Aysha and her husband, Ahmed, are raising six children in an informal tented settlement in Lebanon. Thirteen people share the two-room tent. She says the children are stressed, so they fight. They don’t leave the tent much. Outside is a crowded, unsafe environment, with no place to play.
Before they left Syria in 2013, airplanes bombed their neighborhood in Raqqa. The children were terrified. The family fled first to Damascus, the Syrian capital, and finally to Lebanon. They spent three days traveling by car and bus.
Ahmed is a construction worker, which is one of the few trades that refugees are allowed to work in. Yet day-to-day living is a discouraging struggle.
After years as a refugee, Aysha says she doesn’t expect a good future for her children. “We’re not capable of dreaming of the future,” she says. “My children were born and raised in a tent. There is no tomorrow for them.”
More than 6.2 million people are now internally displaced within Syria, and more than 5.7 million have fled to neighboring countries as refugees.
Syrians desperately hope for peace. Their children shouldn’t have to grow up in a war zone or as refugees. Join us in praying for the people of Syria who are in their ninth year of civil war and displacement.
Pray for life-saving assistance and newfound hope for Syrian refugees.
Syrian families have been uprooted from their homes by the fighting, displaced in their own country, or fleeing to neighboring countries for safety.
Many Syrians lived comfortable, middle-class lives before they left. But when families flee in the middle of bombings and other violence, they don’t have the luxury of taking all their possessions. They arrive at refugee camps lacking clothes, shoes, food, water, toiletries, blankets, and even their government-issued identification papers, which makes it even more challenging to get assistance. They have nothing to help them survive.
For Syrians who’ve fled their homes as refugees, it’s hard to make a life and a future for their children. They are far from home, with many living in tented settlements, camps, and abandoned buildings. They depend on aid. World Vision and other humanitarian organizations help by providing personal and household supplies, tents, hygiene kits, food, clean water, and sanitation facilities. But the needs outstrip the funds.
God, You are the Great Provider. You see Syrians’ needs with a tender heart. Just as You sustained the Israelites in the desert and fed the 5,000 with just a few loaves and fish, bring the Syrians exactly what they need each day to survive. Comfort them as they struggle, and nourish their souls with renewed hope each morning. Guide them to places where they can find help and rest.
Pray for continued faith for the people of Syria.
There are many ancient Christian communities in this region going back to New Testament times. Saul was helped by Christians in Damascus after his encounter with the ascended Christ (Acts 9). These communities today have requested prayer that they may stay strong in faith.
Lord, we lift to You our brothers and sisters in Christ living in this region. Strengthen them with power through the Spirit (Ephesians 3:16). And help them to endure and remain faithful, knowing that nothing can separate them from Your love.
Pray for children’s protection.
Syrian children face many safety and wellness issues. They’re especially susceptible to malnutrition, dehydration, and diarrheal diseases. Because of the Syrian health system’s deterioration, many have not been immunized or kept current on vaccinations, and outbreaks of measles and polio have occurred both in Syria and in refugee camps. Due to the nature of living in chaotic, overcrowded, and unfamiliar situations, children also are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
Many children also must work, which leaves them open to other dangers. Without income, parents may marry their daughters off as young as 13. World Vision operates Child-Friendly Spaces in Lebanon and Jordan. The spaces provide a safe place for children to learn, play, and process the emotions of what they have experienced. And World Vision staff members don’t hesitate to visit parents if their children don’t show up, providing accountability to ensure that kids are safe.
Jesus, You love the little children. Each Syrian child is precious to You. Protect their little bodies from dangerous diseases, and bring healing to those already sick. Keep away predatory adults who are looking to harm or profit from them. Bring loving adults to watch and nurture them as they survive the harsh realities in which they live.
Pray for education for Syrian children.
Many refugee families can’t afford rent, let alone school fees, uniforms, and books. If lucky enough to attend school, child refugees often find it difficult to enroll and participate in classes not in their native language. Meanwhile, millions of children in Syria can’t attend class because schools are in ruins, teachers are missing or deceased, and security is a concern. The education of an entire generation of Syrians is at risk.
Lord, our hearts ache for these little ones who can’t go to school. Provide resources to refugee families in miraculous ways so children can get an education. For those in Syrian schools, place Your hand of protection over them as they try to learn. Maintain the will and plans of adults who are working to help educate Syrian children inside the nation and elsewhere.
Pray that people worldwide will respond to this humanitarian crisis.
Now in its ninth year, the Syrian conflict and the chaos it has bred have become background noise to many people — even those who consider themselves compassionate. The political ramifications of the conflict keep many caring individuals at a comfortable distance. But there is an urgent need for donor governments to allocate funds to meet this humanitarian emergency, for churches to raise a cry of prayer and support for people in desperate circumstances, and for all of us to find a way to engage meaningfully for the sake of Syrian children and their families.
Eyad, a mechanical engineer turned aid worker, dodges airstrikes and organizes work crews to bring clean water to families in Syria. “You have no idea how hard it is for me to see my people living in tents,” he says. But Eyad refuses to give in to despair. What gives him hope is “seeing people from all over the world caring enough to help.”
Gracious Lord, awaken us to the needs of Syrian children and their mothers and fathers. Let us not grow weary in doing what is right and good in Your eyes. Remind us to engage on their behalf as we would if it were our own families who were suffering. Help us be advocates for peace in this troubled land and open our hearts and wallets to pray and give gifts to help.
“‘Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.’” —Exodus 22:21 (NIV)
Contributors: Denise C. Koenig and Kathryn Reid, World Vision staff.
World Vision’s Global 6K for Water is a one-day event where people from all over the world walk or run 6 kilometers in their own neighborhoods to bring lasting clean water to children in need. Why a 6K? It’s the average round trip distance women and children in the developing world walk for water — water that is often contaminated with life-threatening diseases. Every step you take is one they won’t have to.
When you sign up to walk or run the 6K on Saturday, May 4, 2019, you’ll provide life-changing clean water to one person! We’ll then send you a race kit with everything you need to walk or run your 6K, including a unique race bib with the picture of a child receiving clean water from World Vision’s water projects, a T-shirt, and a medal. After the 6K, you can even continue the relationship with the child on your bib by becoming their sponsor.
Check out what people like you have to say about how easy and impactful it is to walk or run the Global 6K for Water:
- Judy Carlson — 71-year-old from Portage, Indiana
- Brittany Kukal — pregnant 31-year-old from Kirkland, Washington
- Kamryn Thackrey — 7-year-old from Flora, Illinois
- Luke Flowers — 8-year-old from Phoenix
- Malinda Fugate — 33-year-old pastor from Torrance, California
- Iza Narciso — founder of language-immersion daycare center Living the Language in Chicago
- Kianna Lyons — mother from southern California
- Shurawl Sibblies — 45-year-old mother from Hopewell Junction, New York
- Johgina Densmore — 52-year-old from Chicago
- Elisabeth Morton — 28-year-old from Chicago
By Heather Klinger
Published May 2, 2018
The excitement was palpable on May 6, 2017, for families in Portage, Indiana. It wasn’t only World Vision’s Global 6K for Water at Real Life Community Church; it was the local high school’s much-anticipated prom night.
Students and parents alike were excited to complete the Global 6K but also excited to get on to hair appointments, picking up corsages, and getting ready for the big dance. So about an hour-and-a-half after the 6K began that morning, pastors and volunteers started to close the course that about 75 people had completed to expedite the clean-up process.
When a family — which volunteers thought were the final participants — came around the corner to cheers and the banging of cowbells, instead of first celebrating, they shouted to the crowd that Judy and Debbie were still on the course behind them. Suddenly everyone was in motion once again to restore the course.
Meanwhile, 71-year-old Judy Carlson was walking the Global 6K at her own pace — slowly and steadily using her cane for support. On her race bib was Bintou, 6, from Mali. Read more >>
Two children brought together by clean water and a mother’s love
By Phil Manzano
Published April 25, 2018
Brittany Kukal, 31, of Kirkland, Washington, kneeled down to fill out the form at the sponsorship table at last year’s Global 6K for Water at Gas Works Park in Seattle. She had been on her feet awhile having just finished a 6-kilometer loop and she was, after all, six months pregnant.
“I felt great. I felt empowered,” Brittany says. “I felt encouraged, and I felt like the Lord was really here today. It was wonderful.”
Around the globe, about 844 million people lack access to clean water, and people in the developing world walk an average of 6 kilometers to find water. Oftentimes, it’s women and children who make that walk, lugging heavy cans to bring back water that is likely impure and unsanitary.
A friend told Brittany about the Global 6K for Water last year and encouraged her to sign up. “I gave it a lot of thought, a lot of prayer. And being I’m six months pregnant, I thought it’s a great way to really engage and understand what these women and families go through,” she says.
And it was a way to make giving more personal, “to actually experience the walking and the process just makes it more real for you,” she says. Every $50 Global 6K for Water registration fee will provide clean water for one person.
But walking the 6K wasn’t without some concern, Brittany says; it was her first child and a high-risk pregnancy. But with her doctor’s approval and time spent praying, she moved full-speed ahead, wanting to empathize with mothers’ globally.
