God’s greatest messenger of our time is silent today.
The Rev. Billy Graham’s death brings a significant sense of loss to people throughout the world. Believers and nonbelievers everywhere knew and admired him as a man of personal, professional, and spiritual integrity.
That integrity enabled him to cross national, racial, and class boundaries. No matter the audience — be they world leaders or everyday people — Billy Graham’s message was the same: the power of Jesus Christ transforms lives. He had the courage of his convictions to bring that message to some of the most influential people of our time.
In addition, 12 U.S. presidents looked to Billy Graham for advice and counsel. My wife Reneé and I had the pleasure of a short meeting with Dr. Graham in 2010. It was one of the most meaningful and profound times of my life.
Billy Graham had the extraordinary ability to take complex problems facing humanity — war, poverty, disease, prejudice — and explain them simply in spiritual terms. And he did it so effortlessly that one would think he had been discussing the issue with God just moments before.
He probably had.
Billy Graham played an important role in the early years of World Vision. Alongside World Vision’s founder Bob Pierce, he visited children’s homes and preached to U.S. troops in Korea and later served as chair of the World Vision board.
In 1950, Billy Graham announced he was canceling an order for a new Chevrolet and instead giving the money to World Vision to help orphaned Korean children. His gift and his endorsement helped the fledgling organization to survive the early years and grow into an agency that today has more than 42,000 staff helping serve victims of poverty and injustice in nearly 100 countries.
Today, Billy Graham has been reunited with his wife, Ruth, who probably introduced him to Jesus Christ face-to-face. And I’m certain the Lord greeted him with the words, “Welcome home.”
The post Rich Stearns reflects on the Rev. Billy Graham’s death appeared first on World Vision.
I will admit it wasn’t the most romantic date. But that sunny afternoon in 1974 was definitely memorable for me and my wife Reneé.
I was just 23 and a brand-new Christian. Reneé and I were in Oceanside, California, where she grew up, not far from Camp Pendleton. When we heard that the Rev. Billy Graham had agreed to come to the base to speak to the Marines, we couldn’t pass it up. What I witnessed that day was one of my first glimpses into the supernatural power of God working through a life surrendered to him.
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.—Hebrews 13:7
At Camp Pendleton, we sat in an amphitheater among several hundred people. In the row in front of us were three young Marines, no older than 21 or 22. As the event began with music and testimonies, they joked and snickered. It was obvious that they had been commanded to attend. We were irritated by their rudeness.
Then Billy Graham got up to speak. I cannot remember what he said, but during his message, the three young men gradually began to quiet down. One hung his head, another put his head in his hands, and the other sat stoically. Billy gave his predictable invitation at the end, asking all who were willing to come forward and commit their lives to Christ. Many began to work their way down the bleacher steps.
We saw tears running down the face of one of the Marines in front of us. He stood and left his buddies to go forward. Then the second stood and followed, leaving only one still sitting. More tears appeared on this last young man’s face as he wrestled with his decision. Finally, almost at the very end of the call, he too went forward.
Reneé and I were stunned. These three had not come that day thinking their lives would change — no, they came to poke fun and to ridicule. But they had not counted on the power of the gospel message of forgiveness and redemption. In the end, they could not resist it.
Thirty-six years later, Reneé and I had the profound honor to meet with Billy Graham on the occasion of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s 60th anniversary in November 2010. Then 92, he was frail, mostly deaf, and partly blind, and his thundering voice was now weak and raspy, but he remained a giant of the faith — the man who advised then 10 but eventually 12 presidents and countless world leaders, the evangelist who preached the good news of Jesus Christ to more people than anyone in history, the towering figure who dominated the latter half of the 20th century as one of the most admired men in the world.
Billy Graham would say he doesn’t deserve such praise or recognition. Unlike most figures of public adulation, he has always asserted that it was God who was the power behind all of the amazing events and outcomes that characterized his life’s work.
And I agree. It was not he who orchestrated those great events; it was not he who led millions to the cross; it was not the 17-year-old farm boy who himself had come forward to answer a similar call in 1934. It was God working through him. It was God. This same God was the power behind Moses’ staff, David’s sling, and Paul’s pen. He is the same God who has also promised to use all who are willing to lay down their lives for him.
