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!

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!

 

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.

Myriam and her damaged home
“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.

 

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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Preventing Opium Use among Myanmar’s Youth

It’s a rainy Friday afternoon in Myanmar’s Shan State and some 50 concerned villagers, who represent six different villages in the region, have come together to help further devise a plan to put an end to drug use in their communities. One woman, a 45-year-old mother of three named Nadhaw, is more than eager to share her thoughts about the increasingly destructive problem that has plagued so many lives and families in her village, including her own.

Nadhaw is committed to preventing at-risk youth in her village from becoming drug users.
Nadhaw is committed to preventing at-risk youth in her village from becoming drug users.

“There are many drug-users in my village,” Nadhaw shares, “and now many people are migrating to China.”

The number of drug users in and around Shan State in northern Myanmar—part of the infamous Golden Triangle—has steadily increased over the past few years. According to the United Nations, poppy cultivation—the key ingredient to heroin—has tripled since 2006. And China reports that 90 percent of heroin seized in 2014 was produced in the Golden Triangle.

It’s not surprising that men—who have better access to the poppy fields that are nearby the rice and corn farms they work in everyday—are more likely to use drugs than women. Such men admit to using drugs because of peer pressure, its easy accessibility, and because they believe it will help them work longer so they can earn more money. In actuality, drug users become less productive, not surprisingly, and end up dragging their families deeper into emotional and financial stress. The result is women being left to fend for themselves after their husbands are no longer able to work or support their families. Desperately seeking a better life for themselves and their children, women and children often migrate across the border into China where they end up being trafficked into the sex or child labor trade.

This reality impacts many women like Nadhaw, whose husband—the village leader—is also a drug user.

Volunteers from several villages in Myanmar's Shan State share tips on how they are working to prevent drug use in their villages.
Volunteers from several villages in Myanmar’s Shan State share tips on how they are working to prevent drug use in their villages.

During the past year, World Concern has partnered with proactive community members like Nadhaw to create sustainable drug prevention programs in these villages. The main goal has been to prevent first-time drug use, especially among at-risk youth, as well as to raise awareness of the negative effects and long-term damage that drug use causes.

With a background in health, Nadhaw is one of the few people in her village who already had some knowledge about the harmful effects drugs like opium can cause to one’s health and mental state. But for many who are learning these things for the first time, this information is shocking.

As a mother of three adolescent children with a husband who is a drug user, as well as being a trained midwife and health volunteer, it is no wonder that Nadhaw is so concerned about putting an end to this issue.

Nadhaw talks with other moms who are working to curb drug use among youth in their villages.
Nadhaw talks with other moms who are working to curb drug use among youth in their villages.

“I want to stop drug use in my village immediately,” she said. Her concern for her own family as well as others and her background in health has enabled Nadhaw to facilitate health awareness trainings each week for at-risk youth in her village.

“More than 10 youths who have never used drugs come to the meetings every Sunday,” Nadhaw proudly shares. She teaches them about why using drugs is dangerous, how easily they can become addicted, and about the long-term effects of using drugs. “Since we have been giving trainings to the youth in our village, most people see that [the trainings are] a good thing,” she said.

Nadhaw’s 16-year-old son, who has already started drinking alcohol, has undoubtedly been exposed to the drug-use that is prevalent within his community.

“I worry a lot about my oldest son,” Nadhaw says, “I try to tell him why doing drugs is bad and hope he doesn’t ever use them.”

Last year, Nadhaw recalls there were 17 tuberculosis cases in her village. “I think there are probably many more hidden TB cases in our village that we don’t know about,” she said. Among the many health problems related to drug use, TB is spreading rapidly through these villages. Drug users, with their weakened immune systems, are more likely to contract the disease that is already common in rural, villages like these.

Despite the damaging effects of drug use on her community and so many others, Nadhaw’s inspiring commitment to raise awareness and put an end to this devastating problem is the first step in tackling such an overwhelming issue.