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Spring is almost here! Time to crawl out of winter hibernation and the depths of cold and flu season to embrace getting healthy. Some families sign up for a 5K race to get everybody moving again. But what if you could get fit, get your family outside, grow your faith, and make a difference for a great cause?

That’s a tall order for any family activity, but it really is possible. In fact, thousands of families are signing up for the Global 6K for Water on May 4, 2019, for all those great reasons. You can do it from anywhere, and each registration fee provides clean water for a person in need!

Why a 6K for clean water? Six kilometers (3.7 miles) is the average distance people in the developing world walk for water every day. Women and children, especially girls, spend hours every day hauling water that isn’t even safe to drink. But they have no other choice. We can change that.

Are you ready to be a part of the change? Join us in fighting the global water crisis by signing up today. And don’t forget these tips for fitness, faith-building, and fun to help you and your family prepare well for your walk for water.

Get ready for your Global 6K for Water

So, you signed up. (Or are thinking about it — what are you waiting for? Sign up now!) Are you ready? Can you get ready?

Maybe you’ve been too busy to get out there and pound the pavement. Maybe you’ve never participated in a walk, run, or race fundraiser before. Whatever it is, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know to prepare well for your 6K and have a blast as you help bring clean water to children around the world.

Participants in the Global 6K for Water in Seattle make their way along the course to raise money for clean water around the world. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Andrea Peer)

Family fitness: The family that walks together …

Most of us need to spend less time on the couch and more time getting outside and being active. The great thing about the Global 6K for Water is that you can make the distance as easy or as challenging as you want.

Most people will walk the 6K, some will run, some will push strollers, and a few crazy athletes will do the 6K while carrying a heavy jerrycan full of water! Whatever you choose, training can be a great family fitness activity.

Even if you’ve been couch potatoes all winter, you can start with a 20-minute walk and increase your time from there every day. You’ll:

  • Increase your cardiovascular fitness
  • Get some vitamin D
  • Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation
  • Feel really good about helping others

Training tip: When you drink clean water out of your water bottles, remember why you’re walking (or running).

How to train when you don’t like training

Of course, you don’t have to be a runner to participate in the Global 6K or to bring clean water to families in need.

But if you’re up for the challenge, a few basic tips can take you a long way. All it takes to get started is that first step out your front door.

First, get inspired by watching this video.


Then download this guide to continue feeding your soul until the Global 6K for Water May 4. If you’d like to go deeper personally or engage fellow participants in your church family, check out this pre-event devotional guide. At the end, it offers a suggested music playlist for your training journey and during the event.

And to educate yourself on what your participation means to children and families around the world, spend a few minutes here.

If you’re looking to connect with other participants, find group training runs in your area.

Before running for miles — if you’re planning on running — get used to walking and getting in shape. When you’re comfortable, start jogging. From there, stick to the training plan, follow the run/walk ratios, and you’ll be ready for your 6K.

Growing your faith

Jesus said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42, NIV).

As you train together, get your family talking about ways you can be the hands and feet of Jesus in your community and around the world. Here are some conversation starters:

  • Who do we know who has a need we could help meet?
  • How can we share the living water of God’s love with those around us?
  • What are some ways we can look out for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40)?

The process of fundraising and training for a cause like clean water can be an inspirational and faith-building experience. Some people feel called to set big goals and then find unexpected joy when God helps blow those goals out of the water.

Global 6K for Water participants walk and run — raising awareness, giving generously, and bringing clean water to children around the world. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)

How to fundraise when you’re scared to fundraise

Asking for money is scary. But you’re asking your friends and family to participate with you in doing something extraordinary and beyond yourself: bringing clean, safe water to communities for generations. Here are the basic steps to make it a little less scary:

  • Set an example: When people see that you donated, it shows you have skin in the game.
  • Make a list: Write a list of 20 to 50 people you will invite to give.
  • Be direct and bold: Ask people face-to-face.
  • Follow up: Sometimes folks need a simple reminder.
  • Share: Social media is a good way to share your journey and seek support. Use #6Kforwater to share your journey.
  • Don’t quit: Not everyone will give. That’s okay. Carry on, be tenacious, and don’t give up.

See the full list of basic steps, and take it further with these sample emails and photos. These people are amazing examples of that bold, no-quit attitude.

How to connect with the child on your race bib

Every 6K participant provides clean water to one person in the developing world through the $50 registration fee, and your race bib will have a picture, name, and age of a child who will benefit from World Vision’s clean water projects. We encourage you to reflect on the transformative impact of the Global 6K and pray for these children as you participate in the event.

Plus, you will have the chance to sponsor the child on your bib — an opportunity to develop a friendship with a child on the other side of the world, and to show the love of God, which brings hope and lifelong transformation.

See what happened when Ashley, our Global 6K director, sponsored Beverly.


If a child is thriving, everyone is thriving. It’s why World Vision believes so deeply in child sponsorship. It’s a personal way to show God’s love to a child in need and to help that child and their community stand tall and free from poverty.

Participating is better together

Even if you do all these things, your preparation and race day will be more fun and enjoyable if you partner with someone else. Find a friend, loved one, or mentor to train with, and invite them to do the Global 6K for Water with you.

And if you still need a little kick of inspiration to get you out the door, read these dynamic stories from other participants featured in our Team World Vision Hall of Awesome.

Remember, we’ll go further together!

