Stories

Lopez Lomong: "The fourth lap, help me God!"

In the third part of the Lopez Lomong series, Lopez shares his thoughts as he races at the 2007 NCAA 1500m championships. As he runs, Lopez reflects on the role that running has played throughout his life. Previously, running meant escaping rebel soldiers and the harsh realities of life within a refugee camp. As a student and athlete at Northern Arizona University, he dreams that running will be the key to a better life for the lost boys and the people of South Sudan.

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PHOTOS: Games that will never make it to the Olympics

Every two years, the world waits in anticipation for the Olympic Games. It is the height of athleticism, competition, and pride in one's country. For athletes who compete in the games, this event can be the realization of dreams or the disappointment of a lifetime.

All of this fanfare, built around games.

While the Olympics represent the upper echelon of games, for many, games are simply a way to pass the time, connect with others, and have fun. The Olympics utilize the best in facilities and technology, but many games for people in developing nations involve found objects and a heavy dose of creativity and ingenuity. These games will never make it to the Olympics -- and that's okay. The joy they bring to their participants is worth more than a gold medal.

Lopez Lomong: September 11, the day I became an American

In the first installment of the Lopez Lomong series, we shared Lopez's terrifying experience of being ripped away from his parents by rebel soldiers at the age of 6. After his kidnapping, Lopez was taken to a camp where boys were forced to become rebel soldiers, killing other people, or dying themselves.

From there, a series of miracles occurred. Lopez was befriended by three older boys in the camp, who rescued him and fled the camp on foot at night. After running for three days and nights, the boys found themselves at a refugee camp in Kenya.

Lopez lived there for the next 10 years, dreaming of what else life might hold and growing closer to God each day. He prayed that one day he would be able to leave the refugee camp and find a new life. His prayers were answered when a family in the United States near Syracuse, New York, decided to adopt him as their own.

Part 2 of the series picks the story up after Lopez moved to the United States. It was only a short time that Lopez had been here when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred. As his new home was under attack, Lopez struggled to reconcile the haunting memories of wars and violence in Sudan with the expectations of new life and safety in America.

Read on to learn how this experience shaped him.

Lopez Lomong's childhood story of terror

Today's post is the first in a series that recounts the life story of Lopez Lomong, who will run with Team USA in the London 2012 Olympics, with dreams of bringing home a gold medal.

While his current life sounds like a dream come true, his childhood was more like a nightmare. Born in war-torn South Sudan, Lopez was kidnapped by rebel soldiers at the age of 6 with two foreseeable futures: being forced to kill as a child soldier, or being killed himself.

Part one of the series tells the story of this dark chapter of Lomong's life. Follow along as we hear from him on his abduction, being adopted into the United States, and the realization of his Olympic dreams through his new book, "Running For My Life."

The fatherless epidemic

Today's post comes from World Vision blogger Matthew Paul Turner, who traveled to Bolivia on our blogger trip last August to experience the work of World Vision and the impact of child sponsorship. Here, he shares one of his encounters from that trip -- and how it changed his perspective on the idea of fatherhood.

Images of fatherhood

One father in Burundi struggles to feed his child, but lays down his pride and begs his neighbors for help to feed his son. Another in Mexico leaves his gang and opens a tattoo studio to teach his son and friends about the importance of a non-violent lifestyle. Yet another father in Cambodia starts a new chapter by giving up his alcohol addiction in order to be a better dad and husband.

The challenges of fatherhood may be diverse and broad in scope -- but love, care, and self-sacrifice are traits that dads all around the world have in common, regardless of their circumstances. In honor of this upcoming Father's Day, June 17, these images show some of the precious moments fathers around the world share with their children.

Here he comes, the violinist!

Looking at the photo of 5-year-old Abner and his violin, you might think, “How cute!”

But don’t let his gap-toothed smile fool you. Abner is what you might call a child prodigy.

Before he could read or write, Abner could play the violin. He picked it up when he was 3, and from that day on, practicing for an hour a day wasn’t a chore -- it was a joy.

Shining example: The shoeshine stand that delivers clean water

Leon McLaughlin’s story might make a script for a feel-good kids’ movie.

The plot goes like this: A humble shoeshine man operates from a stand in an important city building. As he shines the shoes of top city officials and business people, he shares his passion for bringing clean water to children around the world.

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.

PHOTO BLOG: Over the river and through the woods

I have worked with World Vision for nearly three years -- yet I am still amazed by the things I see and the stories I hear. I am equally inspired by the drive and determination of people living in poverty to overcome their circumstances and build a better world for their children, their communities, our country, and the world.

Recently, I experienced firsthand the struggles children in remote communities face just to get to school, and I wanted to share this experience with you.

11 memorable photos from 2011

Thousands of photos are taken each year in nearly 100 countries worldwide where World Vision programs help reach the most vulnerable. These 11 photos reflect the stories, the struggles and the events that have changed people's lives forever this year -- from earthquakes to famine, from hardship to triumph, from despair to hope.

Goats, scones, and life-changing gifts

On day 11 of the 2011 True Spirit of Christmas Trip, our team introduced you to Joyce, who's life has been changed thanks to the gift of goats from the World Vision Gift Catalog. The goats provide Joyce with milk and a means for extra income that she sometimes uses to purchase ingredients to make scones from her own recipe.

We shared Joyce's special scone recipe straight from her kitchen with World Vision supporters on Facebook after our trip host, Kirsten Stearns, did some midday baking with Joyce calling her scones "among the best she has ever tasted." Back in the United States, a long way from Joyce's kitchen in Zambia, Kirsten's sister-in-law Sarah and her church group agree the scones are quite delicious.

Merry Christmas from around the world [PHOTO BLOG]

What do Christmas celebrations look like in other parts of the world? In some places, World Vision throws big Christmas parties where disadvantaged children can enjoy the festivities and even receive presents. In other places, children participate in traditional celebrations that might look quite different than our American Christmas.

It is better to give than receive

When USA Today asked me about my favorite Christmas gifts given and received, I couldn’t help but reflect on the gifts I have received through World Vision. As a donor to World Vision U.S. for 25 years -- and as its president for 13 years -- I've found that the best gifts I’ve received come as a result of generous giving.

Something miraculous at Christmas

The follow post was written by Narine Ohanyan, World Vision field communicator in Armenia.

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Do you believe in miracles?

For a mother in Armenia, something miraculous is happening at Christmas.

“I love the ornaments and the lights. I love to stare at them,” says 4-year-old Narek Qotanjyan.

Coming from a child in the United States, this statement wouldn’t be so surprising. However, Narek lives in Armenia with a disability.

A little child shall lead them

Although I wrote this last year, I feel it deserves a repeat-performance. I visited this family again recently and brought their daughter Lilly an actual malaria net, like those World Vision uses in Africa because I know the compassion she feels for those affected by malaria, an experience from a previous visit with her folks. She's a busy 7-year-old now and couldn't remember the entire incident, so I promised to find what I'd written last year and send it to her. Re-reading it blessed me and I hope it blesses you, too.

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This year, we all agreed to forgo the typical presents for our adult extended family members and instead choose gifts from the World Vision Gift Catalog. We'd given some similar "gifts" previously, but this year there was a special abandon to it -- a desire to really make these "thoughtful" gifts for each receiver, a criteria very close to my wife Janet's heart.