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On the eve of the 2016 Kansas City Half Marathon, the Holy Spirit planted a dream in 7-year-old Addyson Moffitt’s heart: see every kid have clean water in her lifetime.

She’d learned about a little girl in Kenya named Maurine and that many kids like her don’t have clean water.

“I wanted to help them,” says Addyson, now 10. “I didn’t feel that it was fair that they had to go do that, and I just have to go to my refrigerator and get clean water.”

So she told her mother she wanted to run the half marathon next year and raise funds for clean water.

In the days that followed, Addyson peppered her mom and dad, Shayla and Bryan, with questions — when does training start, when can she start fundraising, how can she fundraise.

“That’s when we knew it was real,” Shayla says. “It wasn’t just a 7-year-old who had an inspiring evening.”

Shayla and Bryan prayed, asking God to lead them and Addyson as she began fundraising toward a $1,310 goal to represent the 13.1 miles she’d be running. When the half marathon arrived in October 2017, Addyson had raised more than $20,000.

She finished the race, and her mission only grew “because, you know, we can’t stop fundraising and running until the water crisis ends.”

Around then, her family sponsored two children who live in Maurine’s community. They began writing letters and sending school photos as well as praying for them and Maurine.

In spring 2018, the family ran the Global 6K for Water together for the second year in a row.

“It’s not a race. It’s not who comes in first. It’s not who has the best time,” Shayla says. “It is finding purpose and knowing that when you move one foot in front of another, you are impacting a life clear across the world.”

By the 2018 Kansas City Half Marathon in October, Addyson had raised more than $60,000. She ran again, and then in November, she appeared on The Steve Harvey Show to share her story. He surprised her with $5,000 toward her fundraising and a trip for Addyson and her family to visit Kenya in the spring to meet their sponsored child and visit Maurine.

Addyson hopes to raise another $60,000 this year, and she’s planning to run in the Global 6K for Water with her family on May 4.

“Don’t let anybody take down your big dreams,” Addyson says. “People might tell you that you’re too young, you’re too small, but don’t listen to them. Just always go for your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you.”

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Tom and Reid Hutchison share not just a name that runs a third-generation family-business, but they also share a passion for bringing clean water to people in need.

Their company, HOH Water Technology in Palatine, Illinois, specializes in water treatment solutions. Tom serves as president of the Chicago-area organization, and Reid, his son, works as the director of marketing. While their business has a stake in the water game, God placed a burden on each of their hearts in different ways to help solve the global water crisis.

Since then, both Tom and Reid have become passionate about educating and inspiring HOH’s 100 employees and the company’s network about the worldwide lack of access to clean water and participating in the annual Global 6K for Water. Here’s how that happened.

A mission trip opens eyes

In 2012, Tom traveled to Indonesia with his church as part of a short-term mission trip. The trip wasn’t based on doing any sort of water ministry, but while there, he connected with an organization called Water Mission that was working to provide safe drinking water across the country.

“It was a pastor doing it who was in the water treatment business,” Tom says. “I knew his company, and I thought it was amazing.”

As he looked at the organization’s work even more on the trip, he became even more impressed by the work it was doing.

“I’m a pastor, and I’m a water guy, so I went and looked at his installations and was amazed that this work was being done,” Tom says. “I was convicted that our company should be doing it.”

As he headed back to Illinois, he began to think about how he could help be part of solving the problem and, beyond that, how HOH could be part of ending the global water crisis.

Running to make a difference

Fast forward to the spring of 2014, Reid’s Mission Church community had a few people who were starting a group to run the Chicago Marathon together with Team World Vision while fundraising to help provide clean water to families in Africa. Reid had run a marathon before, so he was intrigued, and a chat over pizza seemed like a good idea.

“I hadn’t heard much about the clean water crisis, but I did it to be part of the community and be part of the cause together,” he says. “I had a powerful experience both training and fundraising.”

In 2015, he again signed up, and that year, through training, he became inspired to sponsor a boy named Alfred in Uganda. His church collectively sponsored children from the same community and visited to meet their sponsored children later in the year.

“My wife and I traveled there together with our church community, and we were completely sold out and bought into the way that World Vision was making an impact and transforming lives through clean water and through the change initiatives in developing communities,” Reid says.