How to get fit and grow your faith as family | Family fitness | Family time | get outside | family project

Rachael Boyer of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.

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Mendy Burnett and Kim Swader like to make things happen. They like it even more when their community comes together to make things happen for a cause near to their hearts.

They have organized World Vision’s Global 6K for Water at their kids’ school, Chanute Christian Academy in Chanute, Kansas, every year since 2017. As host site leaders, Mendy, a teacher and mother of three, and Kim, a stay-at-home mother of four, tackle lots of moving parts. Promoting the event at school assemblies, organizing teams of volunteers, laying out the 6K course, and coaching participants to fundraise for clean water can take a lot of time and effort.

But they have turned it into a community wide team-building exercise. In fact, they have used the opportunity not only to raise support for World Vision’s clean water work around the world but to galvanize students, their families, and the whole community for a cause greater than themselves.

“Regardless of background, it was a community-building event,” Mendy says. “It was a moment for the community to come together and do something substantial.”

The two friends explain what led them and their school to sign up as a Global 6K host site.

Willing to serve

The year before — 2016 — was a difficult year, personally, Mendy says. She wasn’t even thinking about organizing a complex community event.

But that Christmas, something changed in her heart. She was reminded of Mary’s response to the angel telling her she would be the mother of Jesus. “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be as you said,” Mendy remembers, citing Luke 1:38 in the Bible. Mary’s humility hit her deeply, and she took it to heart.

Chanute, a town of about 10,000 people, experienced a mini water crisis soon after Christmas in early 2017. Most of their county was on a boil order and even went without water at times. In the midst of having to boil her family’s household water, Mendy came across World Vision’s Global 6K for Water event on Pinterest. She was driven by a new desire to use her skills to help others however she could. She decided to approach her kids’ school, Chanute Christian, about hosting it. Longtime friend and fellow school mom, Kim, enthusiastically jumped in to support the effort.

It would be a great opportunity to bring the whole community together to bring clean water to children in need around the world.

Mendy set the smallest goal she could think of — 10 people. If only her family turned out, that would be okay, she says. But during the planning process, her World Vision coach encouraged her and other host site leaders to set “God-sized” goals, Mendy says. Registrations at their host site had not yet hit 100 when, one day, she wrote a goal of 150 participants on a white board at home. She quickly erased it. But when the day of the event came, she and Kim counted 152 people. She couldn’t help but wonder if there was a bigger plan unfolding for Chanute Christian and the broader community.

“This was God going, ‘Hey, if I’m giving you something, I’m perfectly capable of doing it,’” Mendy says.

The next year, the event grew to more than 300 participants in 2018. This time it consisted not only of students from Chanute Christian, but students and athletes from most of the town’s public schools, about 10 churches, and even international students from the local community college. They ranged in age from 3 to 72.

They say it takes work, but you can’t help but want to make the Global 6K for Water as big a deal for your community as possible.

“It’s kind of like your wedding day. You plan, plan, plan so that when the moment comes, you can enjoy it,” Kim says. “If you plan enough ahead, you can just enjoy it the day of.”

A local water crisis in a small Kansas town sparked a teacher’s interest in bringing her community together as a World Vision Global 6K for Water host site.
Participants place orange dots on the countries where the child on their race bib lives during the World Vision Global 6K for Water event May 19, 2018, at Chanute Christian Academy in Chanute, Kansas. More than 300 students and families from the private school, local public schools, and 10 churches participated in the event. (Photo courtesy of Mendy Burnett)

In 2019, Mendy and Kim aim to get 500 participants to raise $15,000 for clean water.

Encouragement for others

Hosting a Global 6K for Water is a win on so many levels, Kim and Mendy say. Anyone can participate or help host the event, no matter their interests or abilities. Families come together for a morning — babies walk alongside grandmas. Flags from around the world line the course. People cheer each other on.

“Southeast Kansas is not a very global place,” Mendy says. “Most kids at the school have not been out of the country. So, to line the route with flags reminds us there is a world out there.”

Thinking of others who might be interested in hosting their own World Vision 6K for Water this year, Kim and Mendy say it takes work, but it’s an opportunity to involve people from all backgrounds. Volunteers really make it happen.

“Don’t get discouraged when people don’t sign up right away,” Mendy says. “I have trouble asking for things. But when it comes to this event, I feel so strongly about it that when people say they want to sign up, I have no problem reminding them to do it. It’s not only good for the child on your bib, but it’s good for you and your family.”

Providing access to clean water for someone is worth the effort in itself, they say. But being able to sponsor the child on your bib gives each participant an opportunity to make a deeper connection with someone around the world.

“The biggest thing was seeing the individual life that you will change,” Mendy says. “The millions of people who don’t have water is such an unfathomable number. But to know that I can personally see the face, that it’s a real person, and I can change their life, it makes the world feel so small.”

Kim agrees.

“One of my kids’ favorite takeaways is forming relationships through sponsorship,” she said. “They write letters and pray for their child. They form a connection and a bond and know that that’s another child God loves.”

Kim and Mendy revel in the impact each person makes by hosting, or participating in the Global 6K for Water.

“This is an impact that (my kids) can look back and say, ‘I played a part in ending the world water crisis,’” Mendy says.

Learn more about how to host your own 6K site.

