Monthly Archives: April 2011

When disaster strikes home

Editor's note: World Vision's Nathan Looney reports from his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, that while neighborhoods in his immediate area were spared, towns just 30 minutes north and south have been completely devastated. Nathan, who happened to be visiting his family for the Easter holiday, will connect with our incoming assessment team tomorrow as they jumpstart World Vision's response.

I’ve seen countless pictures of destruction and hundreds of video clips of unimaginable devastation. In my few years at World Vision, I’ve sat in meetings sifting through images and articles, looking for the ones that best tell the story.

At times, those pictures and stories ended up just being a tool to me, a means to educate our donors, a device to appeal for donations. Their utility masked the unique personal story that existed beyond the letters, pixels, and paragraphs.

[caption id="attachment_4416" align="alignright" width="238" caption="Residents inspect the aftermath of overnight tornadoes that left this suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, in ruins April 28, 2011. Photo: REUTERS/Marvin Gentry"][/caption]

Two days ago, my perspective changed. That’s what happens when the “before” in a stack of before-and-after photos isn’t just an image, but a place you’ve been, a place frequented by the people you love.

I had traveled home to Alabama to visit my family for Easter. On Wednesday morning, the sound of tornado sirens woke me. For the remainder of the day, the television stations pre-empted their regular programming to talk about the storm, and the even deadlier storms that could be coming that night.

It’s common in the South for the broadcast outlets to cut into programming during severe weather outbreaks, but this was the first time I had ever seen them interrupt their schedule to warn of an upcoming outbreak. The tone of the meteorologist was ominous, almost pleading.

As evening approached, so did the storms -- tornado after tornado, many of them caught by news tower cameras and traffic cameras. They were like cyclones you see barreling across a Kansas plain in a movie, except these were placed against the backdrop of a city skyline -- my city’s skyline.

World Vision responds to storms and tornadoes in American South

Editor's note: At World Vision's office in New York, Mindy Mizell is coordinating media efforts concerning our response to the deadly storms and tornadoes in the American South.

URGENT: World Vision is responding to the devastation left by deadly storms in Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Mississippi, as well as the levee break in Missouri. We are working with local partners to distribute first aid kits, hygiene supplies, and other essential products to some of the hardest-hit communities.

An assessment team is also preparing to survey the damage in Alabama and look for ways to partner with churches and other local organizations to help the most vulnerable children and families.

Royal gift poll results

Elegant, regal, ceremonious, formal, beautiful -- these are all words that might be used to describe Prince William and Kate's wedding after this weekend's royal wedlock. But as any married person (or former wedding party member) knows, it is not without great planning that a "dream" wedding comes to life. There are dress fittings, cake tastings, floral appointments, seating charts... and perhaps one of the more exciting pre-wedding activities -- the gift registry.

But the royal couple is obviously not registering for towels, kitchen appliances and luggage. Instead, we love that they asked for donations to charitable funds, which got our blog team thinking -- if we were invited to the royal nuptials, what World Vision gift would we give William and Kate? So we polled our Facebook community. Here's what you all had to say...

Which World Vision gift would you give Prince William and Kate if you were invited to the royal wedding?

Total number of votes - 1,384

Most voted for World Vision gift - Education for orphans

All in a day's work for caregiver volunteers

Editor's note: This month is the five-year anniversary of the World Vision U.S. Caregiver Kits program -- an initiative that equips volunteers with kits containing simple items that assist in caring for those affected by HIV and AIDS.

To honor the outstanding difference this program has made in the lives of caregivers and their clients, we asked Miyon to describe how World Vision volunteer caregivers are an asset to their communities.

[caption id="attachment_4239" align="alignright" width="267" caption="Miyon visits an orphaned child and her caregiver. © World Vision/Miyon Kautz"][/caption]

The thing I love most about Zambia is the people. Sure, the landscape is beautiful -- big open land dotted with crops and thatched roof huts, blue skies with fluffy clouds. The wildlife is fantastic -- lions, giraffes, leopards, hippos. But it’s the spirit of the people who call this poverty-ridden country home that has truly captured my heart.

This spirit is especially evident in the volunteer community caregivers whom I have the privilege of working with every day as part of a World Vision program. These men and women are living out Christ’s command to love their neighbor in very tangible ways. And they do it willingly and with joy.

