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?

Later this month, we're joining eight bloggers and a photographer, as we pack our bags and prepare our readers to "come" to Bolivia with us, keeping those questions in mind.

The bloggers are moms, dads, and young professionals who have found a passion in sharing their experiences through writing. Some have never left the United States before. Others may be seeing this kind of poverty for the first time. But all of them have the same objective -- to use their blogging skills to tell the real, raw, and unfiltered story of how children, families, and communities in Bolivia are impacted by child sponsorship.

They'll blog about their experiences firsthand, telling stories through their own eyes and their own styles -- and you'll be their audience, through their own blogs or on ours.

So maybe you're a sponsor, or have considered sponsoring a child in the past. Maybe you're in college, or just beginning retirement. Maybe you wrestle with the tension between faith and action. Or maybe, you're just like us -- wanting to know just how the experience of sponsorship relates to our everyday lives. Join us as we explore these questions and blog from Bolivia, July 30 through August 7. Follow us also on Twitter.

Meet our team: BOLIVIA BLOGGERS, July 30-August 7, 2011

Joy Bennett, blogger
Blogging from Joy In This Journey and The Deeper Story
Tweets from @writingjoy
Joy is a writer, wife, mother of four, learner, follower of Jesus, bereaved, asker of questions, and lover of rich soil, good food, music, and no particular order. Two of her children were born with serious congenital heart defects. She has been through six open-heart surgeries, countless hospital stays and doctor visits, and one funeral.

Michael Bianchi, trip leader and WV representative
Tweets from @WorldVisionUSA
Michael has been a music lover for as long as he can remember. It is that passion that led him on his journey to World Vision, where he helps people who have a voice speak out on behalf of those who do not. Michael lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with his wife, two boys, and seven fish -- four of which are still alive and swimming (as of this morning).

Amy Conner, photographer
Tweets from @amy_conner
Originally from Greeneville, Tennessee, Amy Conner has a sense of adventure that takes her to unexpected places. After graduating college, Amy took up photography as a hobby while she traveled with her job. She quickly found herself immersed in a growing business and has been developing her creative eye in various photography genres for over 13 years.

Elizabeth Esther, blogger
Blogging from
Tweets from @elizabethesther
Elizabeth is a columnist and blogger. She writes about everything from raising five children to politics and humor and life at the intersection of faith and parenting. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their five children.

Rachel Held Evans, blogger
Blogging from
Tweets from @rachelheldevans
Rachel is an avid blogger and the author of “Evolving in Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions.” She and her husband, Dan, live in Dayton, Tennessee -- home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.

Jana Melpolder, blogger
Blogging from Beliefnet
Jana hails from Erie, Pennsylvania, and now works as a writer for She loves to travel and learn about the dynamic cultures of God's creation. Recently, Beliefnet sent Jana to Israel to explore Christian sites in the Holy Land, such as the Sea of Galilee. In her spare time, Jana likes to read and eat a ridiculous amount of hummus.

Carla Swanson Gawthrop, WV representative
Carla has worked for World Vision for 10 years -- in copywriting, international communications, and now, web content for the World Vision website. She is a mother of two preschoolers and resides in Seattle, Washington, with her husband, Clint. 

Lindsey Talerico-Hedren, blogger and WV representative
Blogging from World Vision Blog

Tweets from @WorldVisionUSA
Lindsey is the managing editor of the World Vision Blog and coordinator of blogger relations. She can be found around the office wandering in search of a creative idea or bouncing a big yellow ball she won at the last team competition. She lives in Puyallup, Washington, with her husband, Colin, and puppy, Bella.

Matthew Paul Turner, blogger and WV representative

Blogging from Jesus Needs New PR
Tweets from @JesusNeedsNewPR
Matthew is a speaker, author, humorist, and blogger. He's written 18 books, including "Churched" and "Hear No Evil." Matthew, along with his wife, Jessica, and their children, Elias and Adeline, live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nish Weiseth, blogger

Blogging from The Outdoor Wife and The Deeper Story
Tweets from @theoutdoorwife and @deeperstory
Nish is a wifey, mommy, adventurer, writer, daydreamer, thinker, connector, and believer. She’s a city-dweller and a music snob and spends her days chasing her tiny boy, but she finds ways to steal moments, capturing real life in word and film. Nish, her husband, Erik and their son, Rowan, live in Oregon with their two dogs.

Deb Wolf, blogger

Blogging from 5 Minutes For Mom and Counting My Blessings
Tweets from @BlessingCounter
Deb is a wife, mom, “gram,” and avid blogger from St. Louis, Missouri. She writes about her daily challenge to look at life through grace-colored glasses.


    As a WV sponsor for several years, I'm excited you're doing this! I've been reading stories from bloggers about Compassion's trips like this for a few years too and I'm glad WV will be spreading the good news of what they're doing this way as well. I think it's very effective and can't wait to read about the Bolivia trip!

    Thanks for your excitement and encouragement, Melissa. Your comment is great affirmation that this will, indeed, be a worthwhile adventure. And as the trip progresses, please continue to let us know what you think.

    May you all have a wonderful and safe trip. We are excited to follow your travels and will keep you all in our prayers. Can't wait to learn more about this amazing world!

    Thank you for the kind words, Pat, and your prayers are much appreciated. This will be quite an adventure for all of us!

    I'm so excited that you're going to Bolivia. I just sponsored a little girl from Bolivia a couple of months ago!

    Your new sponsorship in Bolivia is perfect timing for our trip, Wendy. We hope you learn as much about the country and the impact of sponsorship there as we do. You can follow all our posts July 30-August 7 on this blog :)

    Maybe our ability to go on this trip with such wonderful bloggers is, in a way, God's divine way of carrying out your idea from long ago :) Thank you for your prayers. Can't wait for you to "join" us in Bolivia!

    aww snap! this sounds like it'll be an amazing trip! i can't wait to follow along all of the amazing posts that i'm sure will come out of it!

    Looks like a fantastic team - full of varied strengths and talents!

    I will be sure to follow along as these bloggers share stories of poverty, pain, perspective...and hope.

    Thinking of you as you make travel preparations...

    - Stephanie

    I am so thankful WV has decided to do this. I've followed the blogging groups that have gone with Compassion on mission trips and think it is such an amazing way to make people aware of the needs.
    I even suggested it to our lady we talk to about the two children we sponsor - a long time ago :-) I'll be praying and following!

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