Tag Archives: global poverty

A boy in South Sudan drinks clean water from a well.

It’s Giving Tuesday! Make your holiday shopping matter

You survived (or avoided) Black Friday and Cyber Monday and made it to Giving Tuesday!  A much more meaningful day, we think. Giving Tuesday was created to encourage giving to charity during the holiday season, which we heartily support!

A boy in South Sudan drinks clean water from a well.

Clean water is a life-saving gift. You can provide this for children like this boy in South Sudan, knowing your gift is changing lives.

Here at World Concern, we have a special Giving Tuesday challenge – an opportunity for you to double the impact of your gift. Any gift made to the Global Gift Guide by the end of today will be matched. We’re already more than half way to our goal! After hearing about the success of this challenge, another donor has offered up an additional $10,000 in challenge money. An amazing blessing.

Will you help us reach our goal and ensure the families we work with benefit from these matching funds? If you’ve been thinking about giving alternative gifts that truly impact the lives of the poor this year, today is the day to do it. You’ll double your impact, helping provide life-saving care and practical gifts to twice as many children and families living in extreme poverty.

Here’s a little inspiration – a few of our favorite gifts:

Clean WaterHelp build a well! For families who are used to walking for miles to fetch dirty water, a well is a real blessing.

Give a Goat!Help hungry children with a kid goat. Once full-grown, goats can produce up to a gallon of nutritious milk each day.

Soccer BallsSoccer is more than fun and good exercise—it’s a sport that unifies and builds friendships. A soccer ball shows kids somebody cares.

Thanks for helping us reach our Giving Tuesday matching challenge goal, and for giving gifts that really matter.

“God does not forget the faithful”

The following story was relayed by one of our fieldworkers, Jane Gunningham, who is currently serving in South Sudan.

Marco, a returnee from Sudan.

Marco (right, in cap) serves at a World Concern seed fair in Kuajok, South Sudan. He says that God, who cares for all, provides what he needs.

Marco and his wife live in a recent “housing development” near Kuajok, South Sudan, for returnees from Sudan. The first time he met our staff, he told us that his dream is to have the car that drives in the field (a tractor) so he can have a very big farm.

Marco and his wife joined our rent-to-own program and received a bicycle and some pots, pans and chairs, since they had nothing of their own. Shortly after beginning to use the bicycle for work as a messenger/delivery man, Marco’s house burned down in a suspicious fire. All of their hard earned assets were lost, but Marco’s first words were praise to God that none of his precious children were lost in the flames. “Things may be restored,” he said, “but lost life is final.”

When we suggested that World Concern reschedule his payments, he refused, saying that a debt is a debt. We offered him temporary work at the seed fairs, and he has proven to be utterly reliable, passionate about serving the poor, and uncomplaining no matter what we ask of him.

I know his finances are precarious, and there are days his family does not have enough to eat, but Marco affirms that God, who cares for all, provides what he needs.

I was deeply touched one day, when he asked to sweep the spilled seeds from the bed of the truck so he had sorghum to take to his wife. He had been handing out seeds all day to others, knowing that at home his wife had run out of food. As he carried the small bag of grain home, he said to me, “Look:  God does not forget the faithful.”

 

Bake sale for World Concern

5 Ways to Fundraise for Your Cause

Whether you’re passionate about bringing clean water to thirsty African villages, or want to ensure children living in poverty get an education for a better future, personal fundraising is a trend that enables you to make a bigger impact.

It’s pretty simple: Ask friends, family, coworkers and acquaintances to donate to your cause. You can do this by dedicating your birthday for a cause, or designating an anniversary or other special day. Instead of gifts for yourself, you ask for donations to your cause.

You can also do this by participating in an event. Right now, hundreds of people are successfully raising money to help protect children from slavery by participating in the Free Them 5k Fun Run to Stop Human Trafficking. Last year, top fundraisers brought in more than $1,500 each in donations for a cause that’s near to their hearts.

Whatever your passion, here are some tips for increasing your impact with donations from others.

  1. Ask! You’ll be amazed at how willing people are to give if they’re asked. Some of us have received donations from unexpected Facebook friends or others, despite having little contact with them recently. You never know who’s just looking for an opportunity to give.
  2. Explain why you’re doing this. When you share from your heart, others will relate. If you’re a parent and issues like child trafficking touch your heart, tell other moms and dads about why you care.
    Carrie Yu
    , a Seattle mom of two young children, explains why she participates in the Free Them 5k. “As a parent, it’s heart-breaking to think about. I can’t imagine having to make the decision to sell a child into slavery in order to survive,” she said. “I can’t go into the mission field, but I can run for this cause. I can raise money. This is something I can do right now where I am in my life.”

    Bake sale for World Concern

    Kids at Trinity Family Fellowship in Yakima, Wash., held a bake sale and raised more than $1,100 for World Concern.

