursuing a theology degree, not to become a pastor but “to know God more.”

Helping future generations with World Vision
The final merit on a long list of accomplishments is Yule’s role as a board member for World Vision in Zambia.

Serving the organization that served him when he desperately needed help has given Yule a unique perspective on sponsorship.

“The impact is enormous,” he says. “World Vision’s sponsorship program touches children’s lives to the detail. The sponsor out there may not know to what extent, but when you look at the details, children’s lives are changing.”

Without World Vision or Kay, Yule acknowledges he wouldn’t have been able to reach his full potential.

“Sometimes when you give, you do not know to what extent your contribution is going to impact lives. Just imagine for my life if World Vision did not give me the springboard — what would have happened?”

Yule is thankful that he will never know.

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

“A chicken, so what!” — A skeptic converted

By Laura Reinhardt
World Vision US

Catherine Syasulwe heard that people attending World Vision’s livestock management training in Sinazongwe, Zambia, might receive animals through the Gift Catalogue, so she went to the meeting. But when the World Vision staff told all the trainees that they were getting chickens, she remembers thinking: “A chicken, so what! Can they do anything?”

Catherine continues to be surprised at how many ‘anythings’ just four Gift Catalogue chickens can produce.

A not-too-distant past of poverty
The year was 2006 and Catherine was just divorced from her husband. Pregnant with her son, Padrick and living with her parents Robert Syasulwe and Mary Phiri, the family struggled mightily.

They didn’t have enough food. They owned no animals, which meant they had no savings. Catherine didn’t know how she would provide for the baby on the way.

Then World Vision came with the offer for livestock management training. Just a year before, Catherine had watched both her parents receiving training in conservation farming from World Vision.

So Catherine was familiar with World Vision and recognized them as a trustworthy organization, but still, after the training she hoped for something more than four chickens.

“Something told me work hard, take care of [the chickens] using the skills you’ve been given,” she says. “I didn’t realize the potential in those chickens.” In a short time, the four chickens became 15, then 30.

Using the chickens, she purchased ducks, followed by goats, then pigs. The animals elevated her stature in the community. Before, when the family struggled, Catherine often heard people whispering about her when she walked by: “Look she’s already coming because she’s coming to beg.” The cruel words wounded her.

Thanks to the many animals she owns today, neighbors now desire her company. “Today if I am passing by, they will call me and say, ‘Can you come here?’”

Gift Catalogue chickens help a family to dream
In addition to her expanding menagerie, 33-year-old Catherine’s family hasn’t finished growing either. Four years ago she remarried and recently gave birth to 1-month-old Robert Syamwela.

Catherine can now dream extravagantly for her children. “I want my child to have a bright future through education,” she says. “[And] with the wealth that God has blessed us with right now, I won’t allow my son to miss the opportunity to finish his education.”

CatS
That opportunity passed her by when she quit school in ninth grade because her parents couldn’t afford the costs. Thankfully Padrick looks to be on a strong school path. The shy boy likes his mathematics classes best and hopes to be a teacher when he grows up.

“Whatever he needs we’re able to provide,” Catherine says. “He goes to school filled up, not hungry.”

In fact no one in the family goes hungry. They eat plenty. Catherine laughs as she shows off her arm muscles.  People in the community refer to the family as giants because they eat so well.

Padrick also faces a more hopeful future thanks to a World Vision child sponsor in the US, who’s been sponsoring him for more than 7 years. “I am very happy because this child has a friend who thinks of him,” says Catherine about Padrick’s sponsor.

Safety nets through savings groups in Zambia
In 2009, World Vision introduced savings groups in Sinazongwe. Catherine and her mother, Mary both eagerly joined. They learned money management skills.

They and other group members borrowed money, paying it back within the 2-month time frame. This resulted in increased savings due to the interest payments on the loans. Those savings provided a safety net to Catherine’s formerly impoverished family.

The family used this money to invest in better seeds, farm equipment, solar panels, and a new business selling dried fish from nearby Lake Kariba. Now they have fresh sources of income that aren’t all dependent on the rains. That’s a good thing because El Nino is causing drought to plague southern Africa.

Catherine and Mary remain undaunted. They’re using the water-conserving farming techniques Mary learned back in 2005 for their fields and their home gardens. Since the home garden sits closer to the stream, it flourishes more than the fields, but both continue to produce healthy food for the family to eat and also to sell. In fact, they lean heavily on produce sales to provide for their family.

Catherine laughs when asked if her now bountiful life has affected her faith. “Right now I want to dance,” she says. “My faith has grown so much that I don’t even know the kind of dance that I can use for the Lord, just to show my joy for what he has done for me through this support.

She says it’s like God sent the Gift Catalogue chickens straight to her as a present just to change her path. She looks around at her healthy children, at her own health, at the garden and fields, at the animals roaming around the home and says, “All this would have not been possible without the chickens,” says Catherine.

And with that Catherine answers her question about whether or not a chicken can do anything.  In a word, Yes.

Story courtesy of World Vision US

One goat, one chicken, one rooster: changing thousands of lives

When World Vision distributed hundreds of animals in Christine’s community in Uganda she thought she had missed out on an opportunity to improve life for her family.

