How a local business is helping drive away poverty, one goat at a time

Campbell Auto Group, a host of family-run car dealerships in the greater Seattle area, has had a unique way of supporting the work of World Concern for the past six years. And every Christmas, they do something incredible. In an effort to change lives around the world through their Drive Away Poverty: Buy a Car, Give a Goat campaign, Campbell Auto Group partners with us and the community by donating a goat for every car sold in November and December. The impact? Changing thousands of lives around the world each Christmas!  Over the years, they have given more than 3,000 goats to families in need around the world in places like Bangladesh and Haiti.

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“Sometimes it seems customers are more excited about their stuffed goats than their new cars which is saying a lot!” – Kurt Campbell

“Goats are a very tangible way for us to help people suffering from dire economic circumstances in some of the poorest countries in the world,”  explains owner Kurt Campbell. Kurt has had the opportunity to travel with World Concern to some of our projects in Sri Lanka and witness the incredible impact a goat can make in someone’s life.

“Many years ago I had the opportunity to see firsthand the power of a 4-legged bank account,” says Kurt, “The idea of giving a family a goat is so simple it’s brilliant…they are hearty animals that already live in some of the toughest regions in the world…this amazing animal can provide a healthy diet and income that will allow these families a brighter future.”

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Owner of Campbell Auto Group, Kurt Campbell, is a big fan of helping families in need around the world through the gift of a goat!

Kurt and his team look forward to this special season every year and even incorporate live goats into their TV commercials! Posters of children with their goats from around the world can be found decorating their showrooms along with stuffed animal goats.

“We make sure every customer who buys a car from us receives a stuffed goat as a reminder of the difference their purchase makes in the lives of others,” Kurt explains, “Sometimes it seems customers are more excited about their stuffed goats than their new cars which is saying a lot!”

We’re so grateful for businesses like Campbell Auto Group that choose to partner with us in such a profound way during the Christmas season, allowing the community to have an impact in changing lives around the world.

To learn more about the Drive Away Poverty: Buy a Car, Give a Goat campaign visit our website here!

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Can a goat really change a life?

Give a goat, change a life. If you’re anything like me, you may be asking yourself, How does that work? This time of year, we talk a lot about goats and the impact they can have on a person’s life; especially those living in extreme poverty in places like Haiti and Southeast Asia.

A single goat given to a child in places like Haiti can earn a stable income and provide opportunities for kids to go to school and save for the future.
A single goat given to a child in places like Haiti provides nutritious milk and a stable income.

Maybe you’ve seen our photos of cute kids from around the world with their goats playfully draped around their necks and maybe you’ve even given the gift of a goat to someone in need, but have you ever wondered if and how a goat can really change a life?

For me, it wasn’t until I heard Khuki’s story that I began to understand…

Khuki is among the poorest of the poor in her low caste community in Bangladesh. For her, every single day is a struggle. Growing up, she barely had enough food to eat or a shelter to sleep under, let alone the opportunity to go to school. Life after childhood only became more difficult for Khuki.

Like many young girls whose parents can’t afford to care for their children anymore, Khuki was married off by the time she just 15 years old. Five years and almost three children later, Khuki’s husband began abusing her and eventually left Khuki for another woman. Unfortunately, this situation is not uncommon for many women like Khuki, who end up alone, rejected and without any hope in a country that does not typically value women.

Pregnant with her third child and fearful that her two daughters would starve, Khuki had no other option but to go door-to-door begging her neighbors for help. Khuki had reached the end of her rope.

Soon after her son was born, she heard about World Concern’s micro-credit program for the poorest women in her community. She learned how something as simple as a goat given to women just like her —widows, the poor, the hungry and the uneducated—can help give them a second chance. This was the opportunity that Khuki needed to get her life back on track.

A single goat gave Khuki the start that she needed to support her family and gain a sense of dignity.
A single goat gave Khuki the start that she needed to support her family and gain a sense of dignity.

