Monthly Archives: February 2012

PHOTOS: A day in the life…of a Cambodian loan officer

What does daily life look like for a microfinance loan officer? Loan officers are the hardworking folks who interact each day with World Vision Micro entrepreneurs -- sharing business practices, processing their loan applications, and more!

We've asked our staff in Cambodia to give us a glimpse of a day in the life of a Cambodian loan officer. Below is the story, in pictures, of loan officer Nhek Chanthy, who visits a few of Micro's entrepreneurs in central Cambodia.

From baby refugee to mother, wife, and World Vision staffer

Every woman has a story. And, like all stories, if you change one page, one paragraph, or even one word, you could change her story.

This is my story.

I was born a girl into a culture that still prefers and elevates boys. I was born into a war-torn country whose new government had stripped its citizens of all their rights and freedoms.

Significantly, I was born to parents who were determined to not let these dismal factors prevent their daughter from experiencing the very best that life could offer -- even if that meant risking their lives, leaving their friends and family, and fleeing from the only home they had ever known.

Thus, at the age of 3 months, I became one of the youngest boat refugees to escape Vietnam.

PHOTO BLOG: Fashion beyond the red carpet

Oscar buzz often has less to do with film awards than with the pageantry of the event -- especially what the stars wear on the red carpet.

In honor of the Academy Awards this past weekend, World Vision celebrates our stars -- children -- and their cultural pageantry and expressive styles of dress.

Churches join together to stop a deadly night predator

Jeff Farmer Sr., retired president of Open Bible Churches, shares a story of how the Lord challenged him with the reality of suffering caused by malaria, and how this sparked his passion to see the future changed. Read his story, and learn more about how you can be involved.

Going into debt -- just to stay warm

Romanians are used to winter weather. But the record-breaking storms that have pounded Europe over the past several weeks haven’t been normal snow. They’ve left many communities isolated and without basic supplies, especially rural areas where people were just barely getting by before the storms.

World Vision's Laura Reinhardt was on assignment in Romania for two weeks. Some of the families she met there talked about the additional burden.

Children targeted in attacks in South Sudan

Michael Arunga, a World Vision emergency communications advisor for Africa, is on assignment in South Sudan, which became the world's newest country last July after a referendum that established its independence from the rest of the country. In this report, he calls attention to a tragic situation that is taking shape as conflict continues.

Frogs: The other, other white meat

It’s lean, green, and full of protein. Frog -- the other, other white meat.

In many parts of the world, frog meat is seen as a delicacy. In some areas where World Vision works, it is one of the only sources of protein within reach.

Why my Grandma may be wrong: Living a life of sacrifice

"Sacrifice" is a funny little word. It conjures up images of pain, hurt, and unfinished to-do lists. This word especially takes on a warped meaning when combined with the word “Lent.”

Growing up, Lent was always a little bit of a joke. We teased each other for the excuses we all made for giving into the things we had given up.

My Grandma always had the best excuse. She said that Lent is technically only 40 days if you exclude Sundays, and that on Sunday, she could “break the rules.” I’m almost positive she somehow found biblical support for this, and I wasn’t going to argue if it meant my Sabbath was filled with Thin Mints.

That’s how sacrifice is most of the time, though, isn’t it?

What does "social justice" really mean?

Social justice is a catch-all term that has gone through many seasons of being en vogue and then going out of favor, often suffering from competing definitions and vastly different interpretations. It's like Silly Putty -- that popular substance we used to play with as kids that can be twisted and contorted into whatever shape your heart desires.

Why water makes the difference: A tale of two towns

What does clean water mean to you? How often do you think about it? In her fourth blog entry, World Vision's Lauren Fisher compares two communities in Niger -- one that has a safe source of water, and one that does not. Follow Lauren's trip here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.

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Lately, you could say water has become a major obsession of mine. In the past, I’ve taken it for granted. It’s the back-up beverage when I can’t find iced tea or soda; it's the bath I can count on at the end of a long day.

But as one colleague told me, in Zinder, water is precious. For me, that means there is no water at all, without warning, at any given time. At any given time, the shower stops working mid-shampoo, along with any other bathroom fixture. It’s made for some comical mornings, as you can well imagine.

Famine in Somalia is officially over, but...

Of course, I’m happy that the United Nations has declared an end to the famine in Somalia. This is encouraging news, considering that six regions of the country were designated as famine zones last July. However, an estimated 2 million people still face serious food shortages in Somalia. Our work in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa is nowhere near done.

PHOTO BLOG: Snow traps thousands in Romania

Over the past several weeks, deep snow and intense cold have gripped Eastern Europe, isolating rural communities and families. In Romania, 6,000 people have been cut off for days, a result of major roads being closed and more than 300 trains cancelled. Here are some recent images of the conditions faced by families and communities amid the bone-chilling winter weather.

"Some days, we don't have food"

How would you respond if you heard a 13-year-old girl say that on some days, she simply doesn't eat? World Vision's Lauren Fisher, covering the drought and food crisis in Niger and across West Africa, writes her third blog post recounting stories of visits with people and communities affected by this emergency. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.

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“Someday, I want to be an NGO [non-governmental organization] worker.”

