How Clean Water Lifted Kampus and His Family Out of Extreme Poverty

Life was a struggle in Enchoro, the Maasai village where Kampus and his large family live in rural Kenya. Recurring drought made it impossible to earn a living. Livestock died. Crops failed. Kampus’s wife walked long distances in punishing heat to collect water. And his children were chronically sick with water-borne diseases. Continue reading How Clean Water Lifted Kampus and His Family Out of Extreme Poverty

How Scholarships Work to Stop Child Marriage

It was one of those God moments.

I was observing a class of preschool children joyfully singing songs and reciting the alphabet in English in a rural village in Bangladesh. Their “classroom” was a dirt courtyard between shacks, but they didn’t mind. Their bright faces were intently focused on their teacher, following her lead as she moved her hands to the rhythm of the song and mouthed the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

As the young teacher turned around, our eyes met and we immediately recognized each other. Her name was Salma, and I had met her three years earlier when I had spent a week in the same area interviewing young girls who were at risk of being married off as child brides.

interviewing girls who received scholarships in BangladeshDuring that first trip, I listened to many heartbreaking stories of 12 to 14-year-old girls whose parents were too poor to pay for them to attend school.  Their parents felt they had no choice but to marry their daughters off to older men who could support them.

Salma was one of those girls. She was around 13 the first time we met—an innocent girl who giggled shyly with her friends as she waited for our interview. Salma told me she wanted to be a teacher, but she feared her father would marry her off. Her only hope was to stay in school.

Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. Girls who are in school are six times less likely to be married before the age of 18.

With the support and generosity of donors, World Concern provides scholarships to girls like Salma. It costs just $50 for an entire year’s tuition in a place like Bangladesh. A small amount to save a girl from the horrors of child marriage and offer her the gift of education, the ability to pursue her dreams, and escape the cycle of extreme poverty.

Salma received a scholarship, finished high school, avoided child marriage, and today, she is planning to go to college. The smile on her face says it all. She is free and full of hope for the future.

two women in Bangladesh talking about scholarships
Cathy and Salma, three years after their first meeting in Bangladesh.

After her preschool class was dismissed, we walked to a small shop where we ran into some of the other girls I met three years earlier. Dipa and Rima were running a small business, selling beaded purses and hair clips for income. They too had received scholarships and avoided child marriage.

two girls who received scholarships in Bangladesh
Dipa and Rima stand in front of the small business they run together.

As I watched these beautiful, educated young women pursuing their dreams, there was no doubt in my mind—

Scholarships work.

Find out how you can provide a scholarship for a girl at risk of becoming a child bride. 

Two Mothers, Different Worlds

How a Samburu Mom’s Unexpected Questions Changed Me

Written by Heather Nelson, One Village Transformed Communications Coordinator. 

I stepped off the plane and immediately felt the crisp air telling all my senses I was back home. After a week in the dry, scorching climate of Kenya, breathing in the Seattle air reminded me of drinking a tall glass of water after feeling uncomfortably parched the last seven days.

Still, there were two things I thirsted for more than the familiar scenery and drinkable air: seeing (and squeezing!) my two sweet boys I’d left behind while I flew across the world for my first trip to the field with World Concern.

I have the privilege of working as the One Village Transformed Communications Coordinator with World Concern, a vocation that lets me deep dive into the incredible transformational development happening in more than 30 villages in Asia, Africa, and Haiti.

The thing is, my job mostly takes place at a desk. I read technical reports emailed from the field, and I write from the comfort of my office chair. I share exciting updates with One Village Transformed supporters so they can see and feel the impact their gifts are having. It’s blessed work that I care about deeply. But until a few weeks ago, I mostly did this job from my head.

Now that’s changed.

Continue reading Two Mothers, Different Worlds

How Parents are Speaking Out against Child Trafficking

There are kids who don’t have anyone to protect them.

Alone and vulnerable, they’re more susceptible to the lies of traffickers. People who promise them good jobs, a bright future, and success, who only seek to exploit them for personal gain.

It seems promising in the moment, but before they know it, they’re trapped with no way out.

Kids as young as toddlers are being taken and sold. Abused. Coerced. Forced into prostitution.

Who will rescue them? Continue reading How Parents are Speaking Out against Child Trafficking

How to Talk to Your Kids about Human Trafficking

As a parent, it’s natural to want to protect your kids from things that could harm or upset them.

But at the same time, you want to answer their tough questions honestly and help them grow into compassionate young people.

Not knowing when to bring up difficult subjects like human trafficking, where to start, and how much detail to go into are a few reasons we choose not to talk to our kids about them at all.