  3. Use your talents to raise funds. Lorene Jansson sells cinnamon rolls at her office as way to boost her fundraising. Last year, she was a top fundraiser for the 5k. This year, she started selling hand-made beaded jewelry as well. “You take your passion, whatever it is, and apply it to what you want to do,” suggests Lorene. “It’s inspiring to see so many like-minded people wanting to do something about trafficking.”
  4. Find out if your company matches donations. This is a super simple way to double your impact immediately and effortlessly. If you’re not sure if your company will match your donations, use our online tool to find out, or ask your HR department.
  5. Spread the word. Use Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, email, snail mail, or casual conversation to tell others what you’re doing. Be yourself and have fun with it. People will respond if they see the real you coming through. As someone who has never been a runner, all I had to do was tell my friends I was actually running and they showed their support by donating. Pretty cool!
An example of a 5k fundraising Facebook post.

My personal fundraising page tells more about why I'm helping fight human trafficking, but this Facebook post about the fact I'm actually running a 5k shocked my friends enough they showed their support with donations.

Sahel map showing drought and malnutrition

Crisis is brewing in the Sahel

Sahel map showing drought and malnutrition

A UN map shows areas of the Sahel affected by drought in pink. Red circles indicate expected cases of severe malnutrition in 2012.

There’s a crisis brewing in the Sahel – a swath of dry land that cuts through Central Africa. The people who live in the Sahel are familiar with crisis. They face ongoing challenges – armed conflicts, drought, poverty and lack of resources.

It rarely rains in parts of the Sahel. Nevertheless, entire populations are dependent on rain-fed crops for survival. The rains this past season were less than average and sporadic. Crops failed, food prices soared, and now, the UN is alerting the world to a looming food crisis.

In Chad, where World Concern works with families displaced by the Darfur war and conflicts within Chad, a million and a half people are at risk of hunger. The UN estimates that 127,000 children under the age of 5 will be affected by severe acute malnutrition this year in Chad’s Sahel region.

A mother in Chad with her donkey plow.

A mother in Chad gets ready to plow her field with her donkey plow she received from World Concern.

The lean season—the period between harvests when families depend on stored food from the previous harvest—is expected to be the most severe in years.

World Concern’s programs in Chad provide families with farming tools, training and seeds to grow drought-resistant crops. Now is the time to respond to this growing crisis and help families survive the lean season, and prepare for the next harvest.

You can help save lives and prevent this crisis from worsening. Click here to donate.

From one scarred hand to another

This week we received a donation of $60. While that might not seem worthy of its own blog post, it is. Trust me.

The check was sent by Kim Kargbo, the director of Women of Hope International, a fellow Christian nonprofit that helps women with disabilities in Sierra Leone improve their lives.  I called Kim to learn why another humanitarian agency would send us a donation instead of putting it toward their own programs.

The story she told me confirmed my belief that anyone, in any circumstances, can be changed by giving.

A few months ago, Kim and her staff held a meeting with the women they serve. They do this each month to talk about issues related to their disabilities and ways to overcome them.

These women live hard lives – most of them are beggars themselves, living on less than $1 a day. Women of Hope helps restore dignity and purpose to their lives through their programs.

“I really felt like the Lord was telling me to challenge them to look outside themselves,” recalled Kim. “To go beyond themselves, and he would bless them.”

Having heard about the famine in Somalia, Kim went online to look for a video she could show the women. She came across World Concern’s Eyewitness to the Famine video and shared it with them.

She also shared with them the story of the widow in 1 Kings 17 who was suffering in a drought and preparing her last meal when Elijah came and asked her for food. The widow trusted God and gave all she had, being promised, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.”

The women were moved by the video and Kim’s explanation of famine. Most of the women are illiterate and some didn’t know that Somalia even existed. But they knew about refugee camps from their own country’s experience with war.

Then, Kim asked them a question. “If any of you didn’t eat today, would you die?” They all shook their heads, no. They might be hungry, they said, but they wouldn’t die. “Well, some of these people, if they don’t eat today, will die,” she said. “Do you think there’s anything you could do to help?”

This time they nodded their heads, yes. Even if each of them pitched in just a few coins, surely it would help a little. Kim agreed and told them that Women of Hope would match whatever they raised.

The women returned a month later for their Christmas party and had raised a bit of money, but not much. They wanted to do more. So they decided to take an offering that night. What happened next was amazing.

Sierra Leone donation

A blind woman in Sierra Leone is led forward at the Women of Hope International Christmas party to offer a donation to the famine relief.

About 50 women came forward to give. One by one, they lined up – blind women being led by the hands of children, and others in wheelchairs – to drop their few coins in a cardboard box.

At the end of the night, they had $30. With their matching gift, they were able to send $60 to World Concern.

