August 2018

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By Andrea Paolini, Guest Blogger*

We tell stories to help locate and make sense of our worlds. Because the human narrative can be as liberating as it is trapping, how we tell these stories matters as much as why we tell them.

Be a Good Guest

I enter the conversation as a doctoral student in composition and rhetoric studies. My research explores the intersections between writing and human rights. When seeking admission to a new discourse community, one needs to be prepared. To determine what a good guest brings, I begin by familiarizing myself with the Human Trafficking Center’s website and blog. I learn that the post with the highest Facebook reach is Her Body is Not for Sale, but Her Necklace Is, by research assistant Annalise Yahne. I read the post. Like many readers, I take offense. The author’s sweeping generalizations regarding the narrative framing practices of a single social enterprise organization is problematic. As its rhetorical device the post relies on making provocative claims—what it needed was a robust argument supported by evidence. How we tell stories matters as much as why we tell them.

Fortunately, the subsequent cross-talk between the author and readers on the blog’s discussion board offers an important opportunity to connect the how and why. How we frame the stories we tell can have real and serious consequences on the lives of victims, survivors, and their supporters. Sarah Lance, founder and managing director of Sari Bari, offered a powerful rebuttal in defense of her organization and its work with trafficked and exploited women.

Tell a Good Story

The stories we tell can captivate an audience’s attention and move them to action. But they can also cause harm and perpetuate misunderstanding. I chose to enter the conversation by revisiting this post from a year ago, because issues of representation, voice, and agency remain hugely relevant. Dr. Annjanette Alejano-Steele, co-founder and board member of the Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking, offers a poignant reminder of this. In a recent blog post, Not My Story to Tell: How to Rethink the Ways We Support Survivors, she reflects upon a panel invitation to “share a real life story of human trafficking,” as a way of contextualizing and raising awareness to a public audience.

But Whose Story Is It?

The stories we tell in support of victim and survivor rights can both champion and sabotage their agency. We need to protect their stories and recognize how speaking for them has the potential to further exploit. And so, more than a style guide, we need a code of ethical conduct by which to guide our writing, our work, and our shared goals. Within this, let’s define and prioritize good storytelling practices. What methodologies can ensure that we respectfully represent the victim and survivor points of view? How can we create a space in which they may tell their own? Because isn’t this what makes the best story? And when this is not possible, how do we remain good guests in a story that is not ours?

Towards Shared Goals

Something that I do think Yahne and critics share, is a desire to support survivors through rehabilitative means. The field of rehabilitation needs further activist research and recommendations by academics and practitioners. It also requires greater material supports and services. Social enterprise organizations like Sari Bari and Thistle Farms have an important role to play by extending economic opportunities that are necessary to rebuild lives and restore agency.

Agency in Storytelling

The concept of agency is critical to how I approach the issue and study of human trafficking. Is there a place for writing as part of the rehabilitative process for victims and survivors? Can human rights storytelling, specifically the act of writing, offer them a tool for processing and making sense of their worlds? Can it help them to document and disseminate their own stories—as part of public awareness campaigns, and in support of legal proceedings? Am I being too optimistic (or simply naïve) in chasing these interdisciplinary goals? Let’s begin a dialogue and share examples of how this might be possible. And to organizations like Sari Bari and Thistle Farms, would you be open to incorporating a writing project as part of your rehabilitative services? Please leave a comment.


*Andrea Paolini is a PhD student at the University of Pittsburgh. This blog is Part 4 in a series of guest blogs written by graduate students from the University of Pittsburgh advised by Dr. Luke Condra.

Edited by Cecily Bacon, Director of Communications and Social Media

Photo Credit: Andrea Paolini


About the Human Trafficking Center

The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.

Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.

 

Note: There is a print link embedded within this post, please visit this post to print it.


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Once an emerging force for democracy in West Africa, Mali has struggled in recent years to maintain governmental stability. A coup in 2012, ensuing military intervention in the north, and regular uprisings by rebel and extremist groups throughout the country have left the nation of about 18 million people vulnerable. Frequent and increasingly severe droughts have added to the country’s challenges.

Mali conflict timeline

1891 — French Sudan colony is formed, which includes modern Mali.

1960 — Mali achieves independence from France on September 22.

1962 to 1964 — Seeking autonomy, Tuareg ethnic groups rebel in the north.

1992 — Alpha Konare wins the first multiparty, democratic presidential election.

