Tag Archives: World Concern

Skillet is one of Seattle's top food trucks. They'll be at the Mobile Food Fight for Hunger on Aug. 19.

I Heart Food Trucks

Skillet is one of Seattle's top food trucks. They'll be at the Mobile Food Fight for Hunger on Aug. 19.

Skillet is one of Seattle’s beloved food trucks. They’ll be at the Mobile Food Fight for Hunger on Aug. 19.

I don’t know what it is but I’ve been drawn to food trucks for the last few years like a moth to a flame, as they say. Maybe it’s the excitement of discovering something new, or just the fact that I love good food. Regardless, all I know is there is a special place in my heart for food trucks. Even when traveling, I always research where to find new street food.

It seems like this growing passion is taking place in the hearts of other Seattleites too.  Some might even say Seattle is having a food truck revolution. I say, it’s about time! So many awesome trucks are popping up around the greater Seattle area showcasing their delicious curbside offerings.

So I’m sitting at my computer at World Concern one day making myself hungry thinking about how much I love food trucks. I started thinking about ways these roving restaurants on wheels could do more than just fill bellies in Seattle.  Then followed a genius idea: what if we invited some of the best food trucks in Seattle to World Concern and raise money to fight global hunger?! Beautiful! Two things that are very dear to my heart have united: helping the poor and food trucks!

Food from Off the Rez

Off the Rez will bring the unique flavor of Native American food to the Mobile Food Fight for Hunger on Aug. 19.

The Mobile Food Fight for Hunger was born, and now you have the opportunity to taste some of the best food trucks in Seattle right here at World Concern on Aug. 19. Plus, there will be zero guilt about all this eating because you’ll be helping feed hungry people in places like South Sudan, Chad and Somalia. Ten percent of the proceeds from the Mobile Food Fight for Hunger will help fight hunger through World Concern’s sustainable agricultural programs.

So get on this bandwagon of awesomeness and join us as we make a difference in the world through this delicious event!

All the details and a list of trucks can be found at www.mobilefoodfightforhunger.com.

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.

Loueze Berlien and her baby in their new home.

Witnessing the transformation two years after the Haiti earthquake

Loueze Berlien proudly shows visitors around her one-room 12-by-12-foot transitional shelter she received from World Concern. It’s simple, she admits, but it’s much safer and far more comfortable than the tent on her cousin’s property she’s been living in since the earthquake.

She was pregnant when the earthquake destroyed her house. She escaped with only minor injuries from falling debris, but her husband Patrick did not survive.

Loueze Berlien and her baby in their new home.

Loueze Berlien lost her husband in the earthquake. She and her baby now have a place to call home.

“It was difficult. I didn’t have anything. What was I supposed to do?” said Loueze.  “I saved some blocks from my old house, thinking I might be able to construct something with them, but I couldn’t build something I could sleep in.”

Loueze was grateful when she learned she would receive a shelter from World Concern. “It was a way to restart my life,” she said. Now, she and her baby have a place to call home.

The cinder blocks she saved now fortify the entrance to her new house. She has hung curtains and decorations inside, and framed pictures of family are displayed on her night stand. But the most important thing about being here is a feeling of stability. “I no longer have issues with security,” said Loueze. “I am able to sleep at night. I can live here with my baby. I’m no longer afraid. I no longer have sadness.”

The initial recovery that takes place in the months following a disaster is often dramatic. Although the progress in Haiti since the devastating earthquake two years ago has been challenging, it is, nonetheless, remarkable.

1.5 million people were left homeless in a country with an already strained infrastructure. 250,00 homes were destroyed. Two years later, a million of those who were homeless have been housed. And five million cubic meters of debris have been cleared from narrow streets – most impassible by vehicles.

Immediately following the earthquake, people needed tools to survive – water, food, first aid, shelter. Having worked in Haiti for more than 30 years, and with a warehouse full of emergency supplies, World Concern was able to help save lives by meeting these immediate needs.

Houses being repaired

World Concern hired local workers to repair more than 2,500 damaged homes so families could move back in.

We put people to work, clearing rubble, and paid them cash so they could feed their families. Business owners received grants to buy equipment and inventory to restart their businesses.

And we built and repaired homes – more than 3,000 of them – like the one Loueze is living in now.

There’s still a long road ahead for the people of Haiti, but they are resilient. Despair and shock have turned into hard work and hope. The economy is improving. A million of those who were homeless are now in shelters. And new homes are safer.

Aid organizations are shifting their focus to preventing another catastrophic disaster. There’s no doubt, Haiti is building back better.

To learn more, visit www.worldconcern.org/haiti

Blown away by generosity

Yesterday, a man walked into our headquarters office and said he wanted to make a donation. He ordered a few gift cards for goats from the Global Gift Guide, then proceeded to write a check—for $10,000.