They visit those who are HIV-positive and those dying of AIDS, using Caregiver Kits to clean sores. They care for orphaned children by providing parental counseling. They gather firewood and water, and they clean homes. They support grandmothers -- praying with them, helping with house chores and being a listening ear to women who are struggling to care for their grandchildren.

Fast facts: Malaria [infographic]

In honor of World Malaria Day, observed every year on April 25 as a day of awareness and recognition for global efforts to end malaria, we challenge you to educate yourself on the facts, raise awareness, and take action against this deadly but preventable disease.

Malaria is a disease of massive proportions that disproportionately impacts children. Each year, approximately 780,000 people die from malaria, 85 percent of whom are children under 5. World Vision works in 62 countries affected by malaria, 23 of which are in Africa.

Impact on children and families

  • Malaria is the 4th leading cause of death for children globally. According to latest figures, globally 8% of under-five child deaths are attributable to malaria and in Africa it is 16%.
  • More than 1,800 children under 5 die each day from malaria. That's approximately 1 child every 45 seconds.
  • Half of the world's population is at risk of malaria: There are 106 malaria-endemic countries with 3.3 billion people at risk. Malaria infects approximately 250 million people each year.
  • Malaria has been estimated to cost Africa more than U.S. $12 billion every year in lost economic productivity, and can cost households as much as 32 percent of their entire monthly income.
  • Insecticide-treated bed nets could prevent as many as 1 million deaths from all causes of malaria for children under 5.

Global malaria prevention

  • If universal malaria prevention can be achieved by 2010 and maintained until 2015, an estimated 2.95 million African children's lives can be saved.

Easter in Colombia

Editor's note: Celebrating Easter, including its preparation, is distinct to religious tradition and cultural custom. Candelaria, a World Vision community volunteer, and her daughters Martha and Mara describe how their family prepares and celebrates Easter according to Catholic tradition in Colombia. The following post was written by World Vision field communicators Ivon Curevo and Astrid Zacipa.

There is a Wednesday ever year in which Candelaria, 29, and her husband Carlos, 46, go with their daughters Marta, 11, and Mara, 7, to the nearest Catholic Church to receive from the priest the imposition of the "Cross of Ashes”.

"You are dust and to dust you shall become," says the priest, while drawing the symbol of the cross on their foreheads with ashes. This day is known as "Ash Wednesday” and marks the beginning of Lent -- forty days of preparation for Easter.

"Lent is the time to get together as a family, to feel at peace with God. It is a time to reflect on the positive as well as the negative aspects of our lives and to repent ourselves," says Candelaria.

[caption id="attachment_4130" align="alignright" width="246" caption="Candelaria with her daughters Martha and Mara outside their home in Colombia. (Zacipa & Cuervo/WV)"][/caption]

Especially at Easter, Candelaria and her family abstain from eating meat, except fish, like many of those of Catholic faith. "From what my mom taught me, we do not eat meat [so as] not to desecrate the suffering of Jesus on the cross," says Candelaria.

Because it is Easter, Carlos saves money from his bricklaying work so Candelaria can prepare a special meal for the family on Thursday or Friday. "Mom prepares fish from the river, beet salad, rice with beans and fresh fruit for dessert," says Mara.

As learned from her grandmother and her mother, Candelaria has taught her daughters the Catholic traditions of the Holy Week. The first Sunday of Easter recalls the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover and was acclaimed by the people. That day the custom is to "take a bunch of palm to the church for the priest to bless it," says Mara.

But then came Sunday...

Just a few weeks ago, I walked in those places where Jesus walked in the Holy Land. It dawned on me yet again that Jesus did almost everything differently than conventional wisdom would have dictated. I visited Capernaum and Galilee, where most of His three-year ministry took place -- a "hick town" ten days' journey from Jerusalem. Not the best location to start a movement that would change the world.

I also walked in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He prayed in agony that night -- and then on to Jerusalem, where He appeared before Caiaphas and Pilate, and where He was beaten and spit upon. Jesus was no conquering hero in the manner of Caesar or Alexander the Great. And then I followed His footsteps along the Via De la Rosa to Calvary, where He was brutally crucified. Not the best strategy to overthrow Rome and declare your new kingdom.