Shy 13-year-old Koubra Mamane’s answer surprises me. A bit hesitant in her speech, and a bit skeptical of the whole interview, she reminds me of your typical teenage girl. She tells us she loves mathematics and has to help her mom around the house. She shows us her school books carefully stowed in a bright yellow and red purse.

“I like calculations in school, but I also like the other subjects because I want to become intelligent and gain knowledge,” she adds.

But her dreams of the future wouldn’t be the only answer that gives me pause. In fact, the next one has been stuck in my head ever since it came out of her mouth. We ask Koubra about the food shortages in her village. She says that when there is no money, her family cannot buy food.

Those days, she and her family do not eat.

Food crisis leaves holes in a community

World Vision's Lauren Fisher is on the ground in Niger, where prolonged drought has resulted in weak harvests and a food crisis similar to what the Horn of Africa has suffered over the past year. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.

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It’s 3 p.m., and the school is alive with clapping, singing, and plenty of desperate hand-raising. We’re spending our afternoon with the children of the Toungouzou village at their school, built by World Vision.

It looks like most schools you’ve been in, complete with the light scent of chalk dust, the boards filled with maps and songs. The children, ranging in age from 6 to about 13, are excited to see the cameras and to have some new people to admire their recently learned skills. A beautiful young girl in red dress and scarf comes up to the front to show us the song she’s learned. She beams shyly at our applause. We find out later that she’s 12 years old and hopes to be a doctor someday.

But along with the hopes and dreams in this classroom, the reality of the food crisis in Niger is here as well.  There are several empty spots in the classroom where pupils once sat.

The malaria scare

[caption id="attachment_12514" align="aligncenter" width="540" caption="Nicole Suka gives her 3-year-old son, Yangana, a sip of water as he receives a blood transfusion for his severe case of malaria."]The malaria scare | World Vision Blog[/caption]

People like me, who thought the world was winning the war against malaria, might have gotten a rude awakening earlier this month following the release of a report by researchers at the University of Washington.

One small cry: Hassane's fight against malnutrition

Lauren Fisher, emergency communications manager with World Vision, has been deployed to Niger for five weeks.  Throughout West Africa, as many as 23 million people may be affected by the hunger crisis there in the coming months, including 13 million in World Vision's program areas. Follow Lauren here on our blog or @WorldVisionNews (#wvlauren) for live, on-the-ground reports from the field.

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It was the best moment of the day. Not the warm smiles and waves of the villagers, not the sound and sight of sparkling, precious water hitting the waiting buckets, not even the laughs of children seeing how my camera worked.

Instead, the moment that brought us all to laughs, clapping, and even near tears came from one little wail from a tiny 2-year-old.

The nurse had tried to change the angle of the Plumpy’Nut™ little Hassane was clutching so tightly. Moments before, he was all but motionless in his mother’s arms, reacting only with shrieks as the nurse at the child nutrition clinic tried to weigh him.

We didn’t need the red marker of the band measuring his arm circumference to tell that he was severely malnourished. With tiny arms and legs, little Hassane looked to me much more like a small infant than a boy who was nearly a toddler. He weighed just 16 pounds.

Change that happens when women come together

Dr. Leslie Parrott, author and family therapist, will speak at the 2012 Women of Vision national conference, March 4-6 in Washington, D.C. Here, she shares some of her personal experiences and why she believes in the collective power of women to create positive, lasting change in the world.

"Be a person who is love"

Have you ever met someone who just radiates the love, light, and peace of God?

Last month, while traveling in Swaziland, I had the privilege of meeting Nomsa, a World Vision volunteer AIDS caregiver. She is one of those people -- so full of the love of God that it can’t help but spill out to those around her.

This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share her story. Nomsa presented me with a new way of looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV): “Love is patient, love is kind…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

In a society that often equates the word "love" with romantic love, I had forgotten that this verse is talking about the way we should show love to everyone -- even the unlovely -- without condition, the way God loves us.

Making Valentine's Day more than romance

Valentine’s Day is all about love and the heart. Normally, it’s focused on romantic love, but I’d like to extend that love to include compassion for our neighbors -- people in need in the United States.

While the recent economic news looks slightly more positive, there are still more than 12 million Americans without work or steady income. They’re forced to make tough choices, such as whether to pay the rent or feed their children. They’re running hard on a treadmill, but never making progress toward lasting improvement.

One of those Americans is a woman I recently met from New York City named Veronica Melendez.

Four things any church can do to address global poverty

Churches and pastors are often eager to respond to the problems of global poverty and injustice. Yet before they take steps to address these problems, pastors -- like anyone else -- want to know how they can make a difference. Because there are so many hurting people whose communities face complex obstacles, I’m frequently asked what one person or one church can do.

If you’re a fellow church or ministry leader, you know that God doesn’t promise that the odds will always be in our favor when accomplishing the work He has set before us.

When church leaders look today at the scale of global poverty, it’s easy to feel like the numbers are stacked against them.

  • 1 billion people suffer from a lack of adequate nutrition.
  • Half of the children in developing countries are born into poverty.
  • 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 per day.

Compared to those staggering figures, the size of the average church in America is just 186 regular attenders. Sounds a bit like Gideon facing thousands of Midianites, “thick as locusts,” with just 300 men.

What can a typical church in Michigan or Oklahoma do when poverty and justice issues are so big, global, and daunting? When pastors ask me what their church can do to help meet the needs of hurting people around the world, I give them four ideas.