As she walked, her race bib featured a boy from Malawi named Innocent. And it was Innocent she sponsored at the table that Saturday morning.
“I think as I bring my baby into the world and being able to provide for him — a lot of kids don’t get that,” she says. “I actually sponsored the kid I walked for today. That really means a lot to me because now we get to continue that relationship.”
Today, you could say that Brittany has two children: Leo, who was born after the Global 6K, is now 8 months old and Innocent in Malawi.
“I wanted to participate for all the right reasons,” she says. “It ended up being really good.”
Leo and Innocent are already linked in some way. “Honestly, I did it for my son,” Brittany says about sponsoring Innocent. “A lot of what I do now is for my son.” She shows Leo pictures of Innocent, and one day she hopes Leo will write to Innocent.
She will raise Leo alongside Innocent — who will open up not only other parts of the world to him but lessons in kindness and encouragement.
“If I can help another child in some way, it’ll set a good example for my son and also it helps me too — to feel more connected and to give me purpose,” she says.
Brittany has signed up to participate again in the Global 6K for Water May 19, 2018, at Gas Works Park — this time with little Leo in a stroller.
And she’s excited to be joining together with a group of mothers who are walking the Global 6K together.
We wanted a child for a long time, Brittany says. It changes your world and mindset. You really focus on what matters doing the 6K; it gives you an idea and glimpse into life.
7-year-old girl leads Illinois community’s Global 6K for Water
By Chris Huber
Published Feb. 15, 2018
The last thing 7-year-old Kamryn Thackrey sees before she goes to bed each night is a photo of Cheru, a 5-year-old girl from northern Kenya, holding a tea kettle full of dirty water on her head. Cheru looks tired from walking 6 kilometers with her siblings to collect water for their family to use for cooking, drinking, and bathing.
The photo inspires Kamryn and reminds her to pray for Cheru: that she would get access to clean water and not have to walk so far for it.
Kamryn and her family participated in the Global 6K for Water last year in their hometown of Flora, Illinois. The second-grader and her little sister, Abigail, spearheaded their effort to raise $1,200. That’s enough to help provide clean water to 24 people like Cheru.
“I was excited that I got to help kids not have to walk so far and that they could have clean water,” Kamryn says. “And I liked walking with my mom and dad and sister and brother.”
Kamryn’s journey with Cheru began early last spring. One day, her mom, Kari, was sorting through the mail and about to toss out the World Vision magazine, when the cover photo caught Kamryn’s eye. “Who is this?!” Kamryn asked.
When Kari took her over to the couch to read it together, Cheru’s story brought Kamryn to tears. Cheru was 5 in the photo, the same age as Abigail.
“Kamryn started crying and I said, ‘what’s wrong?’” Kari recounts. “She said, ‘I can’t imagine Abigail having to walk that far for water. That would be scary.’”
So Kamryn decided to do something about it. She and her family signed up for the 2017 Global 6K for Water. This was the first time they had done anything like this, but they knew it was the right thing to do. As they began fundraising and planning the race course, Kamryn shared Cheru’s story with her class, friends, family members, and kids at her church. She and Abigail made promotional fliers and posted a video on Facebook. Supportive parents and affirming comments on social media helped motivate the sisters to keep sharing Cheru’s story.
“We were losing-our-minds excited when money kept coming in,” Kari says.
The family charted their own 6K course and invited another family to join them.
“We enjoyed being able to do it just on our own, rather than drive to a big event, but knowing we were part of something bigger,” Kari says.
Kamryn is planning to host a bigger Global 6K event in her community and raise more money for water this year. Kari says they hope to rally a few more of Flora’s 5,000 residents to participate. “I want to try and do a big one at my church,” Kamryn says.
She began promoting this one before Christmas.
“Once she sets her mind to something, there is no swaying her in a different direction,” Kari says. “From the moment she read the first magazine about Cheru, we as a family were sold.”
Kamryn has been praying expectantly for Cheru since last spring. She recently learned that Cheru and her community will be getting access to clean water this year.
“Awesome,” Kamryn says matter-of-factly. “We will walk for other kids now.”
An 8-year-old spends his birthday running 6K for water
By Alissa Sandoval
Published March 23, 2017
Not many 8-year-olds would use their birthday as an opportunity to give back, but on March 19, 2016, Luke Flowers from Phoenix, Arizona did. Instead of the usual games and cake, his birthday party went the extra mile — an extra 3.7 miles, to be exact. He invited his entire school to join him in running the 6K for Water, and on race day, Luke and 10 of his best friends ran together and raised $1,755 for clean water in Africa.
“I decided to run because I thought it would be fun, and it was,” he says.
Luke encourages running the 6K with a group because not only is it more fun, but more runners equals more impact. He enjoys organizing friends and family to make a difference, and he loves knowing that this race will help change the lives of people who live without access to clean water.
Jessica Flowers, Luke’s mom, says Luke’s birthday was a way for him and other second graders to both celebrate and do something for others at the same time.
“This was a great way to introduce the kids to World Vision’s mission and give them a chance to give back,” she shared. “They were proud of themselves for running and proud of themselves for making a difference.
Following God’s call to run 6K for clean water
By Kristy J. O’Hara-Glaspie
Published March 23, 2017
Malinda Fugate has known about World Vision “for what feels like a zillion years.” The 33-year-old from Torrance, California, has sponsored a child since 2003, and when she used to work for a radio station, she partnered with World Vision several times. But when she moved into children’s ministry work at her church, Faith Presbyterian, in 2015, her relationship with World Vision began to change.
“We worked on a project where our younger kids could be hands-on, and we thought a fundraiser for clean water could be good to show them about the need for water,” she says. “We said, ‘Let’s walk the distance many children walk and have them carry the water.’”
The first year they did the 6K for Water, more than 50 people participated at a local park, even though “it was hotter in L.A. than it was in Kenya,” Malinda says.
Last year, her church partnered with another church, and more than 70 people joined the event. The 6K sparked questions in the children who participated. “Kids started thinking outside of the box,” she says, asking questions about children living in poverty.
The event also pushed Malinda to new places as she dealt with the pain of her divorce. “This past year especially has been a rocky one,” Malinda says. “God and my friends convinced me to do a half marathon to raise money with Team World Vision, and that’s been transformative. It’s not just time with God, but it’s also the discipline of running.”
This year she plans to run in the Global 6K for Water and another half marathon. And though she doesn’t love running like some Team World Vision members, “the bottom line is, getting clean water to people who need it is life and death.”
“When God calls you to do something, not being obedient is way more scary than obediently running a bunch of miles every morning,” she says. “Whenever you’re serving God, he changes you. That’s how he works.”
Walk for water leads to Chicago woman’s healing
By Phil Manzano and Laura Blank
Published March 17, 2017
Iza Narciso had just completed World Vision’s 6K for water in Chicago last year — she was breathless, sweaty but full of joy: She had come full circle to get out of poverty.
Her post-race video interview captured a moment of profound healing for Iza, who grew up in Angola walking miles every day in search of water. Each step of the 6K in Chicago reminded her of her own struggle and the struggle of millions of women and children who walk for water.
“As a little girl, I was maybe 5, I would have to walk every single day to look for water. That was a reality for me,” Iza says. “I don’t remember how many miles, but I remember that we would try to find water wherever water was.”
When she found water, there were often crowds; people fought to fill their jugs before the source ran out. And walking back, while balancing a heavy jug on your head, other children would ask for water, “but you have to keep walking because your family is counting on you for this water.
“So you get home with a little bit of water,” Iza remembers, “and this water is just so precious. Every bit of it is counted.” She remembers long excruciating nights of going to sleep thirsty as her mother strictly rationed their water.
As young children, Iza and her sister fled civil war in Angola. A social worker at a refugee center in Belgium essentially adopted and raised them, she says. Iza came to the United States to study at Loyola University, receiving a degree in literature. She now owns a daycare in Chicago.
Last year, members of Team World Vision came to her church and spoke about the 6K for water event. Because of her past, she was intrigued and signed up. But she was unprepared for the emotional impact.
“All of those people, warming up early on a Saturday morning, getting ready to run 6K, 7, 8, 9. And emotionally my heart was getting bigger and bigger. I couldn’t really handle the emotions. I was trying to search — why am I feeling this way? Why is this becoming so overwhelming for me?
“And I realize, it was the meaning of what they were doing. Those people in Chicago were running for me. And I realized all this time I was in Africa suffering, didn’t have access to clean water; I realized I was not alone. That there was a team of people trying hard to get water to me. It just means so much because no child should go without water.”
It was a healing moment — healing from the trauma of seeking water as a child.
“It just really means a lot to me that all this time, I was never alone,” Iza says. “Even in suffering, I was never alone. It just illustrates what God says — even in suffering, I am with you. The Bible has become so real for me.”
She looks forward to the upcoming Global 6K for Water and has adapted the 6K for the toddlers at her daycare. The children dress in orange, use sippy cups at the water stations and run a lap around the park. Money raised at the event last year was used to sponsor children through World Vision.
