Tag Archives: Interview

Q&A with our clean water expert in Uganda

Leading up to World Water Day on March 22, we're going to do a series of posts about our work in the area of water and sanitation, giving you some ideas of how to get involved.

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.

Got an iPhone? Find World Vision!

iPhone users can now stay in touch with World Vision and keep up to date with humanitarian issues and emergency response news through World Vision Now, our new iPhone app!

It's easy to find -- just search for "World Vision Now" in the App Store on your iPhone, and look for our orange icon.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Answers from aid workers about Haiti

Today is the two-year anniversary of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, leaving the nation in ruins and triggering an international relief response. In the time since, aid workers and relief organizations have experienced an unprecedented level of scrutiny surrounding the response: What is really happening there? Are donations going to good use? Is there hope?

To gain some insight into these matters, we hosted an open mic for questions about Haiti this past week. Your submissions have been collected for responses from World Vision aid workers who have been focused on the relief efforts in Haiti -- Jeff Wright and Liz Ranade-Janis. Jeff and Liz were deployed to Haiti following the 2010 quake to coordinate and oversee World Vision relief programs there. Their extensive experience and expertise makes them a valuable resource in our understanding of humanitarian and emergency affairs.

Ask an aid worker about Haiti

There are few disaster response efforts that have received the level of public scrutiny that has been focused on the international response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. As a result of the earthquake relief response in Haiti, it's likely that most Americans have formed their own opinions about humanitarian aid. Questions like these and their answers (or lack of answers) influence our understanding and opinion of aid work:

Did my donation really help? Why hasn't anything been accomplished there? I watched one news channel that looks like everything is progressing quite well, and another that shows everything is in complete disarray. What's the truth? What's really happening? Two years seems like enough time to make some progress. Is the aid effort failing? Are dollars being wasted? Or is everything much better off than the news is telling us?

Most of us don't get to meet real humanitarian workers in the course of our everyday lives, so we don't have the opportunity to ask questions like this to front-line professionals. Therefore, consider this post your "open mic" chance.

Continuing with our expert interview series, in which you have the opportunity to ask your questions to aid professionals, I'd like to introduce you to Jeff Wright and Elizabeth (Liz) Ranade-Janis, aid workers on World Vision's humanitarian and emergency affairs team. Ask an aid worker about Haiti | World Vision blogJeff and Liz were both deployed to Haiti following the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010 -- two years ago next week -- to work alongside World Vision field staff to help implement the initial stages of our relief programs, including shelter, economic recovery, child protection, healthcare, cholera prevention, water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Why we start with water and sanitation

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:

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.

Congratulations, sponsorship trip winners!

In September, World Vision introduced our first-ever travel sweepstakes: Supporters who found new sponsors for five or more children in a month's time were eligible to win a trip to Peru to witness the impact of child sponsorship firsthand. Just over a month has passed since the sweepstakes closed, and we are ready to officially announce our two winners!

Congratulations Sarah Baerg of Trabuco Canyon, California, and Terry Adams of Venice, Florida! We're very excited to have Sarah and Terry travel with us to visit sponsorship communities of Huanta and Forjadores del Futuro (Huamanga) in Peru, where they’ll meet sponsored children and their families and local World Vision staff members.

We're also blessed that so many more children have been sponsored because of the encouragement of current sponsors and the generosity of new ones. We thank each person who helped to make this possible -- whether you were a sponsor entering to win, or a new sponsor to a child in need.

Ask an expert about food aid

When I was a little kid, my sister (who never ate her vegetables) used to wish aloud at the dinner table that she could send her broccoli to Africa, where the kids really need it.

At the time, I liked to think of myself as not quite so naive -- I knew we couldn't literally send our vegetables to Africa. It would taste really bad by the time it got there.

Yes, shipping leftovers probably isn't a best practice in terms of humanitarian food aid. But what about food security? And malnutrition prevention and mitigation? And ready-to-use therapeutic food?