As a marketer, Jesus didn't seem to understand "ratings" and size of audience. As a political figure, Jesus had a penchant for telling people what they didn't want to hear -- take up your cross, lay down your life, the first will be last. And as a leader of the Jewish people itching to be freed from Rome's occupation and oppression, He commanded no army, brandished no weapons, and wielded no force.

Everything He stood for seemed to be lost that Good Friday afternoon as His disciples watched Him suffer and die. Peter denied Him, and the rest scattered. The lofty ideals had been crushed. The movement had failed. End of story.

But then came Easter Sunday...He is risen!

I sometimes feel the work World Vision does around the world is met by human suffering that never ends. Twenty-two thousand kids still die every day, 1 billion go to bed hungry, and more than a third of the planet lives on less than $2 a day.

Painting with words

As you may have noticed in March's Refrigerator galleries paintings post, sponsored children are quite the talented artists. Since April is National Poetry Month, I wanted to share other beautiful "paintings" with you, this time in the words of sponsored children from communities in Romania, the Philippines and Colombia. Special thanks to our field communicators who have shared and translated the following poems for us.

The return of spring

By: Andreea, Romania

[caption id="attachment_4070" align="alignright" width="212" caption="Andreea, 13-years-old."][/caption]

Beloved spring
You hardly came into the country.
But with your loving voice,
Everybody you have awakened.

As you come year after year,
You chase away the winter under a wave
Of warmth and colour
Every day is a holiday.

The winter you push away
You never look back.
We would ask you not to leave
No way, never, no where
However we know that for us
You would never hide no more.

Life

By: Shaira, the Philippines

[caption id="attachment_4054" align="alignright" width="212" caption="Shaira, 14-years-old."][/caption]

Life is beauty, admire it
Life is bliss, embrace it
Life is a dream, grasp it

Life is duty, complete it
Life is a gift, win it
Life is a promise, fulfill it

Life is a song, sing it
Life is a sorrow, overcome it
Life is a struggle, fight it
Life is a tragedy, confront it

Life is an adventure, explore it
Life is a gift, be thankful for it
Life is so precious, value it

Life is life, live it to the fullest

The child poet of nueva esperanza

Editor's note: Luis is known as the poet of his village in Colombia.

I am pleased to introduce myself. I am called, “gordito,” or the little fat boy. When people listen to me telling verses, they call me “the poet” of my small village.

ACT:S to end malaria

Editor's note: In lieu of World Malaria Day (Monday, April 25th), the following post was written for us by our friends at RELEVANT Magazine.

Recently, the RELEVANT staff became aware of a problem.

If you watch the news (who does that anymore?), or follow the news feed on Facebook or check in online with the media outlet of your choice, you know the world is in trouble. Our world’s issues have created issues that have created more issues that could lead one to believe the world, in its current state, is not right. How does one respond when the world seems to be on fire?

Apathy is our worldview

Some have chosen to bury their heads in the sand and pretend this “world on fire” doesn’t affect their everyday life. They’ve embraced apathy as a worldview—it informs the way they spend their time, money and conversation. Others have chosen to respond by passionately standing up for a cause they feel called to. But how do you go about choosing what evil to war against when there is so much evil in the world?

The problem that caught our attention was the very problem we thought had gone away. Several decades ago our U.S. government decided to wage a war against the threat of malaria. Along with relocating people away from river beds and dangerous bodies of water that hosted deadly mosquitoes, we launched an all-out chemical assault on malaria with DDT. We attacked the disease at its origin. Since the threat has now been all but eliminated in the U.S., most of us have seen malaria as that virus you might get on a mission trip that, at its worst, is similar to a common cold and a few trips to the bathroom.

Truth be told, malaria isn’t on our radar anymore because it’s no longer a deadly threat to our culture. We’ve moved on to “bigger” problems—economic development, child mortality, education, health care, ending poverty, fighting global AIDS, etc. But the fact is, if you care about any of these issues, you have to solve the problem of malaria first

The numbers don’t lie

Nearly 1 million people die every year due to diseases that were caused by malaria—85 percent of them are children under the age of 5. If you care about solving other issues in the world, you have to pay attention to the fact that 30 percent of all school absenteeism on the entire continent of Africa is the result of malaria. It slows the economic and educational development of countries around the world by perpetuating the cycle of poverty and becomes exponentially more deadly when accompanied by AIDS and malnutrition.