On that trip, someone from Team World Vision shared the idea of Reid running the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa and raising 56 child sponsorships in Alfred’s community to represent the 56 miles he would run.

“Seeing the work at hand locally, I just felt convicted and compelled to do more,” Reid says.

He trained and fundraised, and later that year ran the race. Although he fell 13 miles short of completing the race, he did successfully complete the sponsorship goal of 56 children sponsored. After the event, he again visited Alfred and his community in Uganda.

Reid Hutchinson poses with his sponsored child, Alfred, when he visited him in Uganda in 2016.
Reid Hutchinson poses with his sponsored child, Alfred, when he visited him in Uganda in 2016 after running the Comrades ultramarathon in South Africa. It was the second time they visited, and Reid has a vision that his sponsorship will help Alfred grow up to be a leader in his community. (Photo courtesy of Reid Hutchinson)

“I shared with him that I sponsor him because I care about him and that others in his community are sponsored because of this race and this work,” Reid says. “I have this dream that this would lead to long-term transformation in this community.”

Reid is excited to see the lasting impact sponsorship will make and how sponsoring Alfred could equally lead to lasting change.

“I had a vision for him and realized that I may never see him again, but the investment I’m making in his life may result in him becoming a leader in his community and him participating in helping transform it into a healthier place,” Reid says. “I love that about the child sponsorship program — they reach kids because they’re the source of new life for a community, and it’s not just a five-year thing. It’s a 10- to 20-year thing.”

A collective vision arises

As Reid’s running path was unfolding, he was also having conversations with Tom and asking questions about his dad’s experience in 2012. The two were searching for ways to integrate their shared desire to end the global water crisis with their work at HOH.

Through Reid’s involvement with Team World Vision, he had learned about the Global 6K for Water. He thought the event could be a great way to engage HOH employees.

“It’s an amazing way to get people to that first step, which is awareness of the issue, and, secondly, to feel like they’re part of doing something about it,” Reid says.

Tom agreed, so in 2017, HOH made a $25,000 donation on behalf of its employees and encouraged people to come and walk the 6K at the World Vision-hosted site in Chicago. Six kilometers is the average distance children and families in the developing world walk for access to water. Forty people joined Reid and Tom in making that walk. Reid remembers how excited people were but also how surprised so many people were as they learned about the global water crisis. Additionally, the event helped the organization.

“It was a difficult season for our business that summer — a lot of turmoil and a lot of instability, and people were nervous,” Tom says. “I remember it just really brought our company together, and that was really important and helped during that particular time. We understood that we were part of something bigger than just doing our day-to-day jobs.”

A passion gives way

After the first year, people became even more excited about the Global 6K, and Tom and Reid wanted to extend participation beyond their Chicago-area office for 2018. So last year, their five satellite offices served as Global 6K host sites, and their Palatine staff participated in the larger site hosted by World Vision in Chicago.

“There was a sense of unity around us giving back together as one company,” Reid says. “We’re on a journey of helping employees and people in our network adopt this mission as their own to make a lasting impact with water.”

Last year, HOH made a $30,000 donation to help fund clean water projects, and their participation grew as 140 people came out to participate in the Global 6K for Water.

“What I love seeing is a family with kids walking, and people connecting the dots that it’s kids just like their own who are walking 6 kilometers a day for water, and it keeps them from being in school,” Reid says.

HOH also began reaching out to its network and inviting vendors, customers, and partners into their new passion as well.

“There are a lot of organizations that desire to make the world a better place,” Tom says. “There’s a really good business reason to connect with those people.”

He encourages other business leaders to use their positions for good and invite others in their network to participate in the Global 6K. Additionally, as a business, being part of something like the Global 6K helps with recruiting quality employees.

“As we compete for talented people who want to join the organization, we’re aware that as we create this kind of culture, especially the younger generation, they’re going to say, ‘I want to be part of that too,’ and it will help us attract the right kind of people.”

As HOH prepares for the 2019 Global 6K for Water on May 4, Tom and Reid are hoping to have 250 people involved this year across their five host sites and Chicago participation.

“Jesus Christ is the living water, and we’re called to deliver water to a thirsty world, and I do that because I’m a Christian, and that’s my reason,” Tom says. “What I’d love is that they do this as part of the company, so we’re one team doing this.