Asking questions like these is absolutely essential in better understanding the complexities of humanitarian work. It's also why we're continuing with our expert interview series -- in which you have the opportunity to ask your questions to aid professionals. Our first post on this topic was "Ask an aid worker about the Horn of Africa" with World Vision's Betsy Baldwin. In this second installment, I'd like to introduce you to Paul Macek.

Train. Pray. Run. (6 questions with a 100-mile runner)

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.

Where are they from? A World Teachers' Day pop quiz

My grandmother was a teacher. My mom taught special education. My brother teaches middle school math. My sister is on the school board. Clearly, the importance of a good education was instilled in me from a young age.

Still, the teacher gene is not dominant in my DNA. I think it might have something to do with my patience -- or lack thereof.

Although teaching is not in my vocation, I understand and value the work of teachers across the United States and around the world. These dedicated servants are molding the future generations, often in difficult circumstances.

In my time working with World Vision, I have had the privilege of meeting and interacting with many teachers around the world. It is astounding to me that despite the geographic area, the culture, or the language, teachers around the world have so much in common -- the same dreams, the same motivations, and many of the same struggles.

The following are excerpts from interviews with teachers from three different continents. See if you can guess where they are from:

Operation Seasweep: A 32-year story of God's provision

Thirty-two years ago, World Vision reported the rescue story of Operation Seasweep, the boat Mr. Vinh Chung was on, in the August 1979 issue of World Vision Magazine. Mr. Chung recently retold his story at our headquarters office. I spoke with him afterward for a fuller picture of his life after Seasweep and the miracle of God's provision for his family.


Two very different parts of Vinh Chung’s life meet when he walks on a beach.

In an instant, the smell of sea salt takes the 36-year-old skin cancer surgeon back to his 1979 exodus from Vietnam.

Just four years old at the time, Vinh recalls fleeing the southern city of Ca Mau by boat from the Mekong River Delta toward the South China Sea with his parents and seven siblings.

The Chung family -- ethnically Chinese -- escaped the communist government’s persecution of ethnic minorities.

Once they reached the open ocean, Thai pirates stole their valuables. Their boat eventually made it to a Malaysian beach, but instead of offering asylum, soldiers held them at gunpoint and brutally beat Vinh’s father and uncle. Then they were towed back out to sea on a smaller boat with no working motor or fuel. They were left to die.

An aid worker's answers about the Horn of Africa

On Tuesday, we asked you what questions you have about disaster aid and assistance, in an effort to help you better understand the current humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and its implications for aid recipients and aid donors. Betsy Baldwin, whom we introduced you to, answered some of your most pressing questions. Read the post that started this: Ask an aid worker about the Horn of Africa.

[caption id="attachment_8112" align="alignright" width="196" caption="Betsy Baldwin, World Vision Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs"]An aid worker's answers about the Horn of Africa | World Vision blog[/caption]

Betsy is a program officer for World Vision Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs, currently focusing on relief efforts in the Horn of Africa, where 12.4 million people are affected by drought and famine. She has degrees in civil engineering from Iowa State University and Virginia Tech, and has worked in relief development in Darfur, Sudan, Northern Afghanistan, Haiti (following the January 2010 earthquake), conflict regions of the Congo, and South Sudan. She is currently in Nairobi, Kenya, on her second visit to the Horn of Africa to assess needs and determine programmatic response.

From T: How do you ensure that what is written on paper is what happens on the ground?

Great question, and possibly the subject of future posts here on the World Vision Blog -- how do we actually do emergency relief? A short, sweet answer for now is simply that we make sure we have experienced, professional disaster-responders on the ground, running the relief response. This means that with almost every disaster response in which we are involved, we have a mix of both local and also international staff -- all experienced and capable.

Ask an aid worker about the Horn of Africa

Ask an aid worker | World Vision blogUpdate: read the follow-up post: An aid worker’s answers about the Horn of Africa

Want to know more about managing household finance? Talk to Suze Ormann. Health advice? Watch Dr. Oz. General wisdom? Google, of course.

