Author Archives: Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt

About Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt has served as World Concern's communications officer since 2010. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as the editor of a monthly newspaper. She particularly enjoys interviewing inspiring people and conveying their life stories, some of which she shares on this blog.

Facing the challenge of survival in Somalia

A nomadic family in Somalia.

A nomadic herder and his family move to find water in Somalia.

World Concern’s mission of reaching the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world means we work in some of the most challenging places on earth. A report I just received from our Somalia staff brought this reality to light afresh for me. It summarized the results of a survey of families in two areas where we’ve recently started working in Somaliland (northern Somalia). The figures indicate such dramatic need – it’s hard to fathom what these families face every day just to survive.

Here are a few of the most astonishing ones:

  • 92% of the families do not use latrines
  • 54% of people observed had noticeable eye infections
  • 59.6% have never attended any school
  • Only 13% have attended secondary school
  • 54.6% travel 1-2 hours a day to reach a water source with the largest percentage going three times a day
  • 83.3% are drinking water that is not safe for human consumption
  • A main source of income is livestock, yet only 10% of the animals in households are producing milk

It’s impossible to dig wells in some of these areas because the water, even below the surface, is salty. Rainwater and groundwater runoff collected in berkads (underground reservoirs) are the only source of clean water.  One of our projects is building more berkads in these areas.

Planting sack gardens in Somalia.

Teaching people to grow vegetables in sack gardens offers hope.

The soil is so dry and lifeless, nothing can grow here. People eat mostly bread, rice they buy from others. Even vegetable gardens wither. We’re teaching people to grow sack gardens, which hold moisture so things can grow.

Droughts are becoming more frequent and herds are shrinking. Their only hope for healthier herds may be to improve the land with rock lines that will direct rainwater into the soil. One goal is to improve livelihoods so families don’t have to be constantly moving in search of water.

In spite of the inhospitable environment, we know there are solutions: Collecting rainwater, growing food in sack gardens, sustaining herds.  Even in Somalia, we see hope.

Join us in bringing hope to this dry and weary land.

One mom’s crusade to kill worms

Chelsi and Brookelyn

Chelsi Wylie and her daughter Brookelyn support the 44-Cent Cure after their own experience with intestinal parasites.

Chelsi Wylie is passionate about supporting the 44-Cent Cure. She has seen first-hand the painful effects intestinal parasites can have on a child.

Her daughter Brookelyn developed a scaly spot on her scalp when she was 2 years old. Her pediatrician thought it might be psoriasis or ringworm, but when it spread to the size of a baseball and Brookelyn’s hair started to fall out, Chelsi knew something was wrong.

“She would cry and scream when I brushed her hair. It was so painful,” recalled Chelsi, who took Brookelyn to a dermatologist, but still had no answer. The pain went on for months, until finally Brookelyn was diagnosed with pinworms – a common form of intestinal parasites.

“I didn’t realize you could get worms here,” said Chelsi. “I thought that was a third world problem.”

After receiving treatment, Brookelyn was cured.

Recently, Chelsi heard about the 44-Cent Cure on KLTY 94.9 FM in Dallas and learned how World Concern is helping cure children in poor countries from parasites that deplete their bodies of nutrients and make them too sick and lethargic to attend school. The cure costs just 44 cents.

“I have to get involved in this,” Chelsi told her husband, who agreed. “After all Brookelyn suffered, we don’t want any other children to suffer like this.”

Chelsi asked her friends and family to support the 44-Cent Cure last Christmas and raised $650 – that’s enough to cure more than 1,400 children! Now, she’s planning fundraisers at her church and in her hometown.

Thankfully, Brookelyn is now a healthy 5-year-old. “We’re fortunate to live where we have access to healthcare, clean water, and a place to go to the bathroom,” said Chelsi. “But people are suffering all over the world.”

Join Chelsi in this cause! Every 44 cents you donate cures one child.

Learning to live generously

Chenal Valley youth group.

The Chenal Valley Church youth group gave $4,500 to help poor kids in other countries.

