Tag Archives: World Vision bloggers

[Bolivia bloggers] Back at home, but haunted by their faces

The following post was written on Day 1, back at home from Bolivia, from Elizabeth Esther.

I did 26 hours of travel on two hours of sleep. I don’t recommend this. My body and mind feel sundered–torn apart. This afternoon I started shaking. I’m so tired–physically, emotionally, mentally–that my body started freaking out on me without sending a warning note first. And Mariela’s face haunts my emotions:

[caption id="attachment_7329" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Mariela poured confetti on my head--the traditional Bolivian form of blessing and rejoicing"]Haunted by their faces | World Vision Blog[/caption]

I met Mariela at the special-needs center in Colomi. Her uncle, in the words of Mariela’s mother, “es muy malo.” Very bad–meaning, his special needs are severe, overwhelming for a family already entrenched in deep poverty. Mariela wouldn’t let go of me. She held my hand, asked me to draw pictures for her, kissed my cheek repeatedly. Mariela has no father. Her mother is a single parent, recently returned from Argentina where she tried to find work. Mariela was too skinny for her age. But she knew how to love. She caressed my hand and stared into my eyes.

A letter to the mothers and fathers of Bolivia

To the incredible mothers and fathers of Bolivia,

This journey has been an opportunity to give a voice for the voiceless. To put a spotlight on the unseen. To shed light on what life is like through the eyes of Bolivians. I hope that I have shared and will continue to share your stories with the accuracy and thoughtfulness that they deserve.

To the mothers who pray daily for the health and future of their children -- you are the fortitude of your families. To the mothers who battle cultural discrimination because their children are born with disabilities -- you are women of strength. To the mothers who took in children who were not their own because no one else would -- you are brave. To Celestina whose son Wilfram was born with a heart condition and down syndrome – I count you full of courage for never giving up hope in his life or in God.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 7: Sex and poverty

Paulo has 8 children ranging in ages from 14 years to 6 months. Three of them walk 2 hours to school and 2 hours home. He told us that he used to live near the mines, but it wasn’t a safe place for children. He bought the land in the mountains where we visited him, and moved his family there. But he can’t grow enough in his fields to feed them all.

Thank you, Lisa Leonard [photo album]

So you know we’re in Bolivia. You know we’re blogging. You know we’re meeting sponsored children. You know we’re hoping you also make the decision to sponsor a child in Bolivia.

Here’s something you should also know: The first 150 people who sponsor a child in Bolivia through our blogs this week will also get a special “Bolivia bloggers” edition necklace thanks to our sweet and talented friend Lisa Leonard. Lisa’s handmade jewelry design company donated these to our trip to support our team and child sponsorship in Bolivia. (Of course, we wish you were here with us, Lisa!)

And when you sponsor a child in Bolivia and get this necklace, know that someone special in a World Vision community in Bolivia is wearing the necklace, too -- maybe a necklace is around the neck of one of these beautiful people we've met on our trip.

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Sponsor a child in Bolivia

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[Bolivia bloggers] Day 5: What it means to really grow your family

I saw her as soon as I walked into the room. Her bright yellow name tag held her name, but I didn’t need to read it to know it was her. I knew that shy smile from the picture I was given when I first chose to sponsor Maria.

We made eye contact. She blushed and smiled a wry smile, one corner of her mouth turned up. Just like I do. The half-smirk. I laughed. Did she know? Did she know that it was me?

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 5: Social justice exhaustion

The following is one piece of a blog written last night, on day 5 of the Bolivia bloggers trip in Cochabamba.

Can I be honest? I think many of us who are engaged in the blogging world (Christian or otherwise) are suffering from a disease.

Not a disease like HIV or diabetes.

Maybe it’s not even a disease. Maybe it’s a disorder or a mental or emotional illness. Perhaps it’s some sort of spiritual discrepancy. Or maybe it’s something like boredom. We’re overstimulated perhaps. Whatever category it should be listed under, a whole bunch of us are suffering from something called social justice exhaustion.

Other people refer to it as poverty overload.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 4: Six months ago she couldn’t have done this

I want to introduce you to Lizeth. She latched onto my Flip camera at the Special Needs Center where she is a student.

[caption id="attachment_7055" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The confetti in my hair is a blessing from the mothers of the Special Needs Center. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision"][/caption]

Lizeth is just like my kids — figured out the camera’s buttons in about half a second. For the next half hour, she ran around recording everyone she could find, her bubbly laugh echoing around the center.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 4: A world apart but the same at heart

The following was written last night, on day 4 of the Bolivia bloggers trip in Cochabamba.


Tonight I got an email from a colleague with a note from Charles Owubah, World Vision’s regional leader in East Africa. All I could thinks was this: my mind has been consumed with the people we’ve met here in Bolivia. Now I’m reminded of the 11.5 million people there affected by the drought.

Charles tells the story of one of them: Atabo.

