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Top 12 blogs of 2012

 

As a World Vision staff member, I find myself surrounded each day by stories, many of which break my heart. I'm forced to stop whatever I'm doing, gather myself, and say a prayer for someone I have never met.

Other times, my heart swells with hope, and my eyes are filled with tears of joy.

What these stories have in common is that behind each one is a person whose voice needs to be heard. Over the past year, the World Vision Blog has been filled with voices from around the world -- asking for help, grieving, or celebrating progress. These are our top stories from 2012.

[Photo blog] 12 moments from 2012

World Vision staff around the globe shot more than 10,000 photos this year. Working in nearly 100 countries, they documented the year’s most urgent humanitarian emergencies as well as moments of inner strength and joy. Here are 12 memorable photos from 2012.

5 tips on choosing a charity for year end giving

As the end of the year closes in, time is running out on tax deductible donations. Before you choose a charity to donate to, read these 5 tips to make sure you are giving to an organization that will use your money to make an impact. Be sure to get your donations in by 9:00 EST on December 31st.

A burden that children should never have to bear

An 8-year-old Syrian refugee child named Layla* shares, “I saw my cousin dying in front of me, so I always see this scene in front of my eyes.”

As children all over North America happily rummage through the cheerful remains of Christmas Day’s joys -- festive gift wrap strewn about, the latest version of Halo blaring from 40-inch television screens -- the existence of Syrian children presently seeking refuge in Lebanon is one far less carefree.

In this season of joy, it’s difficult to fathom that at least 66,000 children like Layla are coping with the loss of home and childhood as their families struggle to survive the displacement of war and onset of a cold, snowy winter in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.

From Alabama with Love to India

Andrea Zahler wound her way along a narrow pathway in a small farming village near Sitapur, India, past oxen laying in the sun and mud-walled homes where chai is brewed atop small, open wood-fired stoves.

Andrea was a World Vision Child Ambassador in the truest sense that day. She was going to meet a sponsored child named Laxmi Ramhit, a 12-year-old Indian girl with a shy smile and deep doe eyes.

As Laxmi’s home came into view, Andrea saw a large group of women and children sitting on the floor, waiting patiently in a small courtyard outside the home. They pulled out a patio chair for her, the oldest girl brought her chai, and other children touched her feet as a sign of respect and welcome.

“I was very nervous about visiting [Laxmi] because I knew that it wasn’t just me, but I was representing an entire neighborhood of people,” Andrea says.

[Video] Without children, there is no future

For people in developing nations, health clinics are often the only link between them and the medicines they so desperately need.

Kris Allen, host of the 2012 True Spirit of Christmas Tour, had a chance to visit a health clinic in Bartabwa, Kenya. See how gifts given through the World Vision Gift Catalog are helping to save lives.

A picture of health

The mood is somber as babies wait to be examined and receive immunizations. I meet Purity, 30, and her 2-year-old son, Sheldon, while they were waiting to be seen. Sheldon suffers from high fever, poor appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting.

[Video] Now I know my ABC's

For may students in the United States, singing the ABCs is one of the first lessons in the classroom. You might be surprised to learn that children in Bartabwa, Kenya, know a very similar version. See for yourself as Kris Allen sings with elementary school students.

Child sponsorship: life in all its fullness

Child sponsorship opens the door to better future for a child in need by providing life-giving essentials like nutritious food, clean water, education, and healthcare. Kris Allen, host of the 2012 True Spirit of Christmas Tour, shares how sponsorship has impacted a school and the lives of many children in Bartabwa, Kenya.

Education for every child

“Education for every child,” says Anne Wachira. These words are the mission statement of the school where she has taught for 8 years. But these are not just words to Anne, they carry a much deeper meaning.

“As I came to this area, I was touched by the way the children were. They were illiterate. That’s why I started to work at this school.”

Anne was determined to see change in the lives of her students.

[Video] This little light of mine

This week, you had the chance to meet Brian and learn how sponsorship has changed his life.

Today, you get to see Brian smile his gap-toothed grin as American Idol's Kris Allen strums and sings 'This Little Light of Mine." It's one of our favorite moments from the 2012 True Spirit of Christmas Tour, and we couldn't help but share.

[Video] Sponsorship: a lifetime of change

Before sponsorship, Brian and his family didn't have a roof over their heads. They didn't have a lamp to see at night.

But all of that changed after Brian became sponsored and received a special gift from his sponsor in the United States.

Kris Allen, host of the 2012 True Spirit of Christmas Tour, was able to meet Brian and his family -- and see firsthand how their lives had been changed.

"Sponsoring a child is something that is going to last them a lifetime, and is something that changes their whole community."

Praying for Turkana

During the True Spirit of Christmas Tour, we have seen how lives in Turkana, Kenya, are being changed through gifts like chickens and goats. While in Kenya, our team also had the chance to get to know John Okere, who helps oversee World Vision's work there.

John has worked for World Vision for six years because he believes in the positive impact of our work on communities.

“We touch people’s lives directly, and we see transformation almost immediately.”

John earned a degree in public health from Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya, and uses his knowledge to help families in the Turkana region.

Today, he shares with us how we can be praying for the people of Turkana.

Sponsorship: A light in Brian’s future

In the most beautiful, mountainous landscape you could ever imagine, the Rift Valley of Kenya is a land of contrasts.

While waterfalls, canyons, and wild monkeys complement glorious sunsets, not all who find themselves in this land have time to appreciate its beauty -- at least, not when basic needs aren’t met.

[Video] Away in a manger

During this year's True Spirit of Christmas tour, you have seen our host Kris Allen learn about the life-giving benefits of clean water and the gift of chickens. You've even seen him herd goats.

What you haven't seen him do is the thing he is most known for -- singing.

Today, that changes. You get the chance to see Kris Allen share a song with Sylvia and her family.