Hope is infectious, even healing. But in a world that’s often dark, what is there to be hopeful for? Here are 19 reasons to have hope in 2019 — and how to pray them into reality.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’—Jeremiah 29:11
1. Extreme poverty is giving up ground.
In the last 20 years, the number of children dying around the world from things they shouldn’t — from hunger and poverty and disease — has dropped from more than 30,000 a day to less than 15,000. And the number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 a day, dropped by more than 1 billion.
Now the world’s nations have set an ambitious goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, and we are joining them in this important work. Every 60 seconds … a family gets water … a hungry child is fed … a family receives the tools to overcome poverty.
Merciful Provider, we thank You for all You have done to make fullness of life possible for people in need around the world. Support us in our critical endeavor of freeing more children from the effects of extreme poverty.
2. We are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally.
Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated because it cannot survive for long periods outside of the human body. At its peak in the early 1900s, polio struck tens of thousands of Americans. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 20 million people are living with polio paralysis.
But right now, this crippling and potentially fatal disease is nearing eradication. In 2018, there were only 29 cases globally. If eradication happens, polio will join smallpox as the only other human disease to become extinct.
Great Healer, we pray for children, families, and communities affected by polio — especially in Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean, where polio still persists. Bless the work of doctors and organizations who are working hard to eradicate this disease.
By the time the world realized the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s, nearly an entire generation had succumbed to the disease in some nations. In Malawi, orphaned children were living alone or with overburdened caregivers. Lucia, then 9, and her brother were abandoned by their mother after their father died, likely of AIDS. A kind neighbor, a farmer named Vincent, took the children in. (©2001 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Now, HIV testing and anti-retroviral treatment — bolstered by a lack of stigma — allow adults to live normally with HIV. Communities in sub-Saharan Africa continue to confront the pandemic head-on. AIDS messaging is everywhere, including on the wall of this school in Zambia. Here, clean water is more of a concern to these students than HIV — they know full well how the virus is transmitted. AIDS interventions in Zambia and across sub-Saharan Africa are an integral part of World Vision’s health programming. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
3. The end of the HIV and AIDS pandemic is in sight.
AIDS-related deaths have fallen by more than 51 percent since the peak in 2004 when 1.9 million people died from AIDS-related causes. Countries around the world are focusing on the 90-90-90 targets of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS. The U.N. is working toward three goals to reach 90 percent: that people living with HIV will be diagnosed, those diagnosed will be on treatment, and those treated will be virally suppressed by 2020.
Almighty Deliverer, You are our strong refuge. Reach out with Your unconditional love to be a refuge and source of hope for HIV-positive men, women, and children around the world.
4. We can solve the global water crisis within our lifetimes.
World Vision is the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world, reaching one new person with clean water every 10 seconds and three more schools every day with clean water. We are increasing our impact and scope to reach everyone, everywhere we work by 2030. The sixth of 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the U.N. also includes achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.
This past year, a community in Honduras, with the help of World Vision, finished building a near-marathon-length pipeline to bring clean water to their community. World Vision U.S. President Emeritus Rich Stearns personally committed to help bring clean water to Rwanda, which will likely be the first country in the developing world to solve its water crisis.
Faithful God, help World Vision to bring clean water to those who desperately need it, and work in hearts to reveal the living water we can receive from You.
5. Cheru will walk minutes instead of miles for water that will no longer make her sick.
Two years ago, we walked the Global 6K for Water with 5-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water. The effects of this life meant Cheru and so many other girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa were not able to live up to their potential.
Today, World Vision is working in West Pokot County to bring access to clean water to Cheru’s community. So a standpipe will bring fresh water to Cheru and her family, only steps from where her mother cooks, washes clothes, and prepares tea.
Loving Father, we give thanks for water engineers who work tirelessly around the world to bring girls like Cheru clean water and a new lease on life. We ask for Your blessings on children, mothers, fathers, and communities who are thirsty. Purify, protect, and multiply their water sources. Strengthen their resolve so they may fully enjoy the benefits of clean water — essentials like education, gardens of fresh produce, and good health.
6. World Vision has partnered with the U.N. and UNICEF to launch the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.
Together, we are supporting the efforts of those seeking to prevent violence, protect childhood, and help make societies safe for children. By 2030, we hope to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children.
Loving God, reach out Your helping, healing, and loving hands to keep children safe from harm. Bless this work to protect Your children.
7. Men in India are taking a stand against a harmful tradition — child marriage — that has tarnished the worth of girls for centuries.
Instead of conforming to society’s skewed understanding of a girl’s worth — merely as a profit-and-loss commodity — Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls. Members of this World Vision program also support one another in leading their families with empathy and encouragement, convincing other community members not to marry off their teenage daughters.
Wonderful Counselor, show Your compassion to the multitudes of girls and women who endure the damaging physical and relational effects of child marriage. Reveal alternatives to parents or change the hearts of those who consider giving up their daughters for social status or financial gain.