“I know it’s not much,” Kim said when I spoke with her on the phone.

“Oh, but it is,” I said. We’ve been asking donors to give $60 to provide emergency food rations, access to clean water, and long-term assistance to a family affected by the famine.

“It’s perfect.”

Should Christians only help other Christians?

Should Christians help the poor? The immediate response for most of us is, “of course.” But we’ve heard from people who believe Christians should only help other Christians. Their rationale is based on the stories of the early church that involve believers helping one another – not the poor in general.

While the Bible certainly encourages believers to help one another, such as in Acts 2:45, doesn’t it also command us to love others, help others and give generously, without regard to a person’s beliefs?

This opinion was a bit surprising, especially for those of us who believe so strongly in feeding the hungry, housing the homeless and healing the sick. We serve those in greatest need, regardless of race, gender or religion. We take joy in serving others, expecting nothing in return.

Helping a woman in Somalia

A World Concern staff member listens to the needs of an elderly muslim widow in Somalia.

Jesus certainly helped many people who were not necessarily believers. When he fed the 5,000, he didn’t require his disciples who were distributing the fish and loaves to verify each person’s beliefs.

Prior to telling the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus referred an expert in the law to what he must do to inherit eternal life. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The man asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then told the parable, in which a priest ignores a man who had been beaten by robbers, but a Samaritan helps him. Jesus then instructs his listener to “Go and do likewise.”

Jesus certainly did not require conversion before ministering to people. His healing touch or words were often what opened someone’s heart to receive his love and forgiveness. We find that same principle at work in our service to the poor every day.

A Sri Lankan man who had lost everything in the war, told us, “Our suffering and hardship caused us to question whether there is a God. But through the continued support and love shown towards us by the World Concern staff, we believe that there is a God and we now have hope in life.”

What if we hadn’t helped this man because he was not a Christian? He would have given up on God. Our help was the tangible expression of God’s love he needed in order to believe.

A pastor who supports World Concern says, “Jesus came with a message and a mission. Sometimes churches are all about the message and forget about the mission.”

Like this pastor, we believe it’s important to share Christ’s love in word and deed. In situations where appropriate, we offer an opportunity to hear the gospel. But what about the places where we can’t? Should those people be left to starve or die of thirst? In contexts hostile to Christianity, our witness is simply reflected through the work we do.

In the verse above, we are commanded to love our neighbor. That’s why we do what we do. Just like in the Good Samaritan story, our “neighbor” is often someone with whom we have nothing in common.

I have a friend who went to church pregnant and unmarried. The love and support she received led her to recommit her life to Christ. Today, 20 years later, she’s happily married, a mother of three, and a committed Christian. She admits, had she been hit with the gospel the minute she walked in the door of that church, she would have never returned.

If we were to plunk ourselves into a drought or disaster stricken community and start preaching the gospel, with no offer to help, very few people would be receptive. Practical help often opens the door to be able to share why we do what we do.

 

A long way from home

“Some people don’t even have a home, mom!”

This was the response scribbled by my 19-year-old daughter on a note I left asking her to clean up the house.  I had written, “This house has been such a mess, I’m starting to dread coming home,” scolding my family for not being tidier.

Hard to believe she had to remind her humanitarian-aid-writer mother that I should be thankful just to have a home. But she’s right. In fact, millions of people don’t have a home; many through no fault of their own.

Refugee mom and daughter.

A mom and her daughter wash dishes outside their hut in the Djabal Refugee Camp in Eastern Chad.

Today is World Refugee Day, and it’s an opportunity for all of us to think about those who had to leave everything behind and start over in a new place – usually in very dire circumstances.

World Concern works with thousands of refugees who are trying to begin a new life in a foreign land. They live in camps, often for years, before their lives are stabilized enough for them to think about the next step. We help provide food, access to clean water, health and hygiene training, education, income generation and more.

But what’s the ultimate goal?

“For them to be able to go home,” says Chris Sheach, deputy director of disaster response for World Concern.

Many of those who fled Darfur during the war, for example, are still living in camps in Chad, where World Concern works. Their homes and villages were burned. They would love nothing more than to go home, but there is nothing for them to return to.

“If they can’t go home, we help them integrate into a new society,” says Sheach. World Concern’s Cash for Work program in Chad has enabled families to earn income to support themselves and contribute to the local economy, thereby reducing the risk of creating conflict in their host community. We also assist them in obtaining land to farm, and provide seeds and farming tools to grow their own food and earn income.

In an ideal world, situations wouldn’t escalate to the point where people had to flee their homes for survival in the first place. Sometimes they do go home, such as in Somaliland (northern Somalia), where returnees from Ethiopia and other areas are settling in camps in their homeland. Their hope is that they’ll be able to find a new home. But 96% of them are dependent on food aid. We’re teaching them to plant vegetable gardens to feed their families, and hopefully improve their diet beyond the staple grains they receive from aid agencies.