A husband and father of two, he told us he had picked up a copy of the Global Gift Guide at an event and started pondering the tremendous needs of children and families living in poverty, and compared this to his own life. He was moved to tears. He and his family talked, prayed and decided to make this donation.

A World Concern donor in Kenya

World Concern donors help transform the lives of those living in extreme poverty, offering hope for a better future.

Over the past few weeks, we at World Concern have been in an almost constant state of awe at God’s provision for our work through the generosity of others this holiday season. As a humanitarian organization responding to some of the worst disasters in the world, and working in some of the poorest, most difficult to reach places, we have the privilege of seeing the impact your donations are making every day in the lives of suffering people. We never take this for granted.

The gifts that have come in this past year – and particularly this week – have, quite honestly, blown us away. Large or small, they are heart-felt, God-led, powerfully meaningful gifts. Each one has a story behind it. We wanted to share a few of those with you.

After one of her Christmas tour shows, Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons had a 13-year-old girl named Kate approach her. She wanted to use her Christmas money to buy a goat in honor of her uncle Clint, a pastor who had been murdered in his own church by robbers. “Taking care of poor people was what he loved to do. I want to do as much as I can to keep his spirit alive. He would have loved buying a goat. This is the perfect present for me,” she said.

At church this past Sunday, a friend handed me a check made out to World Concern for $350 to buy animal gifts for poor children. I looked at her a little confused because the week before she had told me she was sad that she couldn’t buy any gifts from the Global Gift Guide this year. Her husband had been laid off from his job. I hugged her and told her I’d pray for him to find work.

But God touched their hearts that week and they felt led to give, even beyond their current means. “We talked it over, and this is what we want to do,” she said, handing me the check with a smile. More hugs.

It reminded me of the widow’s offering in Luke 21:1-4, where Jesus said, “All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The gift is even greater when it’s given sacrificially.

We received an email from a college student saying he had accidentally donated more than he intended. No problem, we told him, we can refund the difference. But he sent another message saying that after praying about it, he had decided to leave the donation as is. “It’s a leap of faith,” he said, and was excited to see what God would do with it.

Earlier this week, a family of five with two special needs children donated an entire school for a village in Kenya. Because of this gift, children in this village will be blessed for generations.

Just this morning, a donor purchased a year’s education for two children and wrote this: “This is given in honor of my mother who died earlier this year. She was an amazing mother, spouse, teacher, and advocate for women and children. She had such a tremendous spark of life and hilarious view of the world. She gave of her gifts always, whether to family or to her students.”

Wow. To say we are humbled by the outpouring of love in these gifts is an understatement. Because of these gifts and so many others, we are able to freely give to those in need, reaching the farthest corners of the planet. What a blessing to witness love like this in action.

Thank you to everyone who has given a gift this year. Have a merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

A girl receives a baby goat at her school in rural Haiti.

How Global Gift Guide gifts transform lives

“When you are isolated, no one comes to help,” said David, a young farmer who lives in a rural village in Haiti. “World Concern is the first to support us this way.”

People in his village have received goats, cows and other animals – each one a gift from a generous Global Gift Guide donor.

A girl receives a baby goat at her school in rural Haiti.

A young girl receives a baby goat at her school in rural Haiti.

“When the cows give birth, we pass the cow on to someone else, who becomes the owner of the cow,” he explained. “By selling the milk for income, parents can pay for food for their children, for school, and to take them to the hospital if they get sick.”

“It’s like heaven,” said Pierre, a farmer who received a cow from World Concern. “We could never afford a cow like this with our own money.”

At a nearby school in Les Cayes, children receive baby goats of their own. As part of the program, they’re trained how to care for and raise the goats, and are able to earn income from the goat milk.  The income they earn helps them afford uniforms, supplies and tuition to stay in school.

With healthy animals to raise, kids and families in rural Haiti have hope for the future. Beaming smiles on the faces of the children as they receive their goat gifts are just one indication of the impact these gifts have on lives.

Bring hope and a smile to the face of someone struggling in poverty this Christmas. Your gift will make a lasting difference.

Visit www.globalgiftguide.org to view all the gifts.

A mother’s heart is the same around the world

Last night my 4 month old daughter, Alyssa laughed for the first time.  She had been showing signs of the laughter soon to come with short giggles for several weeks, but last night was different.  Last night was full out, joy filled, uncontainable laughter.  I thought about going to get the camera to record it but was so excited to see her laugh that I decided not to waste my time with the camera.  I wanted to relish in this beautiful moment and so I did and loved every moment.