Before she knew it, Khuki finally had a stable source of income. She was now the proud mother of three children and one kid goat. Khuki began selling the goat’s milk, allowing her to earn a stable income, save money, and eventually purchase more goats. For the first time in her life, Khuki is able to provide for herself and her family. More than that, she now has a sense of worth and dignity that she has never known before.

Khuki has earned enough money to invest in more goats and even built a house for her and her three children.
A single goat multiplies and people like Khuki can earn even more income from the offspring of their goat gift.

“I understand the importance of education and sending my children to school,” Khuki explains, “…the support has opened new doors for me and my family.”

In fact, recently, Khuki has been able to build a small home for her and her children to live in, something she never before would have thought possible. And to think, it all started with a goat!

Now through midnight tonight, Tuesday, November 29th, your gift will multiply when you give a goat to someone just like Khuki, changing not one but two lives this Christmas season!

What’s Inside This Packet Will Save a Child’s Life

A small bag of flour.
A two-liter bottle of soda.
A pair of work boots.
Little Nala.

Each of these weigh 5 pounds.

A $32 gift will nourish a hungry child, and nurse her back to health.

It will be Nala’s first birthday soon and yes, she only weighs five pounds.

Nala’s weak and malnourished body is what extreme poverty looks like in Somalia. Her desperate mother brought her to a health clinic, pleading for help. The minute Nala’s stick-thin arm was measured, it was confirmed that Nala was severely malnourished.

Somalia is experiencing a long-lasting drought, leaving fields barren and livestock dead. The result is that children like Nala are starving and horribly undernourished.

Malnutrition can be devastating for a child living in these conditions, especially one as young as Nala. Her growing body needs good food, and when deprived of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients for any length of time, her vital organs begin to shut down. Her brain doesn’t develop properly. And if she doesn’t receive the help she needs, she is vulnerable to disease, stunted growth, and even death.

In Somalia, a child’s arm is measured for malnutrition. A $32 gift can nourish a starving child and restore her to full health.

We’ve all seen the photos of emaciated children, their tiny faces stretched thin with sad, and staring eyes. And the bloated bellies—a gruesome sign that a child is acutely malnourished.

But it’s not just a lack of food that’s causing the problems in Somalia. It’s poor nutrition. And the solution to this widespread problem is so simple.

It’s called a nutripacket, and every small, foil packet contains enough nutrients to restore a child like Nala to health. When taken daily over the course of three months, it can save a malnourished child’s life.

Packed with a life-saving, nutrient-rich paste, Nutripacket's will save a child's life.
Packed with a life-saving, nutrient-rich paste, this packet will save a child’s life.

 

So what’s in this miracle cure?

Inside each foil packet is a peanut-based paste that is packed with a concentrated dose of life-saving minerals and nutrients. Everything a malnourished child needs is there, including folic acid, calcium, potassium, iron, and more. So when eaten daily, it gives a starving child a nutrient boost that takes them from near death to survival almost immediately.

A 3-month supply of nutripackets is exactly what you can give a malnourished child like Nala. Because of special matching grants, a gift of $32 will multiply 4x to help restore 4 children to health, instead of one.

Two movie tickets.
Half a tank of gas.
Dinner for two at a chain restaurant.

Or saving the life of a child like Nala?

 

Students before brides – how scholarships are changing girls’ lives in Bangladesh

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:5

The country of Bangladesh—with more than one-quarter of it’s population living on less than $2/day—can be a difficult place to grow up. But 11-year-old Dina is a light to her destitute homeland.

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11-year-old Dina was on the path towards child marriage before getting a scholarship.

Dina was born into a very poor family in a rural community and until recently, her life was going down a seemingly dismal path. Like most young girls in her community who spend their days working for their families—cooking, cleaning, fetching water and taking care of younger siblings—Dina was soon to be married.

Married… at 11-years-old. 

Unable to afford to send Dina to school or support her at all, her father was prepared to make an agreement with another family and sell his daughter off to marry a much older man. By God’s grace, however, Dina’s story took a drastic turn. One day, a local teacher visited Dina’s neighborhood. When he first saw Dina, he felt bad for the thin young girl in tattered clothes that stood before him. “But as we talked,” the teacher explains about first interacting with Dina, “I was so impressed by her and her dreams.”