“If I had a vision, I’d love for people to make this their own.”

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Do you remember your favorite book when you were learning to read as a child? Visualize it. It probably had bright, colorful pictures to illustrate the story. Likely your parents read it to you before bed, or you curled up to engross yourself in it in a cozy reading corner of your elementary school classroom with beanbag chairs or plush carpet.

But what if you didn’t have a book like that? Or what if you did but your parents couldn’t read it to you? This is often the reality for children growing up in Nepal. Children have school books that are black and white text and don’t have pictures and colors to engage their senses, and they often don’t have access to storybooks. This has a long-term impact, as only 59.63 percent of adults in Nepal are literate — only 48.84 percent for women.

This was the reality for Jhalak, a third-grade student living in Sindhuli, eastern Nepal. He struggled to even read his own name, and many of his friends couldn’t either. Because of the importance of literacy and struggles with it around the world, World Vision began a program to boost literacy and increase reading rates.

There are three main ways World Vision helps to do this: training teachers with more engaging methods, establishing reading camps outside of schools, and helping parents create a nurturing environment at home that encourages reading. The result? In two years, children who participated in the program read 1.5 times better than children who didn’t participate. Nationally, the stats are all moving in the right direction:

  • Children who can read with comprehension by sixth grade has increased by 8.1 percent.
  • First grade promotion rates have increased from 78.4 percent in 2014 to 83.1 percent in 2016.
  • Enrollment rates for sixth through eighth grades increased from 74.6 percent to 80.2 percent in two years.
  • Children ages 5 to 12 who are out of school has dropped from 15 percent in 2014 to 11.3 percent.

Because of people like you who have given to World Vision’s programs, literacy rates are improving across Nepal. Here’s how the program works that’s making it happen.

Improving classrooms

The first part of the program focuses on providing training and materials for teachers to help them better engage children in learning and reading.

World Vision helped train 51 teachers from 20 schools in the Sindhuli district with more creative methods of teaching. Dipak Raj Pokhrel serves as the principal of Shree Mangala School and noted the change in his school after World Vision’s programming help.

“The entire concept of teaching and learning has changed here,” he says. “Now students are taught through interesting approaches such as singing, dancing, and playing.”

One student, Ganga, says, “I like it when I get to sing and dance in the class. I do not feel like I am studying.”

Yet Ganga is learning and showing great signs of improvement through the new teaching methods. Her teacher, Shanta Dahal, says, “Ganga used to be a slower learner in the beginning. She had difficulty learning and memorizing new words, but now she is learning fast after we began teaching her through songs, dance, and games.”

“We only get to see attractive, colorful books in expensive private schools . . . ,” Shanta says. “Because of this, the children also felt discouraged at times. Moreover, the children who come to this school are usually from poor families who cannot afford to pay fees of expensive private schools. But now, with all these new books and learning materials, we feel as if our school is no less than any private school. The quality of education has improved for sure.”

Dipak has noticed a measurable difference across all the classes as well.

“The learning ability and speed of students [learning] has really improved,” he says. “Their grades are gradually improving too.”

During an event at the school, Yadav Prasad Acharya, section officer from the ministry of education, visited and was impressed with the changes he saw.

“A building is only the body of the school, but the real soul is the learning process,” Yadav says. “I am happy World Vision has supported not only the body but also the soul of this school by enhancing the learning process through child-friendly teaching initiatives.”

Reading camps

On the other side of the country in Kailali district, 9-year-old Prem and his parents were visiting his cousins in a neighboring community. But upon arriving, Prem suddenly realized it was Saturday. He had to leave. He asked his cousin to borrow a bike, and he rode all the way back home — so he could attend reading camp.

Reading camps are the second component of the program and provide another space for children to practice reading and further learn outside the formal school environment. Volunteer teachers lead children in songs, drawing, and other activities all designed to help them learn to read. Kids can also make resources to take home that will help them practice learning their letters and words.

Prem doesn’t enjoy attending school, but he loves attending reading camp. So every Saturday, he spends 90 minutes at the program learning from Raj Kumari, the facilitator.

“Even when the 90-minute class finishes, they want to stay more and learn more,” Raj says. “We usually have to stay for a longer time.”