Kids are so amazing. We just received a check for $4,500 from the 30-member youth group at Chenal Valley Church in Little Rock, AR. The letter below tells how and why this donation was sent. But the reasons are deeper than the letter states. Their Facebook page provides some great resources, including these verses about why we give.

Zechariah 7:9-10, James 1:27,

2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 1 Timothy 6:17

I encourage you to look them up, but here are a few from the 2 Corinthians passage:

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” – 2 Corinthians 8:14-15

Here is the letter from their youth group:

Dear World Concern,

In December, our youth group created and participated in something we called the One Gift Campaign. We challenged kids to help those in need by asking their parents to scratch one gift off their Christmas list and donate that money to the One Gift Campaign instead. We had several donors offer to match their donations, so everything the kids gave was matched at an 8:1 ratio, up to $500. They hit their target goal, so we are happy to be able to send you a check for $4,500. Not bad for a youth group of 30!

One of the cool things about the One Gift Campaign is that after the money was raised, the kids were the ones who got to decide how it would be allocated. I pointed them toward your website, had them research the different ways they could give through World Concern.org, and then let them decide where the money would go.

I send you this check with the request that you follow their divisions as closely as possible. Thanks for all you are doing to meet the enormous needs in our hurting world. They asked that the money be divided in the following way:

$600 latrines

$500 barnyards

$1,000 toward machine dug wells

$795  five health packages

$720 children sent to school

$500 shares of a village school

$300 desks

$85 parasite medication (44-Cent Cure)

In Him,

Aaron Kirkpatrick, Youth and Family Minister

 

Starting over: One family’s story

World Concern supporter Kurt Campbell is in Sri Lanka visiting some of our programs. The following is an excerpt from his personal blog.

Chris, Teri and Dori.

Chris, Teri and Dori are grateful to be earning income from the cow they received from World Concern.

Boy meets girl. They wed and soon have a baby. A typical story that can be found around the world, but when it is played out in the middle of a violent war it often takes a turn for the worse. Such was the case of Chris and Teri and their daughter Dori (not their real names), who live in northern Sri Lanka.

Government soldiers one day came to their village and took Chris away to a military prison on suspicion of aiding the enemy. This left Teri and their young daughter alone in the middle of a war. It wouldn’t be long before they both joined several hundred thousand others in one of the war refugee camps.

When the war came to a close this family was reunited, but much had changed. Chris returned paralyzed from the waist down. To compound their problems they had no livelihood with the disappearance of their 16 cows. Yet despite all this they did not lose hope.

Recently World Concern began meeting with people from the area to develop a livelihood program that would help the community sustain itself in the future. It was agreed upon that creating a milk chilling station co-op would be a great place to start. The co-op started by selecting 10 of the most vulnerable people in the community that could benefit from a gifted milking cow from World Concern. One of those selected by the community was Teri.

Teri and her cow.

Teri and her cow, which now helps feed her family and earns them income.

Teri attended a five-day workshop led by World Concern that helped train the community on best practices in dairy farming.

Today Chris, Teri and their 8-year-old daughter have access to a balanced diet and a source of income that will help them build on a brighter future. Their community will soon have a milk chilling station as well, which will allow every dairy farmer an opportunity to sell their milk.

For more information on World Concern’s work in Sri Lanka, please visit www.worldconcern.org/srilanka

Garden = better test scores and more in rural Kenya

School children in Kenya.

Students hard at work at Naado Primary School in Kenya.

Kathryn Sciba is visiting some of our programs in Kenya this week. The following excerpt is from her blog about her trip.

We began our eventful journey to a primary school near Narok. This is the kind of land where safari animals roam wild. The children and teachers at this school blew my mind with how well they welcomed us. The people here are Maasai, nomadic herdsmen. This school has changed their lives since World Concern started working with them in 2008.

The school has a 28-acre garden that World Concern built a fence around so the elephants wouldn’t destroy it. The lack of farming means the families have had to follow the herds and lack a balanced diet.