“It was so touching because we explained to the kids why we’re doing it,” Iza says. “I remember a 4-year-old looking at me, and she said she was tired and she didn’t want to do this anymore. And I explained why we are running, and I explained to her the picture of Sophie, our sponsored child. And she said, ‘I will finish the race.’ And she ran to the finish line. And when her mom came to pick her up, she said, ‘Mommy! I ran for Sophie because she didn’t have water. I ran for her!”
Photos and videos of children in need of clean water haunt Iza.
“That was me. And it’s painful. It hurts not to have water.”
But the realization that the children walking miles for dirty water were not forgotten and people were walking, running, and doing what they could to care for them is healing the trauma of poverty.
“I just want to say thank you for doing it for me,” Iza says. “You’re allowing me to stay alive. I wish I could do more. But you’re not just helping the kids in Africa; you’re also psychologically helping the adults like me.
“And you’re helping us feel better. And you’re also helping us to see God really. It’s just so powerful. The fact that they are running, it’s so meaningful. I can’t help but say thank you.”
Kianna’s family walks 6K for water
By Kathryn Reid
Published March 17, 2017
California mom Kianna Lyons doesn’t take water for granted. But she’s not only concerned about the water shortages that have affected southern California where she lives. She has a heart for moms and children in sub-Saharan Africa who walk 6K (3.7 miles) daily to bring home dirty water, and she’s determined to do something about it.
Kianna has chosen to join World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. Like last year, she’ll walk with her husband and three children — ages 2, 5, and 7 — and other members of Highland Avenue Community Church of the Nazarene in Rancho Cucamonga.
“Clean water — this is something everyone should have,” says Kianna. She’s certain of that. When she first heard about the 6K at her church, she was less certain about participating.
“I’m not a runner at all!” she says. Kianna and her husband wondered if they would be expected to run. And what would they do with the kids? They were quickly reassured that runners, walkers, and stroller pushers are all welcome.
The family’s race kit included a bib with a picture of a child who needed clean water for each “racer” to wear. Maya and Owen, now 5 and 7, immediate “got it.”
“I bet he plays basketball,” said Owen about the boy whose picture they pinned on his shirt. Maya was determined to finish the course for the little girl whose picture she wore.
Kianna has kept the bibs because the 6K was such a great memory, she says.
“We could say … this is their name; this is what they look like. These are the people we hope we made a difference for. It’s like they are walking with you.”
It’s important to Kianna that her children understand what God has given them and give back. Her family has not always been able to do all she would like for others. Now it has become a top priority to her and her husband to model generosity for their children.
Walking the talk
Eighty people were expected for Highland Avenue Church’s first 6K, but even more joined the walk. Son Owen was quick out of the chute and confident of finishing strong.
But after about 4K, “everything began to break down,” Kianna says. Owen was flagging; Maya and other youngsters needed piggyback rides.
Kianna realized then what a powerful experience and a “teaching moment” the 6K could be.
She reminded Owen that while the 6K was a once-a-year event for him, other children walked that far every day for water. That’s when he remembered: They carried water; he carried nothing but the bib on his shirt.
“That’s why we’re doing this,” Kianna assured him, “so the kids don’t have to.”
This year Owen knows exactly why he’ll be walking the 6K.
“We’re walking for people who don’t have water,” he says. “It’s to raise money to get clean water and water fountains for kids. And if we keep doing it every year, there will be lots of clean water!”
Walking to build community
In their first 6K, Highland Avenue Church’s participants ranged from “babies in strollers to kids on shoulders, kids riding scooters and bikes, all the way up to a man in his 90s,” says Pastor Gabriel (Gabe) Martin.
Pastor Martin’s five kids — ages 3 to 13 — took part. Like Kianna, he embraced the opportunity to broaden their understanding of their place in the world.
He told them: “Not only do we have blessings in our lives, but we are responsible to make sure that other kids are blessed as well.”
Walking the 6K together was a blessing and a transformative experience for his church family as well. Congregation members who had only seen each other in the pews found time to talk. They met parents and kids from the preschool attached to the church.
“I can’t think of any better opportunity to engage our entire congregation and community in something that has a global impact,” says Pastor Martin. “It reminds us of the mission that we’re called to as part of the body of Christ.”
Says Kianna, “It really felt like we came together as a community.”
Family feeds their souls by walking for water together
By Heather Klinger
Published March 15, 2017
The choice to walk a 6K was an easy one for Shurawl Sibblies. Part of the appeal was a family activity. A little bit was staying healthy. Then there was the faith motivation — wanting to serve people less fortunate.
The global water crisis is staggering. Worldwide, 663 million people live without access to clean water, and those in sub-Saharan Africa have it the worst. There, women and children spend a total of 20 million hours every day collecting water. They walk an average of 6 kilometers (about 3.7 miles) a day to fetch the water they need for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing.
“I can’t imagine a child walking that long for water,” says Shurawl, the mother of two from Hopewell Junction, New York. “I had no idea the significance of that distance. It led us to think how privileged we are.”
So last year on a cold spring day, Shurawl walked and ran a 6K with her family — her husband, Winston; then-13-year-old daughter, Sollande; then-8-year-old son, Matthew; and her church community from Hopewell Reformed Church.
“It was fun to talk with people along the way, run with people along the way, and have our children participate,” Shurawl says. “People were out with their baby carriages and strollers, but there were also some avid, hardcore runners in our bunch.”
The 6K was right up Sollande’s alley; Matthew was more reluctant. But when Shurawl asked him, “Wouldn’t you like to help another child? Think of how much you have,” he agreed to join the rest of the family.
That’s the bonus appeal of the 6K for Shurawl — instilling good values in her kids, like thinking of others first and missional living.
After receiving their race bibs in the mail — each with a child’s name, age, and photo — the family prayed together for the children on their bibs.
Next came fundraising to provide clean water for kids and communities in need. “When I reached out to people to donate,” Shurawl says, “they were happy to give, and I was happy to give. I give where my heart is called.”
This year, Shurawl and her family are again signed up for the Global 6K for Water.
“It is something I would highly recommend,” Shurawl says. “It’s fun. It’s for a good cause. You’re giving, and you’re also receiving something in the process. Doing something good for others feeds your soul.”
One woman creates a ripple in bringing clean water to impoverished communities
By Kristy J. O’Hara-Glaspie
Published Jan. 11, 2017
As Johgina Densmore walked along Lake Michigan on a bitter November day in 2014, 20-mph winds pelted the lake water at her, repeatedly stinging her face.
But the fierce winds would not deter her and her best friends from finishing their walk in Chicago. Too much was riding on them finishing — they were walking a 6K with World Vision to bring clean water to children and families in Africa who walk the same distance every day to get dirty, contaminated water.
“It was God who got me through those 20-mph winds on the lake,” 52-year-old Johgina says.
Despite not being a runner, when Johgina learned about the lack of access to clean water many families face, she signed up for the 6K event with Team World Vision to raise money to do something about it. And in two-and-a-half years since that race against the harsh winds, her first step has multiplied into thousands — all making a difference in the lives of children halfway across the world.
“My life has changed regarding water,” Johgina says. “I was ignorant to the lack of clean water. Just to think that there are kids that don’t have access to clean water, and the water they do have access to is dirty and contaminated, it’s made me more self-conscious. I try to share this as much as I can and share the awareness so others’ eyes can be opened too.”
Johgina already was making an impact on a community in Kenya by sponsoring a child with World Vision. But when she first heard about the 6K in 2014, despite knowing the need so many faced in the world, because of her sponsorship she was shocked to learn how many people don’t have access to clean water.
“When the 6K came up, and they were talking about providing clean water to kids in Africa, I was like ‘What? Everybody has clean water!’” she says. “But in my naiveté, I didn’t know.”
She learned that her entry fee would help provide clean water for one person, and it inspired her to take the first step and join the event as a walker.
“I am not a runner. I am a zero runner. I walk, jog, walk — and my jog is just a little faster than my walk,” Johgina says with a laugh.
She convinced her best friend, who competes as a triathlete, to join too and walk with her on that cold November day. The two finished, feeling empowered.
Johgina’s steps began to multiply in 2015 when she shared what she’d learned about water with friends from church and work. They were inspired to join her in the 2015 6K — this time during a warmer month. That year, about 15 of her friends participated with her.
In 2016, Johgina felt God calling her to do even more, so she decided to captain a team and asked her pastor if they could announce it in church. Johgina says, “He had just a little bit of competition in his spirit, and he said, ‘This is what we’re doing, and we want to have the largest team — let’s sign up because of what this cause is; it’s phenomenal.’”
People stepped up, no matter their circumstances. One man didn’t even have proper shoes for the event, but she assured him he was going to be fine.
“He just really understood the value of walking the 6K,” she says. “We have to be able to do what the Bible tells us. Christ says, ‘I was in prison, and you came to see me, I was hungry, and you fed me, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink.’ We have to live those Scriptures.”
On race day, Johgina and a team of more than 150 people walked and ran the Global 6K’s 3.7 miles together — a far cry from that first race she walked with just one friend along Lake Michigan. On race day, Johgina made an even bigger impact by deciding to sponsor another child: a little girl from Kenya named Dorcas, whose picture was on her race bib.