A bricklayer in Chad.

Paying cash for labor is one way World Concern helps refugees support their families.

Nearly every parent’s desire is to provide a better life for their children. A home is the foundation that provides the stability kids need to pursue their dreams. I’m blessed to be able to provide that for my kids (despite it being a bit messy at times). The circumstances refugees find themselves in today is one of those things that makes me want to scream, “It’s not fair!” And it’s not. But we can stomp our feet, or we can do something about it. I’m proud to be a part of an organization that’s doing something about it.

Rather than fostering any hint of a global pity party, we’re empowering refugees by giving them the the tools to move forward. Whether or not they can return home, we can help them focus on the future and the hope of having place to call home.

For more information on World Concern’s work with Darfur war refugees in Chad, visit http://www.worldconcern.org/darfurcrisis

 

Oury, Navin and Pandey in their school uniforms.

Three young friends are now safe from harm

Oury, Navin and Pandey in their school uniforms.

Oury, Navin and Pandey attend school regularly, instead of spending their days at the city dump.

When I opened the email and saw this photo, I could hardly believe my eyes. Were these the same boys that captured our hearts last July? The sight of them in their clean white school uniform shirts brought a lump to my throat.

They’re okay, I thought. No, look at them! They’re better than okay.

We first heard the story of these three inseparable 11-year-old friends last summer. Our child protection team in Asia had identified the boys, Oury, Navin and Pandey, as being at high risk for trafficking.

They spent their days, unsupervised, digging through garbage at the city dump, looking for recyclables to sell. The orange tint to Pandey’s hair – a sign of malnutrition – indicated he wasn’t getting enough to eat. He is the fifth of six children. His father is disabled and drinks every day.

The three boys in the dump.

When we first met these three boys, they were collecting garbage to sell.

Their broken families and hardships brought them together as friends. Their will to survive bonded them. They worked together as partners, they said, because they could collect more trash and finish sooner. They dreamed of using their “profits” to become engineers and building skyscrapers in Cambodia some day.

We worked with them, slowly encouraging them to attend our School on a Mat program, knowing they would resist giving up their income from the dump. At first, they continued to go to the dump in the mornings and attended school in the afternoons. They learned about the dangers of trafficking and how to avoid abuse and exploitation.

Now they’re safe and attending school regularly. And, they’re one step closer to their dream of becoming engineers.

Prevention works. You can get involved in preventing child trafficking by fundraising for the “Free Them” 5k or by supporting World Concern’s child protection programs.

Pandey in school.

Pandey is now attending school regularly.

Pandey at School on a Mat

Pandey, when he first started attending School on a Mat.

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.

 

 

Hunger and waiting

We’re more than half way through the Global Hunger Challenge and are gaining some powerful insights about how we approach and think about food. First on our minds: snacking. We’re not doing any. And we miss it. There just wasn’t room in the budget to factor in snacks beyond the three meals a day we planned in our $34 budget for the week. It’s amazing how much food is offered by others in our culture too. At least five times this week I was offered a treat or something to drink by generous friends, which made it very hard to refuse.

A woman tends a fire for cooking in Chad.

Pots heated over a fire for cooking in a refugee camp in Chad.

Over the weekend I made soup in my crock pot, not thinking about how hard it would be to smell it cooking all day and having to wait until dinner time when it was done. The aroma definitely intensified the snack cravings. It made me think about those who live in some of the places where World Concern serves, and how much of their day is consumed with gathering, planning and preparing food. I’ve also never been so thankful for food when meal time does arrive after an hour or so of my stomach grumbling.

In parts of Africa where we work, three meals a day is not the norm. The two “meals” (which are not even close in quantity to our meals) take most of the day to prepare. Pounding whole grain, such as maize, millet or sorghum, with a mortar and pedestal expends an incredible amount of time and energy. Someone gathers sticks for a fire from a few distant trees. The grain is then cooked in water and possibly fried if there is oil available. Aside from seasoning it with some onions or garlic, or being blessed with a seasonal green as a side dish, most families eat the same food every day. A piece of fruit is considered a rich dessert on a special occasion.

Imagine the patience involved in plowing hard, dry soil, planting seeds, hand-carrying water from a stream or well miles away to irrigate your meager crops, then waiting for signs of growth. Just when sprouts of green begin to push through the cracked soil, all your hard work is washed away by a flash flood. It’s hard to fathom the disappointment parents feel, knowing their children will have to wait even longer for food now.

A woman plows a field in Chad

A woman plows her field in Chad.

It’s exhausting to think about, isn’t it? This week’s Hunger Challenge has given us a tiny glimpse into what millions of people experience every day of their lives. Hunger. And waiting.

Join us in making a difference.