I could choose to stay home with Alyssa each day and spend all day teaching her how to blow bubbles and roll over, but instead each morning I give her a kiss good bye and send her to daycare with her daddy.  I make this decision, because I work for World Concern and I love my job.

I know it’s not the most glamorous job, nor do I find myself at the front lines of our work, but I know that I am part of a team – a team that brings food and water to victims of famine, healthcare to the sick and small loans to the poor.  I get to come into work each day and hear all the stories of people World Concern is helping around the world. I know that most of those stories come from women not all that different than myself.

Somali mother giving baby water

A Somali mother tries to give her newborn some water by hand during the Horn of Africa famine.

These women have suffered much more than I could imagine and have faced tragedy like I have never seen. I have so much respect and compassion for them.  I know that if you look deep in their eyes, I mean really deep, past the pain, the hunger, and fear you can see a woman, a mom, and a wife who wants nothing more than to be able to provide for her family.  She is a mom who just wants to be able to play with her newborn and see laughter in her baby’s eyes.

Instead, of laughter, she has to listen to the hunger pains and the tired voices of her little ones.  Instead of wrapping chubby little legs in blankets at night, she gets to wrap her small and fragile child in scraps of clothing.  These women, long for something better for their children and I know that World Concern works hard to give that to them.

World Concern is participating in the 1,000 Days campaign by serving mothers, newborns and children (often the most vulnerable to malnutrition) through nutrition education, healthcare, emergency feeding programs, home gardening, and agricultural support.   In Chad, World Concern trains women and their families to grow sack gardens outside their homes. Sack gardens produce leafy green vegetables in order to supplement the family’s diets with much needed nutrients.  Ninety-six percent of these families reported that they were harvesting crops weekly and most were convinced that sack gardening was useful and helped women feed their families a healthy diet.

Many of these same families later participated in a follow up training on water management and vegetable business production so that women can continue to grow crops longer into the dry season as well as sell some of her crops to other families.  By selling her crops, a woman not only creates an income for her family but also encourages others to eat nutritious vegetables as well.

Bangladesh moms with babies

Women like these in Bangladesh are better able to feed and provide for their children with the help of microloans for small businesses.

Much of Bangladesh’s population earns a living through agriculture but for the young woman without any land to grow crops for her family, she must find a way to earn a living another way.  World Concern is giving these women microloans to start their own businesses.  These women learn to embroider cloth, make candles, sew table cloths and more. They are also given business training like managing accounts, banking and cash flow projection along with training on discrimination of women, basic health and environmental concerns.  The income earned allows an entrepreneur to provide a safe and warm home for her children as well as education and good nutrition.

So, for me, yes my heart breaks a little each time I have to say goodbye to my little girl, even for just a few hours. But it’s worth it.  I know that I am part of a team transforming the lives of people in the most desperate circumstances so that, like myself they can see joy instead of hunger in their children’s eyes.

This is one way that I can make a small sacrifice and teach my daughter the importance of caring for those in need.  I know that Alyssa will be there waiting for me when I come to pick her up and she’ll give me a giant grin, and maybe now even break out into laughter.

 

Addison Road singer encourages fans to “give a goat” this Christmas

Addison Road poster

Jenny Simmons helps promote World Concern's work as she tours.

When Addison Road lead singer Jenny Simmons takes the stage, she makes it her mission to encourage her audience with stories and songs of hope. Her winter tour, A Night of Stories, aims to engage people with the idea that they’re part of God’s story of hope and redemption.

“Each one of us has a beautiful calling to be a part of the story,” said Jenny, who weaves stories of personal struggles and perseverance in with songs from the band’s latest album, “Stories.”

But she takes her convictions one step further, encouraging fans to take part in ministry, helping others and giving generously. A passionate supporter of World Concern, Jenny shares the Global Gift Guide video during her shows and provides copies of the guide, a donation jar and even displays a small Christmas tree she decorated with tiny goats, water spouts and other ornaments symbolizing the life-changing gifts found in the catalog.

“It truly is better to give than to receive,” said Jenny, who asked her blog readers to give a goat for her birthday in November. “There is joy that comes in pouring ourselves out in little ways or big ways. It enhances our spiritual life.”

Jenny says she “fell in love” with World Concern while researching our work to help promote the 44-Cent Cure on the radio in Dallas. “The first thing that caught my attention was this idea of being able to reach communities that are so remote and so poverty stricken that others can’t reach them,” she said. “I thought of scriptures that say to go to the ends of the earth. I thought, oh wow, they have found the ends of the earth and gone there.”

Considering herself somewhat of a social policy buff, Jenny appreciates World Concern’s commitment to long-term change. “World Concern walks alongside communities. The truth is, dumping money into communities and leaving is inefficient. It has to be sustainable, real change,” she said, citing education, clean water and elevating the status of women as ways that can help change the future of a village.