How have we lived on this planet without knowing? Ignorance is killing more people right now than all the great wars described in our history books.

News that matters

This is the first post in an ongoing, monthly series called “News that matters.” The purpose is to highlight coverage in news articles and blog posts about important, current issues that affect those living in poverty around the world.

You'll find that I've selected three issues I think are worth paying attention to, and some recent news coverage that addresses those issues. While these selections are based on my personal judgment calls, I’m hopeful that these stories inspire you to learn more, challenge you to think about your own views of the world, and encourage you to join the conversations going on this blog and among your own circle of friends.

I'm curious to know what you think about this post and these issues. Please share your comments, questions and ideas in the comments section. I’m eager to hear what you all think!

Foreign aid and the U.S. federal budget

There is much heated debate about how the U.S. government should prioritize its spending, given the increasing federal deficit.  World Vision has taken the position that the Federal government does have a role to play in funding poverty-reduction programs and that Congress should improve U.S. fiscal responsibility by cutting programs that don’t heavily affect the poor here or internationally. Agree? Disagree? What do YOU think and why?

Tai Anderson responds to comments on ONE’s budget petition
ONE.org (blog), Tai Anderson, 31 March 2011
“It’s not the government’s job to help the poor. It’s the Church’s.” There is a lot of truth in that statement, and it also comes as a terrible indictment to the Christian church. If we were doing our job as people of faith, there would be little need for our government to have to do anything. I agree. But, we’re not doing our job.... how many of our churches even take one sermon a year to focus on these issues? Again, just as my pastor challenged me about my family budget being a moral document, I would challenge American Evangelical churches the same way.

Why We’re Fasting
New York Times, Opinionator (blog), Mark Bittman, 29 March 2011
I stopped eating on Monday and joined around 4,000 other people in a fast to call attention to Congressional budget proposals that would make huge cuts in programs for the poor and hungry. By doing so, I surprised myself; after all, I eat for a living. But the decision was easy after I spoke last week with David Beckmann, a reverend who is this year’s World Food Prize laureate. Our conversation turned, as so many about food do these days, to the poor.

Doing aid right

As World Vision’s staff – and staff at other aid agencies will tell you – relief and development work is incredibly complex. World Vision is constantly working to improve the quality of the work we do. We’ve learned over decades of activity that there are ways to do aid and development well and there are ways to do it poorly. We’ve learned that when aid is done poorly, it can be very damaging for those who are most in need. The coverage below addresses some of the issues being discussed within the aid community about how to do humanitarian aid work better.

A Tragedy of the Commons in Selling Tragedy
Center for Global Development, Views from the Center (blog), Charles Kenny, 23 March 2011
If it is much easier to communicate tragedy than success, it clearly makes sense for each individual agency or NGO to get their message out by trumpeting catastrophe.  But there are real negatives to that approach. Rothmyer mentions that it skews policymaking towards disaster management, deters investment and is dispiriting to people in Africa working for change.

When commerce and charity share a mission

Whoever said that fashion can't make a difference in our world? Surely, if people can wear their hearts on their sleeve, they can definitely wear their cause.

I recently chatted with Kevin Murray, CEO of Jedidiah, who talked about the company's unique ability to artistically connect fashion to social causes so everyone can make a measurable difference in the world. Their collections are available online and in select retailers. *World Vision is the beneficiary of Jedidiah's Spring and Summer 2011 collections.

Tell me about the humanitarian mission behind Jedidiah...

Jedidiah's mission is “to use apparel sales as a vehicle to provide care, support and financial resources to those in need." We do this by partnering with amazing NGO’s each season. Really, our model is the collision of commerce and charity. I believe that social enterprises and business models with embedded generosity have the potential to change history and effect social causes like never before.

How do you think this belief resonates with Jedidiah supporters?

I think their deepest desire is to be part of something bigger than themselves and to make a real difference. America is the most compassionate country the world has ever seen. But maybe people don’t know how to engage or be part of the compassion movement. We ask for consumers to support our apparel brand as a way of getting involved and having a voice. But for that support, we, in turn, owe them a great product, with great design, built with integrity and style. If we don’t measure up to our peers in the apparel industry than we don’t deserve to be in business. A quality product at a fair price is crucial to our growth as a company.