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Educating girls in places like Bangladesh drastically reduces the likelihood of them becoming child brides and teenage mothers.

After talking with Dina and later meeting with her parents and telling them about an opportunity for her to attend school on a paid scholarship through World Concern, the teacher was able to re-direct Dina’s path completely.

Today, Dina is the top student in her fourth grade class. “Without your assistance, it was not possible for us to send Dina to school and lead her on a track of development to a brighter future,” Dina’s parents explain.

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Ultra poor women like Faranza are becoming empowered through their involvement in micro-credit programs in Bangladesh.

Families around Bangladesh are learning about the importance of sending their children to school. In a male-dominated society that does not traditionally support education for girls, this is a vital step in the right direction. In the past month alone, 60 new households heard about the scholarship program for the first time and 92 sponsored students had their tuition and exam fees paid for. As a direct result, there has been an increase in overall school attendance as well as major improvements in the way that parents are prioritizing and taking better care of their daughters.

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As parents are seeing the impact of education on their children’s lives, they too are becoming motivated to learn and improve their own lives. For women like Dina’s mom, this means getting involved in a women’s micro-credit group. These groups allow women to work together and save money as well as invest in their own small businesses. Not only does this directly impact their economic stability, but it empowers them to stand up for their rights and learn new skills such as how to read and write. In one community this month, advocacy and counselling sessions helped prevent a divorce and two child marriages!

“World Concern showed me the light in my life,” Dina explains, “Otherwise I would grow up as an illiterate woman…in the future I want to be a teacher and teach the poor children in my community.”

To help more girls like Dina become lights in their communities, you can provide a scholarship for $50 and send a girl to school today!

 

The tiny grave that broke my heart

A few weeks ago I made an urgent trip to South Sudan.

As much as you can prepare to visit a country that’s been ravaged by war, and now has over two million of its people displaced … I simply wasn’t ready for the scale of this crisis.

The statistics alone are overwhelming—thousands of people killed, more than two million displaced, 700% inflation—but when you realize there are real stories behind these numbers, it takes your breath away.

I was hiking back out to the road after visiting a remote World Concern project when I saw her.

She was standing alone beside a simple mud hut, so I slowly began walking towards her. As I came closer, I noticed she was standing next to two mounds of dirt … graves. One was dry and sunbaked. The other was smaller, and piled with fresh dirt.

I looked up at her, searching her face for signs of what had happened. Her name was Uduru.

In whispers she told me that her husband had died a year ago. But then, her eyes shifted to the tiny, fresh grave. She said that just a week ago she buried her sweet 2-year-old boy. He had died hungry, the victim of a combination of malnutrition and a water-borne disease. On top of his grave were two tiny plastic shoes, this grieving mother’s only physical memory of her baby boy.

Buried next to his father who died one year ago, Uduru buried her precious 2-year-old son just two weeks ago.

Uduru has three other children, each one is fighting to survive. I couldn’t speak. And just held this poor woman in my arms as she wept.

South Sudan is in the midst of a catastrophic food shortage, where thousands of people are on the brink of starvation.

It’s in places like South Sudan where World Concern is working to meet the urgent needs of people like Uduru and her children.

But we can’t do it alone.

We’re working through local churches to reach families displaced by the crisis with emergency aid—tents and tarps for shelter from the rain, mosquito nets to protect them from malaria and other deadly diseases, hygiene kits, and life-saving food. But sometimes there is just not enough, and that’s why your help is needed.

Decades of fighting in South Sudan will have a major impact on future generations.

The crisis in South Sudan is very real. During our emergency distribution I held a small child in my arms. He was probably only 3 years old. His pencil thin arm told me that he is already severely malnourished.

His mother had been standing in line all day but sadly by the time she got to the front of the line, our supplies had run out. We simply didn’t have enough to meet the need. She came to me pleading if we had more. She had been left out. I looked at her and the others behind her that had the same question. In faith I told her, we will be back.