8. We are working toward a more open, inclusive, and fair world for people with disabilities by 2030.
Individuals with disabilities can face a lot of barriers — in their living environment, in the form of outdated laws and policies, and in the attitudes and prejudices of people in their community. But now five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations address needs in sectors such as education, economic growth, employment, governance, and infrastructure. World Vision operates disability-specific programming as well as disability-inclusive programming around the world.
Infinite Comforter, equip community leaders, families, and Your followers as they support children with disabilities. May we continue to focus on meeting the needs of people who are vulnerable due to physical and mental limitations.
9. Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did.
This 9-year-old from Moyo, Zambia, knows of prosperity — about plenty, learning, sharing, and being free to follow her dream of being a chef. Five World Vision Gift Catalog goats, her family’s hard work, and child sponsorship helped to lift her and her family out of poverty.
Gracious Lord, we sing Your praise, giving thanks for Your blessings in the lives of people around the world like Rosemary and her family. May we carry Your hope within us.
Mobile technology and other innovations allow humanitarian organizations to work better and smarter, improving efficiencies so more resources can help people in poverty and communities in crisis. World Vision is expanding its efforts to apply new methods and technologies for development work.
Over the first six months of 2018, World Vision tested pilot projects in 16 countries. These pilot projects provide a way to take innovative solutions developed at a grassroots level and test them for potential scale-up into vital programs like Last Mile Mobile Solutions — developed by World Vision and now being used by a dozen other organizations — which is revolutionizing how disaster survivors receive food, cash assistance, and relief supplies in their time of greatest need.
Alpha and Omega, we express our gratitude for new knowledge and technology. May we continue to learn more to further help Your children.
11. Restored relationships and lives are possible — even in the worst of situations.
In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies.
After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. Yet after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men are as close as brothers again.
Merciful Redeemer, we thank You that Andrew and Callixte are no longer prisoners of their pain. Each new day reminds us of Your grace and the hope found in You.
12. Since the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped millions of people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.
Internationally recognized as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time, the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis will enter its ninth year in March. Yet amid the conflict and hardship, governments are allocating funds to meet this humanitarian emergency, churches are raising a cry of prayer and support for people in desperate circumstances, and people worldwide are finding a way to engage meaningfully for the sake of Syrian children and their families.
“This is what gives me hope — seeing people from all over the world caring enough to help,” says Eyad, a mechanical engineer turned World Vision aid worker in Syria. “There is still goodness in this world.”
Good Shepherd, You see Syrians’ needs with a tender heart. Awaken us to the needs of Syrian children and their mothers and fathers. Let us not grow weary in doing what is right and good in Your eyes. Remind us to engage on their behalf as we would if it were our own families who were suffering.
13. Communities in the U.S. are beginning to recover and rebuild after Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
Hurricane Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane the morning of Friday, Sept. 14, over Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, which is east of Wilmington and not far from the South Carolina border. It ashore with 90-mph winds and a punishing storm surge, killing at least 51 people. In the months since Florence, World Vision has assisted 35,400 people with relief supplies including food, water, temporary shelters such as tents and sleeping bags, hygiene items, coolers, blankets, diapers, clothing, and flood cleanup kits.
Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach on the Florida Panhandle as a Category 4 storm Wednesday, Oct. 10. The first Category 4 storm in recorded history to make landfall in the northeast Gulf Coast, its heavy rain, high winds, and extreme storm surges caused massive destruction, spawned numerous tornadoes, and killed at least 35 people. Since then, World Vision has assisted more than 14,900 people.
World Vision’s goal isn’t only to be the “first in” when responding to the most urgent humanitarian crises, but also be the last out — seeing families and communities through hardship to restoration.
Jesus, we thank You for offering hope to those suffering from disaster — the hurricane survivor, the refugee, the family facing famine.
14. Jennifer Nyirmbe is back in church.
After her baby died during a home birth that resulted in complications from an obstetric fistula, 21-year-old Jennifer would only pray outside her church in Uganda. She felt she couldn’t step inside for fear of losing control of her bladder. World Vision brought surgeons specializing in fistula repair to Jennifer’s community. Her surgery was successful. The Sunday afterward, Jennifer was back at church — this time inside.
Sovereign Lord, thank You for healing Jennifer and more than 50 other women of fistulas in Uganda.
15. Children like Constance are experiencing God’s love.
World Vision is empowering local churches, schools, and parents to create engaging, faith-filled environments that help children and youth, like 11-year-old Constance from Kenya, explore their faith and experience Jesus’ love.
“It felt so nice when the preacher said that we had been forgiven our sins,” says Constance. The sermon she heard that day made her realize she wanted to commit her life to serve Christ. She’s an active member of her Bible club, and now after participating in leadership training from World Vision, she talks to her peers about God and their faith journeys. She has grown in her own faith, as well as in her self-esteem.