“Yesterday I was in Lokori, Turkana East, in North Eastern Kenya where I met Atabo Ekaale.  Atabo is one-year-old but looks like six months old because he has almost nothing to eat. His mother, Lorenyi, is desperate because she wants her son to live and go to school. I saw many mothers like Lorenyi,” writes Charles.

I have a 15-month-old son. He’s loud and delightful and eats more than my three-year-old girl. I can’t imagine not being able to answer his cries for food.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 3: Trickle-Up Economics...

The terrain of Cochabamba, Bolivia is both breathtakingly beautiful and violently rugged. In the shadow of its snow-covered mountains are hundreds of arid rocky hills, where horses and cows perch as skillfully as mountain goats upon the steep slopes where people too make their homes. The high altitude (over 12,000 feet in some places!) leaves even the most skilled climbers breathless.

It takes most children over an hour to walk the winding gravel roads to school. Women who want or need to deliver their babies in a hospital typically face a three mile walk…while in labor…to the nearest health facility. The average income is just $450 a year.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 3: Meeting sponsored children + vlog

Ever wondered whether or not the child in the photo you received in your sponsorship welcome packet is really a real child? No need to be curious anymore, we've got proof!

Yesterday was one of the sweetest days I've ever experienced. Our first day in a World Vision area development program (ADP), we knew we would be exposed to so much of the work World Vision is doing there. And at the top of that list? Meeting sponsored children.

More posts from Elizabeth, Matthew, Deb, Nish, and I on "meeting our sponsored children" soon... And don't miss our vlog from Erika and Andrea at the bottom of this post!

[caption id="attachment_6948" align="aligncenter" width="375" caption="Elizabeth Esther meets her sponsored child Jhoel for the first time. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision""]Day 3: meeting sponsored children | World Vision Blog[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_6949" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Elizabeth with her sponsored children Jhoel and Adalid. ©2011 Amy Conner for World Vision""]Day 3 | Bolivia Bloggers[/caption]

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 2: The dread and joy of leaving & arriving.

The following was blogged last night in La Paz, Bolivia by Bolivia blogger Nish Weiseth at The Outdoor Wife and Deeper Story.

Erik had the car running outside in the garage. It was early. 4:00am-kinda-early.

My bags were loaded in the trunk of the hatchback and I quietly slipped back inside the house and made my way to Rowan’s door.

I put my ear against the cold painted wood and listened – I could hear him breathing heavily in his sleep on the other side. I turned the knob slowly and walked in, the hallway light just barely warming the room.

Standing next to the crib, I saw his back rise and fall with each deep breath he took.

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 2: I'll fly away

We’re just a few minutes away from boarding our plane to Bolivia. I’ve taken my high-altitude medication and am feeling slightly jittery. I also have to pee like every 15 minutes–which should be fun on the plane, yes?

The funny thing about traveling is that, well, unexpected things happen. My carry-on was too full and I had to re-shuffle my suitcases at the last minute while standing next to the ticketing counter (oh, my poor little tidy Clothing Bundles!!).

[Bolivia bloggers] Day 1: 3 airports down, 2 to go...

My morning started at 3:50 am, that's the time my first alarm went off. Three alarms later, I rushed to get up, panicking, thinking I was already late for my first flight. I quickly showered, finished throwing in last minute items into the suitcase, grabbed a bottle of water, then I was out the door.

By 6:30 am, I was through the long, dreaded security line, took my trek to the gate, and boarded my first of two flights for the day -- this one at Sea-Tac airport, the next in about four more hours at Dallas Fort Worth international airport.

Dallas welcomed me with 92 degree heat. I was certainly not in Seattle anymore. And Miami must have known I was coming, too, because it's still 90 degrees outside here, even at 7:45 in the evening. Now I'm just waiting for Ms. Elizabeth Esther and Ms. Nish Weiseth to arrive in the next hour or two. We lucky west coasters are staying the night here before everyone else arrives in the morning.

The next 9 days... headed to Bolivia

I'll soon be en route to Bolivia -- along with a few of my favorite colleagues and seven new friends -- so keeping multiple copies of my travel itinerary is absolutely necessary. I figure that this will help ensure that nobody accidentally boards the wrong plane(s).

Of course, that's the least of anyone's worries at this point. I need to finish packing. (Elizabeth Esther and Nish Weiseth beat me with the packing competition days ago.) And for many of my teammates, leaving home and their children is something really worth fearing. To hopefully lighten the anxiety a bit, I'm posting a bird's-eye view of our itinerary and agenda while we're in Bolivia.

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.

BOLIVIA BLOGGERS: Exploring sponsorship

You've probably read stories -- on this blog or elsewhere -- of how extreme poverty can create a vicious cycle of hardship and despair for families and communities. And maybe you've even heard of how World Vision child sponsorship helps break that cycle -- by providing essentials that empower families, like nutritious food, clean water, healthcare, education, training, and more.

But where does sponsorship become more than just a simple explanation? Here at World Vision, we're constantly asking ourselves: How do we make sponsorship a personal experience, where poverty and its remedies are embodied in the stories of real people and real places? And how can we connect our supporters with that?

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.