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So, you’re interested in sponsoring a child. But you’re on the fence because you’re not sure how it works — or if it works. Here are some basic facts about how World Vision child sponsorship works and why you won’t regret investing in a child’s life.

When you sponsor a child through World Vision, you join a movement of 604,000 people in the United States who give up about $1.30 a day to impact a child for a lifetime. World Vision child sponsorship is Christ-centered, child-focused, and community-based. We’re serious when we say that for every child sponsored, four more experience the benefits.

Facts about World Vision child sponsorship

  • For every child sponsored, four more experience the benefits because funds are pooled for their community rather than sent directly to the child’s family. This means you can make an even bigger impact.
  • Each community faces unique challenges needing unique solutions. We partner with governments, churches, and other local groups to address a community’s short- and long-term needs.
  • World Vision child sponsorship programs focus on improving the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of .
  • Worldwide, our donors support 3.8 million children registered in World Vision sponsorship program communities.
  • About 604,000 generous donors in the U.S. sponsor more than 780,000 children in dozens of countries.
  • In 2017, we used 85 percent of our total operating expenses for programs that benefit children, families, and communities.
  • Our goal: work ourselves out of a job after about 17 years in a community when it’s self-sustaining.

How does child sponsorship work?

We believe the most effective way to help one child is to strengthen their entire community. Of our 40,000 staff worldwide, 99 percent of them are native to the country they work in. Local World Vision staff start by meeting with families and local leaders to set goals together. We want the community to build a better future for.

This journey plays out in three phases.

  1. Building trust and laying the groundwork

We listen to community members to understand the issues hindering children from reaching their full potential. Community members nominate vulnerable children for the child sponsorship program. Each child is matched with only one sponsor. This one-to-one connection is a powerful way to share God’s love as you pray for your child, write them letters and emails, and send photos and small packages to encourage them.

  1. Building hope and skills

We partner with local churches, governments, and other groups to address their short-term and long-term needs. World Vision sponsorship projects are designed to meet the most pressing needs in a sponsored child’s community, like clean water and improved sanitation, better income opportunities for parents, and improved agricultural production.

Your monthly sponsorship gift is combined with other donations, including grants, to invest in long-term resources for your sponsored child, and their whole family and community, including clean water, nutritious food, healthcare, and education. In 2018, we used 86 percent of our total operating expenses for programs that benefit children, families, and communities. All projects are regularly measured against these goals and objectives. The point is to make sure that children are healthy, are receiving appropriate education, and receive spiritual nurture.

  1. Building confidence for the future

Over time, you will get to watch the impact of your donation on your child, their family, and their entire community, celebrating with them along the way.

Your result is real, lasting change for your sponsored child and those around them. Enjoy sharing the journey and seeing proof — through email correspondence and annual progress reports in their community — that your support is changing their life and allowing them to dream about the future.

Equipped with new skills, resources, and hope, the community takes ownership of its own future while World Vision phases out and moves to other vulnerable communities. Our goal is work ourselves out of a job after about 17 years in a community. Otherwise, we’re creating unhealthy dependency.

How do I sponsor a child?

Here’s how:

  1. Look at the children who are waiting for a sponsor like you right now.
  2. Sponsor a child whose story, interests, and circumstances resonate with you. You can even pick a child who shares a birthday with you or a family member.
  3. Your sponsorship donation is pooled with other sponsors for maximum impact to fund programs that benefit your sponsored child and their community.
  4. Along the way, you can build a relationship with your sponsored child and their community through letters, photos, videos, prayer, and more. Read these child sponsorship FAQs.
  5. Sponsors who have the flexibility and resources can even arrange a visit to meet their child. It’s a life-changing experience — and we’ll help you arrange the meet-up.

Sponsoring a child is the most personal, effective way to fight poverty. When you sponsor a child in need, you build a special relationship that encourages your child with hope for the future. It’s also an opportunity to live more generously or model faithful giving for your own children. Everything we do has one aim — the sustained well-being of children. Your support helps pursue the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of vulnerable children.

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For impoverished children, access to clean water not only restores health but also opens doors to educational opportunities and a promising future. For more than five decades, World Vision has worked in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), originally starting with small water projects. Today, World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds and by doing so also equips communities with sanitation and hygiene programs. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.

World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.
People collect water at a distribution point along the brand new gravity-fed clean water system in Cheru’s village in rural Kenya. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

Gravity-fed water pipeline in Kenya

In the northern Kenyan community of Kesot, clean water rushes from a gravity-fed water pipeline system. A hilltop dam protects and diverts spring water, and the pipeline — which community members helped build and now maintain — delivers it to homes and the three primary schools. Students, like Cheru, can attend class because they spend less time gathering water; and because the schools are outfitted with large water tanks, spigots, latrines for boys and girls of differing abilities, and hand-washing stations. This system will last because the community owns it — the water committee collects user fees to perform maintenance and operations.

World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.
Children wash their hands with soap at a sink in Honduras. (©2018 World Vision/ photo by Jon Warren)

WASH UP! teaches good hygiene in Honduras

The WASH UP! program trains educators and community leaders to use play-based learning materials to teach children about good hygiene practices. This goes a long way to reduce water-related disease like diarrhea, cholera, and other sickness. On their way to become health superstars, students play games and activities featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and 6-year-old Raya. It helps children identify healthy hygiene habits, such as washing hands with soap and how to use the restroom. World Vision and Sesame Workshop pioneered this program in rural Zambia. Together we plan to reach 880,000 children in 16 countries by 2020. That number of children is equivalent to nearly all the public school students in Colorado.