Jesus, Your love changes hearts. As children learn to follow You more closely, may they find their value in Your grace. Help them love people around them in ways that point them to You.
16. The standard for a basic education has changed from simply attending school to ensuring students can read, write, and do basic math.
World Vision’s education programs prioritize equitable access for all and measurable learning outcomes, so we can ensure children have the education they deserve — and a solid start to reach their God-given potential. And with 1 in 4 children living in a country grappling with humanitarian crises, we are providing education along the continuum from disaster relief to development.
Righteous King, You created every one of Your children with great potential. May we empower every child to achieve their best and walk into Your plan for them.
17. Moms around the world are tapping into their vast potential.
With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous. We’re equipping them with the economic tools and training they need to build a brighter financial future.
Wise Father, thank You for inspiring people to invest in the futures of moms so children and communities can thrive.
18. As one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world, World Vision has the infrastructure, experience, and relationships needed to bring about lasting change.
Together we’ve impacted the lives of over 200 million vulnerable children by tackling the root causes of poverty. Our nearly 40,000 staff worldwide — 95 percent of them working in their home regions — apply 68 years of relief, development, and advocacy work to transform lives. We work in more than 1,600 program areas in nearly 100 countries, including the U.S. Our integrated model addresses the many causes of poverty, and our tailored approach is community-based and community-owned.
Savior, You have prepared this good work for us to do. Thank You for the people who share their resources so we can help empower the poor. Show them what amazing things their gifts are doing in the lives of children in need around the world. Bless them as they honor You by blessing the poor.
19. Because of our community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more children benefit, too.
Seven-year-old Debby and her friends live in Moyo, Zambia, and although only Debby is sponsored, they are all benefiting from child sponsorship that began in Moyo in October 2009. Debby’s best friend, 12-year-old Brendah — like every child in the community, sponsored or not — has access to clean water. Five-year-old Adam benefits from the new health facility in Moyo, a necessity for a little boy battling stomach trouble. Debby’s neighbor, 11-year-old Lightwell, goes everywhere with a book in his hand and attends World Vision’s reading camp, held on weekends. Eleven-year-old Beatrice is as funny and feisty as her friend, Debby. She and her family benefit from World Vision’s agriculture work in Moyo.
Kind Father, help us show Your love to children like Debby and her friends. Thank You for multiplying the effect of child sponsorship to impact many more of Your children. Empower children, families, and their communities to stand tall, free from poverty.
Kari Costanza, Chris Huber, Denise C. Koenig, Kathryn Reid, and Laura Reinhardt of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. and Annila Harris of World Vision’s staff in India contributed to this article.
I love this verse from Luke 5:16 because it shows that just like you and me, Jesus needed a break from the demands of his busy life to recharge his batteries and spend time with his Heavenly Father. The life of Christ is intended to give us examples we can follow and learn from. So, even though he was God incarnate, Jesus didn’t draw on his superpowers as the Son of God when it came to facing life’s challenges. Instead, when he was exhausted or burdened or in need of spiritual refreshment, he would “slip away” to pray — plugging into the power, perception, and purpose that can only be found in God’s presence.
But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.—Luke 5:16, AMP
Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead at 2019, I believe it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees. But knowing how to pray is not always easy. Jesus’ disciples felt the same confusion. They were familiar with the oft-repeated prayers of the Torah. But Jesus prayed with a kind of authority and power they had never seen before — as though God was listening! So when they came to Jesus, as told in Matthew 6, they didn’t say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is Christ’s response. It is a beautiful prayer and one that every Christian should hide in their heart — I just challenged my granddaughter to memorize it. But elegant as the words are, I do not believe Jesus intended it to become another ritualistic prayer. Rather, it was to be an example of how to pray.
This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Here are eight keys that have helped me develop a more powerful prayer life. I hope they will encourage you to make 2019 a year of prayer.
1. Know to whom you are speaking.
Prayer is a conversation with God, and every conversation begins by addressing the person to whom you are speaking by name. Jesus begins with “Our Father in heaven.” He focuses on a distinct person — the Heavenly Father with whom he has a personal relationship. We share the same right to call God “Father,” and there are times when we need to talk with our Abba Father, Daddy God. But God is three distinct persons in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I find it helpful in my prayer times to focus on which of the Holy Trinity I need to talk to. Often I talk to Jesus, the friend who is closer than a brother and the Savior of my soul. Other times I cry out to the Holy Spirit, who fills and empowers me to do the tasks Father God has called me to do. Having a distinct sense of who I am speaking to helps me formulate what I want to say and how I want to say it.
2. Thank him.
A heartfelt thank you is always a great conversation starter. Like any parent, God loves to see that we have grateful hearts. But more importantly, as we take the time to praise God for all He has done in the past — the answered prayers, the impossible situations overcome, the healings and grace — our faith to believe for even greater answers to prayer grows stronger and more confident. Praise opens the gates of heaven and should always be part of our alone time with God.