But what about those disasters all over the news? It looks like a lot is going on.... or not? Who should you ask to find out about the issues in a big disaster response, like the current drought and famine in the Horn of Africa?

You ask an aid worker. Why? Because they're out in the disaster zone talking to survivors and assessing needs, determining the scale and involvement of response, identifying funding sources for assistance plans, writing proposals communicating with donors about needs and planned projects, and getting the projects started.

In an effort for all of us to better understand the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, we're gleaning from the inspiration of Rachel Held Evans interview series, "Ask a ____" and starting our own "ask" series. In this post, I'd like to introduce you to Betsy Baldwin -- disaster response expert.

Ask a humanitarian... Tough questions answered!

At the end of last week, Rachel Held Evans, one of the fabulous bloggers headed with us to Bolivia, asked her readers what tough questions they had about child sponsorship, humanitarian work, and World Vision. I dug for answers to the questions they asked with the help of colleagues across our organization.

Perhaps you or others you know have wondered what the answers are to these questions. And if you have any other questions for us, just ask!

Writing next time from Bolivia,

Carla


Here's a couple of my fave questions on Rachel's blog... (The follow is an excerpt from Rachel Held Evans' interview "Ask a humanitarian... (Carla responds)")

Question from Elizabeth: How does child sponsorship help the community at large and not just the individual children? Do the sponsored children end up using their education to just leave their poor communities behind? I have always worried about this.

World Vision’s work is always in the context of families and communities because children thrive when their families and communities are healthy. Our interventions depend on what the community needs.   Children who have access to good nutrition, clean water, basic healthcare, and educational opportunities are better prepared to build a future for themselves and their families and communities.

What would you paddle 6,000 miles for?

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!!??!)

Blogger interview with World Vision on tornado response

Editor's note: On Tuesday evening, World Vision blogger Dan King conducted a Skype interview with Romanita Hairston, World Vision's vice president of U.S. programs, about how World Vision plans to help those affected by tornadoes in the U.S. Heartland, and her recent experience in the tornado zone in Joplin, Missouri.

I was sitting in the delivery room with my wife early on the morning of April 28, and we turned on the TV to pass a little time. Flipping over to the news, we saw video of a mile-wide tornado ripping through Alabama. It was part of what’s been termed the "2011 Super Outbreak." As we were about to welcome a new life into the world, our hearts broke for the victims of such a devastating storm.

One cup at a time

I first met Christian Kar, CEO of the One Cup Project, back in November at a local church conference. I was there with the World Vision Micro team, and Christian was there with his team. One Cup was a new World Vision corporate partner choosing to use its business to fuel hope in other countries -- by making donations from every coffee sale to support our work in Zambia. Together, we were representing the power that donations and personal purchases have on social and economic change in other countries.

I've met with Christian and his team many times since then. Our work together makes us "business partners," but our common goal to help others make us friends. I can vouch that he and his team embody every bit of brilliance and kindness you feel from their emails. They represent the spirit of an entrepreneur with the compassion of a humanitarian. They make One Cup's mission -- to tell a different story about business -- personal, believable, and contagious. It makes you want to join their team in their pursuit to change people's purchasing choices, one cup at a time.

Lindsey (L): Where does your coffee story begin?

[caption id="attachment_4778" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Christian at his coffee roaster. Photo courtesy of the One Cup Project."]One cup at a time | World Vision Blog[/caption]

Christian (C): I've been intensely focused on building a coffee enterprise since I was 19. You could say I didn’t choose coffee -- it chose me. I was sort of at the right place at the right time, and while I didn’t set out to be in coffee, I loved the people side of the business and grew to love coffee as well. The coffee business brought me out of my shell. I started with retail, then began roasting, and the business grew steadily year over year. Success seemed to come easy.

L: At the height of your coffee enterprise success, what was "game-changer" in dreaming up the One Cup Project?