Fortunately for Christine, there was another important part of this project that aimed to spread the benefits of raising animals to more and more families.

Each household that received a chicken, rooster and goat was asked to pass their first female offspring along to another family.

These acts of kindness would help countless more families to improve their livelihood and became the start of a pay-it-forward wave of change for this district in Uganda.

The livelihood project distributed one hen, rooster and goat to 600 households across the district as well as another 300 goats to other households and 40 male goats for communities to share.

Freddy Onguu, a livelihoods officer for the local project, explains that the idea of distributing animals is to improve the income and nutritional status of households in the district. “The project goal,” he explains, “is to enable families to meet their basic needs to live on a sustained basis.”

A gift from their neighbour
christine-goat
Christine’s family was grateful to receive the animals from their neighbor Korina after her livestock had their first female offspring.

A mother of five, Korina was crippled in 2008 and had found it hard to support her family. She received her chicken, rooster and goat in the first World Vision distribution.

Korina has already started to see the benefits of raising her animals. The goat and chickens are a source of nutritious food and she has sold some for extra money. This income has helped her to pay for school uniforms for her children.

Dreams of a bright future
Christine has sold the rooster Korina gave her, earning 35,000 shillings (RM43). Christine’s youngest son Tony, aged five, is happy that his mother has been able to use the income from their new animals to buy food including beans and sesame seeds. She has also bought school uniforms for Tony’s older siblings Fiona and Jimmy.

Christine dreams of a bright future with the income from their animals. “If the goats and chicken multiply, I would love to open up more land to cultivate,” says Christine.

When Christine too passes on the first offspring of her hen and goat another family will be able to earn a better income and enjoy better nutrition.

Story courtesy of World Vision Australia.

How to use technology to be kind

By Heather Klinger
World Vision US

Let’s flip the switch on cyberbullying and instead focus on how to use technology to be kind. Can you help kindness go viral? October is National Bullying Prevention Month. We’ve collected some tools to help you keep your kids safe online and make their online world a kinder place, because building a better world for children is what we do.

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31

Five random acts of kindness using technology
1. Spread honey: “Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)  Write a public compliment on someone else’s social media post, video, or blog. Let them know what you appreciate or admire about them.

2. Share good news: Be intentional about sharing something inspiring this week, instead of letting social media be overrun with disasters in the news or the latest public controversy.

3. Connect: Skype with a relative or friend that lives far away. Focus on listening well. Ask them how they’re really doing and how you can pray for them.

4. Give a virtual hug: Show someone you are thinking of them. Send an ecard with an encouraging message.

5. Change the world: No matter how old your kids are, they can spread generosity that changes the world — and themselves.

Need scientific reasons for your random acts of kindness? Studies show that doing kind things for others actually makes us feel even better about ourselves – it releases serotonin in your brain.

Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
Bullying and cyberbullying aren’t fun topics to talk about with your kids. So what’s one easy lesson you can teach them about how they interact with others? Have them ask themselves these three questions before they say something:  Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? The simple reminder to think before you speak is very powerful.

How World Vision tackles bullying
bully
World Vision is empowering students in China to call on their local communities to put an end to violence and bullying. As part of World Vision’s “Zero Violence, Zero Bullying” activity, students learn what to do when they face violence and bullying. Then they trace their hands on a poster for others to sign as a commitment to support each other.

Resources on bullying and cyberbullying:
– Bullying can happen anywhere and to anyone. Help stop bullying at school, online, and in the community.
– Being a parent is tough enough. Keeping up with what your kids are doing online is another challenge. The Cyberbullying Research Center has materials and strategies to help you protect your children.
– Find out how you and your kids can get involved in National Bullying Prevention Month.

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Rwanda: 20+ years after genocide

Callixte
After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. And yet, after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men have been able to become as close as brothers again. (©2013 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies. Rwanda was as ruined as any spot on earth — 800,000 people were brutally slaughtered in 100 days. How could the country ever overcome such hatred and horror? It would take a miracle.

World Vision began relief and development work in war-ravaged Rwanda in 1994. In 1996, when thousands of families began to return to their villages in Rwanda, World Vision started a reconciliation and peacebuilding department. Hostility slowly yielded to faith and forgiveness, restoring communities and relationships like that of Andrew and Callixte. Though they are now friends again, Andrew and Callixte endured a long road to healing.

“The process of forgiveness involves expressing how you feel and saying, ‘Now I want peace in my heart; please forgive me. I don’t want to keep connected to the bad memories of when you did evil to me. I don’t want to be a prisoner of my pain,” says World Vision’s Josephine Munyeli, who has worked in Rwanda’s peace and reconciliation programs for two decades. “When the memories come, I don’t want to be devastated by them. I want to be able to sleep.”

World Vision developed a reconciliation model that endures today: a two-week program of sharing intensely personal memories of the genocide, learning new tools to manage deeply painful emotions, and embarking on a path to forgiveness. The approach has been replicated all over the country and embraced by the government. Read more

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

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’.

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.