World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.
A Syrian girl uses a water tap in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Alexander Whittle)

Rehabilitating community water systems in Syria

The eight-year war in Syria has displaced millions of people — half of them children. Damaged or destroyed water pipelines and sanitation systems have left families vulnerable to sickness and disease. World Vision rehabilitates critical water infrastructure, like pipelines, pumps, storage tanks, and taps, in hard-hit areas. We provide clean water and sanitation facilities to Syrian refugees and hygiene education to refugee children in Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq. By 2020, our goal is to reach 6 million people affected by the crisis with clean water and provide 200,000 people with functioning sanitation and hand-washing facilities.

World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.
Am obstetric nurse washes a newborn baby for the first time in the maternity section of a clinic in Mali as the baby’s mother, center, and grandmother watch. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)

Boreholes provide water for cleaner medical clinics in Mali

In Mali, 1 woman in 27 has a chance of dying during childbirth over her lifetime — compared with 1 in 3,800 chance in the U.S. Clean water and improved sanitation at medical facilities are critical for patients and workers in efforts to prevent spread of diseases. Facilities in rural, developing areas often lack the necessities like running water, functioning toilets, and hand-washing stations. That’s why World Vision prioritizes efforts to drill borehole wells, provide necessities, and train health workers in Mali and in dozens of other countries. Even the smallest of improvements lead to cleaner facilities and better outcomes for mothers and babies.

World Vision brings clean water to one new person every 10 seconds. Here are five examples of our water work around the world.
A girl enjoys clean water from a recently installed solar-powered water pipeline system in Afghanistan. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Narges Ghafary)

Solar-powered, reverse-osmosis water filtration in Afghanistan

Bringing clean water to a community in northwestern Afghanistan is improving children’s health and education, strengthening the community, and helping protect the environment. Water is contaminated and dangerous to drink in Badghis province’s Ab Kamari district. World Vision and local leaders have devised an innovative solar-powered, reverse-osmosis filtration system to bring clean water to residents.  It removes most bad chemicals and bacteria by pushing pressurized water through a filter. The system produces up to 1,135 gallons of clean drinking water per hour and serves 700 households — about 4,900 people.

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Written and photographed by World Vision photographer Chris Huber

Canon EOS 6D

16mm lens, 1/250th at f/2.8, 2500 ISO

*     *     *

I cherish every opportunity to worship Jesus with fellow believers in other parts of the world. Since my late 20s, God has been revealing his heart for the nations to me through brothers and sisters from many tribes and tongues — from China to Lebanon; Alaska to Zambia.

That’s why this photo from a church in Bamako, Mali, is so special.

King David says it well in Psalm 67:4: “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.”

Mali, a country of roughly 18 million people, is predominantly Muslim. About 2.4 percent profess Christianity. So when I got the chance to attend a church service in the capital city with a local World Vision coworker, I got excited.

And, of course, I brought my camera.

Worship and preaching at Bacodjicroni Assemblies of God Church are in French, so specifics of the songs and sermon were lost on me during the nearly three-hour service. Knowing Spanish helped me deal with some nuances on this hot and humid June morning.

I wanted to capture the essence of this church family’s life together: earnest Bible study before service; jubilant and expressive musical worship; a dynamic and convicting sermon; powerful and declarative prayer; joyful interactions among brothers and sisters in the in-between moments; and celebratory baptisms to encourage the growing family as they head back into the world at lunchtime.

As the worship band led in with another upbeat song halfway through the service, people organically started leaving their seats and dancing and singing toward the front of the room near the stage. Many of the children even were allowed to come down from the balcony to dance and sing with the adults. What I love about this moment is the abandon with which many people in this frame worship. Regardless of how their week went, their raised hands and dancing feet proclaim: God is always good and worthy of praise.

I revel at this moment. I might be moving through the crowd with a camera to my face. And I might not understand all the words of the song. But I’m smiling. I’m singing. I’m worshipping, too. This moment reminds me of what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 1:5, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.”

This means that we can worship Jesus even when we can’t understand the lyrics.

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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.

Children huddle together under an umbrella in the middle of a muddy street in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Monsoon rains throughout 2018 caused an increased risk of landslides and water-related diseases such as diarrhea and cholera.
Children huddle together under an umbrella in the middle of a muddy street in a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Monsoon rains throughout 2018 caused an increased risk of landslides and water-related diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Mojibur Rahman Rana)

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.


A World Vision aid worker helps distribute emergency relief supplies to people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Lombok, Indonesia.
A World Vision aid worker helps distribute emergency relief supplies to people affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Lombok, Indonesia. (©2018 World Vision/photo by World Vision staff)

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.

You can help by providing emergency relief for children and families devastated by the Indonesia earthquakes and tsunami.


A World Vision staff member plays soccer with Syrian refugee children in the informal tented settlement where they live. Lebanon has approximately 3,000 informal refugee settlements in the country.
A World Vision staff member plays soccer with Syrian refugee children in the informal tent settlement where they live. Lebanon has approximately 3,000 informal settlements in the country. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

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.