Haiti, One Week Later

Myriam in her destroyed home
Shocked at the storm’s impact on her life, Myriam lost her home and her husband to Hurricane Matthew last week.

One week after Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Haiti and visions of the past are coming to mind as aid is once again flooding the fragile nation. While the storm has come and gone and the immediate damage has been done, the long-term effects are daunting.

And for survivors like Myriam, the future looks bleak.

Myriam was at home with her three children in Les Anglaise, the western-most part of the island-nation, when the eye of the hurricane made landfall.

“I prayed and thought to myself, ‘this could be the end!’,” Myriam thought as the roof of her small pink home was literally being torn from above their heads.

Myriam's home is barely standing
Some 1.4 million people in Haiti are in need of humanitarian assistance.

“My house is not livable, but I have nowhere else to go,” Myriam explains.

Unfortunately, Myriam’s husband, like many in their area, did not survive the storm. Today, a week later, Myriam is left without a husband, without a home and without any idea of what to do next.

“I don’t know what to do right now,” Myriam explains, “…I am drinking any water I can.” Without access to clean water, waterborne diseases such as cholera are a major threat to survivors like Myriam. So far, 510 new cases of the disease have already been reported in Haiti this week. Deadly in its impact, the situation is only expected to get worse.

Estimates suggest that 750,000 people, including 315,000 children will be in need of urgent humanitarian aid over the next three months.

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“My house is not livable…but I have nowhere else to go.”

“The long-term impact of this is worse [than the 2010 earthquake],” World Concern’s Director of Disaster Response Chris Sheach explained in an interview recently. In 2010, “the earthquake largely affected the city…the concern here is that this has affected the rural area which is the bread basket of this country…the crops are gone and the country is going to remain dependent on outside help for a long time.”

While certain areas have remained inaccessible because of the severe flooding and the washing away of roads and bridges, food distributions have already been underway.

It’s absolutely vital that over the next two weeks some of the most vulnerable families, like Myriam’s, receive essential items such as water filters, sleeping mats, tarps and hygiene supplies to ensure their safety and health in what is considered the be the most crucial time period after a disaster.

For $48, you will provide a family like Myriam’s with these essential emergency items to keep them safe and healthy during the coming months. Although the storm has come and gone, there’s a long road ahead of our friends in Haiti, so please, let’s not forget about them.

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510 new cases of cholera have already been reported since the storm hit last week.

 

Please Don’t Forget About Haiti

“We are in a desperate situation,” Pierre pleads.

“The population here is really in need. But I cannot send you any pictures due to communication issues. This is all I can send …”

The view of Hurricane Matthew from the International Space Station was like something out of a horror movie. For a brief moment we saw a swirling mass, its eye menacingly clear, devouring the land underneath.

Torrential rains and gale force winds tore through Haiti's weak, and flimsy infrastructure.
Torrential rains and gale force winds tore through Haiti’s weak, and flimsy infrastructure.
Some of the first images of Hurricane Haiti show the devastation on the ground.
Some of the first images of Hurricane Haiti show the devastation on the ground.

The above images were taken less than a day after the aerial shots from the space station and while they are some of the first images to come from Haiti, they clearly show what happened under that gruesome storm cloud.

That’s where Pierre is.

Haiti is once again under attack. Six years after a massive earthquake tore apart the flimsy infrastructure and killed more than a quarter million people, Haiti is back on her knees.

Friends, we must not forget Haiti … our neighbors … our friends … people like Pierre.

The true devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew is still unknown. And that’s a frightening thought. Because when a disaster strikes within our own shores we have the capability, and the resources needed to respond. We spend money. We rally together. We pray. We stay strong.

But when a disaster like Matthew hits a country as impoverished as Haiti, everything is wiped out—communication, electricity, utilities—it’s near impossible to send for help.

“Almost everything has been destroyed by the strong winds,” Pierre says. “All the trees have fallen. The winds tore off all our roofs.”

That’s why we must respond, and respond quickly and generously. Not because we’re asked, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Moms and dads frantically scoop up their children and search for shelter during the storm.
Moms and dads frantically scoop up their children and search for shelter during the storm.