2002 — Amadou Toumani Toure is elected president; he serves two terms.

2011 — The drought and hunger crises in West Africa come to the world’s attention, but continue today.

2012 — In January, Tuareg ethnic rebellion in the north sets off massive displacement as people flee fighting. President Toure is deposed by military officers in March. Then in April, Tuareg rebels seize northern Mali and declare independence, calling the state Azawad. From June to July, other rebel groups seize territory and continue conflict in the north. In November, the African Union deploys troops to quell violence in the north. By now, more than 112,000 Malians have fled the violence as refugees to Burkina Faso, Mauritania, or Niger. At least 250,000 more residents are displaced within Mali.

2013 — In January, French and Malian forces recapture much of the north. On May 15, international donors pledge more than $4 billion to help Mali get back on its feet. Then on June 18, rebels and the Malian government sign a peace agreement that prepares the way for elections. In July, a 12,600-strong U.N. military and police force takes over to help stabilize the country. On Aug. 11, the Malian people peacefully elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita as their new president in a runoff election. Before the coup, Mali’s democracy was considered a success story among West African nations.

2014 — Fighting continues between the Mali government and militias in the north.2015 — The Mali government negotiates peace with militias and allows more regional autonomy for the Tuareg ethnic group in a peace deal aimed at ending years of civil conflict in the northern regions.

2017 — The people of Mali continue to experience the effects of violence and insecurity from multiple attacks by extremist groups and clashes between rebel factions and communal groups. About 142,000 Malians still live as refugees in neighboring countries.

2018Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is re-elected president. Insecurity and terrorist attacks continue. An increase of insecurity and ethnic conflicts in Central Mali make some areas inaccessible to nongovernmental aid groups.

FAQs: What you need to know about the Mali conflict

Explore facts and frequently asked questions about the Mali conflict, and learn how you can help children and families in Mali.

Fast facts: What are the humanitarian conditions in Mali?

  • Conflict and insecurity are rampant in northern and central Mali.
  • Attacks by armed groups that are not parties to the 2015 peace agreement have increased since 2016.
  • The number of internally displaced people in Mali has almost doubled between December 2017 and June 2018, increasing from 38,000 to 61,404 people.
  • Drought conditions in the 2016 and 2017 growing season caused an 85 percent loss in crops.
  • The biggest impact of the drought is on food security and nutrition.
  • Timbuktu, Gao, and Mopti regions have the most people in need of assistance, but some areas are inaccessible to aid groups.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How are conditions in Mali affecting children?

One in every three children is stunted—short for their age—indicating high levels of chronic malnutrition. Drought and poverty are behind the spike in undernourished children, but lack of clean water and sanitation also play a part.

Children who are displaced in Mali often don’t have access to the healthcare and education services they need.  In crisis-affected areas, 750 schools are closed. Increasing conflict endangers children and other civilians, especially in Mopti and Menaka, where intercommunity attacks have led to displacements and several deaths.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What are the greatest needs of children and families in Mali?

The greatest needs of children and families in Mali are food security, health, and all aspects of child protection. Without reliable sources of food, families are cutting back consumption, and more children are becoming malnourished. As many as 4.3 million people don’t have adequate food. With children vulnerable to violence and recruitment into armed groups, they need opportunities for education and strong support systems within their families and communities.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How can I help people in Mali?

Pray for children and families affected by hunger and conflict in Mali and other West African countries.

Sponsor a child: Help World Vision continue to provide life-saving assistance to children and communities in Mali.

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How does World Vision help people in Mali?

World Vision responded to drought in Mali in 1975, opened an office in 1982, and began child sponsorship in 1988.

Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

  • Digging more than 1,500 freshwater wells to provide a source of clean, safe water
  • Providing food to famine survivors and malnourished children during the 1980s
  • Providing immunizations and improved nutrition to reduce the high mortality rates of children throughout the 1990s
  • Developing education and health systems and providing microfinance assistance in the 21st century

During the height of the political upheaval in 2012 and 2013, World Vision staff worked to provide emergency food aid, shelter, access to safe drinking water and improved hygiene facilities, and household necessities to about 150,000 people throughout the country. About 65,000 children are currently registered in World Vision child sponsorship programs in Mali; almost 21,000 of them are located in areas that were affected by fighting.

Since April 2018, World Vision mounted a new response to the humanitarian crisis in central Mali. The initial target is to serve more than 23,000 individuals, focusing on food assistance, nutrition, water and sanitation, child protection, and peacebuilding.