Joseph, left, feeds his young son, Abraham, a packet of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food Feb. 28, at a World Vision nutrition center in Western Equatoria state, South Sudan. Abraham saw significant improvement after weeks of treatment with this nutritious supplement. When this photo was taken, more than 700 children younger than 5 were receiving treatment for severe malnutrition.
Joseph feeds his young son, Abraham, a packet of ready-to-use therapeutic food Feb. 28, at a World Vision nutrition center in Western Equatoria state, South Sudan. Abraham saw significant improvement after weeks of treatment with this nutritious supplement. When this photo was taken, more than 700 children younger than 5 were receiving treatment for severe malnutrition. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Mark Nonkes)

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. 


Malnourished children receive fortified porridge at the World Vision Child-Friendly Space in Central Kasai province, Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Malnourished children receive fortified porridge at the World Vision Child-Friendly Space in Central Kasai province, Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)

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.


The border crossing at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge from Venezuela into Colombia teems with new arrivals. The Venezuela economic and migration crisis grew throughout 2018. Hyperinflation, political instability, and food and medicine shortages have caused 3 million people to leave Venezuela since 2015.
The border crossing at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge from Venezuela into Colombia teems with new arrivals. The Venezuela economic and migration crisis grew throughout 2018. Hyperinflation, political instability, and food and medicine shortages have caused 3 million people to leave Venezuela since 2015. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Victor Martinez)

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.


Read about the worst disasters of 2017 and 2016.

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Jesse Klaasen is a big-hearted western Michigan teen who saved up his treasures for another in need thousands of miles away.

For three years, Jesse, 16, worked on a cattle farm in western Michigan and saved his paychecks — totaling $4,500 — to pay for a home for a struggling mother and her children through World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

He sacrificed himself through physical labor and resisted the temptation to spend his hard-earned money so a family he doesn’t even know could have a better life.

Jesse loves to give through the Gift Catalog, donating funds for animals and other gifts for the past five years as part of his commitment to tithing at least 10 percent of his income. Whenever his family receives the Gift Catalog in the mail, Jesse carefully studies it to determine what he wants to give.

It’s pretty straightforward: “I love Jesus, and I want to act like him and be like him; I want to help others,” Jesse says.

Whenever his family receives the Gift Catalog in the mail, Jesse carefully studies it to determine what he wants to give.
Whenever his family receives the Gift Catalog in the mail, Jesse carefully studies it to determine what he wants to give. (©2018 photo courtesy of Carrie Klaasen)

Back in winter 2015, he had set the goal to gift one of the big-ticket items in the catalog. “I was just flipping through and was like, ‘I wanna get that one,’” Jesse says.

He made a point not to tell anyone he was saving for it. Every time he got a paycheck, he would take a portion out and add it to the growing pile of money inside a hollowed-out book on his bedroom shelf. Right before his 16th birthday in January 2018, Jesse gathered his pile of bills worth $4,500, singled out one of the most expensive items — the house — and donated the money to World Vision to provide a house for someone in need.

“I was really excited,” Jesse says. “Holding that much money was just crazy. It was a stack.”

Jesse’s mom, Carrie Klaasen, says she found out he was saving for a big Gift Catalog purchase about a year before it happened — almost two years after he set out to do it.

“When he commits to something, he’s going to do it,” Carrie says. “He’s got a compassionate heart.”

Jesse acknowledged he could have used the money to buy a much nicer vehicle or phone. His noisy 2001 Chevrolet Blazer could have benefited from a new muffler. He stuck with his aging flip phone until he got a smartphone as a gift. And he says he was tempted numerous times to pull out a few $20 bills from that book on his shelf and go spend it. But his resolve to love God and love people helped him resist.

“I was just ready to do this,” he says.

Jesse, 16, worked on a cattle farm in western Michigan and saved his paychecks for three years to pay for a home for a struggling mother and her children through World Vision’s Gift Catalog.
Jesse, 16, on a cattle farm in western Michigan. (©2018 photo courtesy of Carrie Klaasen)

That heart full of compassion has always been there, Carrie says. Jesse started sponsoring two children when he was 11 — one in Honduras and one in Ethiopia. But his sense of compassion deepened after his parents brought his first sister home from Ethiopia that same year.

“I was just so excited and so happy,” he says. “They came home, and I held her on the couch. I was crying and was just so happy to have her here.”

And then he visited Ethiopia in 2015 when the family adopted his two other sisters. It opened his eyes to a different culture, to poverty, and got the then-13-year-old asking profound questions.

Seeing his siblings’ home country for the first time was overwhelming for him, Carrie remembers. She sensed something change inside Jesse.

“I remember him just taking it all in and thinking, ‘Why isn’t this me? I could be going through this, and I’m not,’” she says.

That experience is part of what motivates him. Even after he sent in his big donation, Jesse says he remains committed to the unknown family who will receive his gift. “I pray for them every day,” Jesse says. “I’ve been praying that the right family gets it — that they can just praise God for it and give him thanks for it.”

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Communities in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and much of the East Coast are preparing for Hurricane Florence as it gathers strength out in the Atlantic. The National Weather Service rates the storm a major Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds of 130 mph, as of Tuesday morning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects Hurricane Florence to continue to strengthen, making it an “extremely dangerous major hurricane.” Predictions show Florence making landfall late Thursday or early Friday with potentially life-threatening high winds, storm surge, and flooding. Some forecasts anticipate 12 to 30 inches of rain as the storm slows over land.