3. Ask for God’s will.
The Lord’s Prayer is not the only place where Jesus role-modeled a heart of obedience and submission to the will of God over his own desires and needs. In the Garden of Gethsemane, only hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, he would once again pray, “not my will, but yours be done.” In a world where right and wrong are frequently confused and the future is so uncertain, it can be hard to know how to pray or what to ask for when difficult circumstances arise. But the one thing we can know with absolute certainty is that God’s plan for those who love him is good, and the safest place we can be is in the center of his divine will.
4. Say what you need.
In Jesus’ time, bread was a staple — one of the most basic needs of life — and he did not hesitate to ask God to provide it. But we often hesitate to bother God with the little things we need, thinking he shouldn’t be bothered. And when the big problems come, we try everything we can to solve the problem before we think to pray. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” So never hesitate to ask God for what you need in 2019. Your Father in heaven delights to give you good gifts.
5. Ask for forgiveness.
James 5:16 reminds us that if we want our prayers to be heard, our hearts need to be right with God and with one another. If you feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, take some time to check your heart.
6. Pray with a friend.
There is power in agreement when we pray in Jesus’ name. When I have an urgent need to take before the throne of God, I will often call a friend to pray with me. If you don’t already have one, make finding a trusted prayer partner one of your goals in 2019.
7. Pray the Word.
My mother was a spiritual prayer warrior, and much that I know about prayer I learned from her. I loved to listen to her pray because for every need or situation, she would claim a scripture of promise. “The Word of God has power and is our great spiritual weapon,” Mama would say. “Pray the Word, Marilee. Pray the Word.”
Jesus did the same when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-12). He was the Son of God, but he did not use his divine authority. Instead, he used the authority of the Scriptures.
8. Memorize Scripture.
The most important key to a vibrant prayer life is to understand our spiritual authority in Christ as explained in the Scriptures. The only way to do that is to become intimately familiar with the Bible. Even a few minutes a day in the Word of God will add strength and authority to your prayers in 2019.
Marilee Pierce Dunker travels the world as an ambassador for World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like he did, she shares stories, pictures, and personal reflections, bearing witness to the extraordinary ways God is using his people to share the gospel and care for the poor.
Visit World Vision’s Speakers Bureau site to request Marilee or another World Vision speaker to present at your upcoming event.
Every year, as child sponsors, you bring the spirit of Christmas to children all around the world who might not otherwise experience the joys of the holiday. Through Christmas cards, sponsorship Christmas parties, and special gifts, children are blessed by your presence in their lives.
From us here at World Vision to you, we wish you a happy holiday season with your loved ones. And we thank you for partnering with us to bring joy to children like these around the world.
Christmas is around the corner, but for street children and child laborers, merriment is often chased away by frigid cold. That’s why World Vision donors in Japan put their skills to good work making hats, scarves, and sweaters for children in need in Afghanistan. On Dec. 17, 2017, Christmas came early for these kids when World Vision staff delivered the cozy handmade gifts from afar. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Narges Ghafary)
World Vision’s community social workers and sponsorship staff deliver Christmas presents to the most vulnerable children near Chambarak in northeastern Armenia. Davit, 9, dreams of becoming a soccer player, and he couldn’t be happier to receive a “professional ball from Santa.” (©2017 World Vision)
Ndilimbira, 11, wishes World Vision donors a very merry Christmas this year. Through sponsorship, World Vision was able to construct a new building for her school. They used to conduct classes under a tree. Sponsorship also provided new school supplies to her and her classmates. “Top students will receive exercise books, pencils, and pens from World Vision,” explains Ndilimbira. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Charles Kabena)
Sponsored children living in Dhaka, Bangladesh, raise their Christmas cards high. Each child received a special card from their sponsor. World Vision has been working in this community since 2013, focusing on improving health, education, and child protection. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Md. Golam Ehsanul Habib)
In a small dining hall in Caracolí, Colombia, World Vision supports the feeding of more than 300 sponsored children daily, helping them to maintain optimal nutrition and health. But on this day, the children received more than just a meal. World Vision threw a Christmas party for the children. They drew pictures for their sponsors, sang carols, and each child received gifts — clothing, toys, and candy. “Thank you, World Vision and our sponsors, for inviting us to share in this celebration. I love you!” says 10-year-old Lorena. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Juan Sebastián Gutiérrez)
Each year at World Vision’s trauma recovery center in Cambodia, World Vision staff put together a Christmas celebration for the young women and girls who stay there. The center is a safe haven for victims of human trafficking and exploitation. They exchange gifts and enjoy cake, plays and dance performances. Here, a World Vision social worker receives a Christmas gift from one of the girls. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Sopheak Kong)
Seven-year-old Aye, a sponsored child from Amarpaura, Myanmar, is grateful for her sponsor, who sent her a Christmas card. She was so excited and happy to see it arrive. Receiving Christmas cards each year from her sponsor makes her feel very special. She says, “I am so happy to receive this Christmas card, and thank you very much!” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)
Each child eagerly anticipated what was to come — Christmas presents from World Vision and its partners during a very special celebration at school. Once given their packages, they tore into them with smiles and giggles, quickly comparing gifts among friends. After presents came games, treats, and other festivities. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Lanelyn Carillo)
From monster storms and tsunamis to civil wars and droughts, natural disasters and man-made crises impact children, their families, and economies on a huge scale around the world each year.