This year, Johgina wants to multiply her steps even more. She’s praying to double her team for the 2017 Global 6K for Water on May 6, and she’s already recruiting family and friends to join her.
“You don’t have to be a runner to make an impact,” she tells them. “You can make an impact just by walking. If you jog, you jog. If you run, that’s great. You have to look at the bigger picture.
“This may sound cliché, but people need to know they can be the pebble that’s thrown across the water. People think a pebble can’t make an impact, but it creates ripples, and the 6K can do that. They have to see themselves creating ripples and giving back.”
Once on a feeding tube, a Chicago woman runs 6K for clean water
By Kristy J. O’Hara-Glaspie
Published Oct. 25, 2015
Elisabeth Morton was one of the last to cross the finish line during the World Vision 6K for Water in Chicago last year, but she collapsed in joy anyway.
Nobody thought she could finish the race, which raised money for World Vision’s clean water work in Africa.
“I fell over in tears,” the 28-year-old says, “and it was a great feeling to know God gave me what I needed to cross.”
The run was about more than reaching the finish line for Elisabeth, who suffers from an unexplained health condition. Starting in 2012, Elisabeth couldn’t eat or drink without excruciating pain, and while her diet contained the fattiest foods possible, she lost half of her body weight. Doctors still haven’t figured out why.
Just before Christmas that year, she was attached to a feeding tube, which was replaced five times in 17 months. Throughout it all, Elisabeth’s faith radiated to the medical staff around her as she confidently prayed for God’s sustenance and healing.
God is bigger and has a plan. He just asks us to submit to him.—Elisabeth Morton
Miraculously, in May 2014, she had improved enough for doctors to remove the feeding tube. Slowly Elisabeth regained weight, but her ability to eat remained restricted. Nevertheless, when a friend at church invited Elisabeth to join the World Vision 6K for Water, she decided to run.
She started running that summer, at first one block. Then a second block. She slowly linked those blocks together, building stamina and raising pledges for clean water in Africa. By the time the November race day arrived, determination consumed her.
“I have clean water,” she says. “I have food, even though it hates me. [Some children] don’t. I want to give back.”
Despite 20-degree temperatures and extreme wind that sent Lake Michigan waves splashing runners as they raced, Elisabeth persevered. When she crossed the finish line, everyone was amazed.
Elisabeth is training to run the Chicago Marathon with Team World Vision and raise even more for clean water. Her medical condition hasn’t improved, but she still sees God’s goodness in her life.
“It’s a testimony that God is bigger and has a plan,” Elisabeth says. “He just asks us to submit to him. I learned a lot about having to rely fully on the Lord to keep you alive every day.”
When you walk or run the Global 6K for Water, you provide life-changing clean water to one person! You can create even more impact by becoming a host site and gathering friends and family to walk and run with you. It’s easier than throwing a birthday party.
When you sign up to host a 6K on Saturday, May 4, 2019, we’ll equip you with online resources like a planning guide, marketing materials, and race day experience goodies including a start and finish banner, mile markers, and T-shirts, bibs, and medals for your participants.
Check out what people like you have to say about how easy and impactful it is to host the Global 6K for Water:
- Lake Center Christian School in Hartville, Ohio
- Delta Air Lines in Seattle
- First Baptist Church of Columbia in Columbia, Tennessee
- Cascade Covenant Church in North Bend, Washington
- Hosanna Christian School in Klamath Falls, Oregon
- All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake, Michigan
Global 6K for Water instills a vision in future leaders
By Laura Reinhardt
Published July 31, 2018
The partnership between Lake Center Christian School and World Vision started when students in the running club signed up for World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. When the day arrived last May, Ohio’s spring weather wasn’t exactly ideal — it was snowing. Despite the less-than-stellar conditions, 40 of the 50 participants who’d committed still showed up for the event.
Dannon Stock, who led the running club at that time, says those tough circumstances contributed to the students’ feelings of solidarity with children who have to walk 6 kilometers every day for water.
This year, the fifth-grade classes have embraced World Vision’s Global 6K for Water as the service-learning component in their school, which is about 30 minutes outside of Akron. Service to Christ is one of the school’s core values, and they look for unique ways to meet the needs of their immediate area as well as the global community. This event seemed tailor-made for them.
The students created soaps, hand sanitizer, and bracelets to raise money for their entrance fees and to donate to clean water efforts. The third-grade teachers wanted another activity for their classes to do for their service project. Again, World Vision provided the answer with the Matthew 25 Challenge. Read more >>
Delta Air Lines, World Vision U.S. partner to provide clean water
By Phil Manzano
Published March 16, 2018
Six kilometers is the average distance that people who lack access to clean water walk each day to get water, often carrying heavy jugs or jerry cans filled with water on the return trip. And that’s what Tony did: carry a 5-gallon jerry can, filled with about 40 sloshing, awkward pounds of water, on a route around Gas Works Park in Seattle.
“I was here with my daughter and her boyfriend, so thankfully I had some moral support on this,” Tony says as he recovered at a tent at the event site. “I can tell you; I feel like I’m a pretty fit guy, but that was a very hard thing to do.”
About 1,300 walkers and runners in Seattle and more than 28,000 people worldwide walked the Global 6K to raise money to provide clean water to people without access. Through World Vision’s work, one person gets clean water every 10 seconds.
“With every step, I was imagining what it’s like to do this barefoot,” he says. “What it’s like to do on dirt, in fear of your life, and to only — at the end of the journey — have a can full of dirty water that needs to be purified.
“It was an incredible experience. It provides an appreciation not only for the life that I have, but the appreciation that we might be able to do something about these poor conditions that people face around the world every day.”
Delta is again the official sponsor of the 2018 Global 6K for Water event in Seattle at Gas Works Park.
“We’ve been partners with World Vision as their preferred airlines supplier for the last five years,” Tony says. The 6K was attractive because it was an event calling for personal engagement — walk a mile in the shoes of people that really have a very difficult time in life trying just to get the things we take for granted, like clean water.
So Delta, Tony says, was happy to once again support the 6K event as part of its efforts to support the local community. In Seattle alone, Delta partners with more than 100 charities, and worldwide, Delta gives back 1 percent of its profits — about $40 million — to charitable organizations.
Last May, lugging the jerry can on the 6K route, Tony’s race bib featured an 11-year-old for whom he walked.
He says, “I can tell you, having walked with the jerry can, you have a real appreciation how difficult it could be just to get something that we turn the tap on and take for granted.
“We’re doing it in our track shoes and our Gor-Tex clothing, and it’s still a challenge. This event helps people understand the difficulty that other people around the world face in accessing basic necessities, and hopefully everybody walks away with a greater appreciation.”
‘Because you walked this 6K today, a child doesn’t have to.’
By Chris Huber
Published Feb. 28, 2018
A small-town church in Tennessee is making a global impact.
“During a (church) service, I asked people to raise their hand if they wanted to change the world,” says Ryan Krivsky, worship pastor and Global 6K for Water host site leader. “I said, ‘You can because you can change someone else’s world.’ They can see that in [the Global 6K for Water]. They can see the change they’re making in one person’s world.”
Ryan says he was immediately excited about the idea when he got a flier in the mail. It was the perfect opportunity for the church to be on mission. First Baptist Church of Columbia hadn’t done something like this before. It sent a wave of excitement through the church.
For their first time doing this, Ryan says the church was deeply motivated, and they went all out: signing up for the race, enthusiastically raising money, and about 20 people volunteering to help with event logistics. Each participant’s $50 entrance fee provides clean water to one person. Runners and walkers can also choose to raise funds for water on a fundraising page or to sponsor the child pictured on their race bib.
“It wasn’t just, ‘Give to this general effort,’” Ryan says. “It was, ‘Oh, I’m giving to this person.’ That personalization is what really got my interest in it and what got a lot of people into it.”
Each time a person crossed the race’s finish line, Ryan and other volunteers put a medal around their neck, looked at them, and reminded them: “Because you walked this 6K today, a child doesn’t have to.” They referred to the child pictured on each participant’s race bib.
It was a powerful moment for Ryan and many others, he says.
Participants ranged in age from 6 all the way up to their 70s. It helped Ryan, the church, and the community cast a vision for a larger communitywide 6K event in 2018. He and last year’s participants have been promoting the Global 6K for Water in their community, and he’s planning to take the idea to the city council before this year’s event.
“You feel like you’re doing something,” he says. “You can see that difference in one person’s life.”
Columbia is known for its annual spring Mule Day festival. So Ryan wants to call his 6K host site the ‘Mule Town 6K.’
“It’s close-knit, and if you can get a community like that behind it, you could just exponentially grow what the impact is.”
A Washington state church mobilizes to walk the Global 6K for Water
By Phil Manzano
Published Feb. 15, 2018
A couple of years ago, 20 members of Cascade Covenant Church in North Bend, Washington, joined Team World Vision to run and raise money to bring clean water to children around the world.
Then last year, about 70 people from the church joined the Global 6K for Water: young and old, walking or running to serve in a simple, but powerful way.