In the past three years World Concern has not only built a solar powered electric fence around the school’s garden but they’ve also trained the community about farming. Now the families can stay put if they want to. Now the community has wheat and corn fields. The school produces more than enough food for their enrollment and is able to sell the rest. They grow passion fruit, mango, bananas, and vegetables, including basics like beans, corn and wheat.

They do have a water catchment system, which catches rain from the roof and carries it through pipes to the garden, but they need rain to sustain it. Please pray for a great rainy season which was supposed to begin this month but has been lousy so far.

Students in Kenya.

About 800 students receive education and nutritious meals at Naado Primary School in Narok, Kenya.

The garden has provided essential nutrition and that’s helped the student’s test schools improve dramatically. In 2007, 191 children graduated with a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (a national standardized test required to pass primary school). In 2008, 216 students graduated and in 2009 the number was 261.

Enrollment has been increasing because the community is sending their children there to be well fed and educated instead of having them roam with the herds. The school provides boarding to 150 girls who would otherwise roam with their families. By having girls live at the school, their families may feel less urgency to marry them off at a young age in exchange for a 20 cow dowry.

There are currently about 400 boys and 400 girls enrolled in the school.

 

 

A Change of Heart

Kurt Campbell with Sri Lankan children.

World Concern donor Kurt Campbell visits kids who were living in camps after Sri Lanka's civil war.

Kurt Campbell remembers the moment God melted his heart for the people of Sri Lanka. It was on Easter Sunday, 2009. Sitting in his comfortable, warm church, singing worship songs, he started to cry.

Several weeks earlier, he and his wife Cari had prayed and felt led to donate their entire savings account to aid in the crisis in Sri Lanka. They’d heard the details of how the end to the 26-year-long civil war had killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Knowing World Concern was responding and rescuing war victims, Kurt and Cari wanted to help.

“I’ve often said, your pocket book follows your heart, but sometimes it works the other way. It was after that financial investment that we felt more connected to Sri Lanka,” recalls Kurt.

As he sat in church that Easter, tears running down his cheeks, he realized they probably weren’t singing worship songs in Northern Sri Lanka. “I thought, here’s a group of people who don’t know the Lord as their savior, and surely aren’t experiencing the love and compassion I’m used to on a daily basis. My heart just broke,” he said.

Kurt’s burden for the people of Sri Lanka grew over the next two years, especially as he’s had the opportunity to travel there several times. During his visits to the displacement camps, he saw first-hand the tremendous losses people have endured – loss of life, loss of limbs, and loss of loved ones.

“One of the hardest places to visit was a special camp where people went once they left the hospital … it was basically and old factory floor with cots lined up one after another,” said Kurt. “I came across two children – a girl about 4 years old, and a boy about 6. The boy had a bandaged leg and would obviously be crippled for the rest of his life. The girl had lost three fingers on one hand. I was looking right at her, but she had a completely blank look on her face.

“If God had used me for anything in those camps, it was to make the kids laugh. But this girl, nothing. A blank stare. What had she seen?” Kurt wondered. She was most likely an orphan and had seen the horrors of war.

That experience changed Kurt. He felt more compassion and more of a desire to help than ever before. “There’s something about the Sri Lankan people – something within them – an ability to persevere and to tackle life that is so beautiful. It’s not a hand-out society. These are people who are truly hard-working individuals who want to do things on their own. That really resonates with me.”

One of the most significant aspects of the work Kurt observed was how World Concern staff pays attention to individual people, walking with them through their struggles. “We’re affecting people’s lives and it’s wonderful,” he said.

Kurt Campbell is the owner of Campbell Nelson Volkswagen and Campbell Nelson Nissan in Seattle, Wash. Campbell Nelson is the sponsor of the “Free Them” 5k, www.worldconcern.org/5k.

To learn more, visit www.worldconcern.org/srilanka-rescue.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven …” – Matthew 6:19-20

The freedom to make a living

Sitting at my desk on this International Women’s Day, I’m reminded of the opportunities I’ve been given to be educated and earn an income to support my family. I don’t take this for granted, especially when I read stories like that of Rashida Begum, who grew up in the overcrowded slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She never went to school and was forced into marriage at just 13 years old. By the time she was 18, she had five children.