So how did World Vision become part of the picture?

Our family has supported World Vision sponsored children for many years. I have always thought of World Vision as one of the most productive and efficient NGO’s and have been a huge fan for a long time. I love the way World Vision starts at the individual level. The model of changing one person’s life -- that can then change a family, a community, a city and a nation -- is one I believe in with all my heart.

I also know you have a huge heart for the child trafficking cause...

I am the father of three daughters. The idea that children are bought and sold for the pleasure of others is the saddest, darkest part of humanity I have ever seen. So with World Vision, we chose to commit our Spring and Summer 2011 charitable sales to fund a trauma recovery center in Cambodia that will help hundreds of children who are rescued from this life.

Federal budget: broad, long-term thinking is needed

I had a fascinating discussion this week in New York. I was with my CEO counterparts from leading humanitarian aid organizations such as Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and Oxfam. We meet twice a year to discuss various issues related to aid. The topic of greatest concern to us this week is the cuts to the State Department and USAID budgets.

This is an important issue because it directly affects the amount of funding available to help children and families in the poorest and, often, most unstable regions of the world. But, as I’ll argue in a moment, this is about more than saving innocent lives—it’s also about preventing political unrest and violence.

First, a summary of what is being cut:

  • For 2011, the overall International Affairs Budget was cut from $56.7 billion in FY2010 to $48.2 billion (a reduction of $8.5 billion or 15%).
  • The total 2011 Humanitarian and Poverty Focused Accounts were cut from $17 billion in FY2010 to $15 billion (a 6% reduction).

But the truly devastating news is that for 2012, the House is considering 40% cuts to the International Affairs Budget. This would be tragic. I know that times are tough right here in our own country, but these funds build schools, tackle hunger with agricultural programs, prevent AIDS and malaria, provide health services to pregnant women and children, and bring water to the thirsty. These programs demonstrate the compassionate values of the American people to the world.

The average American is confused about what the International Affairs Budget does. A January survey of Americans by the Program for Public Consultation indicates that most Americans believe that foreign aid accounts for 21% of the total U.S. budget. It's actually less than 1% and the humanitarian, poverty-focused money is less than one half of one percent! And it includes all of the State Department, all of our ambassadors and embassies and the lion's share of our programs to assist the poorest of the poor around the world.

I was greatly concerned several weeks ago by the results of a February survey of Americans regarding their budget priorities. Conducted by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, the survey showed that Evangelical Christians listed help for the poor around the world as their number one priority for cutting from the federal budget. I was shocked because I know that these programs save the lives of literally millions of people each year.

Good development assistance has been proven to diminish violence and instability that lead to military action later. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was blunt about this in recent remarks to the United States Global Leadership Coalition, “Economic development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” Good development assistance also builds friendships and allies with foreign countries.

A long road ahead for Japan

Some humanitarian disasters occupy a few days worth of headlines -- if that -- and then quickly become a distant memory, if they're remembered at all.

The Japan quake and tsunami, in my opinion, has been the opposite. On March 11, we were instantly exposed to a flood of media coverage on the devastation in northeast Japan and the gravity of the nuclear crisis created by the crippled power plant. That coverage didn't subside much in the weeks to follow. On some level, the headlines and news clips about this historic natural disaster seem to have rendered the crisis more of an ongoing suspense film than a real-life story about human suffering.

One month after the disaster, I must remember to view the events in Japan in the latter context. Some 31 days since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, there are still thousands homeless, still thousands missing, and still thousands who must rebuild their lives from the rubble that this tremor has left behind. This isn't a movie or television program that I can turn on or off based upon my level of interest. The people of Japan certainly can't.

To that end, World Vision is still there -- and we will be, for the days, weeks, and months to come, helping children and families recover a sense of normalcy, stability, and independence. Japan's tragedy may eventually fade from the 24-hour news cycle, but our commitment will not. Check out the updates below on what we've done so far, and what we have planned over the long term.

My story: a hope-filled Sunday

Editor’s note: The following post was written by Jay Strum, World Vision sponsor and Hope Sunday host (pictured above with his wife).

“What if they reject me?” Swallowing my fear and pride, I stood up and began to speak. I quietly prayed to myself for God to allow the words to flow out. Then as I spoke from my heart, I knew exactly what to say.