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Around the world, child rights are a topic of concern in every country. Every child, regardless of age, race, gender, wealth, or birthplace, deserves not just to live, but to thrive. Yet millions of children’s basic rights are denied and their childhoods are stolen from them by abuse, exploitation, or slavery.

Many violations children face are a consequence of exploitative practices and education gaps in both developed and developing communities. But poverty, exploitation, and violence are not inevitable. With enlightened support from governments, civil society, and religious groups, vulnerable children can flourish and reach their highest potential.

Child rights timeline

1830s — The United States begins to regulate and limit child labor.

1924 — The League of Nations adopts the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. The short document recognizes that “mankind owes to the child the best that it has to give.” The declaration is the precursor to later child rights measures by the United Nations.

1959 —  The U.N. adopts an expanded Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

1962 —  The publication of a study on battered-child syndrome in the U.S. leads to statutes making the reporting of child abuse and neglect mandatory for certain professionals such as doctors, teachers, and social workers.

1973 — Marian Wright Edelman founds the Children’s Defense Fund to conduct research and lobby for child welfare and rights in the U.S.

1974 — The U.S. Congress passes the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to fund state-level development of child protective services. The law is amended in 2010 to address issues around trafficking and then again in 2016 to incorporate the needs of children affected by substance abuse.

1989 — The U.N. adopts the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has now been ratified by 196 countries.

1994 — U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Madeleine Albright signs the Convention on the Rights of the Child on behalf of the U.S. The Convention has yet to be ratified by Congress.

2000 — The U.N. adopts protocols forbidding child prostitution, child pornography, the sale of children, and the involvement of children in armed conflict. These were unanimously ratified by the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Facts and FAQs: What you need to know about child rights

Here are facts about some of the ways children are exploited and answers to questions about child rights.

Fast facts: Child rights violations

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What are child rights?

Child rights are human rights that also recognize the special needs for care and protection of minors — generally defined as anyone younger than 18.

International agreements on child rights say that all children should grow up in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality, and solidarity. In an ideal world, these tenets would direct each country’s systems of education, health, law, and social services. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How are children deprived of their rights?

Child labor, child marriage, children recruited into armed conflicts, and other forms of oppression deprive children of their rights. Children are also deprived of their rights when their birth is not recorded, so they don’t have a birth certificate, or when they are forced to flee conflict.

The International Labor Organization (ILO), estimates that 152 million children are working as child laborers around the world. These children are denied the opportunity to go to school, play with friends, or receive the right nutrition and care for a healthy and fulfilled life; instead, they are forced to work long hours for little reward.

Millions of children are being exploited through mentally and physically dangerous work that involves hazardous workplaces and other exploitative acts such as slavery, drug trafficking, prostitution, and armed conflict. These environments negatively impact a child’s well-being and development and often deny the child’s right to health and survival, protection, and education.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Is progress being made in protecting children’s rights?

Yes, improvements in child mortality, healthcare, and school attendance are some of the signs that children’s rights concerns are receiving greater recognition. These are aspects of human development that give children a brighter future.

Globally, progress is also being made against some of the worst violations of children’s rights. For example, in the past decade, 25 million child marriages have been prevented, according to UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

The U.N. also reports that since 2000, more than 115,000 children have been released from armed forces and groups. Still, nearly 250 million children are living in countries affected by conflict, and many are at risk of being recruited as child soldiers.

Child labor and female genital mutilation are also declining, but progress against the practices vary greatly in different countries.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What can I do to protect children worldwide?

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What is World Vision doing to promote and protect children’s rights?

At World Vision, we believe every child deserves a childhood, surrounded by protective families and communities, free from violence, and with the opportunity to thrive and the experience the abundant life Jesus promised.

We are a global leader in empowering families and their communities to protect children’s rights. Our unique community engagement model, developed over nearly 68 years and innovated depending on the context of each community, enables us to address the complex root causes of problems that rob children of their childhood.

We engage all people who have a responsibility to protect children, starting with families, faith communities, and extending to teachers, local and traditional leaders, police officers, hospitals, government agencies, and courts of law.

Our interventions focus on improving laws and accountability, increasing social services and associated social supports, encouraging behavior and attitude change, and strengthening child resilience.

World Vision advocates protection for children to ensure they are healthy, protected, and thriving. We regularly call on governments, communities, parents, religious groups, and citizens to “speak up and defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:9) It is up to all of us to do all we can to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

When children’s rights are protected, they stand a much better chance of growing up in a society that allows them to thrive.

