Humanitarian heroes

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Thirteen years ago today, 22 aid workers were killed in a bombing at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. In remembrance, August 19 was declared World Humanitarian Day to honor all those who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires people to serve.

With 45,000 people serving World Vision in nearly 100 countries, today we honor those who work in the hardest places. Read the stories of three humanitarian heroes working in the newest and most fragile country in the world: South Sudan. After decades of fighting for independence, South Sudan became a country in 2011 and has been embroiled in a civil war since 2013.

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Madeleine Bilonda

When you see her, she is smiling.

World Vision’s leader in Warrap State, South Sudan, Madeleine Bilonda is Congolese, the mother of six, a medical doctor—and seems to glow from within.

Even in the hardest of places.

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    From bombs and bullets to paint and polish

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    One of our staff traveled to Lebanon recently to meet with journalists covering the Syrian refugee crisis … and met a challenge she didn’t expect.

    Today, meet one little girl whose simple act of beauty inspired a World Vision writer to move past the headlines and see the heart in the Syria conflict.

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    A few weeks ago, I met a little girl named Alia. Her nose was dotted with freckles and her beautiful red hair ran down her back in a braid I’m certain her mother had lovingly done earlier that morning.

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      Education or bread

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      The stories of two 14-year-old boys who, living as Syrian refugees in Lebanon, have to be the breadwinners for their families.

      See how they balance the choices between bread and education, between pursuing their dreams and survival.

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      On the third day of a life-skills training class, Samer*, a 14-year-old Syrian boy, missed the bus that would take him to the World Vision educational center. Heavy rains and a long distance were daunting.

      Nevertheless, he was determined to get there on time for the training. He borrowed 1,000 LBP [US$0.67] from his grandmother. This got him halfway to the center in a taxi. With soaked feet, he quickly walked the rest of the way and made it to the training on time.

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        Our mother died because she ran too slow

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        Today is World Refugee Day: a day of awareness and renewed committments to help those displaced by conflict and disaster.

        Our team recently traveled to South Sudan, where they met a family of four siblings, orphaned and displaced by war.

        Read their story.

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        It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard a child say: “Our mother died because she ran too slow.”

        I was in South Sudan where today, 2 million of 11 million people have been displaced by civil conflict.

        The newest country in the world is also the most vulnerable in the world, displacing Somalia this year at the top of the list of most fragile.

        11-year-old Abuk Deng Gop has no time to be fragile.

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          Love in the name of Christ

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          Would you like to know what great love looks like? Great love that inspires a man to lay down his life for his friends?

          This incredible story of courage was told to me by my colleague, Paul Otto, a Ugandan water engineer in South Sudan

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          Paul grew up in a World Vision-supported refugee camp in Gulu, northern Uganda. His nephew was sponsored by World Vision as a child.

          He told me the story of Rich Moseanko, an American relief worker with World Vision since 1990.

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            Syria crisis: Stand up for children living in the margins

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            Our videographer Nathan Shain traveled to Lebanon this spring to visit Syrian refugee families. He was so moved by his experience, that he set up a personalized fundraising page to support our relief efforts.

            See Nathan's Instagram photos and a new video from his trip, and learn how you can set up your own fundraising page!

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            This last March, I spent almost two weeks visiting and shooting stories with Syrian children and families that had their lives uprooted in the most violent way and now live in tents and abandoned buildings as refugees.

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              Where is the Church?

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              Our Chief Catalyst Steve Haas just returned from visiting Syrian refugees and Christian leaders in Lebanon.

              “In light of the greatest migration of refugee people in our lifetime, the Church is standing in a critical gap, showing the love and compassion of Christ to their neighbor.”

              But do we care enough? Are we doing enough?

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              “God heard our prayers,” the Lebanese pastor shared, dressed in a grey suit and tie in stark contrast to our more casual attire—having just walked through a muddy informal tent settlement (ITS) of over 600 Syrian refugees. “We have long asked the Lord to give us Syrians so that we could show them His love, and we are drowning in them today.” To illustrate, he moved his open palm to mark a spot just below his nose to show a make-believe waterline.

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                Nepal earthquake: Strangers wanted her little boys

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                A week after Nepal's deadly earthquake, families are still living out in the open, in tents, in the cold, afraid of aftershocks and returning to unstable, damaged homes.

                A few days ago, a stranger approached Kanchi, a mother of three, and asked to adopt her two boys.

                See how World Vision works to protect children from a variety of dangers after disaster strikes.

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                After surviving Nepal’s deadly earthquake, Kanchi, a mother of three, says that her family faced another danger: Strangers wanted her two little boys.

                Strangers approached her and her husband two days after the powerful tremor shattered their lives. After losing their home, the family lived out in the rubble-strewn streets. That’s where the strangers found them.

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                  Nepal earthquake: Up close and personal

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                  World Vision U.S. staffer Matt Stephens was in Nepal last week for a conference. On Saturday, he was standing in Durbar Square in Bhaktapur where the photo above was taken.

                  Half an hour later, a 7.8 earthquake struck, toppling the temple behind him. Experience this disaster and World Vision's response through his eyes.

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                  At 11:40 on Saturday morning, I was sitting with two World Vision colleagues on a rooftop café enjoying the views of Durbar square in Nepal’s historic city of Bhaktapur. Less than 10 minutes later, an earthquake like none seen in this country since 1934 ravaged the historic city and much of the rest of the country—leaving the places and the lives of the people here forever changed.

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                    Living in a conflict zone

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                    As humanitarian development work makes progress against poverty, extreme poverty is receding into the margins: places where disasters, conflict, and other causes push communities from being resilient to vulnerable.

                    See what it's like to grow up and work in conflict zones first-hand from one of our aid-workers in Iraq.

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                    My first taste of what it feels like to live in a conflict zone was in the 70s, growing up in Mindanao, the Philippines’ southernmost island, which has been plagued by conflict for more than 300 years between different separatist and militant groups. Over time, the players in the conflict have changed, but the struggle continues. I have lived in a conflict zone for all 50 years of my life.

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