Recent Posts By Elizabeth Ranade-Janis

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.

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.

Do you let the media influence you?

On a recent Friday afternoon, I happily engaged in my favorite nerdy end-of-week work habit, the kind only indulged on a slow week in the world of disaster relief: catching up on the week’s news in disasters while listening to talk radio.

While perusing various news sites, I happened to catch an interesting interview with Nobel laureate and psychologist Daniel Kahneman, whose renowned work focuses primarily on behavioral economics, which is more or less the study of why we do the crazy things we do. During this very interesting discussion on cognition and biases, the subject of the media briefly arose, in the context of how we decide what issues are important to us. Kahneman noted that we “tend to judge the importance of issues by how frequently they are mentioned.”

Perhaps your immediate reaction is to say, well, that seems obvious enough. It probably feels somewhat intuitive that most of us conflate the importance of a certain topic -- such as the national debt or the release of Apple's iPhone 4S -- with the amount of time we hear or see the subject filtered through any of our media lenses, be it national television, social media, print news, radio, etc. The very existence of the word “trending” makes one feel like we’ll probably never escape the Kardashians.

What disaster? 4 global crises that deserve more attention...

Today is a day of observance mostly unknown to people outside of the international relief and development world -- the International Day for Disaster Reduction.

But with the American media largely preoccupied with the goings-on of our dysfunctional political environment, I’m taking the opportunity to commemorate this day you’ve likely never heard of by talking about four disasters you’ve probably not heard too much about.

These disasters impact vulnerable children and families, and they deserve more attention.