At World Vision, we see children as agents of transformation. We partner with communities on citizen- and child-led projects to help them escape abuse, forced labor, and conflict. We work to equip and mobilize faith leaders and communities to challenge harmful norms and injustices against children. We help them to build a brighter future for themselves and their children.

We have a responsibility for the children who participate in our sponsorship and relief programs. We teach children about their rights, equipping them with the skills to speak up for themselves and educating their communities about what is and what isn’t acceptable behavior towards children.

We push for policy change at a local, national, and global levels so we can impact the largest number of children possible with our work and program implementation.

World Vision initiatives and outcomes in child protection include:

  • In the last 5 years, World Vision has informed over 1,837,878 children and adults about the risks of exploitation, abuse, traffickers’ ploys, and how to keep children from harm.
  • In Cambodia alone, we have provided more than 1,500 child survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse with shelter and recovery care to heal and return to family and community life.
  • In the Philippines, World Vision’s work on child labor saw over 52,000 children receive education and livelihood services, resulting in an 86 percent reduction in child labor among participants. Since 2010, World Vision has equipped and mobilized 30,669 local leaders, parents, teachers, and police officers with the education needed to recognize, report and respond to crimes against children, fostering community-wide protection schemes and saving the lives of countless children.

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World Vision staff in Australia contributed to this article.

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Typhoon Bopha made landfall the evening of Dec. 3, 2012, onBaganga, Mindanao in the Philippines. With sustained winds above 175 mph, the Category 5 storm was the strongest to ever hit the southern Philippine islands and the strongest to hit the country until the record-breaking superstorm, Typhoon Haiyan, in 2013.

Typhoon Bopha followed a similar path to that of Tropical Storm Washi, which killed more than 1,200 people and left thousands homeless only a year before. But Bopha was a much stronger storm. Though more than 170,000 people evacuated to storm shelters, the death toll from Typhoon Bopha topped 1,000 people.

2012 Typhoon Bopha timeline

Nov. 23: A weather system emerges in Micronesia, but is perceived as having little chance of developing into a significant weather system.

Nov. 30: Now a named storm, Bopha is upgraded to a severe tropical storm. Then, a few hours later it becomes a typhoon as its wind speed increases.

Dec. 2: Bopha strengthens to a super typhoon with sustained wind speeds of at least 150 mph. Later it develops a double eyewall as the whirling band of thunderstorms that surround the calmer eye increases. This is a sign that the storm is intensifying.

Dec. 3: At 9 p.m. Bopha makes landfall over Baganga, Mindanao, as a Category 5 super typhoon.

Dec. 4 to 6: After raking across Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, Typhoon Bopha crosses into the southern and central regions of Mindanao, downing power lines and triggering landslides.

Dec. 7 to 9: Bopha begins to strengthen again, but as it moves to the South China Sea and west of Palawan island province, it dissipates.

FAQs: What you need to know about Typhoon Bopha

Learn more about the historic force of Typhoon Bopha and how to help people in the Philippines.

Typhoon Bopha approaches the Philippines on December 2, 2012, a day before making landfall in Mindanao as a devastating tropical storm. (©2012 photo courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center)
Typhoon Bopha appears as a massive swirling cloud as it approaches the Philippines on Dec. 2, 2012, a day before making landfall in Mindanao. (©2012 photo courtesy of the Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

Fast facts: Mindanao and Typhoon Bopha

  • Typhoon Bopha was the strongest storm to ever hit Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
  • Mindanao has been plagued by armed conflict for decades and is consistently the poorest region in the Philippines, ill able to withstand economic losses from disasters.
  • A year before Typhoon Bopha, Mindanao was hit by Tropical Storm Washi. Many families lost everything and had not recovered when Bopha came calling.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What’s the difference between a typhoon and a tropical storm?

The difference between a typhoon and a tropical storm is wind speed.

Tropical storms are extremely low-pressure areas over the ocean with winds rotating around a central point, like in a washing machine. Tropical storms are very strong thunderstorms; they are called tropical storms because they usually develop in the tropics.

When a tropical depression gets enough steam for its winds to clock between 39 and 73 mph, it’s a tropical storm. When it passes 74 mph — and it’s in the Atlantic or Northeast Pacific, it’s upgraded to a hurricane. Typhoons, like Bopha, are the same as hurricanes, but they are found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. Find out more about hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Why is Typhoon Bopha also called Typhoon Pablo?