Rashida working.

Rashida has a thriving business making and selling beaded and embroidered fabric.

Despite the odds against her, today, Rashida has a thriving business. She’s able to use the talents she learned as a child – embroidery and bead work – and has gained self-confidence from the growing list of customer orders she receives. Even though she’s illiterate and living in a male-dominated, oppressive society, Rashida is able to support her family with her income.

It all began with a small business loan, which she desperately needed. Unfortunately, in many countries, skill and incentive aren’t enough. The loan enabled her to buy materials and start selling things. It’s amazing to think how different her life is, simply because she’s able to work. She’s also able to pay for her kids to go to school, which means the benefits of her business will carry into the next generation.

Microlending is a simple concept that leads to independence for so many women around the world. In honor of International Women’s Day, take a minute to learn more about it. For a small investment, you could change a life in a developing country.

Harun at a community meeting.

A living example of hope

Harun at a community meeting.

Harun (in teal) at a community meeting in Southern Sudan.

When he visits the families World Concern serves in Southern Sudan, Harun Ringera shares hope through words of encouragement and practical help. But he also shares hope through the example of his own life – one of how education and having someone believe in you can change everything.

The youngest of seven siblings who grew up in Eastern Kenya, Harun is the son of illiterate peasant farmers. None of his brothers and sisters were educated beyond primary school, but his father saw Harun’s passion for school and worked hard to pay his tuition for high school.

When he ran out of money while attending university in Nairobi, his father sold a piece of land to help him finish college. Now married and the father of two young children, Harun is working on his thesis to earn his master’s degree in October of this year.

His education, experience and skills are impacting others far beyond his own family. As program manager for World Concern Sudan, Harun spends his days overseeing vocational training programs, and working with families who are receiving food and agricultural training. Although he lives in a staff compound for 10 weeks at a time, and only travels back to Kenya to see his family for two weeks in between, he loves his job.

“I felt called to go to Sudan,” he said of his decision in 2006. At that time, Sudan was very unstable. There was no central government and no infrastructure. Schools had been destroyed and people had no way to earn income. He worked with traumatized child soldiers and homeless refugees.

Harun Ringera

Harun Ringera is CRISTA Ministries' Employee of the Year.

It was far from glamorous work, but Harun persevered, and now oversees thriving microfinance programs, including savings groups and village banks. People are saving and borrowing money, starting businesses and planting crops. Others are rebuilding schools and earning food for their work. Women are learning to read and write, and they’re obtaining business skills. Life is improving.

“It called for a lot of patience, sacrifice and prayers,” he said of the progress in Sudan. He also believes it has to do with how people are treated. “If you want to succeed in Southern Sudan and motivate people, learn to appreciate them. These people have never been appreciated, because they have been under oppression for a very long time. Give them an opportunity to work and tell them, you can make it. Give them hope.”

Harun’s dedication to his work earned him recognition as CRISTA Ministries’ Employee of the Year (World Concern is one of CRISTA’s seven ministries).  He’s currently enjoying his first trip to the U.S. – and his first time outside of Africa – to be honored for his service at World Concern’s headquarters.

Kenyan Pastor With A World Concern Staffer

Seeing Christianity blossom in Kenya

Kenyan Pastor With A World Concern Staffer

A World Concern Kenya staff member translates a former witch doctor’s story.

World Concern Ministry Development Coordinator Mark Lamb recently returned from a trip to Kenya.  Here are some reflections on his trip.

After traveling through rural Kenya for several hours on a road marked with potholes like Swiss cheese, we arrived in a village where World Concern is making an impact.  One of the first people we met was a man who introduced himself to us as a former witch doctor who is now a Christian. As if this wasn’t enough to catch the attention of our group of jet lagged Americans, our new friend Joseph interrupted my associate as he was explaining the location of America using his head as a globe and said, “You mean the earth is round?”

Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore.

Although this may seem nearly unbelievable to those of us who have been blessed with an education, reality began to sink in as Joseph told us about the women in the village walking 12 hours round trip to bring back water, villagers carrying a sick person 10 miles on a sheet to the nearest clinic, and the children walking over six miles round trip to the nearest elementary school.

In such bleak circumstances, I was surprised to find hope. World Concern is currently constructing a water pan in this community to help provide a clean water source, but their hope was not in the water pan alone, or in World Concern.  It was clear, as they discussed their faith in Jesus Christ, that there hope was in Him.  They praised World Concern, and there was a clear love for our staff, but Joseph and the other villagers talked about the hope they have in Jesus for a better life.


Maasai women sing worship songs.

In another village we visited, I met a young pastor named Jackson who had taught himself to read so he could read and teach the Bible. He treasures his Bible, carrying it with him wrapped in two layers of protective plastic. I also witnessed spirited worship songs sung by the women in the church. I couldn’t understand the words, but I was told the song was from a verse in Exodus about God’s victory.

I was encouraged to see kitchen gardens in schoolyards producing healthy vegetables for the students who otherwise would be eating only grain and meat. I saw the hope of better health with pits for latrines being dug, and wells flowing with clean, fresh water. But I was most excited about the spiritual fruit I saw as a result of Christ’s light shining into these villages.

To learn more about church partnerships, please visit www.worldconcern.org/churches.

Contact Mark Lamb at MarkL@worldconcern.org.

Crafter turns passion into action

Here’s the truth: the work of World Concern will not happen without the support of others who get behind it. The more people engage with us and what we’re doing, the bigger difference we’re able to make. It’s that simple.

Minneapolis resident Diana Neidecker came up with a very cool idea. She’s donating a percentage of the February sales from her Etsy site to World Concern. Here’s why, in her own words:

After work, Blake and I spent over an hour on World Concern’s Facebook page, looking at all the incredible photos. We love the mission, the idea of empowerment and the way you are lifting all of these wonderful countries up.

Back in first grade, I had an assignment asking me my three wishes for the world. I answered with 1) enough money for the poor; 2) to save the environment; and 3) to have all kids be safe at night.
That paper is hung up in our craft room. I love it. Not much has changed in my since 1991. Blake and I are super conscious about the products, companies and practices that we use/utilize in our lives.

The day of the Haiti earthquake, the two of us were out to eat and couldn’t stop talking about the quake and what we could do to help. I immediately donated my paycheck, but still didn’t feel satisfied. A few days later, I just knew I had to be there. After talking and planning, we decided to spend the month of July there, helping to deconstruct a five-story boys’ home that fell.

Diana and Blake with Haitian workers.

Diana and Blake working in Haiti, July 2010.

I get chills just thinking about how this trip impacted us. We worked with a crew of 14 Haitian guys clearing rubble by bucket line. Blake and I live a pretty modest lifestyle, but showering with a bucket and eating two small meals a day really made us think. We were able to tour a tent city and so many people trusted us enough to answer tough and honest questions about money, lifestyle and what they really need.

We are very interested in making Haiti a part of our lives. We would love to go back at least once a year. Also, learning fluent Creole has been a goal of ours. In the next two to three years, we would actually like to start the adoption process and adopt one or two orphans.

I do photography and I also knit. In the past few months, I have realized that I am meant to create for a living. It’s been a hobby for years, but I am now ready to make a life of creating.

For the month of February, I have decided to give 35-40% of all earnings from my business to World Concern to use for microloans or goats in Haiti – I love the idea of giving goats! I know that the more ways I can reach people and help, everybody will benefit.”

Wow! Thanks Diana and Blake for all you’re doing for the people of Haiti.

Diana's knitting.

Diana wearing a few of her cozy, hand-knitted items.

Check out Diana’s Etsy at http://dianapantz.etsy.com

You can also read her blog post announcing this project at http://flytothewall.blogspot.com/2011/02/big-news.html