I had a few reservations when I learned that I could share about World Vision’s child sponsorship program at my church by hosting a Hope Sunday. And at times I felt like the Lord’s reluctant servant. But I knew that I was being called to share my story.

After overcoming my initial discomfort, I was able to respond to the Lord’s gentle nudge, understanding that God's vision is greater vision than my own.

I began planning for my Hope Sunday and, in the process, discovered that there were other families who sponsored kids through World Vision in my church. I thought that combining our stories would be powerful for the church to hear, so I asked them to share about their own sponsorship experiences. I was grateful when six people said they would be happy to speak.

[caption id="attachment_3728" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Other sponsors at Jay's chuch share their sponsorship experience on his Hope Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Jay Strum)"][/caption]

On the day of my Hope Sunday I was planning on talking about the many ways in which sponsorship benefits and transforms the life of a child. But as I spoke to the congregation I found myself, instead, sharing about how my own life has been transformed by sponsorship.

Fast facts: Child health

Today is World Health Day. World Vision joins the World Health Organization to draw attention to issues of global health, particularly the health of children. Part of this year's theme tagline is "no action today, no cure tomorrow." Consider this challenge as you read these facts.

  • Malnutrition contributes to more than half of all child deaths. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Every year, 8.1 million children die of poor health. That is ...

22,191 per day,
924 per hour,
15 per minute,
1 child dies every 4 seconds.

(Source: UNICEF, Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, September 2010)

  • 195 million children are stunted due to hunger (1 in 3 children in developing countries). (Source: UNICEF, "Tracking Progress on Child and Maternal Nutrition," November 2009)

[caption id="attachment_3644" align="alignright" width="231" caption="In Kenya, a malnourished child is weighed at a World Vision health center. (Tim Freccia/WV)"][/caption]

  • In the time it takes you to brush your teeth in the morning (average of 45 seconds), another child dies of malaria in Africa. (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Each year, 272 million school days are lost for children due to diarrhea. (Source: UNICEF)

The brighter side of a shark bite

Imagine being a champion surfer and one day having a shark bite off your arm. Not only will you have to live through the rest of your life with one arm, your surfing career might well be at an end. Is there a bright side to this story?

We wrote about Bethany Hamilton in the Spring 2006 issue of World Vision magazine. And her extraordinary story is now the subject of the major motion picture “Soul Surfer,” due for release on April 8 and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid.

[caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignright" width="254" caption="At the World Vision transitional housing center, Bethany talks with 13-year-old Ketsara who lost her mother and home to the tsunami, comparing the lessons they learned on how to handle tragedy and loss. (Jon Warren/WV)"][/caption]

Bethany did indeed lose her arm to a tiger shark when she was just 13, but within a month she was back in the water, trying to find the next great wave. That spirit gave World Vision an idea. Following the Asian tsunami, fishing communities we were working with in Thailand had become petrified of the ocean from which they derived their living. Could Bethany help?

Bethany traveled to Phuket, where she talked with villagers about her own devastating ocean experience. One of her key points: Shark attacks and tsunamis are rare events; we ought not allow them to dictate the way we live the rest of our lives. Bethany persuaded some village youngsters to head into the ocean with her, where—much to their delight—she gave them their first-ever surfing lesson.

A tribute to World Vision's 'birth mother'

Editor's note: Lorraine Pierce, widow of World Vision founder Dr. Bob Pierce, died on April 4, 2011, after a brief illness. Mrs. Pierce was 94. It was by the vision and calling of Lorraine's late husband that World Vision was founded in 1950. Today, Dr. and Mrs. Pierce's vision and dream to help those around the world lives on.

It is a time of mourning and also of celebration as the World Vision family honors the life of Lorraine Pierce, the spiritual 'birth mother' of World Vision, as many would say. I echo the words of our president, Rich Stearns, “The choruses in heaven must be especially sweet as this great saint is welcomed home.”

[caption id="attachment_3556" align="alignright" width="243" caption="Jane Sutton-Redner with Lorraine Pierce. (Greg Schneider/WV/2004)"][/caption]

As I spent time this morning remembering the life of Lorraine Pierce, I recalled her gift to serve, her elegance, her wisdom and her godliness. These quotes, taken from interviews with Mrs. Pierce from 2000-2006, will forever remind me of her legacy of faithfulness.