“We do not want to risk one South Carolina life in this hurricane,” Reuters reports South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster saying at a news conference Sept. 10. Mandatory coastal evacuations are now in effect for more than 1 million people in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

FAQs: What you need to know about Hurricane Florence

Explore frequently asked questions about hurricanes and Hurricane Florence, including how you can help people affected by the storm. Are you located in Hurricane Florence’s path? Read these key tips on how to prepare and plan for evacuation.

Fast facts: Hurricane Florence

  • Began as a tropical storm Sept. 1 over the Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa
  • Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 mph
  • Potential landfall over North Carolina or South Carolina late Thursday or early Friday


When was the East Coast last hit by a hurricane?

If Hurricane Florence sustains its Category 4 status and hits the Carolinas as projected, it will be the strongest major hurricane to make landfall there since Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which made landfall right over the North Carolina and South Carolina border on Oct. 15, 1954. Hurricane Hazel, packing winds of 130 mph, destroyed 15,000 homes and killed 19 people in North Carolina. Since then, North and South Carolinians have weathered dozens of hurricanes of varying force and impact.


How is World Vision responding to Hurricane Florence?

World Vision is prepared to respond and has begun the process of positioning relief supplies nearby in Georgia and South Carolina in order to significantly reduce the transit time of getting those supplies into the areas that need them. These relief supplies include food, temporary shelter items (such as tents and sleeping bags), hygiene items, and flood cleanup kits. We are also identifying church partners in potentially affected areas. This allows our response teams to mobilize quickly from our domestic disaster response hub in north Texas and field site in Philippi, West Virginia, if the storm causes widespread damage.


How can I help people in Hurricane Florence’s path?

Pray: Please join us in prayer for people in Hurricane Florence’s path. Almighty Father, we ask for Your care and protection for people in the path of Hurricane Florence. Give them the assurance of Your presence and equip those who will provide relief and assistance after the storm passes.  Strengthen the minds and bodies of first responders for the days ahead.


Learn more about hurricanes — how they form and how to prepare.

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On August 19, World Humanitarian Day pays tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service, advocates for the safety and security of these humanitarian aid workers, and rallies support for the survival, well-being, and dignity of people affected by crises around the world.

Every year on World Humanitarian Day, we shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict. On this day we also take a moment to honor the brave health and aid workers who are targeted or obstructed as they set out to help people in need.—U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres

Through our global disaster and emergency response efforts, World Vision staff reach millions of people affected by humanitarian crises each year with life-saving assistance and restorative support. This covers our work in fragile contexts, like Myanmar and Bangladesh, where an increasing number of the world’s most vulnerable children live.

Today, 1.5 billion people live in fragile contexts. These are hard places where conflict, human rights abuses, ethnic and religious strife, and extreme poverty are concentrated. Children and families who live in them can’t count on local or national institutions like schools, health systems, markets, or courts to function reliably or justly.

Improving the lives and prospects of people in fragile contexts is the key to meeting the global Sustainable Development Goals, especially that of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and leaving no one behind.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from fragility is resilience, the ability to withstand or adapt to shocks and stresses like drought, crop failure, and conflict. A community’s resilience, not only becoming more developed, is what World Vision is driving toward as we engage in these hard places. This means not only addressing poverty through economic empowerment programming but helping families and communities to shore up every form of available social capital so they can bounce back from recurring crises such as severe weather and disease outbreaks that could wipe out their financial independence.

The work World Vision’s relief and development workers perform in situations like the Myanmar refugee crisis helps make this a reality for many of the families we work with.

Elsie Gomes, a longtime World Vision staff member in Bangladesh, was deployed earlier this year to Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh to help with the Myanmar refugee crisis response. Here are her thoughts on her time working with refugees in the camps.

World Humanitarian Day- Diary of an aid worker, Elsie Gomes writes about her experience in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Elsie Gomes, a longtime World Vision staff member, talks with refugees at a camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Elsie was deployed to southeast Bangladesh to help with the Myanmar refugee crisis response in early 2018. (©2017 World Vision/photo by Shabir Hussein)

Myanmar refugee crisis: An aid worker’s diary

When they asked me, “Would you be deployed for the refugee response?” I said “yes” within seconds. But as I made my way to Cox’s Bazar, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see — a family of six living under a dainty plastic sheet in a space as small as a toilet stall.

The magnitude of the crisis became more and more evident as I traveled to World Vision’s relief distribution center, where a supplementary food package distribution was about to take place.

World Vision began its emergency response here last fall, as thousands of refugees poured over the border from Myanmar fleeing violence. Now, more than 720,000 people have settled in southeast Bangladesh and need immediate food, water, shelter, and medical assistance. World Vision has assisted more than 178,000 refugees in Bangladesh since the crisis began in September 2017. We aim to help about 250,000 refugees and hosts through 2018 with food, food vouchers, income-generating activities, clean water, sanitation facilities, healthcare, and Child-Friendly Spaces.

The refugees trickled into the distribution center one by one to pick up relief supplies. Listening to the instructions, they formed a long human chain.

Mothers, many still mourning the loss of their husbands, brought their children with them. Noticing me standing on the side, out of curiosity, the children would sheepishly glance at me.

It was like watching the reflection of my own children in their faces; their innocence radiated brightly.

Initially reluctant to connect, the children warmed up to me after seeing me around the camp for an extended period.