She says when the program started, she had about five students attending, and now she has about 30. Hers is one of more than 442 reading camps across the country. In Kailali alone, more than 2,300 children participate.

Now Prem regularly brings home drawings to decorate his family’s house, and he often teaches his father, Dipendra, the songs he learns at reading camp.

“He can read better; he can draw better,” Dipendra says. “ . . . I am very happy with the changes in him.”

Back in Sindhuli, since 2016, more than 780 children like Jhalak have participated in reading camps. There, he learned how to pronounce words and how to write them from a volunteer teacher named Dor Kumari.

“My reading camp teacher is very loving and patient,” Jhalek says. “I used to be embarrassed when someone would ask me to read, but I don’t feel that way anymore.”

Reading corners

Dor, Raj, and other reading camp teachers spend a lot of time not only with the kids but also educating the whole community to become involved in children’s learning. Each month, the camp teachers meet with parents and formal teachers to discuss how children are improving at school and suggest ways to continue fostering it. 

Teachers have conducted more than 150 reading awareness workshops to help parents better understand how to promote literacy at home.

One of those ways is the third component of the program: reading corners in children’s homes. These corners are designated spaces where children can study, practice reading, and where parents can spend time with them and encourage their learning. It gives the children spaces where they can hang the resources they receive and projects they make at reading camp to create a consistent study space. In Sindhuli, families created more than 140 reading corners to bolster learning at home. Jhalak’s mom, Chitra Kumari, saw a difference in her children after creating a reading corner.

“It has been very beneficial, as my children love to study surrounded by interesting reading materials that they can point to and read,” she says. “I try to sit with Jhalak and his sister every evening when they are studying in the reading corner.

“In a matter of months, their reading skills have improved. I am very proud of my son.”

And Jhalak isn’t a one-off example. On top of the national stats, in Jhalak’s district alone, the number of children who can read with comprehension by sixth grade has improved from 56.4 percent in 2014 to 71.4 percent in 2016. And numbers are similar in Prem’s community as well, going from 33.3 percent in 2014 to 49.4 percent in 2017.

As this literacy programming continues, more children will come to cherish the joy of reading and the opportunities it presents as they grow up.

 

Barun Bajracharya and Nissi Thapa of World Vision’s staff in Nepal contributed to this story.

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On Giving Tuesday, you can help children and families in developing countries — and even here in the U.S. It’s made possible through World Vision’s partnership with Thirty-One Gifts for Giving Tuesday 2018.

This is the fifth year World Vision and Thirty-One Gifts, which sells purses, totes, and home décor, will partner to double your Giving Tuesday gift with a product match. With any donation you make for Giving Tuesday – Nov. 27, 2018 – Thirty-One Gifts will match it in product donation up to $2 million with apparel, towels, and thermals to help women and children in need. Last year, many products went to help families in Zambia, Somalia, Afghanistan, and El Salvador.  Additionally, 37 pallets were distributed in the U.S. through the help of World Vision partners to assist survivors of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

“World Vision is providing amazing programs and resources that allow us to support women and families all over the world who are truly the most vulnerable and who may be ignored otherwise,” says Wendy Bradshaw, executive director of community affairs and philanthropy at Thirty-One Gifts.

We spoke with Wendy to learn more about why Thirty-One Gifts works with World Vision and the impact Giving Tuesday will have.

Why does Thirty-One Gifts partner with World Vision?

We first met World Vision because our founder, Cindy Monroe, and her husband were personally committed. Cindy said, ‘This is something I think our consultants will engage with and support.’ There’s such mission alignment with both of us being faith-based organizations and a platform and mission to serve others. Your mission and ours say the same thing: provide tools for women and families to meet their full potential. It was as if we met a sister in our goals to help others.

How did you initially partner with World Vision?

We love the women hygiene kit process. We provide the bag, and then put the products you provide in our bag. We have amazing consultants that gather in July for our annual sales conference, and we have a give-back that we do through the kit program. This year, we assembled 2,500 kits.

When we walk in, you see people gushing and just excited to be part of something bigger than the conference. They write prayerful notes and pray over each one for the ladies that will receive these bags. We don’t want people to think they’re just getting stuff – they’re getting prayer and heartfelt notes from us to cheer them on in a tough time.