“It is such an easy way to have people put their faith in action,” Senior Pastor Dan Boehlje says. “We’re just one tiny little church here in Washington, but you multiply that across the United States, across the globe and that makes a big difference.”
Nestled in the shadow of the Cascades east of Seattle, the 6K has given Cascade Covenant a broader and deeper view of changing the world through the local congregation and community.
“It’s just show up and walk or run,” Dan says. “And it really does create its own momentum as people get excited for it because of what it means.”
Last year, about 1,300 people walked or ran the 6K course near Gas Works Park in Seattle. Worldwide, about 27,000 people walked or ran to raise awareness and money to solve the world’s water crisis.
“I want to thank you for coming,” World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns says. “I have met men and women who are 70 years old and have never taken a clean shower or a bath in their lives. I’ve seen little children who have never had a cup of clean water to drink in their lives. Those are the people you’re running for today. Just imagine living 70 years and never having access to clean water.”
On May 19 and 20, 2018, World Vision will again host the Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday with participants across the U.S. and around the world.
Why a 6K? Six kilometers, about 3.7 miles, is the average distance people — usually women and girls — walk to get water in the developing world. It’s not a leisurely stroll; it’s a difficult, frequently dangerous, and time-consuming journey. And the water is dirty.
Each participant wears a race bib with a picture of a child, representing one person who will get clean water. Every $50 registration fee goes toward providing clean water for one person.
Sharing the struggle for water with children
“It was always important to me to teach my kids to be grateful for what they had,” says Angela McCann, children’s pastor at Cascade Covenant. “And so as a mother, I just think this is such a great way to teach our kids to be thankful for something as simple as a clean glass of water that’s right out of the tap.”
Even for the children she pastors, the 6K is relevant and potentially life changing.
The kids get it, she says. They understand what it means to have to go get water. They understand the effort to walk 6 kilometers and that kids their age do that every day around the world. Often, more than once a day.
“When we accept Jesus in our hearts, yes, we can follow God and be in heaven,” Angela says. “But there’s more to it. He’s still bringing light and healing to this world and we’re participants in that. So for me, this is faith in action. This is an application of bringing that light of Christ into the dark places of this world.”
Last year, one of her fifth graders asked his mom to text a picture of him crossing the Global 6K for Water finish line to Angela.
“This is a fifth grader who is so excited that he got to be part of this,” Angela says. “I think of all the kids that were there from my congregation. What is this going to do for them when they’re in middle school? What is this going to do for them when they’re in college? How is this going to affect them and the people around them when they’re in high school and college? I just — that is what gives me chills.”
Impacting communities through child sponsorship
“Our whole goal is to engage our church in our community, in our world,” says Lyndsey Watson, an associate pastor at Cascade Covenant who has been the driving force behind the 6K at Cascade.
The experience of the 6K and sponsorship helps drive a deeper and more meaningful connection.
“Through sponsorship, you get to really engage in the conversation,” Lyndsey says. “We sponsor a little boy named Emmanuel, and he is awesome, and he’s growing. I get to see videos of him. I get to write emails to him. I get to write letters. My kids get to engage with that. We get to send him gifts in the mail and then hear from him, and that’s what makes it special.”
Cascade’s denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and World Vision partner to work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the denomination has a long history of community development and relationship with the Congo Covenant Church. The children sponsored through World Vision at Cascade Covenant are from the same area of the Congo through a partnership called Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision.
“It’s not just that child; it’s that family, it’s that community we’re able to impact,” Lyndsey says. “I think people are able then to grasp a little bit more of what it means to actually come alongside these families in the Congo and see their lives transformed for the better.”
‘A tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus’
For Jaime Cole and her four children, ages 8 to 13, the Global 6K for Water was educational, allowing them to identify with children who walk for water.
“In our culture, it’s easy for us to forget how easy things are for us, like having water on a daily basis,” Jaime says. “And so doing the 6K was a good example, a physical reminder and example of what it would be like if we didn’t have that easy access and the ability to afford things like water on a regular, everyday basis.”
And while they had fun and learned something new, Jaime says the family wanted a more permanent bond with the children who walk for water, so they sponsored a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“It’s a real tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Jaime says. “We’re always looking for opportunities to do that with the family and to constantly remind ourselves that we have the ability with what we’ve been given to give back to others and to represent God’s love in that way.”
‘We’re all sponsored into God’s kingdom’
Duane and Julie Duim have been longtime partners of World Vision, traveling to Zambia to meet their sponsored child, which Duane says was a life-changing moment. Participating in the Global 6K for Water was natural for their family of six.
“It went well,” Julie says. “They loved it, rallied behind it. They loved running for a purpose too. We had a great time.”
But the Duim family wanted to do more, so they sponsored one of the children on their race bibs that day — their fifth sponsored child through World Vision.
“You commonly get asked, why you would do something like this,” Duane says. “For our family, it’s been important to ask the question, not so much why are you doing but why not? Why would you not want to come in and be able to love others the way Christ loves us?
“We know that we’re all sponsored into God’s kingdom, and he calls us to do the same with his children. And we’re fortunate to be blessed in order that we can turn around and be a blessing to others. And this is just one small way to be able to do that.”
Oregon teacher cuts off hair to promote Global 6K for Water
By Chris Huber
Published Feb. 15, 2018
As teacher Tammy Belau sat with pigtails in a lone chair in the middle of the gym floor in front of 250 students, two eager middle-school boys flanked her wielding dull scissors and wide grins. Tammy quickly counted into the microphone — one, two, three — and the boys spent the next two minutes cutting off 10 inches of her hair.
This was the boys’ reward for finishing first in the Global 6K for Water last May. Tammy, a middle school math and high school finance teacher at Hosanna Christian School in Klamath Falls, Oregon, hosted the event to encourage the community to raise funds for World Vision to bring clean water to communities in the developing world. To add an extra layer of motivation, she pledged to donate an inch of hair for every 10 people registered if their school reached 100 participants.
“God gave me so much in Jesus, and I love to give. It is so rewarding to surprise people and give joy,” Tammy says. “I loved that I was able to sacrifice something as simple as my hair to motivate 100 people to make a difference.”
Her long, brown locks discovered their fate months earlier when Tammy heard about World Vision’s Global 6K for Water at a teachers’ conference. She was immediately drawn to the cause — partly because it sounded easy to do and partly because she knew the people of Klamath Falls would be keen to participate. So she signed up the school as a host site and started recruiting students, teachers, her kids, and community members.
Getting buy-in was easy, Tammy says. She announced it in daily school emails and at weekly chapel gatherings with students and posted a bright orange and white sign in the hallway. In the lead-up to the 6K, she found encouragement and camaraderie in the community cultivated on the Global 6K leaders’ Facebook page set up to share photos and ideas among World Vision staff and host site coordinators around the world.
“Where I live, we have a lot of outdoor activities,” Tammy says. “I know people like to do short races. It’s very doable.”
They can sympathize with children who have to travel far from their home to get water. “The people of our community want to give,” she says. “We face droughts too.”
A few years ago, the water supply dried up in part of their county, so those residents had to drive to Klamath Falls to get bottled water to weather the drought.
Tammy is a doer and inspires others to be one too. But the implications of the cause didn’t fully engulf her until right before race day.
“The impact of this struck me when I was walking the course with my daughter beforehand and we passed a couple of drainage canals,” Tammy says. “It hit me that this is the water that those kids have to drink. My kids don’t have to drink this water. My kids flush the toilet with clean water.”
Seeing those ditches helped Tammy and her daughter grasp the reality of what children on their race bibs are up against. Understanding that reality is huge, she says.
Altogether, Tammy and her team raised about $4,000, which will bring clean water to 80 people. Tammy and her husband were also inspired to embed this cause deeper into their family ethos, so they sponsored the three children on their race bibs.
“Hair grows back, but even bigger is the impact I know I made to my own daughters as well as the entire school. Love comes with sacrifice, but it’s always worth it,” Tammy says. “God comes to us with a gift. We come with open hands, and then we need to turn and give. We can’t keep him to ourselves.”
Global 6K for Water: ‘Anybody can do it’
By Heather Klinger
Published Feb. 22, 2017
Nick DeBone is your typical runner.
He’s the 30-year-old dad you see running while pushing his kids in a stroller. Occasionally, his kids might jump out for a bit and join him, or they might be asking if it’s time to head home yet. He enjoys running, and he’s tackled a marathon and a few half-marathons. Nick could have easily run the 6K his church hosted that frigid Saturday morning in March 2016, but instead, he chose mostly to walk.
6K, a little more than 3.7 miles, is the average distance women and children in Africa walk for water that is often unsafe to drink. Nick alternatively walked and jogged that morning so he could get to know and encourage the people around him — members of his church congregation who were walking, jogging, and running this average distance for an extraordinary cause.
“It’s a great distance,” Nick says. “Anyone can walk that. It’s the biggest impact, I think, that $50 can make. … The idea of us not having clean water is insane. We don’t even understand that.”
As a host site, his church in Spring Lake, Michigan, helped everyone register, mapped out a course site, and hosted more than 40 participants, who each wore a race bib with the name, age, and a location of a child who would receive clean water.