On adjusting to a life of ministry with Bob Pierce:

“I never thought I would marry an evangelist. I don’t think that my husband expected to be an evangelist. We were going to have a church, and that seemed all right to me. But it didn’t turn out that way. When I realized that it was going to be evangelism, that we were going to have to be on the road, and it was a life that was absolutely opposed to what I expected for myself, then there had to be a change in me. It was not going to be in my husband. It had to be in me. And I knew it was worthwhile, and I knew it was necessary, but I was very, very fearful that I was in no way ready to do this job and this work along with him. So I knew well enough that it was necessary to die to self.”

On the early years of World Vision:

“God has given us through the years a daring that was there in the beginning. I think he gave to my husband a great portion of daring to trust God when there seemed to be no way, knowing that if he stepped out upon an empty void, he would certainly find a rock beneath his feet—and he did.”

[caption id="attachment_3551" align="alignright" width="247" caption="Family portrait- Bob Pierce, Lorraine Pierce and children, December 1965. (Photo courtesy of the Pierce family)"][/caption]

Child-Friendly Space opens in Japan

Editor's note: In the aftermath of tragedy and disaster, World Vision uses Child-Friendly Spaces (CFS) to care for children by providing them with a safe place to learn, play and emotionally recover from the trauma they've faced. (For more on how we use CFS, read Freedom of imagination) The following was shared with us by Nanako Otsuki, communications officer with World Vision Japan.

Zenin syugo, meaning "everyone gathering together", is the name children in Tome City have come up with for their new playing ground, a World Vision CFS. The name fits perfectly for its purpose, providing children with a venue to come together and share their experiences as they begin the road to recovery.

All the children come from Minami Sanriku, a town that was almost completely destroyed by the tsunami. Right now, they're living in an evacuation center. They don't know when classes will start again; most of their schools were destroyed. Most of them have lost their homes, and many have loved ones who have been confirmed dead. They seek a sense of normalcy after having their lives turned upside down.

"What I want to do"

[caption id="attachment_3438" align="alignright" width="237" caption="Staff at the Child-Friendly Space encourage the children to write and draw their desires. (Itoh Kei/WV/2011)"][/caption]

In the first gathering here, World Vision’s Child Protection Specialist, Makiba Yamano, and other World Vision Japan staff sought to hear the voices of the children. The children wrote down what they wanted to do at the CFS on a piece of paper and made their favorite figure with origami paper.

“I want to play a piano!!” (Minaho, age 12)

“I want to play soccer with eight people.” (Rin, age 8 )

“I want to play cards with other friends.” (RIe, age 12)

“I want to play baseball with everyone.” (Takahiro, age 11)

"What makes me worried"

[caption id="attachment_3439" align="alignright" width="237" caption="Takuma (age 11), Takahiro (age 11), and Syoki (age 12) write "what makes them worried." (Itoh Kei/WV/2011)"][/caption]

The children also wrote down “what makes them worried” and shared their experiences with one another.

“I wonder if I can go to the same junior high school with my old friends.” (Shiori, age 12)

"My second family" - encouragement for a rainy day

I always find the springtime one of the hardest times of the year to get through, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Christmas break is now a distant memory, winter still drags on, and the rain keeps coming down. Sometimes, we all need a little encouragement to get through the rainy days.

My much-needed encouragement came from an unexpected place.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of reading a beautiful goodbye letter from Viviana, a former World Vision sponsored child from Colombia. She wrote to her sponsors as her sponsorship ended and she finished high school:

Dear Mike, Jennifer, and all of the members of my second family,

I want to tell you that you have been with me since I can remember, and I keep you in my heart. Thank you for all the help that you gave me.

I always dreamt of meeting you, giving you a really big hug, and thanking you for everything. I want you to know that I love you dearly.

Your letters made me really happy, and every time I got one I tried to translate them so that I could know for sure what you were saying. It made me really happy when I could finally see you in pictures. I still keep them, and the letters, too… Thank you for always being with me and for all your support.

I finished school and now I am studying accounting. I want to study business administration, and I work really hard to be able to achieve my dreams. I know that the memories that I have of such a beautiful family that sponsored me for so long will give me enough strength to keep on going with my studies and to be able to get ahead in life and be a great human being.