The Japanese Meteorological Agency names new typhoons from a list of 140 names submitted by countries in the region, including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines. But when a typhoon approaches the Philippines, it gets a local name provided by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration based on four rotating lists of 25 names. The storm that everyone else called Typhoon Bopha, they named Typhoon Pablo.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Is the Philippines a disaster-prone country?

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Not only is it at risk for disastrous weather events, it is in a hot zone for earthquakes, volcanos, and tsunamis since it sits on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Landslides, floods, and volcanic eruptions can happen to anyone, but communities with poor infrastructure and families in poverty, such as much of Mindanao, have a much more difficult time coping and recovering from emergencies compared to wealthier people and places. Because of conflict and extreme poverty, human development in several Mindanao provinces is extremely low, far below the Philippines’ average and comparable to Niger and the Central African Republic in sub-Saharan Africa. When disasters such as Typhoon Bopha strike, the extremely poor have few resources to put toward recovery.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How can I help children and families in the Philippines?

Pray for people affected by poverty and recurring disasters in the Philippines and other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Sponsor a child in the Philippines. When you sponsor a child, you will help change a child’s life story and the life of their family and community. You’ll provide access to life-saving basics like nutritious food, healthcare, clean water, education, and more.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How did World Vision respond to Typhoon Bopha?

World Vision has worked in the Philippines since 1954, caring for children and building sustainable communities. Building resilience and preparing for disasters are two of the top aims of our long-term development programs.

Based on assessments, World Vision prioritized these relief items and activities in response to Typhoon Bopha:

  • Food distributions
  • Hygiene kits and household goods
  • Emergency shelter supplies
  • Child protection programs at Child-Friendly Spaces

In the longer term, World Vision also helped to restore families to income-earning activities through cash-for-work programs and small business loans.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

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Hurricane Lane, a Category 4 storm, is bringing heavy rains, wind, and high surf to the Hawaiian islands. Effects of the storm will likely continue through Saturday, Aug. 25. The Big Island, the easternmost island in the group, had received up to 8 inches of rain by Thursday morning. Landslides have also been reported.

It’s unknown whether the storm will make landfall or skirt the islands with bands of wind and rain. Either way, the impacts from the slow-moving storm could be devastating. Schools are closed, and Governor David Ige has declared a state of emergency.

The National Weather Service’s Honolulu office reports, “The center of Lane will track dangerously close to the islands Thursday through Saturday. Life-threatening impacts are likely in some areas as the hurricane makes its closest approach.” The weather service has issued watches and warnings for the entire island chain.

Lane was briefly a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of more than 160 mph. Though it has weakened, the storm is expected to continue as a dangerous hurricane, possibly maintaining 100-mph winds into Friday, when it is predicted to be located just south of densely-populated Oahu.

FAQs: Hurricanes and Hawaii

Explore frequently asked questions about hurricanes and Hawaii, including how you can help people affected by hurricanes like Lane. World Vision assisted more than 90,000 people in the U.S. in 2017 through our responses to disasters like successive hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

When was Hawaii last hit by a hurricane?

The last hurricane to affect Hawaii was Hurricane Ana, a Category 1 storm that touched the small island of Niihau in 2014. The latest significant hurricane was Category 4 Iniki that hit the island of Kauai in 1992. That storm killed six people and caused $3.1 billion in damages. Hurricane John in 1994 was the last Category 5 storm to pass through the islands, although it never came as close as Lane.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Are hurricanes common in Hawaii?

With a small landmass in the big Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is not a big target. Also, the high-pressure feature that most often occurs on the northeast of the island, giving Hawaii its consistently pleasant weather, is strong from May to October — prime hurricane season. Deep, cool waters around the islands also help to moderate tropical storms.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What is the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning?

When hurricane conditions could occur within 48 hours, the weather service will issue a hurricane watch. A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions are imminent within 36 hours. In that case, preparations need to be completed quickly. Learn more hurricane facts.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How can I help people affected by hurricanes and other disasters?

Pray: As a Christian development and disaster relief organization, World Vision asks others to join in prayer for people affected by Hurricane Lane. Almighty Father, we ask for your care and protection for people in the path of Hurricane Lane. Give them the assurance of your presence and equip those who provide relief and assistance after the storm passes.

