Recent Posts By Rachael Dill Boyer

Dirty water for now -- but clean water is in the 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.

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.

Fast facts on child health

I’m at that phase in life when a lot of my friends are having babies. Within six weeks, I will have gone to three baby showers! I’m thinking about how many prenatal doctor appointments women have in the United States -- and how many checkups and appointments most newborns have in their first year of life.

But what if there was no doctor to visit? No hospital or nearby clinic? No family doctor or trained midwife?

What would happen? Maternal and child mortality rates would go up.

Famine in Somalia is officially over, but...

Of course, I’m happy that the United Nations has declared an end to the famine in Somalia. This is encouraging news, considering that six regions of the country were designated as famine zones last July. However, an estimated 2 million people still face serious food shortages in Somalia. Our work in the drought-ravaged Horn of Africa is nowhere near done.

"Be a person who is love"

Have you ever met someone who just radiates the love, light, and peace of God?

Last month, while traveling in Swaziland, I had the privilege of meeting Nomsa, a World Vision volunteer AIDS caregiver. She is one of those people -- so full of the love of God that it can’t help but spill out to those around her.

This Valentine’s Day, I wanted to share her story. Nomsa presented me with a new way of looking at 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV): “Love is patient, love is kind…it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

In a society that often equates the word "love" with romantic love, I had forgotten that this verse is talking about the way we should show love to everyone -- even the unlovely -- without condition, the way God loves us.

Top five Valentine’s Day gifts that give back

Need some last-minute Valentine’s Day gift ideas? Chocolate hearts are so cliché -- we can do better than that. Let’s show some love to the special people in our lives, and share God’s love with children and families in need around the world. That’s a win-win! Here are my top five ways to give -- and give back.

Meeting Doctor

Some of my new year resolutions are personal -- like finishing grad school and running another half marathon. But my resolution to keep sponsoring children through the organization I love gives me an outward focus.

[caption id="attachment_11493" align="alignright" width="158" caption="My first photo of Doctor when I became his sponsor in 2004."]Meeting Doctor | World Vision Blog[/caption]

Nearly eight years ago, before I started working here, I sponsored a child through World Vision. It didn't matter whether the child was a boy or a girl, or from any particular country. I just wanted to help a child who needed a sponsor.

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:

Travel notes from Kenya

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.

Sponsorship 101 -- from a child sponsor

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.