Because as humans, we have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in need. Alexis is one of the few people that we’ve been able to speak with. She was sharing an evening meal with her family when her roof lifted off and disappeared into the stormy sky. Scooping up her daughter Alexis ran to the nearest shelter, a church, and waited for the hurricane to stop.

“I was very afraid to go outside because the wind was so strong. I saw a lot of damage on the road. I saw metal sheets from houses carried by the wind.” Alexis whispers.

There is not a lot a media coverage about Haiti.

The death toll stands at 842 but will almost certainly climb.

The number of homes, buildings, businesses, and farms lost is unknown.

There are only a few photos that show the devastation.

But that’s not because the damage isn’t there—

We must not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
We must not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

The reality is that there are people in need. There are families mourning the loss of loved ones. And countless people are scared, and in desperate need.

So as Hurricane Matthew gathers strength and barrels its way towards more developed regions, we have but a short window to focus our attention on Haiti. On people like Pierre. And Alexis.

These people are there. They just can’t ask for help …

So please don’t forget about Haiti.

How School Saves Her

Last year I found myself in a rural village in Bangladesh—a country where most girls are married off by the time they are 11 or 12 years old. You can imagine then how surprised I was last year to be in an all-girls school surrounded by dozens of girls who had escaped child marriage all because they were given the opportunity to attend school.

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Receiving an education is one of the many things I am guilty of taking for granted having grown up in a middle-to-upper-class town in America. Despite the obvious differences between my life and these girls’ lives in Bangladesh, I was surprised at how easy it was to connect with them.

From the two giggling best friends who sat behind me, to the trio of dancers who stole the spotlight, I could see so many similarities between these girls and my younger self.

It wasn’t until later that afternoon when we sat down to talk with some of these girls and tears began to fall from their once joyous faces that I was reminded of just how different our worlds truly are.

Never will I understand the pain of watching my older sister or best friend be married off to a much older man and taken away to live with a new family. And never will I fear that the same thing will happen to me.

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For these girls, getting the chance to go to school through World Concern’s scholarship program means that they are far less likely to become a child bride. In countries as poor as Bangladesh, parents have a difficult time providing enough money to support their entire families and often decide to marry their young daughters off, instead of sending them to school because they cannot afford to support her anymore. Education is literally saving young girls, girls like Prishna and Rima and Happy and Sonny who I met in Bangladesh, from becoming child-brides. Education is saving Her.

With your $50 gift, another young girl will be spared from becoming a child-bride when she receives a scholarship and an opportunity to go to school. An education will allow her to grow into the young woman that God has created her to be and thrive in an environment that values her, in a society that for so long has denied these truths.

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The Promise of Clean Water

As a native Californian, where a long-lasting drought has drastically restricted water use lately, the abundance of water in countries like Myanmar, where I lived for the past year, surprised me. As opposed to California’s measly 25 inches of rain last year, Myanmar averages around 105 inches of rainfall each year!

More surprising, however, is the fact that even with the present lack of water in my home state, never once did I worry about the safety of my water, never once have I suffered from severe water-borne illnesses like typhoid and worms because of bad water. Sadly, this is simply not the case for many of the people World Concern serves around the world in places like Africa and South East Asia, where more than 660 million people do not have access to clean drinking water.

“I know the water is not safe to drink,” 42-year-old mother of four, Sen Sen Maw from Myanmar explains about the water she collects for her family, “…but we drink it anyways.”

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Sen Sen Maw and her baby

In villages deep in the remote jungles of southern Myanmar, men and women trek up to two miles a day through oftentimes dangerous terrain to gather river water that is often contaminated with illness-inducing parasites and other contaminants.

“My family is sick with diarrhea at least ten times a year,” one concerned villager explains. Apart from the general discomfort of being sick, the regular occurrence of these water-related illnesses are a major disruption to daily life for men who are unable to work and provide for their families and for mothers who must look after their sick children.

I hope I’m not alone when I say that having clean water readily available is something that I take for granted on a daily basis. It wasn’t until I found myself in some of these villages in Myanmar and realized that not only is accessing water an ordeal for many villagers, but accessing clean water is an entirely different concern.