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Does your sponsored child really get the letters and packages you send? The answer: Yes! We followed one package from Seattle to Colomi, Bolivia, to see what it looks like for a child on the receiving end.

 

Want to send a package to your sponsored child? Gifts must be mailed in a 6 inch by 9 inch envelope, so space counts. We asked our sponsorship experts how to maximize every inch. Consider including:

  • Stickers
  • Balloons
  • Regular and colored pencils (don’t forget the sharpener!)
  • Coloring books
  • Small puzzles
  • Notebooks or pads of paper
  • Bookmarks
  • Bandanas
  • Handmade items like small paintings or flat craft projects
  • Hair ribbons
  • Picture postcards of your hometown
  • Photos of you and your family

Please don’t include crayons (they’ll melt in transit), food, jewelry, money, or toys like fake spiders or snakes that could frighten young children.

A letter from you is a great finishing touch to add to your package! Not sure what to write about? Here are some ideas:

  • Describe your family and friends (first names, ages, tall/short, what they like)
  • Describe the city where you live
  • Explain your relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Your interests and favorites — Bible verses, colors, animals, subjects in school, sports, hobbies
  • Stories from your childhood and great memories
  • Recent holidays and how your family celebrated them
  • Tell your sponsored child why you’re thankful for them
  • Thank them if they’ve sent a letter or picture to you
  • Give genuine compliments (talents, accomplishments, etc.)
  • Ask about their hopes and dreams (what they want to be when they grow up)
  • Ask about what they’re learning in school
  • Ask about their favorite games and sports
  • Remind your sponsored child that you are praying for them

Find more information about where to send your letter or package to your sponsored child at My World Vision.

  1. Login with your account information.
  2. Click “visit my profile” beneath the sponsored child you’re trying to send it to.
  3. Click “send letter/package” and the instructions will pop up!

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A second federal lawsuit accusing a pair of Oklahoma business owners of luring immigrants to the U.S. on work visas then paying substandard wages highlights what some attorneys say is a prevalent human trafficking issue in the United States that seldom calls violators to task.


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The Solomon Islands, a nation of nearly 1,000 islands east of Papua New Guinea, is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur. The islands are also prone to extreme weather and flooding. During the past decade, Solomon Islands disasters included cyclones, high tides, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, droughts, and tsunamis. The Solomon Islands is also vulnerable to rising sea levels.

Recent timeline of disasters in the Solomon Islands

  • 2007 — April 2: A magnitude 8.1 quake results in a devastating tsunami that kills at least 34 people and displaces 5,000 in coastal areas of Western and Choiseul provinces.
  • 2013 — February 6: Off the coast of the Santa Cruz Islands in the southeast Solomon Islands, a magnitude 8.0 quake generates a 3-foot tsunami wave that kills 10 and damages or destroys more than 700 homes.
  • 2014 — April 3: Flash flooding in Honiara, the capital, and the Guadalcanal Plains to the east, leaves 22 people dead and 9,000 homeless.
  • 2016 — December 9: Three provinces are affected by a magnitude 8 earthquake. Aftershocks followed, including a second magnitude 6.9 quake the next day.

FAQs: What you need to know about the Solomon Islands

Explore frequently asked questions about the Solomon Islands, and learn how you can help.

Fast facts: Solomon Islands

  • Six major islands and about 900 smaller islands
  • Population of about 600,000 people
  • Economy based on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
  • One of the poorest countries in the Pacific, partially due to frequent disasters
  • Honiara, the capital, on Guadalcanal island, was the site of a major World War II campaign in the Pacific

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Are the Solomon Islands at major risk for natural disasters?

Yes, the Solomon Islands archipelago is vulnerable to natural disasters and disease outbreaks, including:

  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Cyclones and other flooding hazards
  • Outbreaks of dengue fever
  • Water-related diseases related to unclean water and poor sanitation

The Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are among the world’s most seismically active landmasses, second only to Japan. It’s not unusual for the Solomon Islands to have 60 to 70 earthquakes a year. Many of these are small shifts in the earth’s crust that may not be noticed, but there are also large quakes with many aftershocks.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

Why do earthquakes and tsunamis occur in the Solomon Islands?

The Solomon Islands sit above a subduction zone where two tectonic plates — Australia and Pacific — meet. Their collision can cause forceful earthquakes and shifts in the ocean floor that generate tsunamis.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

What other environmental hazards affect the Solomon Islands?