“The very last words Jesus said were to go to the ends of the earth and share … we are to care for the widows and orphans. He went to leper colonies and touched people who had never been touched. He loves the unlovable, the untouchables, prostitutes, liars and thieves … it’s a beautiful picture of what he’s called us to do,” she explained.

Jenny Simmons

Addison Road singer Jenny Simmons.

Jenny strives to live a life of service and sacrifice, paraphrasing humanitarian Katie Davis in her mission: “I want to make a difference, no matter how small, and I want to love so hard and work so hard for the good of God’s people that I fall asleep each night filthy and exhausted,” she says. “It’s not always perfect, but that’s okay, because somewhere in the course of that day, I followed God’s call to love people well.”

The Global Gift Guide helps her put her mission into practice as she shares Christmas songs and stories. She hopes others will follow in her footsteps, giving life-changing, meaningful gifts this Christmas.

“What do I want for Christmas? $200 worth of makeup would be awesome,” she said. “But what I want more are things that last and matter eternally.”

Dates and locations for Jenny Simmons’ Night of Stories Christmas Tour can be found here.

Shop World Concerns’ Global Gift Guide online here.

We’ve got a new look!

World Concern's new logoYou’ll notice that World Concern has a new logo – and tagline. We’re pretty excited about this, as it helps you – and us – tell the story about what we’re doing together.

Here’s a little background on how we reached this point.

I’ve traveled around the world and have seen nearly all of the work we do, in some of the toughest places on Earth. Over time, something has stood out in my mind.

I saw it in the life of a businesswoman in Chad. She escaped a war, with nothing but her wits, and built a new business – when given a chance. I saw it in a family in Bangladesh that went from poverty to prosperity, with education, job training, and a fish farm.

A theme that I see, over and over, is the transformation of lives. People who were hopeless, now have reasons to live.

In some ways, World Concern is not unique. There are many humanitarian organizations that seek to do good. And of those, quite a few have Christian backgrounds. In fact, there are several good ones that have either the word “World” or “Concern” in their name.

But what we see that is unique about World Concern is the one-on-one relationships that we build with people and communities, relationships that sometimes span years. We see that we make the biggest difference in people’s lives when we know them, work with them individually, and equip them with the tools they need to thrive.

We don’t just do good. We do good that lasts. In turn, those we help see themselves, and their lives, in new ways.

They know that God loves them. They have value. They can indeed succeed in life.

So – we’re inviting you, along with those we serve, and anyone else with eyes to see, to “witness the transformation.” Our work does make a difference.

We wanted to bring this idea to an icon as well. The icon we chose hints at transformation and new life: an emerging butterfly, motion, and several parts coming together into one unit. Here’s more about our new look.

We truly cannot do it without you.

In the coming months we will also unveil a new website, with features to make us more transparent, and equip you to act.

Thank you for your compassion for the world’s poor!

Derek Sciba

Marketing Director

World Concern

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.

 

5k family

Standing together against child trafficking

Su Kim, fundraising winner

Su Kim (left) was the top fundraiser for World Concern's Free Them 5k, held on May 7 in Seattle.

The most exciting part of this past weekend’s long-awaited “Free Them” 5k to stop human trafficking was not the sunshine that peeked through the gray ceiling that has hung over Seattle for six months. It wasn’t even the exhilaration of crossing the finish line after five grueling, hilly kilometers of speed walking.

For me, it was the sense of unity, looking over the crowd and knowing that all 1,200 of us were there for a common purpose:  to do something to help right a wrong. In this world of copious evils – many of which are carried out against innocent children – there is hope in the power of unanimity. Corporately, we can do so much more to protect children than any of us can do alone.

I met race participant who said he’d heard a speaker at his church talk about human trafficking. “I’d never thought about modern day slavery. I didn’t know it existed,” he said. “But my heart was touched, and I wanted to do something. I thought if my 12-year-old daughter got mad and ran off, within 48 hours she could be trafficked into prostitution.”

There were so many others will similar stories. Every person there had their own reasons for taking part in the 5k. And together, we made a huge impact – raising awareness about this issue among our friends and in our families, churches and communities – and raising more than $100,000 to help protect children.

To everyone who participated, thanks for making this a huge success!

Read more about how you’re making a difference. You can also text “FREETHEM” to 20222 to donate $10.

Runners waving.

Participants encouraged each other along the Free Them 5k route.

5k family

The Free Them 5k was a fun event for the whole family.

5k finish

Runners line up at the start of the Free Them 5k.

5k runners

More than 1,200 runners took part in the Free Them 5k to stop human trafficking.