“In 2018, the sheer scale of humanitarian need around the world was immense and growing,” says Lawren Sinnema, a program manager for World Vision. “The news cycle is so overwhelming that many people don’t learn about the worst crises happening around the world.”
But we believe there is hope. Jesus said, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV), and we at World Vision believe miracles happen in people’s lives despite these seemingly impossible circumstances.
As these seven of the worst disasters of 2018 show us, children and families around the world experienced tremendous pain and suffering this past year. But there remains a glimmer of light in each of them. Hope has not been snuffed out.
“It’s overwhelming,” Lawren says. “One reaction would be to throw our hands up. But as Christians, we can’t abandon children.”
Here you can learn about seven of the worst disasters of 2018 and how World Vision is helping people affected.
- Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh
- Indonesia earthquakes and tsunami
- Syrian refugee crisis
- East Africa hunger crisis
- Ebola, hunger, and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Venezuela economic and migration crisis
- Yemen conflict and food crisis
Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh
More than 730,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh as refugees since Aug. 25, 2017, because of extreme violence in northern Rakhine state. More than half of the refugees are children, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. They joined nearly 200,000 others who fled similar violence in the past. As the refugee population swelled in 2018, monsoon rains inundated many of the camps situated among the hills of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, making for difficult, precarious, and unsanitary living conditions.
Children and their families are living in unhealthy, dangerous conditions with limited access to basic services.
It’s dire for many but not hopeless.
Aid agencies are working together to provide life-saving aid to about 1.3 million people wrapped up in the crisis, including many Bangladeshis living in host communities. Since September 2017, generous donors and World Vision staff in Bangladesh have been able to help more than 264,000 refugees with supplies like shelter kits, food packages, hygiene kits, household supplies, and nutrition services for children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Between August 2017 and August 2018, we also were able to construct 1,544 latrines and 83 deep tube wells, providing access to clean water and sanitation facilities for 154,000 people.
Let’s do this together. You can help refugees in Bangladesh and other parts of the world by donating to the refugee crisis fund.
Indonesia earthquakes and tsunami
A magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi province on Sept. 28, 2018, triggering a tsunami and landslides that caused widespread destruction and loss of life. More than 2,100 people are known to have died and more than 4,400 were seriously injured, according to the Indonesia disaster management agency. About 1.4 million people in Central Sulawesi were affected. With about 68,000 houses damaged or destroyed, hundreds of thousands of people became homeless or without adequate shelter.
The Central Sulawesi quake occurred less than two months after a series of earthquakes struck Indonesia’s Lombok island. The strongest of those quakes was a magnitude 6.9 temblor on Aug. 5. More than 500 people were killed, and nearly 1,500 were injured. About 220,000 people are still displaced.
As difficult as the situation is, humanitarian groups are bringing hope to survivors.
Soon after the 2018 earthquakes in both Lombok and Sulawesi, local World Vision staff, many of whom were affected by the quakes themselves, spurred into action. They distributed pre-positioned emergency supplies, including family household items, shelter kits, and hygiene supplies. A feeding center was quickly set up in World Vision’s office compound in Palu city, Central Sulawesi, to help mothers care for and feed their children. Our response is focused on child protection, educational programs for children, and providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
Thousands of people have been helped with water and hygiene, food and infant feeding, household items including blankets and solar lanterns, and Child-Friendly Spaces where children can play and recover. In addition, World Vision is working to restore education opportunities by repairing and equipping schools and providing training in disaster risk reduction to prepare for the future.
Syrian refugee crisis
The Syrian refugee crisis is internationally recognized as the largest refugee and displacement crisis of our time. Half of the people affected are children. Despite a relative decrease in hostilities nationwide in 2018, the Syrian civil war caused another nearly 160,000 people to flee the country as refugees. This was largely due to the conflict in the Idlib region. As of Nov. 12, the total number of refugees now sits at more than 5.6 million, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). About 6.2 million Syrians are displaced within the country. Those two figures amount to about 55 percent of Syria’s population.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died. The war has set back the national standard of living by decades — now that healthcare facilities, schools, and water and sanitation systems have been damaged or destroyed. Right now, about 13.1 million people inside the country — almost three-quarters of the population — need humanitarian assistance.