The Solomon Islands is experiencing rising sea levels that could have a devastating effect on agriculture. Already, soil erosion and saltwater intrusion into agriculture plots are diminishing the amount of arable land. With about 75 percent of the population involved in farming, that’s a grave concern. Increased levels of malnutrition — already a problem — could also result.

BACK TO QUESTIONS

How damaging was the 2016 Solomon Islands earthquake?

Map shows location of Solomon Islands in relation to other Asia-Pacific nations.
The Solomon Islands are located in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea. (©2016 photo courtesy of the Solomon Islands Disaster Management Council)

A magnitude 7.8 undersea earthquake, the epicenter of the Dec. 9, 2016 quake was 38 miles southwest of Kirakira, the provincial capital of Makira-Ulwara Province. Reports of damaged and collapsed houses and a damaged hospital soon emerged from earthquake-affected areas. People fled to higher ground after the initial earthquake for fear of a tsunami.

About 34,000 people in Makira, South Malaita and Guadalcanal provinces were affected by widespread destruction of homes, community kitchens, food sources, and livelihoods. They experienced multiple aftershocks, including a strong second earthquake early on Saturday, December 10. Many families left the damaged homes to stay in the bush, though seasonal rains made living without shelter doubly difficult.

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How can I help children and families affected by disasters in the Solomon Islands?

  • Pray for children and families impacted by disasters.
  • Give to provide life-saving aid and relief supplies to families following a disaster.
  • Learn more about World Vision’s disaster relief work.

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World Vision’s work in the Solomon Islands

World Vision has been working in the Solomon Islands since 1980 and now operates in Makira, Malaita, Guadalcanal, Temotu, and Central provinces. Our work focuses on clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; economic empowerment; preventing gender-based violence; education; disaster planning and prevention; maternal and child health; and nutrition.

Disaster response

In 2013, World Vision supported the Solomon Islands government with humanitarian and emergency support following the earthquake and tsunami in Temotu Province. The following year, we assisted survivors of flash floods in Guadalcanal Province.

The 2016 earthquake, subsequent landslides, and tidal surges impacted more than half of World Vision’s program areas in the Solomon Islands. At the time of the 2016 earthquake, World Vision had pre-positioned supplies in three locations and began immediately to assess damages and provide aid in cooperation with the national government. Items distributed included shelter kits, kitchen sets, blankets, tarpaulins, jerry cans, hygiene kits, boats, and fuel.

Disaster preparedness

Given the distances and isolation of many of these island communities, responding to disasters is more challenging and problematic in the Solomon Islands. Thus, disaster preparedness is critical.

Through World Vision’s work in disaster risk reduction, we help communities prepare for potential disasters to mitigate their impact. This work is critical to development, protecting lives and livelihoods so people can break free from poverty.

World Vision disaster resilience activities include:

  • Training in disaster risk reduction
  • Facilitating community-led disaster evacuation simulations
  • Establishing disaster committees and helping to formulate disaster preparedness plans
  • Providing livestock and livestock management training for alternative income generation
  • Building capacity of local health workers
  • Raising awareness of disease prevention
  • Restoring and improving water-supply systems

The post Solomon Islands: Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and floods appeared first on World Vision.


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Cyclone Phailin made landfall near Gopalpur, in India’s Odisha state, on Oct. 12, 2013, at 9 p.m. local time. It was the strongest storm to hit India in 14 years, bringing winds of 140 mph and torrential rain that toppled trees and power lines along 250 miles of the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coastlines.

Cyclone Phailin killed 23 people and affected about 9 million residents. More than 1 million people were evacuated ahead of its landfall to avoid a repeat of the death toll of a 1999 cyclone, which killed 10,000 people. Phailin also destroyed crops worth more than $394 million along with hundreds of thousands of houses, schools, and other buildings.

2013 Cyclone Phailin timeline

With an early warning of a depression forming over the Andaman Sea near Thailand, communities, aid groups, and government authorities prepared to cope with a historic storm.

  • Oct. 8: The Indian government prepares to launch a massive evacuation from coastal areas of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.
  • Oct. 10 and 11: Cyclone Phailin is half the size of India and reaches Category 5 status. About 1 million people exit low-lying coastal areas to shelter in stormproof structures stocked with food and supplies.
  • Oct. 12 and 13: Cyclone Phailin makes landfall on the Odisha coast, cutting off communication lines to disaster-hit areas. The intensity of the storm force continues for many hours. World Vision development programs in Bhubaneswar, Nirman, and Ranpur are among the hardest-hit areas.
  • Oct. 14: Significantly weakened by passing over land, Cyclone Phailin moves inland as a low-pressure storm.