“Honestly, a lot of times non-runners really have the biggest hearts for this mission,” says Nick. He organizes Team World Vision events — like the Global 6K for Water — with the All Shores Wesleyan Church outreach pastor, Thad Spring.
“The transformation that the 6K brings to you personally and those that you’re walking or running for is worth it,” Thad says. “I’ve watched children drink out of dirty streams where cows are standing in Zambia, watched children drink dirty water in Haiti, and seen pastors who are dying of cholera because of dirty water. So for me, there’s a personal touch and involvement.”
The transformation that the 6K brings to you personally and those that you’re walking or running for is worth it.—Thad Spring, outreach pastor at All Shores Wesleyan Church
But unlike Nick, Thad doesn’t think of himself as a runner.
“I’m 5’10”, 230 pounds. It takes me a while to get in shape and get going,” the 46-year-old says, laughing. “But I enjoy running and the running process. Anybody can do it. Old and young.”
All Shores — a two-campus church of about 1,200 — first participated in the 6K back in 2015 with three participants, including Nick, but one runner was sick and barely slept the night before.
“These people in Africa — it doesn’t matter what their night was like — they have to wake up to walk 6K for water anyway,” says Nick. “He had that thought process: They don’t get to skip out on a walk for water in a day because they aren’t feeling good, so I’m not going to.”
Then in 2016, their church became a 6K host site. The morning of the 6K, they had about 25 people signed up, but then families kept arriving, and they nearly doubled that amount when it came time to begin.
“We had a lot of people with strollers who walked and ran. We had younger kids who could walk the entire distance,” Thad says. The family impact really struck a chord with their congregation.
This year, All Shores will collaborate with other local churches, expecting to more than double the number of participants from last year. And to heighten the experience, they’re offering water tanks for people to carry at the halfway point.
“I think about the age of kids and the women that do this,” Nick says. “They have to get [to a water source] and then come back with gallons of water. It makes it tangible and real.”
All Shores has raised about $50,000 for clean water over the past three years between the 6K events and running the Grand Rapids marathon and half marathon with Team World Vision. And now on Saturday mornings, their group of runners gathers for devotions, a running or fundraising tip, and a training run together.
“We’ve created a running group and community of people who are reaching out to their friends for Christ,” says Thad.
The post Churches, schools, corporations rally for clean water as 6K host sites appeared first on World Vision.
Football in the United States, which reaches its high point each year during the Super Bowl, is the game the rest of the world calls American football. But for most of the world, football is soccer. In honor of both American football and the beautiful game — soccer — we celebrate young athletes around the world who play football.
Friends are vital for May Phoo Ko, who lives in Myanmar. Football helps create a team spirit and helps her understand the power of teamwork. “My friends call me Thay Thay (meaning small) because I am so small. They love me very much,” says May Phoo Ko. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)
Syrian refugee children cheer their friends on at one of two football pitches built by World Vision at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. The small patch of green is a bright spot in the drab desert camp. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Christopher Lee)
On a day when her community in Ethiopia celebrates a new water system built by World Vision, this girl receives another gift, too — a brand new soccer ball. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Grace Mukoma, 10, loves to play soccer at the World Vision Child-Friendly Space near his home in Central Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Girls at Santa Teresita Preschool in Guatemala play with a World Vision Gift Catalog soccer ball during their physical education class. Gift the gift of a soccer ball today! (©2015 World Vision/photo by Lindsey Minerva)
Even with a homemade ball incorporating plastic bags and string, the game goes on in Rwanda. Find out how to make your own homemade soccer ball. (©2014 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Four-year-old Richard plays with a homemade soccer ball in front of his family’s home in Zambia. His mother, Beatrice Moondo, carries Richard’s little sister, Innete. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Alassane, 9, loves playing football with his friend. “On days when I don’t have lessons after lunch, I go to play football with my friends for the whole afternoon,” he says. Alassane (in striped shirt) is a World Vision sponsored child in Senegal. (©2016 World Vision)
Boys play soccer as the day’s light fades and the moon rises over Zambia. (©2016 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Laotian primary school boys kick the soccer ball during a break from afternoon classes. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Khamphot Somphanthabansouk)
Boys play a friendly football game on artificial turf in Soracachi, Bolivia. Soccer is a national obsession there. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Eugene Lee)
Syrian refugee girls play soccer inside Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. It was 10-year-old Zaynab’s first day to play the game. “I was goalkeeper, and I loved it! I saved one goal. I made new friends today. I will come and play every day,” Zaynab says. (©2015 World Vision/photo by Suzy Sainovski)
Steadied by his mother, Ani Chitemyan Razmik, 9, tosses a ball with his father at the family’s home in Armenia. Ani was born with infantile cerebral paralysis and was able to attend a World Vision-run summer camp, where he enjoyed “a holiday at least for a few days in his life,” says Ani’s mother, Marine. (©2009 World Vision)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the second largest country in Africa, has been mired in conflict for decades. A country of paradoxes, it is a land rich in natural resources, but its people are among the poorest in the world.
While the DRC has vast amounts of oil, diamonds, gold, and other natural resources, a majority of the population — about 64 percent — is considered extremely poor and lives on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank estimates.
The country is fraught with political instability, armed clashes, and human rights violations. The latest conflict erupted in 2016 in the Kasai region, which includes five provinces in the center of the country. It is yet another instance of fighting between the military and splintered ethnic militias. Nationally, 2.1 million people were newly displaced in 2017 and 2018, making the DRC the African country with the highest number of internally displaced people — 4.5 million. About 7.7 million people lack adequate food, including more than 2 million children under 5 affected by severe acute malnutrition.
Ebola alert — Dec. 15, 2018: Ebola briefly broke out in May in northwestern DRC. Then the deadly virus resurfaced in August in the northeast, killing 313 of 531 people infected as of Dec. 15. This is the tenth outbreak of the deadly viral disease in the DRC since it was identified in the 1970s. Earlier outbreaks were quickly contained and didn’t spread beyond isolated rural communities. Now that an Ebola case has been confirmed in an urban area — the town of Beni —the World Health Organization and local partners have organized an all-out effort to vaccinate healthcare workers and hundreds of other people who may have been in contact with the virus.
History of the DRC
The people of the DRC have endured more than two decades of civil war, and conflict has claimed as many as 6 million lives.
16th century to late 19th century — Precolonial era
- Chiefdoms and many ethnic groups dominated the large sub-Saharan region that is now the DRC.
1885 to 1960 — European colonization
- King Leopold II of Belgium laid claim to what he called Congo Free State, which he ruled cruelly in a bid to extract natural resources.
- In response to an international outcry, the Belgian state took it over in 1908, renaming it the Belgian Congo.
1960 — Independence and Congo crisis
- A Congolese uprising led to independence in 1960. The Congo crisis was characterized by years of chaos, multiple coups, and insurgencies.
- Patrice Lumumba became the first legally elected prime minister; less than a year later, he was assassinated.
1965 — President Mobutu Sese Seko
- Mobutu — formerly Patrice Lumumba’s secretary of state for national defense — seized power in a bloodless coup and assumed the presidency, forming a totalitarian regime.
- President Mobutu renamed the country to Zaire in 1971.
1996 to 1997 — First Congo war
- President Mobutu Sese Seko was replaced by Laurent Kabila, a rebel leader, after a foreign invasion by Rwanda. Under the new president, the country’s name was restored to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
1997 to 2003 — Civil war
- Several neighboring countries became involved in a civil war, referred to as Africa’s first world war.
2003 to 2016 — Continued conflict
- Armed conflict persisted in the East among dozens of rebel groups.
- In 2006, the DRC held its first free elections in 40 years, electing Joseph Kabila as its president. Kabila had been appointed to the position after his father, Laurent Kabila, was assassinated.
2016 to 2018 — Shaky political ground
- Turmoil in the East has flared up sporadically amid political volatility, displacing millions of people.
- Fighting broke out in Grand Kasai, in the central region, between supporters of a traditional leader was killed by security forces.
- National elections have been postponed multiple times after accusations of fraud in the 2011 polls. New elections have been scheduled for December 2018.
FAQs: What you need to know about the DRC conflict
Explore facts and FAQs about conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and learn how you can help affected children, families, and communities.
- Fast facts: What is happening in the DRC?
- How can I help people in the DRC?
- How are conditions in the DRC affecting children?
- What are greatest needs of children and families in the DRC?
- What is World Vision doing to help people in the DRC?
Fast facts: What is happening in the DRC?
- About 12.8 million of 77 million people in the DRC need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 7 million people who are food insecure, an increase of 30 percent over the year before.
- The most concerning problems include child malnutrition and outbreaks of cholera, measles, and yellow fever. The country reported 55,000 cholera cases and 1,000 deaths in 2017, as well as more than 42,000 cases of preventable measles.
- More than 500,000 people from the DRC live in neighboring countries as refugees. They fled during years of violence and conflict between warring militias and rebel factions dating back to the 1960s.
- More than 2 million people were newly displaced in 2017 and 2018.
How can I help people in the DRC?