“For humanitarian groups like World Vision, it is becoming increasing complex and dangerous to respond to conflicts around the world,” Lawren says. “In Syria, hospitals are bombed and humanitarian workers on the ground put their lives at risk every day.”
It’s a bleak picture, but aid groups and compassionate governments and donors continue to give the Syrian people reasons to hope.
Since the civil war began in 2011, World Vision has been able to help more than 2 million people with healthcare, psychosocial support to women and children, supplies for cold winter months, education programs, food aid, and clean water, sanitation, and hygiene.
You can bring help and hope to refugees from Syria and other crises around the world by donating to the refugee crisis fund.
East Africa hunger crisis
At least 28 million people in East Africa — more than half of them children —needed humanitarian assistance in 2018. Millions of them are experiencing chronic hunger and the threat of famine. Conflict, recurring severe drought, and high food prices are to blame.
One major factor in the East Africa hunger crisis is the nearly five-year war in South Sudan. The government signed a peace agreement with rebel factions in September, but the conflict has displaced 4 million people. An ongoing food crisis resulted because families have not been home to cultivate their fields due to insecurity and displacement. More than 5.7 million South Sudanese don’t have enough food to sustain themselves, and parts of the country teeter on the brink of famine.
Another factor making the regional situation more difficult:
But not all hope is lost. Between October 2017 and September 2018, World Vision staff in the region were able to reach more than 2.7 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan. Interventions include life-saving food, clean water and sanitation services, medical assistance, livelihood skills training, educational programs, essential relief supplies, and child-protection activities and programs.
In protracted crises like the East Africa hunger crisis, which is in its second year, it can be easy for people to lose hope about the situation, Lawren says. “However, as often is the case, children are the worst affected in these disasters. Yet they have nothing to do with the causes of disaster. When we respond, lives are saved, communities rebuilt, children go back to school. If we don’t support children, they are at risk of propagating future cycles of conflict and poverty.”
You can help children and families struggling with drought, conflict, and hunger by donating to the East Africa hunger crisis fund.
Ebola, hunger, and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
What was already considered one of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian crises got worse in 2018. Since 2016, the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been struggling with a new round of violence in the once-peaceful south-central region of Kasai and the eastern regions of Tanganyika and South Kivu. Ebola briefly broke out in May in northwestern DRC. Then the deadly virus resurfaced in August in the northeast, killing 271 of 458 people infected, as of Dec. 4. The deterioration in stability through 2017 and 2018 displaced more than 2.1 million people.
The DRC currently is among the countries with the most internally displaced people, with now almost 4.5 million people displaced within the country because of violence. An additional more than 800,000 people currently live outside the country as refugees. About 7.7 million people across the country face severe food insecurity, including more than 2 million children under 5 affected by severe acute malnutrition.
There are glimmers of hope in hard-hit areas.
Since World Vision’s Kasai response began in August 2017, our staff have reached more than 535,000 people with life-saving humanitarian assistance. That includes nearly 460,000 people who received food and cash, more than 46,000 young children and vulnerable adults in 126 health centers who received treatment or prevention consults for malnutrition, more than 22,000 children who benefited from Child-Friendly Spaces, and almost 27,000 students who benefitted from classroom repairs, back-to-school kits, teacher training, and school-fee scholarships. Our response to the complex situation in the DRC will continue into 2019.
Sponsoring a child in the DRC is a personal way you can show God’s love to a child in need.
Venezuela economic and migration crisis
The number of people leaving Venezuela amid a national economic crisis reached 3 million in 2018. As many as 3,000 people per day are crossing the border into Colombia. The exodus is driven by hyperinflation, violence, and food and medicine shortages stemming from recent years of political turmoil. More than 1 million people have settled in Colombia; more than 500,000 in Peru; and Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina are each hosting 100,000 Venezuelans or more. Brazil is also hosting about 85,000 Venezuelan refugees.
While the influx from Venezuela has caused tensions in host countries, it also has brought out their hospitable spirit. Peru, for example, has offered temporary residency permits, and its immigration service extended its Lima processing center hours to around-the-clock to accommodate the thousands of daily residency and work permit requests. They converted the lobby into a childcare space complete with books and toys donated by the officers themselves. And teachers volunteer to watch children while their parents stand in line and receive their documentation.
World Vision staff in countries throughout the Andean region began working in 2018 to address the needs of Venezuelan refugees. In Colombia, we are helping about 40,000 people with health, food, economic empowerment, and educational programming. In Ecuador, we provided hygiene kits and workshops in child protection and economic empowerment. Our staff in Peru is working to help about 56,000 Venezuelans with health, hygiene, and food services and prepaid cash cards to help them cover basic needs upon arrival in Peru. And in Brazil, our staff is working to provide Child-Friendly Spaces and help facilitate Venezuelans who are registering for documentation.