Billy Graham dared to take God up on his amazing offer — and then he spent the next six decades spending himself in service to the One who paid such a high ransom for him. My prayer is that God will find a few more men and women with the same willing heart.
This column originally appeared in the spring 2011 issue of World Vision magazine. It has been updated to reflect the Rev. Billy Graham’s death.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, here are seven easy ways to make a big difference in the lives of daughters, sisters, and mothers around the world — and right in our own neighborhoods.
1. Provide the ticket to education: clean water.
Did you know that girls in poor communities often miss school because of a lack of clean water in their village? Instead of attending class, millions of girls and women are forced spend several hours each day fetching water for their families that is often dirty and dangerous to their health. Help provide clean water or walk the average 6 kilometers they walk for water and open the door to education for a young girl.
2. Support girls and women in crisis.
Millions of girls are subjected to abuse, child labor, sex trafficking, child marriage, and other offenses. Your gift will go where it’s needed most, protecting girls and women by equipping skilled, local staff to offer training, education, counseling, medical care, small business loans, and other programs that reach women and girls as well as boys — helping to end cycles of gender-based violence.
3. Mentor a girl close to home.
A growing poverty rate, poor-performing schools, and teen violence make it tough to be a girl growing up in the United States. Reach out and influence the life of a young girl in your own community by volunteering as a tutor or mentor. One way to establish a mentorship is through Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
4. Invest in a small business owner.
Through World Vision microloans, you can connect with hardworking female entrepreneurs who are waiting to realize their dream of building or expanding a successful business. A small loan is all they need. Even better, when the loan is paid off, your donated funds are recycled again and again to help more people and make a bigger impact.
5. Use your voice to end preventable deaths of mothers and children.
Although incredible progress has been made over the last several decades, we can’t stop speaking up. Nearly 2.7 million newborns around the world still die each year, about 1 million on their very first day of life, over 300,000 women die annually due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth, and 16,000 children die every day, most from preventable and treatable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria. Congress listens to the emails and calls from you. Tell them to support the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S. 1911, HR. 3706) to help implement a more efficient, sustainable approach for saving the lives of moms and babies.
6. Help a new mom.
The first weeks of a newborn’s life are the most critical. You can help save young lives around the world by giving a new mother the essential things like a bassinet, cloth diapers, blankets, a container for clean water, and soap. Your gift also provides life-saving infant care training. Know a new mom near you who might be feeling overwhelmed? Mothers of Preschoolers connects moms of young children all over the world to a community of women in their own neighborhoods who meet together to embrace the journey of motherhood.
7. Tell the women in your life that you care.
Empowering women starts right in our families, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Write a note of thanks to that teacher who encouraged you years ago, pick up coffee for that new mom in your office who’s struggling to balance it all, or tell your own sister, daughter, or mother how much you appreciate them.
High schooler Michael Atlas will go hungry with his youth group for his fourth 30 Hour Famine this spring.
As youth come together across the country this weekend to fast for 30 hours and bring hope to the hungry, find out how Michael’s first experience inspired him and brought him closer to God.
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I vividly remember my first experience with the 30 Hour Famine as an incredibly hungry freshman in high school.
I was still relatively new to St. Joe’s Youth Group and initially wary of spending an extensive 30 hours with them in the act of fasting. To be completely honest, I didn’t think I could manage it; I loved eating more than I loved life itself.
Nevertheless, backed by the support of a few close friends alongside me and my youth ministry leader, Bob, I decided to join the Famine, and I don’t regret a single second of it.
My church’s Famine started off with a night of games and friendly competition, each with the specific purpose of opening our eyes to the issues concerning world hunger and poverty. Despite hunger already settling in my empty stomach, I fully invested myself in every activity, hoping fun could be a comparable substitute for food.
Although each new game we played acted as another great distraction from the daunting task at hand, I found myself learning a lot about poverty as well. This was especially true for the short breaks we took between each activity, as the team of ministry leaders would present facts about hunger, tell stories, and have us act out scenarios.