With the children reeled in, the mothers joined, creating room for conversations.

I met one woman who had crossed the border into Bangladesh two days earlier; she had lost her husband in the violence. Other women struggled to find privacy to bathe. One by one they shared their painful ordeals.

Wrestling with my emotions, I continued to listen to their testimonies: defecating in the open with no privacy and struggling with feeling a lack of safety. Women poured out their hearts to me.

Knowing these families settled in cramped sheds, on a hill, with no trees to hold the soil together
evokes a concern within me about the rain triggering a landslide. What then?

In the midst of all the challenges, I witnessed a distribution being rolled out and observed all the aid organizations working together to provide for the immediate needs of the refugees. This brought me a sense of hope.

I left the camps and returned home with a better understanding of the needs and how we and other organizations are working to meet these needs.

But there is so much more to be done.

How can I help refugees?

Receiving humanitarian assistance is a life or death matter for most of the world’s refugees, half of whom are children.

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Hurricanes are one of nature’s most terrifying and destructive forces. What begins as small disturbances can become fierce mega storms as they gather strength and size over the ocean. The ones that make landfall over populated areas can cause tremendous destruction.

Here are the hurricane facts you need to know to better understand how they work, how you can prepare if you’re in a hurricane’s path, and how you can help people affected.

How does a hurricane form?

Here’s how a hurricane that ends up hitting the United States or the Caribbean can form: Something as simple as a child kicking up sand in Africa can cause a small disturbance in the air that turns into a dust devil. Carried by westerly winds off the desert, that harmless mini-tornado gathers mass and momentum and morphs into a turbulent eddy, a circular current of water. It then develops into a system of thunderstorms as it moves toward Africa’s west coast. As the cloud system heads off the continent and onto the eastern Atlantic Ocean, it mixes with the warm, moist tropical air. Winds increase and a tropical depression forms as it continues west. If warm ocean temperatures continue to feed the storm, it grows into a tropical storm, then a hurricane. A couple of times per year, on average, all the right factors — warm ocean, time at sea, a combination of high and low pressure driving the storm system — converge to create a major hurricane.


What are the main parts of a hurricane?

A hurricane consists of five main parts: outflow, feeder bands, eyewall, eye, and the storm surge. Outflow is the high-level clouds moving outward from the hurricane. Feeder bands are the areas of heavy rain and gusty winds fed by the warm ocean. They get more pronounced as the storm intensifies. The eyewall is the band of clouds and intense wind and rain surrounding the eye of the hurricane. Here, the air moves violently toward the eye and upward into the cloud. The eye is the relatively calm center of the storm. The storm surge is the flood of ocean water pushed inland as the hurricane approaches land.


Hurricane facts_Harvey makes landfalls over Rockport, Texas, Aug. 26, 2017.
Trees bend and waves crash on the shoreline as Hurricane Harvey makes landfall over Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 26, 2017. (©2017 Genesis Photo Agency)

When is hurricane season?

Globally, September is the most active month for hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 to November 30, but it sharply peaks from late August through September. This time of year accounts for more than 97 percent of tropical activity.

The Northeast Pacific basin experiences a broader peak with activity often beginning in late May and running until early November. There is a peak in storminess in late August and early September.

The Northwest Pacific basin has tropical cyclones occurring throughout the year, although the main season is from July to November with peaks in late August and early September.

The North Indian basin has peaks of activity in May and November, although tropical cyclones are seen from April to December.

The Southwest Indian and Australian/Southeast Indian basins have similar cycles, with tropical cyclones beginning in late October and early November, reaching peak activity in mid-January and mid-February to early March and then ending in May.

Storm season in the Australian/Southwest Pacific basin begins with tropical cyclone activity in late October and early November. It peaks in late February to early March and then fades out early May.


How many hurricanes occur each year?

Between 1968 and 2017, the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts have had an average of about six hurricanes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Two of the six typically turn into major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). In 2017, the region weathered six major hurricanes.


Hurricane Matthew_Haiti_People pick through a jumble of broken houses, trees, and roads in Dupuy on the coast of Haiti’s southwest peninsula. Families are struggling to get by and restore their livelihoods. (©2016 Guy Vital-Herne/World Vision)
After Hurricane Matthew in 2016, people pick through a jumble of broken houses, trees, and roads in Dupuy on the coast of Haiti’s southwest peninsula. Families struggled to get by and restore their livelihoods. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Guy Vital-Herne)

Why are hurricanes dangerous?

A hurricane is dangerous in many ways. First, fierce winds can lift you off your feet or damage or destroy buildings, homes, trees, and other property and knock out power. If you’re not careful, you can be injured by flying debris. The winds and heavy storm clouds bring a storm surge to coastal areas and torrential rains, which can cause flooding and over-saturate the ground, leading to landslides. Rural communities are often cut off after landslides wash away roads and power infrastructure. This leaves children and people who depend on medical treatment or supplies especially vulnerable. Even after the storm passes, if your home flooded, you have to act quickly to remove damaged materials. Otherwise, dangerous mold can threaten your family’s health.


How do I prepare for a hurricane?

Here are the key steps to take and things to be aware of if a hurricane is forecast in your area.