Yemen conflict and food crisis
The war in Yemen and resulting food crisis became the largest humanitarian emergency in the world in 2018. The economy collapsed and food prices soared. Now, more than 22 million people — three-quarters of the population — need humanitarian assistance.
The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced nearly 3 million. One million people contracted cholera or watery diarrhea in the past year because half of the population lacks regular access to safe water and basic hygiene. People in the worst-affected areas have been starving to death because of near-famine conditions. As a result, 1.8 million children are suffering from malnutrition, including 400,000 who could die from lack of nutritious food.
The volatile security situation has made it extremely difficult for humanitarian agencies to get aid into the country. While we do not currently operate in Yemen, World Vision advocacy staff continue to work with U.N. and other agencies already in Yemen to support efforts to protect and care for children wrapped up in this crisis.
World Vision’s photographers traveled around the world this year to tell stories of children and their families. They captured moments of struggle and moments of joy. Here are our favorite photos of 2018 and the stories behind them.
Kapinga, 13, lost her father to civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in that war, she lost her chance to attend school. Her life seems dark. But I love this portrait because there is light in her life too. She sings in her church choir, and every weekday she goes to a nearby World Vision Child-Friendly Space to play, learn, and laugh with her friends. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
When these Ugandan children at Kasubi Primary School greeted me with a traditional dance at their life skills club, I wanted to share all of the enthusiasm, color, and motion but wondered how best to do that in a single image. This ground-level view allowed me to fill the image with the swirling skirts and dancing feet, which came close to capturing all that liveliness. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Photographing second-grade teacher Margarita Romero and her students in Puerto Rico during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was one of my favorite assignments in 2018. She was reviewing their lessons, which were designed by World Vision, about how to recover from disasters. This shows how much further our staff go to help people in disasters. We helped more than 116,000 Puerto Ricans with critical food and relief items, cash assistance, and child protection programs. Beyond these necessary supplies and programs, we also helped families build back better by training nearly 16,500 students, teachers, and church leaders across the island in disaster preparedness and community resilience. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
While waiting for a group photo, 11-year-old Lightwell took the opportunity to read his book — something he sometimes chooses over eating. I glanced up and saw the golden afternoon sun lighting him so beautifully and was able to grab this quiet portrait of a boy from Zambia and his favorite pastime. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
When children in West Pokot, Kenya, began to do handstands, World Vision water engineer Charles Kakiti, wearing his Global 6K for Water T-shirt, joined right in. He told me, “I know the struggle and stress on young children and women who carry water that ends up making them sick,” so he not only supervised the building of a clean water system for the village, but he also ran the Global 6K to personally raise money for clean water. I love how our staff around the world pour themselves into the lives of the communities they serve. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
In April, John Harris helped his wife, LaDell, down the steps in front of their home along the shores of the Neches River near Vidor, Texas. She had slipped and hurt her arm while waiting days for floodwaters to clear from the porch steps. Their home was nearly destroyed by 15-foot floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. World Vision and its local partner, Wings of Promise led by Pastor Skipper Sauls, helped the couple rebuild with new appliances, Sheetrock, furniture, insulation, light fixtures, and other materials. John and LaDell were able to enjoy their cozy rebuilt riverside home together for a few more months in 2018 before John lost his fight with cancer in August. “During the storm, we were sitting here, helpless,” LaDell says. “These people (Pastor Sauls, and other community members) have been our angels.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
I’m most in my element when I’m blending into the background, able to studiously watch and capture the moments that naturally occur around me. One of these such moments that has stuck with me this year is that of a young boy named Linus scurrying in and out of the shadows, his own small frame creating a contrasting shadow to the light streaming through the skylights. He’s racing to pick up two empty boxes at a time, each of which is larger than he is. He often drops one or both along the way and hurries to pick them back up — all to feed the machine that is a World Vision kit event. With the same frenzy, more than 200 people in the next room over and the outdoor courtyard of Menlo Church in California are assembling thousands of kits — including the 1 millionth World Vision kit. Amid the hustle and bustle, all I can do is take another moment in this calm-in-comparison back room, smile to myself, and click the shutter button. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)
Say “ahhh” to get your deworming medicine! Twice a year in Uganda and around Africa, World Vision staff participate in Child Health Days, an innovative way to reach children with life-saving healthcare including immunizations, Vitamin A to prevent blindness and boost immunity, and deworming medicines, such as albendazole, that health volunteers pop right into children’s mouths to keep them from getting worms that will stunt their growth. I love how eager this girl was to stay healthy. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Fourteen-year-old Marie Ngalula waits in the entrance of a local health clinic, where her ill mother is a patient, in Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marie is worried her mother is dying, but a health worker expresses a hope for recovery. Here in the U.S., we hear so little about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The impact on children is heartbreaking to see. World Vision is providing Marie and many others with relief aid, clean water, and a place for to play and learn. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A woman fetches water from Lake Albert, Uganda, in a fishing village where World Vision provides healthcare. On the opposite shore is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the midst of storm clouds, a brief shaft of sunlight breaks through. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Seven-year-old Debby enthusiastically participates at school. She’s able to be there thanks to child sponsorship. I loved hearing from one of the teachers how children at the school will brave the rainy season to get there. She says, “There’s a spirit of learning here.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
