Samuel Mwinda Mwanangombe is World Vision’s design, monitoring, and evaluation officer for the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program in Zambia. Samuel has worked for World Vision for three years, motivated by the opportunity to improve the quality of life for vulnerable and marginalized people -- especially orphans, widows, and those with disabilities -- by helping them realize their own potential to be agents of change.
He is dedicated to WASH because he’s seen firsthand the changes it has produced in communities and the lives of children. Samuel has seen God work through the WASH sector in Zambia, providing those in need with clean water, improved sanitation, and hygiene education to sustain their lives. Here, Samuel shares an example of that success, which he witnessed in a community where he works.
Water: It’s such a simple thing, but if you don’t have enough, it takes over your life.
That’s what 13-year-old Zinhle Dlamini told me. Getting water for her family in rural Swaziland is a two-hour-per-day chore. And the dirty water they get is not nearly enough for all the drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing for a household of 10 people.
Back in November, I got to see some of our clean water programs in northern Uganda, a place that is still scarred by decades of brutal civil war with Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). I never knew how complex the solution to the problem of clean water could be -- but I got to learn from some experts and ask a lot of questions.
One of the most informative conversations I had was with John Steifel, World Vision's Uganda water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) program coordinator. His explanations were so good, I thought I'd share them with you.
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.
In 2010, World Vision magazine published a story about Kathy Williams, a manager at Family Christian store in Killeen, Texas. Through a bottle of dirty water, she struck up conversations with customers -- conversations that resulted in hundreds of child sponsorships.
Because of Kathy's voice of change in her community, she was invited to visit World Vision projects in Swaziland with Austin, Texas area pastors and community leaders. After witnessing World Vision's work in Swaziland, she wrote the following reflection.
Recently I was invited on a trip with World Vision donors to visit our clean water programs in Uganda. I'm really proud that World Vision's water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programming is among the most advanced in the sector and helps thousands of children and families in communities affected by drought, natural disasters, and poor living conditions around the world.
While in Uganda, I talked with John Steifel, World Vision's Uganda WASH program coordinator. I sat down with him for an informal interview so he could explain to me why we start with water in a community, and why clean water by itself isn't enough. He gave such a clear explanation of why sanitation and hygiene programs have to go hand in hand with bringing clean water. Here are the highlights:
World Vision's Rachael Boyer is in Kenya this week, visiting our water and sanitation projects in a part of Africa long affected by drought and lack of access to clean, safe water for families and communities. Today, she shares her experiences from her first day in the field. Look for more of Rachael's trip notes on the blog later this week.
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I flew with a group of World Vision U.S. staff members and donors from Uganda into Kenya via Eldoret. Then, we traveled to Marich Pass, located in Kenya's Rift Valley, to see a particularly successful clean water project.
Previously, poor access to clean water in the area contributed to early marriages and school dropouts among the female students. Women also spent a high percentage of their time fetching water, leaving little time for other tasks.
Superman can defy gravity. Captain America has superhuman speed and endurance. Spider-Man can scale walls. For practically every law of nature, there is a superhero who can break that natural law.
Michael Chitwood is one of those guys. Where no single person in their human physical condition should be able to do what he is about to do, Chitwood and three others are going to do just that. They're going to run 100 miles in 21 straight hours -- 74 miles through the night starting this afternoon, October 8, and then they will join 1,000 Team World Vision teammates for the final 26.2 miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
When Michael first told me he was running 100 miles, I, of course, didn't believe him. One hundred miles in and of itself sounds humanly impossible. And doing any sort of physical activity for 21 straight hours -- well, I don't think most of us could even sleep for that amount of time. So you can understand my fascination with understanding why this team is going to such great lengths (literally). I recently chatted with Michael to get the 411 on his longest race yet.
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Lindsey (L): Okay, I have to ask…are you crazy for running 100 miles?!!
Michael (M): You know, I've been getting asked that question a lot lately. Really, I've been asked that question a lot since I ran my first marathon in 2003. Some people thought I was crazy to run a marathon, because I had never run and was pretty overweight at the time -- 265 pounds. Then, when I did my first Ironman Triathlon, some of my friends thought I was crazy. Then, last year, I did my first ultramarathon, a 56-mile run in South Africa…my friends said I was crazy. But for the first time in eight years, and after running all of these events, I have to admit…this one, running 100 miles, it's maybe just a little crazy.
I'm excited to welcome Mark Hall -- the lead singer and songwriter for Casting Crowns, a long-time World Vision artist -- to the World Vision Blog. When I received this post from Mark, the source of the passion in his songwriting became immediately obvious. They're words of experience and depth from his heart. Thanks, Mark, for guest-blogging today and for giving us a peek into Casting Crowns' newest album. Don't forget to order the pre-sale of the album online at FamilyChristian.com.