How are you supposed to be honest while still protecting your kids? Continue reading How to Talk to Your Kids about Human Trafficking

Can I Ever Go Home? A True Story of Child Trafficking

Cho’s family was desperately poor and in debt. All of the families in his village in Myanmar struggled to have enough food to eat. So Cho (whose name has been changed) and his friends made a plan. They heard stories about jobs that were easy and paid a lot of money in China. As young teenagers it was illegal for them to work in China, but they knew a man who said he could find work for them.

Continue reading Can I Ever Go Home? A True Story of Child Trafficking

On the Front Lines – How One Social Worker Is Protecting Children in Sri Lanka

There are some people who look evil in the face and instead of running, they step up and fight.

Niranjini is one of those people.

Living in a city at the northern tip of Sri Lanka, Niranjini began her career as a law assistant. It was here she first encountered case after case involving child abuse. Shocked by the sheer volume of children affected and seemingly “light” punishment for perpetrators, Niranjini made the decision to become a defender of children’s rights.

Continue reading On the Front Lines – How One Social Worker Is Protecting Children in Sri Lanka

Homeless – but not without hope – in South Sudan

One year ago, World Concern staff were evacuated from Wau, South Sudan, when armed conflict broke out in the area where we’re working. Although our team was able to resume work within a few weeks, for tens of thousands of people, life is far from returning to normal. More than 40,000 are still homeless and living in squalid camps around Wau. Continue reading Homeless – but not without hope – in South Sudan

Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant

Akol Akol (far right) talks with some of the kids he served. This picture captures his love and passion for seeing the lives of these precious young men transformed. Akol Akol passed away suddenly on July 6.

Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.”

Many of you have heard the sad news of the death of a World Concern staff member in South Sudan. Akol Akol was playing soccer and sustained an injury, was rushed to the local hospital where he died 30 minutes later. He was a much beloved staff member who knew the Lord, and worked as a peace maker in his community.

Peter Macharia, our Africa Area Director, wrote this word of tribute:

“I’ll miss Akol Akol. He started soccer teams in Magai and Mayen and the young team loved it a lot. Through soccer he would share the love of Christ and engage young men on how to better their lives and stay away from crime. When I last visited South Sudan he asked me for more soccer balls. He also brought me his new wife to say ‘hi.’ They were expecting a baby.

He was deeply loved by all those that met him. He was also deeply passionate about his work, loved World Concern, was always eager to learn, and full of laughter. When he joined World Concern in 2012, he couldn’t speak a word of English, but within a very short time, he would engage in an English conversation as if it was his mother tongue. He longed to see Magai and Mayen transformed. We will definitely miss him. We are praying for his dear wife.”

Our team in South Sudan thanks you for your prayers. They spent today with Akol Akol’s family. We are praying for God’s comfort and the peace that passes all understanding to stand guard over their hearts. Through it all, we trust in the goodness and mercy of our Lord, knowing that this is not the end. We take comfort in that blessed hope of life everlasting with our Lord.

We are so grateful for the opportunity to have known and served with such a kind and good heart. We pray now for his family and our precious team in South Sudan as they grieve this great loss.  

God bless you,

Jacinta Tegman, President
World Concern

 

Oh my dear World Concern

With all that’s happening across our world, we wanted to take a moment and thank you for all that you’re doing. The work of World Concern happens because of you—your prayers and your faithful support. And it’s through you, that Christ is shared, and lives are changed. This poem, written by a young Bangladeshi girl that was saved from child marriage, illustrates your impact perfectly.

Oh my dear World Concern,

From far away you are praised,

Your wondering works will never fade away.

You lightened up so many lives,

You will stay always in our hearts

Wiped out the darkness from our lives

You gave us a fulfilled life

Oh my dear World Concern.

As you ponder this precious girl’s thoughtful words, we want to leave with a reminder from Jacinta Tegman, the World Concern president, who shared a few years ago the reason for the season, and why our journey with the poorest people can be so life-changing.

With this in mind, we encourage you to pray about how you can show the love of Christ to a family that’s waiting for hope, and healing this Christmas.

Merry Christmas from everyone at World Concern!

As we celebrate this special time of year, it is a wonderful time to remember that God himself came to earth. What is so extraordinary is that He chose to identify with the poor and marginalized. He gave up all of His splendor, was born in a stable, and laid in a manager.

In 2 Corinthians 8:9 we read, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor.”

The heart of God is close to those who are poor, forgotten, and alone. Of all the classes and peoples on earth, He chose to identify with them. He lived and walked among them. He knew their pain and struggles. He opened His arms to bless and heal them. I am keenly aware that God continues to walk with the poor. He does that through you and me. I see it every day.

This Christmas, amidst all the joy we will experience, let us pause and remember. Join me in prayer for the poor and marginalized—those close to God’s heart.