Sponsor a child: Help World Vision continue to provide life-saving assistance to children and communities in the DRC.
Pray: Pray for children and families caught up in violence in the DRC.
How are conditions in the DRC affecting children?
UNICEF reports that 7 million children have been affected by the DRC conflict. Children are the main victims of violence, at risk of injury or death in combat, as many children have been recruited into armed groups as porters, combatants, or sex slaves. Children recently released from armed groups have expressed fear of returning home, saying they will not be accepted back into their families and communities.
In addition to food, shelter, and psychosocial support, children need opportunities for play and learning. In Kasai-Central province, 400 schools have been attacked and at least 260 were destroyed, depriving some 150,000 primary-school-age children of access to education.
Because of poverty and displacement, many children throughout the country are forced to work rather than attend school. Working in mines is common among children in the DRC, and it’s one of the most dangerous forms of child labor.
What are the greatest needs of children and families in the DRC?
The greatest needs of children and families in the DRC are food aid and all aspects of child protection. Without reliable sources of food, families are cutting back consumption, and children are becoming malnourished. As many as 7.7 million people don’t have sufficient food. The U.N. children’s agency estimates that 2.2 million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition, about 12 percent of the global caseload. This form of malnutrition means children are dying of hunger. With children vulnerable to violence and recruitment into armed groups, they need opportunities for education and strong support systems within their families and communities.
What is World Vision doing to help people in the DRC?
World Vision has provided relief and development programs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1984. Today, we are operating in 14 of 26 provinces. Our child-focused programming in protection, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, food aid, food security, peacebuilding efforts, and emergency relief reached almost 2.5 million people in 2015. World Vision is the World Food Program’s largest partner in the DRC, distributing food to nearly 1 million people.
In impoverished areas, families are unable to access education or healthcare opportunities for their children. World Vision has improved schools, adding new classrooms and desks, and provided teachers with training. Our programs have helped improve school attendance, literacy rates, and girls’ education. Healthcare initiatives last year focused on prenatal care for pregnant women and reaching children in remote areas with physical exams and vaccinations to prevent life-threatening childhood diseases.
Since World Vision’s response to the conflict in Kasai 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 benefited from classroom repairs, back-to-school kits, teacher training, and school-fee scholarships. Our response to the complex situation in the DRC will continue in 2019.
Chris Huber and Kathryn Reid of World Vision’s staff in the U.S. contributed to this article.
World Vision’s photographers traveled around the world this year to tell stories of children and their families. They captured moments of struggle and moments of joy. Here are our favorite photos of 2018 and the stories behind them.
Kapinga, 13, lost her father to civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in that war, she lost her chance to attend school. Her life seems dark. But I love this portrait because there is light in her life too. She sings in her church choir, and every weekday she goes to a nearby World Vision Child-Friendly Space to play, learn, and laugh with her friends. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
When these Ugandan children at Kasubi Primary School greeted me with a traditional dance at their life skills club, I wanted to share all of the enthusiasm, color, and motion but wondered how best to do that in a single image. This ground-level view allowed me to fill the image with the swirling skirts and dancing feet, which came close to capturing all that liveliness. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Photographing second-grade teacher Margarita Romero and her students in Puerto Rico during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria was one of my favorite assignments in 2018. She was reviewing their lessons, which were designed by World Vision, about how to recover from disasters. This shows how much further our staff go to help people in disasters. We helped more than 116,000 Puerto Ricans with critical food and relief items, cash assistance, and child protection programs. Beyond these necessary supplies and programs, we also helped families build back better by training nearly 16,500 students, teachers, and church leaders across the island in disaster preparedness and community resilience. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
While waiting for a group photo, 11-year-old Lightwell took the opportunity to read his book — something he sometimes chooses over eating. I glanced up and saw the golden afternoon sun lighting him so beautifully and was able to grab this quiet portrait of a boy from Zambia and his favorite pastime. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
When children in West Pokot, Kenya, began to do handstands, World Vision water engineer Charles Kakiti, wearing his Global 6K for Water T-shirt, joined right in. He told me, “I know the struggle and stress on young children and women who carry water that ends up making them sick,” so he not only supervised the building of a clean water system for the village, but he also ran the Global 6K to personally raise money for clean water. I love how our staff around the world pour themselves into the lives of the communities they serve. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
In April, John Harris helped his wife, LaDell, down the steps in front of their home along the shores of the Neches River near Vidor, Texas. She had slipped and hurt her arm while waiting days for floodwaters to clear from the porch steps. Their home was nearly destroyed by 15-foot floodwaters during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. World Vision and its local partner, Wings of Promise led by Pastor Skipper Sauls, helped the couple rebuild with new appliances, Sheetrock, furniture, insulation, light fixtures, and other materials. John and LaDell were able to enjoy their cozy rebuilt riverside home together for a few more months in 2018 before John lost his fight with cancer in August. “During the storm, we were sitting here, helpless,” LaDell says. “These people (Pastor Sauls, and other community members) have been our angels.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
I’m most in my element when I’m blending into the background, able to studiously watch and capture the moments that naturally occur around me. One of these such moments that has stuck with me this year is that of a young boy named Linus scurrying in and out of the shadows, his own small frame creating a contrasting shadow to the light streaming through the skylights. He’s racing to pick up two empty boxes at a time, each of which is larger than he is. He often drops one or both along the way and hurries to pick them back up — all to feed the machine that is a World Vision kit event. With the same frenzy, more than 200 people in the next room over and the outdoor courtyard of Menlo Church in California are assembling thousands of kits — including the 1 millionth World Vision kit. Amid the hustle and bustle, all I can do is take another moment in this calm-in-comparison back room, smile to myself, and click the shutter button. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)
Say “ahhh” to get your deworming medicine! Twice a year in Uganda and around Africa, World Vision staff participate in Child Health Days, an innovative way to reach children with life-saving healthcare including immunizations, Vitamin A to prevent blindness and boost immunity, and deworming medicines, such as albendazole, that health volunteers pop right into children’s mouths to keep them from getting worms that will stunt their growth. I love how eager this girl was to stay healthy. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Fourteen-year-old Marie Ngalula waits in the entrance of a local health clinic, where her ill mother is a patient, in Kananga, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Marie is worried her mother is dying, but a health worker expresses a hope for recovery. Here in the U.S., we hear so little about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The impact on children is heartbreaking to see. World Vision is providing Marie and many others with relief aid, clean water, and a place for to play and learn. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
A woman fetches water from Lake Albert, Uganda, in a fishing village where World Vision provides healthcare. On the opposite shore is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the midst of storm clouds, a brief shaft of sunlight breaks through. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Seven-year-old Debby enthusiastically participates at school. She’s able to be there thanks to child sponsorship. I loved hearing from one of the teachers how children at the school will brave the rainy season to get there. She says, “There’s a spirit of learning here.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
A chance to play with friends — that’s what children who are forced to quit school and join the labor force say they miss the most. In Bangladesh, I met children who used to work in cracker factories and shrimp depots. Thanks to World Vision’s program, many of them have been removed from these hazardous jobs and have returned to school. I loved seeing these children have that playful opportunity. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Nearly two years ago, I visited Bangladesh as World Vision started its project to prevent child labor. The Bengali name of the child protection project translates to “for a better life.” On this second trip in November 2018, lots of children have that better life thanks to World Vision’s work. I thought 13-year-old Shyamoli’s radiant smile and confidence conveyed the hope she now can have. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Jennifer and Brandon Wilson peruse panels of photos of the 1,400 children sponsored in 2018 through World Vision’s Child Ambassador program at their annual conference near Seattle. When the nighttime dinner gathering began, I worried the low light would make it difficult to capture a meaningful moment. But as the volunteer child-sponsorship advocates searched the panels for children they helped sponsor, occasionally someone would recognize a child and smile or turn to their companion and point to the child. I realized this symbolizes a Child Ambassador’s heart, and in many ways, God’s heart for children. They care so deeply for each child’s well-being that they search them out from among the crowd and react with delight when they find them. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
Tomas Gonzalez Cruz, 68, left, and his granddaughter, Kimberly Montalvo Gonzalez, 23, fill their family’s generator with gasoline by the light of a portable solar lamp behind their house near Utuado, Puerto Rico. Like many in rural areas, Tomas’ family lived without electricity and clean water for months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island territory. Ultimately, they survived 11 months without power. The nearly 5 gallons of fuel per day allowed them to care for the two special needs adults and extended family living with them, but proved very costly. Tomas’ wife Ana moved me with her faith and determination in the midst of their struggle. “I was born here, grew up here, raised my kids here,” Ana says. “We’re also pastors. We have to stay and face the situation because so many others lost everything.” (©2018 World Vision/photo by Chris Huber)
Students, including sponsored children, pray together during a meeting of the Bible club at Itumblule Primary School in Kalawa, Kenya. Here they sing, learn Bible verses, hear the Word of God, and plant and care for fruit trees. World Vision supports 40 such Bible clubs in Kalawa schools. Over and over again this year, all over the world, I’ve watched children deep in prayer, completely aware of how dependent they are on God. As Jesus said in Luke 18:16, the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
This isn’t the typical photo found in our yearly favorites, but this one in particular showcases a landmark moment for the staff of World Vision U.S. — the anointing of and prayer over our new president, Edgar Sandoval Sr., by President Emeritus Rich Stearns; John Crosby, chair of the search committee; and Joan Singleton, World Vision U.S. board chair. New presidents don’t come like clockwork for World Vision; Edgar is only the sixth since Bob Pierce founded World Vision in 1950. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Heather Klinger)
This was one of those rare moments when my lack of running speed paid off. Zambian children sprinted across the fields to get to the World Vision reading program. These three girls ran arm-in-arm and were so adorable, so I wanted to get their picture. Since I couldn’t catch up to them, I have lots of pictures of their backs. But then, they slowed down for a moment and two of the girls looked over their shoulders. Those glances welcomed me into their world. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)
Why do people give? For some, it’s a sense of gratitude and finding the smallest acts of kindness that make a big difference. It can also be to improve the lives of others and even to improve one’s sense of self.