  1. Stay informed: Sign up for emergency notifications.
  2. Plan for evacuation: Check evacuation routes and emergency shelter information, stock up on gas, choose and notify an out-of-state contact, know where you will meet loved ones if separated, and pack a “go bag” with items you’ll need if you evacuate.
  3. Pack emergency supplies: Make sure you have food, water, flashlight, clothes, medicine, protective gear, radio, hygiene items, critical documents, sentimental items, and pet necessities ready to go if necessary.
  4. Prepare your home: Protect your property from wind and flooding by covering windows and elevating your furnace, furniture, or items on the floor.
  5. Decide to stay or go: If authorities order an evacuation, go. If you are not in an area that receives an evacuation notice, consider moving to higher ground and/or staying indoors and keeping up with weather status reports.
  6. Learn more: Find out more by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or


What’s the difference between a tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane, and major hurricane?

The difference between a tropical depression, tropical storm, hurricane, and major hurricane has to do with wind speed:

  • Tropical depression: Wind speed less than 39 mph
  • Tropical storm: Wind speed between 39 mph and 73 mph
  • Hurricane: Wind speed between 74 mph and 110 mph
  • Major hurricane: Wind speed greater than 110 mph


Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, 2013. Local resident and World Vision staff survey damage
In the Philippines, a local resident and a World Vision staff member survey the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan on November 24, 2013. (©2013 Crislyn Felisilda/World Vision)

What’s the difference between a hurricane, a typhoon, and a cyclone?

Hurricanes form in the Atlantic and Caribbean, cyclones in the Indian Ocean, and typhoons in the Asia-Pacific region. Scientifically, they are all known as tropical cyclones.


What is a hurricane category, and what do they mean?

A hurricane category, determined by the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale, lets people know how powerful the hurricane will be:

  • Category 1: Very dangerous winds between 74 and 95 mph will cause some damage and power outages for a few days are likely.
  • Category 2: Extremely dangerous winds between 96 and 110 mph will cause extensive damage and a near-total power loss that could last up to a few weeks.
  • Category 3: Devastating damage will occur from winds between 111 and 129 mph. Electricity and water will be unavailable for up to several weeks, and trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking roads.
  • Category 4: Catastrophic damage will occur from winds between 130 and 156 mph. Even well-built framed homes will lose most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Fallen trees and power poles will likely isolate residential areas, and power outages could last possibly months.
  • Category 5: Catastrophic damage will occur from winds 157 mph or higher. A high percentage of homes will be destroyed, and most areas will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.


How do tropical storms and hurricanes get their names?

Meteorologists name tropical storms and hurricanes to avoid confusion and streamline communication. Before the 1950s, they kept track of storms by the order in which they happened in a given year. That method became confusing over time and even caused occasional miscommunication when, while multiple storms were looming, a city would receive an alert about the wrong storm. The United States has been naming tropical storms and hurricanes since 1953. Currently, the World Meteorological Organization names them, adhering to a strict system that consists of a 21-letter list of male and female names on a 6-year rotation. The letters Q, U, X, Y, and Z are left off the list. Every seventh year, the names recycle, unless the WMO decides to retire a name because it was particularly deadly or costly. Here’s the list of tropical cyclone names for the next six years.


What have been the most intense hurricanes to strike the United States?

Of the 41 storms that have caused more than $1 billion in damage to the mainland U.S. since 1900 — with five non-mainland exceptions — three storms have made landfall as category 5 hurricanes: Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and Hurricane Camille in 1969. Seven tropical cyclones have hit the U.S. as category 4 storms, including Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017; Charley over Florida in 2004; Iniki over Kauai in 1992; Donna over Florida and the eastern U.S. in 1960; and Hugo over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 1989.


What have been the costliest hurricanes to strike the United States?

Hurricane Katrina tops the list of costliest hurricanes to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900. Adjusted for inflation, it caused about $160 billion in damage to Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. Causing about $125 billion in damage, Hurricane Harvey ranks as the second-costliest. Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a category 4 storm within a month of Harvey, is the third-costliest after inflicting about $90 billion in damage. Hurricane Sandy, in late 2012, cost the Northeastern U.S. about $70 billion and is fourth on the list. The fifth-costliest, Hurricane Irma, affected Florida and much of the South and caused $50 billion in damage. All three of the most intense storms to hit the U.S. in 2017 made landfall as Category 4 storms.


How does World Vision respond to hurricanes?

With decades of experience and an established global network of trained emergency staff, World Vision is responding to multiple major emergencies at any given time. That includes earthquakes, conflicts and refugee crises, floods, and hurricanes. Our approach goes beyond the immediate response reported in the news.

We maintain a system of pre-positioning sites, including several field sites in the U.S., that allows us to dispatch emergency relief supplies quickly when a hurricane or other disaster strikes. We partner with more than 40,000 churches worldwide, which can streamline delivery of supplies in hard-to-reach areas.

During and after a crisis, we provide food, water, hygiene, and other basic relief items, including clean-up supplies. We also promote personal hygiene practices to guard against deadly disease outbreaks.

Our child protection programs respond to urgent cases, such as children separated from their families, abuse, exploitation, and other forms of violence. We also respond to health, nutrition, and education needs.

Our goal is to support families not only in the short-run but also as they go through the arduous process of rebuilding their lives and livelihoods. World Vision works alongside communities to help families rebuild their homes and establish permanent housing, sustainable access to clean water, food security, access to a quality education, and re-establishing livelihoods.


How can I help hurricane survivors?

You can help World Vision continue responding to disasters around the world.


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