A chance to play with friends — that’s what children who are forced to quit school and join the labor force say they miss the most. In Bangladesh, I met children who used to work in cracker factories and shrimp depots. Thanks to World Vision’s program, many of them have been removed from these hazardous jobs and have returned to school. I loved seeing these children have that playful opportunity. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Nearly two years ago, I visited Bangladesh as World Vision started its project to prevent child labor. The Bengali name of the child protection project translates to “for a better life.” On this second trip in November 2018, lots of children have that better life thanks to World Vision’s work. I thought 13-year-old Shyamoli’s radiant smile and confidence conveyed the hope she now can have. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Jennifer and Brandon Wilson peruse panels of photos of the 1,400 children sponsored in 2018 through World Vision’s Child Ambassador program at their annual conference near Seattle. When the nighttime dinner gathering began, I worried the low light would make it difficult to capture a meaningful moment. But as the volunteer child-sponsorship advocates searched the panels for children they helped sponsor, occasionally someone would recognize a child and smile or turn to their companion and point to the child. I realized this symbolizes a Child Ambassador’s heart, and in many ways, God’s heart for children. They care so deeply for each child’s well-being that they search them out from among the crowd and react with delight when they find them. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
Tomas Gonzalez Cruz, 68, left, and his granddaughter, Kimberly Montalvo Gonzalez, 23, fill their family’s generator with gasoline by the light of a portable solar lamp behind their house near Utuado, Puerto Rico. Like many in rural areas, Tomas’ family lived without electricity and clean water for months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island territory. Ultimately, they survived 11 months without power. The nearly 5 gallons of fuel per day allowed them to care for the two special needs adults and extended family living with them, but proved very costly. Tomas’ wife Ana moved me with her faith and determination in the midst of their struggle. “I was born here, grew up here, raised my kids here,” Ana says. “We’re also pastors. We have to stay and face the situation because so many others lost everything.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
Students, including sponsored children, pray together during a meeting of the Bible club at Itumblule Primary School in Kalawa, Kenya. Here they sing, learn Bible verses, hear the Word of God, and plant and care for fruit trees. World Vision supports 40 such Bible clubs in Kalawa schools. Over and over again this year, all over the world, I’ve watched children deep in prayer, completely aware of how dependent they are on God. As Jesus said in Luke 18:16, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
This isn’t the typical photo found in our yearly favorites, but this one in particular showcases a landmark moment for the staff of World Vision U.S. — the anointing of and prayer over our new president, Edgar Sandoval Sr., by President Emeritus Rich Stearns; John Crosby, chair of the search committee; and Joan Singleton, World Vision U.S. board chair. New presidents don’t come like clockwork for World Vision; Edgar is only the sixth since Bob Pierce founded World Vision in 1950. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)
This was one of those rare moments when my lack of running speed paid off. Zambian children sprinted across the fields to get to the World Vision reading program. These three girls ran arm-in-arm and were so adorable, so I wanted to get their picture. Since I couldn’t catch up to them, I have lots of pictures of their backs. But then, they slowed down for a moment and two of the girls looked over their shoulders. Those glances welcomed me into their world. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Why do people give? For some, it’s a sense of gratitude and finding the smallest acts of kindness that make a big difference. It can also be to improve the lives of others and even to improve one’s sense of self.
The reasons behind giving are personal and varied. That’s what World Vision learned in Seattle, where we interviewed several women and men on their reasons for giving. It was a busy day downtown and in Pike Place Market, the city’s landmark public market on the waterfront.
Reasons we heard for giving included feeling good, taking care of each other, giving because they are blessed, and returning the help they have received in the past.
Giving is also a topic for science. Find out what happens to your body when you give.
Studies have shown that giving often makes people feel some form of happiness and it has been demonstrated that happy people give more. But what kind of gift translates into the joy of giving?
World Vision worked with an algorithm studying 10 million tweets over a period of time to determine what emotions people feel when giving or receiving. Then researchers averaged the emotional scores for all the tweets (sorting by anger, joy, fear, sadness, and disgust). Their findings show a complex web of emotions when it comes to giving:
- In order to feel good about giving, it involves us feeling sadness and empathy too.
- Giving within your means and within your values makes you feel just as much joy as receiving something.
- You don’t need to give everything you have in order to feel good about giving. The very gesture of goodwill is enough to bring positivity into our lives.
Whatever your reason is for giving, we want to thank you on behalf of the children and families you’re impacting!