Many kits that were built last year were distributed to people affected by the hurricanes in Florida and Puerto Rico. We never would have imagined that those kits were destined to help Americans shortly thereafter. Some of them were made by women who are from the areas where World Vision distributed them, so they came full-circle to support communities where our people live and work. Each kit also contains a note of encouragement, and they certainly went to people who needed an emotional boost after everything they experienced.

Why has Thirty-One Gifts expanded that partnership with World Vision for Giving Tuesday?

We love Giving Tuesday as a whole. It’s a time of year where there’s so much hustle and bustle, and the holidays are full of year-end projects at work, holiday parties, and activities with the kids. But taking a day to think about others who are less fortunate makes Giving Tuesday such a special day.

For us, saying we can double your gift is a fun message. We’re proud to be partnered with World Vision again, and we’re looking forward to another big year.

It’s magical when you can put two organizations together to double their reach. We’re committed and passionate about supporting women and families around the world, and we’re going to take donations and double them, so you can’t beat an investment you’re making in someone else that way.

What kinds of products will people in need receive this year?

It’s a mixture of apparel, thermals, and towels that people will receive this year.

 

You + World Vision’s local staff = help, hope, and love to people in nearly 100 countries.

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Praying the Scriptures is one of the most powerful ways to talk to God. This season, pray Psalm 139 over your sponsored child using the prompts below that correspond with verses in the Psalm.

Psalm 139

1  You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.

Thank God that he sees and knows your sponsored child.

2  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

4  Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

5  You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

Thank God for his protection on your sponsored child.

6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

7  Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?

Praise God that your sponsored child is never alone. Ask that your sponsored child senses his presence.

8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10  even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

Praise God for his guidance, and ask for continual guidance as your sponsored child grows.

11  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”

12  even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Thank God for how he has uniquely and lovingly created your sponsored child with dignity.

14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Praise God for creating your sponsored child.

15  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Ask God to reveal his great plans for your sponsored child and their life.

17  How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!

Pray that your sponsored child learns to love God.

18  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand — when I awake, I am still with you.

19  If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

Pray for God’s protection from anyone who would want to harm your sponsored child or their family and community.

20  They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.

21  Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22  I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.

23  Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Ask God for his leadership in your sponsored child’s life.

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Rubina, or Ruby as her friends call her, had to drop out of school after just the fifth grade. Her father died when she was 13, and her 16-year-old sister had to provide for the family by working at a print shop making envelopes in Delhi, India. Ruby worked alongside her to help increase the output.

When she was 16, Ruby married a local mechanic named Mohd. The couple had two boys, and she was determined that they would get the education she wasn’t able to get. But tragedy struck when Mohd died of tuberculosis after battling the disease for a year and a half.

An artisan with Gifts With a Cause makes The Grace Collection Charm Braclet.
Ruby makes The Grace Collection Charm Bracelet. She works for a fair-trade organization, which pays her fairly and ensures she has a safe working environment. (Photo courtesy of Gifts With a Cause)

Ruby was once again forced to work and struggled to provide for her family.

But in 2014, she began working with a fair trade group making jewelry. She earns fair wages, works in a safe and healthy environment, and she receives education assistance to ensure her boys can attend school. On top of that, she enjoys working with the other women to create beautiful pieces.

Patricia Heaton wears items from The Grace Collection by Patricia Heaton, a hand-crafted jewelry line created in partnership with Gifts With a Cause.
Patricia Heaton wears items from The Grace Collection by Patricia Heaton, a hand-crafted jewelry line created in partnership with Gifts With a Cause. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Diana Ragland)

One of the bracelets Ruby makes is The Grace Collection Charm Bracelet, which is part of The Grace Collection by Patricia Heaton, a jewelry line available in the 2018 Christmas Gift Catalog that was sourced by our partner, California-based Gifts With a Cause. Patricia has supported World Vision’s work for many years and was recognized at the Television Industry Advocacy Awards for her work and commitment.

In addition to making jewelry, Ruby is also responsible for running quality assurance on the pieces she and the other 11 artisans create and then packing the jewelry. She enjoys her work and is able to provide for her family, and the best part is that her boys are now in the sixth grade and ninth grade, and she dreams that they’ll get great jobs that will make their futures bright.

 

Make a donation to receive a hand-crafted gift from The Grace Collection.

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