—Lindsey Talerico-Hedren, managing editor, World Vision Blog
When we went to adopt Hope and bring her home with us from China, she didn’t want me to hold her. I was told that usually when the orphaned children there see white men, they sometimes think they are doctors coming to do surgery on them.
It wasn't until seven days after we were back home that I told my wife Melanie, "I’m just going to go pick her up, and sooner or later, she’ll be too exhausted to cry anymore." We were at the zoo at the time. I picked her up, but she wasn’t going to have it. She screamed for the next 30 minutes.
Later that night, I was lying awake in bed, staring at the fan, having a conversation with God about this. It took us three years to be able to adopt Hope. Our family began the adoption process before she was born, with all its red tape and expense, the testing and interviews and waiting -- lots of waiting.
About a week ago I got this great email from a colleague telling me all about this recent college graduate who is embarking on a 15-month adventure around the Great Loop. (I confess I didn't know what the Great Loop is so I looked it up: The Great Loop is a continuous waterway around the eastern United States and Canada... The route ranges from 5,000 to 7,500 miles, passing through many states and several climate zones. Source: http://www.paddleforwells.com)
So, needless, to say... the Great Loop is basically an extraordinary waterway that would be no easy or quick trip for anyone. And what's more? Josh Tart is going to paddle the whole thing in his kayak. (This is where you and I have the same reaction -- WHAT!!??!)
We've mentioned before our outstanding corporate partner, Procter and Gamble (P&G). And maybe you even heard about their big milestone a couple of months ago: providing their 3 billionth liter of clean drinking water to the developing world with PUR water packets in partnership with World Vision.
But what you might not have heard is the fascinating story of how P&G's PUR "clean water venture" got started.
Maybe running's not your thing. So marathons wouldn't really be your thing. Five kilometers or 42.195 kilometers -- definitely not your thing.
Maybe your thing is music, or sporting events, or enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest. Now that sounds a lot more like the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.
That's because this marathon isn't really your average running venture. Local bands play live music, and cheer squads line the roads every mile. Lake Washington neighbors come out of their homes to join the "crowd" en route from Tukwila, Washington, to downtown Seattle. It's a "running [and I would add, outdoor entertainment] nirvana," as the marathon Facebook page says.
One of the greatest blessings I've ever experienced was the opportunity to travel to Southern Africa with my daughter, Amanda, who was 20 at the time. I had worked with World Vision for almost 15 years in various capacities, mostly related to web and social media communications, and had traveled abroad several times. But this would be my first opportunity to meet our sponsored child, Gracia, in person.
The day Amanda and I spent with Gracia -- who lives in the southern part of the Congo and was 8 at the time -- is forever burned into our memories. Gracia is sweet, funny, and very smart. She lives in the poorest of circumstances, but has great potential to break the cycle of poverty, thanks to the way the Lord is working in her life through World Vision and others.
I'll never forget how Amanda burst into tears at the end of a day in which she and Gracia basically became big sister/little sister.
World Vision’s child sponsorship program has been part of my life for nearly two decades. My dad started working at World Vision when I was 9 years old. I’ve worked here for nearly five years now, and my husband and I sponsor three children of our own.
We love getting letters, drawings, photos, and progress reports from the children in our global family. And we love sending them cards, pictures, small packages, and the occasional extra gift.
But even as a staff person and a longtime child sponsor, I’ve still asked myself: What does sponsorship actually do? How does it actually work?
In putting this blog post together, I’ve learned that, in a nutshell, sponsorship connects you with a child in need and empowers the child’s community to become healthy, safe, and self-reliant, breaking the cycle of poverty.
It’s not a handout. It’s more like a hand up. By helping to provide access to life essentials, we, as sponsors, don’t just “give away” our money and cross our fingers. We actually help World Vision in giving the entire community of our sponsored child a “boost” up and out of poverty.
In order for children to experience life in all its fullness, they must have reliable access to all of the essentials for life: clean water, a secure source of food, healthcare, education, etc. That’s why World Vision takes an integrated approach to helping our sponsored children’s communities become whole, because each piece of this puzzle intertwines with the others.
[caption id="attachment_4665" align="alignright" width="162" caption="In Senegal, a World Vision water pump in Mballo's village gives her community clean water. ©2010 David duChemin/World Vision"][/caption]
Clean water: This is often where our work starts. Simply providing access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene can cut a community’s child death rate by more than half.
Food security: We help farming families learn better crop cultivation and food storage techniques, provide essentials like seeds and tools, and distribute food aid to help make sure that children get the nutrition they need.
Health care: We help to make basic health care accessible by stocking health clinic shelves with medicine, training parents and health workers to treat illness, and coordinating HIV-prevention education and care for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
It’s been a tough two weeks for the World Vision family. Our 40,000 staff work in nearly 100 countries, so when there is a devastating event in Japan, with its 75 World Vision staff members, it affects our entire family.
The stress level around here has been so high that today I decided....