One amazingly simple solution to help families around the world gain access to clean drinking water is to provide them with water filters. Although they may look different from one country to the next, the idea is the same. Much like the  water filter I have in my own refrigerator at home, these filters are both easy to use and extremely effective.

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These life-saving filters were distributed to flood victims in Myanmar so families had safe water to drink.

This same simple concept is utilized in villages around the world where we work – from the arid regions in Kenya to the jungles of Myanmar – families are able collect even the dirtiest of water from streams and rivers and watch as it turns into safe drinkable water before their eyes.

Last year I had the opportunity to help distribute some of these water filters to victims of a severe flood in Myanmar. I was amazed at the simplicity, ease and results of the filters.

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A woman excitedly unwraps her new filter

After the distribution, families eagerly put their filters to the test. Shocked at the visible results and improvement in color and taste of the water, villagers were thrilled to have clean, safe water and to no longer have to worry about getting sick.

Right now, your gift of $39 will be tripled and provide three families with a water filter and more importantly, with the promise of a healthier future for their families. Triple your donation here and help a family stay healthy with a brand new water filter!

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The Forgotten Faces of the Nepal Earthquake

When Nepal shook more than a year ago, the world quickly responded with an outpouring of aid and support. In the aftermath of the disaster, a dark and sinister threat has been lurking beneath the rubble, just waiting to pounce.

As thousands of livelihoods lay in ruins, and humanitarian organizations scrambled to save lives and rebuild flattened communities, opportunity knocked for evil men. Fueled by a growing demand for child labor in nearby countries and fed by the perverse desires of a growing sex industry, these men had one goal—to exploit the desperation of local Nepali families.

Hoping to build a better life for their children, unsuspecting moms and dads are lured with false promises and quickly fall into the debt of evil men. With no way to repay, women and young girls are being trafficked across poorly patrolled borders. And without anyone to police, or prevent this horrific injustice they are being abused, exploited, and completely forgotten.

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In the most remote Nepali villages, young women and girls are at great risk of being trafficked across open borders.

World Concern has been active in Nepal ever since the earthquake hit, working tirelessly with the local church to rebuild communities and reach the most vulnerable with livelihood support, and income generation opportunities.

Recognizing that trafficking is a threat in the poorest Nepali villages, World Concern is actively leveraging its Child Protection experts to provide in-country training. The aim is to raise awareness of the problem, and begin mobilizing a network of local partners to seek out and stop the threat of trafficking in high risk communities.

“There is a huge opportunity to prevent human trafficking in Nepal,” says Selina Prem Kumar, World Concern’s Sri Lanka Country Director who is in Nepal training church and community leaders to prevent trafficking. “Women and children are being trafficked into forced labor and as sex workers into neighboring countries with no border patrols.”

Having established a comprehensive child protection program after the bloody Sri Lankan civil war, Selina is now taking what’s she’s learned and accomplished across Southeast Asia, and is well aware of the dangers families face in the wake of an emergency.

The communities she’s visiting are within a few miles of the India border, where no visas are required to cross, making it an extremely high risk area.

DSC_0172Braving heavy rains, flooding and mountain road closures due to mudslides, Selina and her team traveled close to the Indian border, and into one of the trafficking ‘hot-zones’ to conduct the workshops. Proof that World Concern truly does go beyond the end of the road to serve those in need.

Expectant for change and eager to become more active in fighting trafficking in their communities, more than 40 volunteers from local churches, schools, and human rights groups attended.

“People walked through the jungles to get here,” Selina says. “Some traveled for over 7 hours—the landslides and floods turning what would have been a 3-hour journey into a day long trek.”

While there is much to do in Nepal, Selina is hopeful, “There is a lot of meaningful and deep possibilities in Nepal. We will continue working to train and mobilize border villages, churches, and organizations to prevent human trafficking.”

Even in the darkness, there is always an opportunity to shine light, and the work happening in Nepal is proof that there’s always hope for a brighter future.