Advocacy

Child trafficking: Notes from the front lines

June 12 is the World Day Against Child Labor.  Globally, at least 2 million children are trafficked annually for child labor and sexual exploitation. World Vision is working in places like Bangladesh, a human trafficking source and transit country, to protect vulnerable children from trafficking and forced labor. Traveling in Bangladesh to see World Vision's child protection programs in action, Jesse Eaves, our child protection policy advisor, reflects on what he sees at the Benapole border crossing between Bangladesh and India.

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I see the trucks long before I see the actual border -- colorful, well-used, laden with cargo and people, lined up one after another on the shoulder of the road.

In fact, I almost don’t even see the border gates for all the trucks and the mass of humanity congregating at the exit point. The Benapole border crossing is the busiest in Bangladesh. More than 5,000 people a day cross this inauspicious boundary with India.

The first thing I notice is that lots of people are trying to enter India -- and almost no one is coming over to Bangladesh.

G8 leaders: Take a lesson on heroism from "The Avengers"

An evil force was threatening planet Earth. Thousands were dying every day. Millions more were threatened by hunger and starvation. Mothers and children fled the onslaught, but could not escape it.

But there was hope. A small group, invested with superhuman abilities, could change everything. If they chose to overcome their personal priorities, this small group could do amazing things. They could save the day.

I got back from watching “The Avengers” last weekend. Since that day in 1963 when I bought the first issue of the comic for 12 cents, I’ve been a fan of those superhero tales.

But I might just as easily have been talking about this week’s G8 Summit, where world leaders have the power to dramatically change the lives of nearly a billion people who suffer from hunger. Millions right now are facing acute food shortages. The prospect of famine looms in West Africa.

A stronger safety net for children

From my childhood, I have distinct memories of the hot lunch program at school. In particular, it was a treat to be able to get hot lunch on special days. On St. Patrick’s Day, we had green-colored applesauce and chicken nuggets!

Most days, I appreciated the nutritious meals my mom lovingly packed, but sometimes, I would glance longingly from my peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich (the fourth of the week) to the line of students getting hot lunch.

It has been a long time since I’ve thought about green applesauce. But, this brief moment from my childhood came to mind while reflecting on my visit to a World Vision program in the capital of Romania.

In the poorest area of Bucharest (also known as Sector 5), World Vision is working with the local government to provide hot meals and after-school programming for children, like tutoring and psychosocial support. The program started because of growing concern about the school dropout rate and the increased vulnerability of children due to poverty and lack of access to social services.

HungerFree: Your guide to the G8 and G20 summits

HungerFree is a campaign to end global hunger by creatively engaging world leaders on the topic. In May and June, leaders from the world's largest economies will meet for the G8 and G20 summits to discuss issues of global significance. James Pedrick of World Vision ACT:S, our college activism network, discusses these summits and the important role they can play in eliminating world hunger.

A cooperative Congress can save lives

Most will agree that Congress does not have a sterling reputation these days -- in fact, it bears the worst public perception of any of our branches of government. Some words you may hear used to describe the deliberating body: dysfunctional, divided, self-serving, broken.

The most recent approval rating for Congress (as of the publication of this post) is a dismal 14 percent. Has it always been this way? Does it have to be this way now?

Global child malnutrition needs global response

My son, Joshua, recently turned 16 months old. (As a new parent, I’ve learned that we track our young children’s ages by months or even days rather than by years.) As Joshua grows, I witness him becoming increasingly independent and stubborn, particularly when it comes to eating.

Child trafficking is no joke

For more than a year, World Vision has advocated for reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). The law, which represents the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery, expired on September 30, 2011, because Congress did not vote to reauthorize it in time.

As a result, U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are essentially on hold until the law is reauthorized.

Here is an update from World Vision's child protection policy advisor, Jesse Eaves.

Do you feel a stirring in your gut?

In late February, some 4,000 people from across the Unites States descended upon the “City of Roses” for two days. They didn’t travel hundreds or thousands of miles for a major sporting event or to see some famous music band.

An open letter to the presidential candidates

Dear presidential candidate,

I consider myself a good citizen and a patriot. I take pride in my country and care about the well-being of my fellow Americans. I want America to prosper. I hope that the United States will be a global leader for good, far into the 21st century.

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.

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.

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.

Congress: Don't play politics with child slavery

For almost a year, World Vision has advocated for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVRPA), inviting our supporters to join us in advocating for this bill. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) -- the cornerstone of U.S. policies to fight modern-day slavery -- expired on September 30, 2011, because Congress did not vote to reauthorize the law in time. As a result, U.S. efforts to combat trafficking are essentially on hold until the law is reauthorized.

Here is an update from our child protection policy advisor, Jesse Eaves.

A different kind of day

I found myself in a hot, dusty camp on the border with Ethiopia, where Somalis who had fled their homes because of violence and the worst drought in 60 years were living. It’s there that I met Habiba.

Habiba is a 47-year-old mother of 10. She and her family used to grow bananas and mangoes and raise animals. But the drought destroyed their crops and killed all of their animals: 100 cattle, 200 goats, and 500 chickens, all gone.

Combining our efforts to protect victims of human trafficking

It goes without saying that this year has been one of the craziest in the history of Congress. Despite all the ups and downs and swings of momentum in moving the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act forward, one thing has remained constant: our advocates’ dedication to stand up and make their voices heard.

It’s safe to say that neither the House nor the Senate versions of this legislation would be where they are without those voices.

The beginning of the end of AIDS

Last week, the world commemorated the 23rd annual World AIDS Day -- a day in which we remembered the 30 million lives that have been tragically lost, showed solidarity with 34 million people around the world living with HIV, and, most importantly, rededicated ourselves to the cause of ending the epidemic.

I had the privilege to attend a forum sponsored by ONE and (RED) at George Washington University entitled “The Beginning of the End of AIDS” that was simulcast live by YouTube. Among the participants were President Barack Obama, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Kay Warren, and Bono.

Waking up from suburbia stupor -- lessons from a global soccer mom

Meet stay-at-home mom Shayne Moore. She spends her time stocking the refrigerator, supervising homework, and driving her kids to sports practices. In the midst of all that, she wrote a book called “Global Soccer Mom” that’s not about soccer at all -- but about how the "soccer mom" demographic can be global thinkers.

After visiting World Vision's headquarters to share her testimony in an all-staff chapel, I sat down to chat with her about the journey that has led her from the kitchen to the White House. Here's what I learned…

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Was there a specific experience that prompted you to really get out of your seat and take action against poverty?

In 2002, Bono came through my hometown, but not with his band. He came with a bunch of buses, educating people about poverty and the AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Although I considered myself a somewhat well-educated woman living in North America, this was really the first time that I had heard about the severity of the issue.

The presentations from the World Health Organization and the projections about the disease -- that there would be 25 million AIDS orphans by the year 2010 -- really broke my mother’s heart and became a springboard that helped me wake up from my own “suburbia stupor.”

My world was really small. I was focused on my babies, which was absolutely appropriate, and that’s how it should be. But, I don’t think it’s an “either/or” situation. I think it can be “both/and.” So, I just started really raising my head, looking around the world at what was happening with poverty and disease and other families just like my own. And I started educating myself and educating others.