The reasons behind giving are personal and varied. That’s what World Vision learned in Seattle, where we interviewed several women and men on their reasons for giving. It was a busy day downtown and in Pike Place Market, the city’s landmark public market on the waterfront.
Reasons we heard for giving included feeling good, taking care of each other, giving because they are blessed, and returning the help they have received in the past.
Giving is also a topic for science. Find out what happens to your body when you give.
Studies have shown that giving often makes people feel some form of happiness and it has been demonstrated that happy people give more. But what kind of gift translates into the joy of giving?
World Vision worked with an algorithm studying 10 million tweets over a period of time to determine what emotions people feel when giving or receiving. Then researchers averaged the emotional scores for all the tweets (sorting by anger, joy, fear, sadness, and disgust). Their findings show a complex web of emotions when it comes to giving:
- In order to feel good about giving, it involves us feeling sadness and empathy too.
- Giving within your means and within your values makes you feel just as much joy as receiving something.
- You don’t need to give everything you have in order to feel good about giving. The very gesture of goodwill is enough to bring positivity into our lives.
Whatever your reason is for giving, we want to thank you on behalf of the children and families you’re impacting!
On Giving Tuesday 2017 — with a backdrop of farm animals juxtaposed against the Manhattan skyline — Jennifer Nettles shined as she talked about giving back with World Vision. The country superstar attended World Vision’s Give-back Gift Shop in New York City’s Bryant Park to encourage fans to give a gift matched by Thirty-One Gifts.
“I loved the chance to showcase the beautiful variety of gifts available,” Jennifer says. “There is something for everyone at every price point. Everyone can give a gift with meaning.”
This year, her Sugarland bandmate, Kristian Bush, will join her, and the Grammy-award winning duo is promoting child sponsorship and Giving Tuesday together. World Vision recently caught up with Sugarland to talk about Giving Tuesday and what has them excited for Christmas this year.
What are you most looking forward to this Christmas?
Jennifer Nettles: I always look forward to watching the magic of Christmas in my child’s eyes. He will be 6 in December, so he is prime age for all the magic.
Kristian Bush: I love being around my kids at Christmas. They are teenagers now and have started to embrace the holiday as something more than gifting. I am looking forward to being around them and hearing the way they see the world.
What’s one of your favorite family Christmas traditions, and why?
Jennifer: I always love that we take time to come together. Now that we all have our own families and children, it has become harder to make time to get together. Christmas is a time we can look forward to reconnecting.
Kristian: Pajamas! My mom used to buy us all matching pajamas when we were kids. She passed away when I was 30, and her friends used to continue the tradition after she passed and sent pajamas on Christmas Eve.
How do you show God’s love to others, especially at Christmastime?
Kristian: Christmastime is a great deal of stress for many people, and a well-timed smile or a kind word can go a long way.
Jennifer: I believe the best gifts we can give each other are our time and open hearts to listen. Those are the most significant gifts we can give our loved ones but also those around us within our broader communities — especially people who may believe, worship, love, and live differently than we do. I believe that this is what God wants for us: to help each other. Listening to each other and learning about each other is the fastest way to compassion. I hope we all do more of that — during the holidays and beyond.
How would you encourage readers to love others this Christmas season?
Jennifer: The world can seem dark. Anytime that we can remind ourselves to shine brighter for each other, we should. Let’s try and bring some light to people this season.
Kristian: Shine brightly this season by helping someone you don’t know.
Giving Tuesday is one way to help people we don’t know. Why is Giving Tuesday important to you?
Jennifer: I think Giving Tuesday is actually what the holiday spirit is about. We often buy gifts for each other that don’t have much meaning and gifts that the other party may not even want. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to honor your loved ones with a gift that has meaning and changes lives at the same time.
Kristian: Giving Tuesday makes sense to me in a season where we make consumerism so easy — that there can be an equal ease to charity and charitable giving.
What are your favorite gifts in the World Vision Gift Catalog?
Jennifer: I always love the animals! It’s a great opportunity to get my own child engaged in meaningful giving. Most kids love animals, so they grab their attention and invite a wonderful way to teach about giving back and the world.
Why is it important to you to partner with World Vision?
Kristian: Our fans are a community of people that enjoy music that has a deeper meaning, and World Vision is a perfect partnership because the organization is driven by a deeper meaning.
Jennifer: I believe music is powerful and connects directly to the heart. I want our music and my art to connect with messages of love and compassion and inclusion. I hope people will listen and have their hearts opened by those messages.
What aspects of World Vision’s work are you most passionate about?
Jennifer: I love empowering women. By empowering women, we elevate whole families and communities. I love that World Vision gives people the opportunity to gift sustainable, economic empowerment to women around the world, especially during the holiday season.
Kristian: I love the connection between the sponsor and the sponsored child. The ability to directly effect change in another person’s life is precious, and World Vision’s ability to facilitate that is amazing.
Learn more about Sugarland’s #LoveBIGGER campaign.
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Sadie Robertson has had a busy year of speaking engagements, but as part of the “Duck Dynasty” family, she’s really looking forward to heading home for Christmas, which is a three-day festivity for the Robertsons.
“Our family is hilarious at Christmas,” Sadie says. “We have the most fun traditions!”
What are you most looking forward to about Christmas this year?
I love Christmastime. Who doesn’t? Now that I don’t live at home, I feel like it’s even more special because it’s a time I get to spend with my incredible family. I think after this crazy year, Christmas is going to be the best yet by getting to be home.
How do you cut through the hustle and bustle of the season to experience God more deeply?
Christmas literally is God’s holiday, so to miss him at Christmas, you’re missing the true meaning. You have to know that every season, he is in it, and there is a new side of him to see. That keeps me expectantly seeking him.
How would you encourage others to shine bright by showing God’s love this Christmas season?
I would encourage you to keep your eyes open to how you can be a blessing, and then take action based on what you see. See this Christmas season as a time to love others.
Why is it important to you to team up with World Vision for Giving Tuesday?
It is incredible for such a big group of people to intentionally give to people in need and for corporations to support. I love when there is unity for the better of the world in any capacity.
What aspects of World Vision’s work are you most passionate about and why?
Going on trips around the world, I see the need for help in the eyes of beautiful, passionate kids, and so I love to team up with anyone who is bringing hope to those little eyes. World Vision is beautiful, and I cannot wait to see many more kids sponsored with hope restored for their future. In order to make World Vision grow and kids all around the world have hope restored, we need each other.
Does your sponsored child really get the letters and packages you send? The answer: Yes! We followed one package from Seattle to Colomi, Bolivia, to see what it looks like for a child on the receiving end.
Want to send a package to your sponsored child? Gifts must be mailed in a 6 inch by 9 inch envelope, so space counts. We asked our sponsorship experts how to maximize every inch. Consider including:
- Regular and colored pencils (don’t forget the sharpener!)
- Coloring books
- Small puzzles
- Notebooks or pads of paper
- Handmade items like small paintings or flat craft projects
- Hair ribbons
- Picture postcards of your hometown
- Photos of you and your family
Please don’t include crayons (they’ll melt in transit), food, jewelry, money, or toys like fake spiders or snakes that could frighten young children.
A letter from you is a great finishing touch to add to your package! Not sure what to write about? Here are some ideas:
- Describe your family and friends (first names, ages, tall/short, what they like)
- Describe the city where you live
- Explain your relationship with Jesus Christ
- Your interests and favorites — Bible verses, colors, animals, subjects in school, sports, hobbies
- Stories from your childhood and great memories
- Recent holidays and how your family celebrated them
- Tell your sponsored child why you’re thankful for them
- Thank them if they’ve sent a letter or picture to you
- Give genuine compliments (talents, accomplishments, etc.)
- Ask about their hopes and dreams (what they want to be when they grow up)
- Ask about what they’re learning in school
- Ask about their favorite games and sports
- Remind your sponsored child that you are praying for them
- Login with your account information.
- Click “visit my profile” beneath the sponsored child you’re trying to send it to.
- Click “send letter/package” and the instructions will pop up!
The post Packed with love: Sending letters, packages to your sponsored child appeared first on World Vision.