C: My wife and I both surrendered our lives to Christ shortly after the 9/11 attacks. We both knew in our souls that all was not right in the world. As my faith began to mature over the next few years, I asked myself, "Is this it? Am I just going to be the coffee guy for 20 more years?" Then God planted the “seed” for the One Cup Project. In 2007, I went on a short-term missions trip to Kenya. God had laid Africa on my heart for reasons I can’t understand. I went, and my eyes were opened.

When commerce and charity share a mission

Whoever said that fashion can't make a difference in our world? Surely, if people can wear their hearts on their sleeve, they can definitely wear their cause.

I recently chatted with Kevin Murray, CEO of Jedidiah, who talked about the company's unique ability to artistically connect fashion to social causes so everyone can make a measurable difference in the world. Their collections are available online and in select retailers. *World Vision is the beneficiary of Jedidiah's Spring and Summer 2011 collections.

Tell me about the humanitarian mission behind Jedidiah...

Jedidiah's mission is “to use apparel sales as a vehicle to provide care, support and financial resources to those in need." We do this by partnering with amazing NGO’s each season. Really, our model is the collision of commerce and charity. I believe that social enterprises and business models with embedded generosity have the potential to change history and effect social causes like never before.

How do you think this belief resonates with Jedidiah supporters?

I think their deepest desire is to be part of something bigger than themselves and to make a real difference. America is the most compassionate country the world has ever seen. But maybe people don’t know how to engage or be part of the compassion movement. We ask for consumers to support our apparel brand as a way of getting involved and having a voice. But for that support, we, in turn, owe them a great product, with great design, built with integrity and style. If we don’t measure up to our peers in the apparel industry than we don’t deserve to be in business. A quality product at a fair price is crucial to our growth as a company.

So how did World Vision become part of the picture?

Our family has supported World Vision sponsored children for many years. I have always thought of World Vision as one of the most productive and efficient NGO’s and have been a huge fan for a long time. I love the way World Vision starts at the individual level. The model of changing one person’s life -- that can then change a family, a community, a city and a nation -- is one I believe in with all my heart.

I also know you have a huge heart for the child trafficking cause...

I am the father of three daughters. The idea that children are bought and sold for the pleasure of others is the saddest, darkest part of humanity I have ever seen. So with World Vision, we chose to commit our Spring and Summer 2011 charitable sales to fund a trauma recovery center in Cambodia that will help hundreds of children who are rescued from this life.

The brighter side of a shark bite

Imagine being a champion surfer and one day having a shark bite off your arm. Not only will you have to live through the rest of your life with one arm, your surfing career might well be at an end. Is there a bright side to this story?

We wrote about Bethany Hamilton in the Spring 2006 issue of World Vision magazine. And her extraordinary story is now the subject of the major motion picture “Soul Surfer,” due for release on April 8 and starring AnnaSophia Robb, Helen Hunt, and Dennis Quaid.

[caption id="attachment_3598" align="alignright" width="254" caption="At the World Vision transitional housing center, Bethany talks with 13-year-old Ketsara who lost her mother and home to the tsunami, comparing the lessons they learned on how to handle tragedy and loss. (Jon Warren/WV)"][/caption]

Bethany did indeed lose her arm to a tiger shark when she was just 13, but within a month she was back in the water, trying to find the next great wave. That spirit gave World Vision an idea. Following the Asian tsunami, fishing communities we were working with in Thailand had become petrified of the ocean from which they derived their living. Could Bethany help?

Bethany traveled to Phuket, where she talked with villagers about her own devastating ocean experience. One of her key points: Shark attacks and tsunamis are rare events; we ought not allow them to dictate the way we live the rest of our lives. Bethany persuaded some village youngsters to head into the ocean with her, where—much to their delight—she gave them their first-ever surfing lesson.

Skype interview with World Vision relief worker in Japan

Emergency communications officer with World Vision U.S. Casey Calamusa was deployed to Japan 38 hours after the massive 8.9-magnitude quake on Friday, March 11. I chatted with Casey on Skype last night. Thanks to those of you who tweeted in questions. Here's what he had to say....