FAQs: What you need to know about Cyclone Phailin

Explore frequently asked questions about Cyclone Phailin, and learn how you can help children and families in India today.

Cyclone Phailin hit the coast of India’s Odisha state in October 2013, having originated in the Andaman and Nicobar islands near Thailand. Dots show storm location at 6-hour intervals. Colors represent intensity of the maximum sustained wind speed.
Cyclone Phailin’s storm track shows the cyclone’s route from the Andaman and Nicobar islands near Thailand to inland India. Dots are placed at the storm location at 6-hour intervals. Colors represent the intensity of the maximum sustained wind speed. (©2013 Wikimedia Commons)

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Fast facts: Cyclone Phailin

  • Cyclone Phailin was the largest storm to hit Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states in 14 years.
  • India’s disaster ministry expected Phailin to come ashore as a super cyclone, with winds in excess of 157 mph, but the storm made landfall as a Category 4 at 125 mph.
  • The evacuation of about 1 million coastal dwellers was the largest evacuation for a storm in India’s history, according to disaster officials.
  • The cyclone damaged or destroyed more than 5,000 educational facilities.

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What is a cyclone?

A cyclone is a rotating, organized storm that originated over tropical or subtropical waters and maintains a wind speed stronger than 74 mph. If it originates in the northern hemisphere, it rotates counterclockwise, and in the southern hemisphere, it rotates clockwise.

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What is the difference between a cyclone, a hurricane, and a typhoon?

The differences among cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons are their locations, although scientifically, they are all known as tropical cyclones. Hurricanes occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific. Typhoons are found in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. In the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean, the same type of storm is called a cyclone.

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Why is Cyclone Phailin sometimes called a super typhoon, super cyclone, or superstorm?

Cyclone Phailin was also called a super typhoon, super cyclone, and superstorm because of its sustained winds of more than 150 mph before it made landfall in India.

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Is India a disaster-prone country?

India may not be the most disaster-prone country, but with its large population, India consistently has one of the largest number of people displaced by natural disasters. In 2017, India ranked fifth worldwide with 1.3 million people displaced due to hazards such as floods (caused by annual monsoons), heatwaves, and landslides. In 2016, disasters displaced about 2.4 million people.

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How can I help children and families in India?

  • Pray for children and families affected by poverty and disasters in India and other countries in South Asia.
  • Sponsor a child in India. When you sponsor a child, you will help change a child’s life story and the life of their family and community. You’ll provide access to life-saving basics like nutritious food, healthcare, clean water, education, and more.

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How did World Vision prepare for and respond to Cyclone Phailin?

World Vision has worked to improve the lives of children and families in India since 1962. At the time of Cyclone Phailin, the organization served families in more than 5,300 urban, rural, and tribal communities across 26 states, impacting the lives of 2.4 million children.

Disaster preparedness

World Vision’s community disaster preparedness training played an essential role in the successful evacuation of tens of thousands of people ahead of the storm. In Ranpur, a small town in Odisha’s Nayagarh district, 40 community task force teams trained by World Vision coordinated the evacuation of 12,000 people. The task force includes men, women, and youth from within the community who are trained in disaster preparedness, including search and rescue, basic first aid, and protecting livestock.

In Jagatsinghpur district, World Vision provided megaphones, life jackets, torchlights, and ropes to equip the community task force. Task force members used the megaphone’s siren to alert and call villagers together to evacuate. “We are happy how small yet important things like the megaphones can help in such crucial times,” says Dharmender, director of World Vision’s work in Nirman.

Relief distributions

World Vision was one of the first aid agencies to begin distributing relief supplies to families affected by Cyclone Phailin. Family food kits and household kits were pre-positioned to be available as soon as the roads were opened.

  • Family food kits include rice, jaggery sweetener, beans, puffed rice, high energy biscuits, and bottled water.
  • Household kits contain bed nets, plastic mats, cotton bed sheets, tarpaulin, women’s saree dress, men’s traditional dhoti, cooking utensils, plates, and a bucket.

Long-term recovery

World Vision coordinated with national and local disaster management teams to meet community needs for rebuilding homes, infrastructure, water and sanitation, and restoring livelihoods to benefit 30,000 people.

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