It was not long before I found myself wrapped up in the presentations, as each appalling statistic and humbling story seemed to pull on something deep inside of me. Coming to the realization that some people are faced with such destitution was troubling; this social injustice did not make sense to me. I felt an urge to reach out a hand to these people who desperately needed my help and the help of any other person like me, which only grew stronger as the night grew longer.
Each presentation would then transition into another game, and I would spring back into my joyous, competitive self, but everything I had learned would always float around the back of my mind.
The next morning, the group woke up bright and early with our stomach’s growling louder than our tired, worn voices could speak. If all I had learned the previous night was not sufficient in influencing me, the hunger I was feeling pushed me over the edge. To think that I was only feeling a small fraction of the discomfort millions of starving children feel every day was unsettling; I could not imagine a life of constant hunger, especially now that I had received a taste of it.
We spent the majority of that day doing various volunteer jobs around the community and helping to package meals to be shipped overseas to the hungry. The entire time, I relied on the support of my friends and my faith in God to keep me standing, working, and my mind off the highly anticipated meal to come at the end of the Famine.
While working to organize care packages, a realization came to me. I looked around the large gym at my peers, youth group leaders, and the hundred-or-so other people scrambling to organize meal bags. All of us, including the wonderful people at World Vision who organize the Famine and inspire so many people to help the impoverished, are agents of God acting to make the world a better place. The situation of hunger may look grim, but as long as people like us keep working to do God’s will and our absolute best to help all in need, things will get better. It may take time before conditions completely improve, but the more people involved, the faster we can solve this complicated issue.
There is an immense amount of hope for the hungry, even when it may seem as though there isn’t, because under the guidance of our faith in God, we can create positive change on every corner of the globe.
As the 30th hour came to a close, I honestly felt I was a changed person. I felt as if a veil of ignorance had been lifted from my head, and I could see the problems faced by the millions of impoverished people much more clearly now than ever before.
I felt an immense amount of pride in my own abilities and the abilities of my peers, as we had just achieved what I thought to be impossible — going 30 hours without any food.
And to top it off, the entire experience had been an absolute blast. I found myself closer to other youth group members, closer to my already-close friends, and closer to God.
Today, I consider St. Joe’s a second home and my youth group a second family, and I have my first Famine experience to thank for that. Without the Famine, I would never have had the bravery or the inspiration to travel to Peru with World Vision the following summer. Now I look forward to doing the Famine with my youth group for the fourth time in April, and I hope to continue the fight against hunger through college and for the rest of my life.
The 30 Hour Famine will disciple youth in your church’s youth group to grow closer to God’s heart for the poor. Pass this article on to your church’s youth leader or sign up to do the 30 Hour Famine here!
Michael Atlas is a high school senior from New Jersey. He has participated in the 30 Hour Famine with his church youth group for the last four years, going hungry to raise money to care and feed for hungry children. In 2015, Michael was a top fundraiser and had the opportunity to travel with World Vision to Peru to see the work the 30 Hour Famine funds. Michael has remained dedicated to caring for people living in poverty and is a passionate advocate for justice in our world! We can’t wait to see what he does next.
The post Bringing hope to the hungry with the 30 Hour Famine appeared first on World Vision.
Join with us to pray for the Caribbean, specifically World Vision’s work in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti is the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere. The Dominican Republic enjoys a stronger economy, but still 40 percent of its residents live in poverty. Both countries struggle with the lingering effects of major natural disasters.
The LORD sits enthroned over the flood. … The LORD gives strength to his people. —Psalm 29:10-11
Pray for disaster recovery efforts in Haiti.
This nation of more than 10 million was on a slow path to recovery after the 2010 earthquake killed about 220,000 people, displaced millions, and destroyed much of Haiti’s already-weak infrastructure. When Hurricane Matthew in 2016, it set the country’s recovery a severe blow. World Vision is helping families affected by these devastating disasters. Pray for continued progress in rebuilding and development.
Lord, in spite of the immense challenges Haiti faces, You have placed a host of resources there to help people recover and rebuild. Guide government leaders, affected families, and development organizations to move forward with a collective vision for a better life.
Pray for improved health for Haitians and Dominicans.
Since the 2010 earthquake, cholera has killed thousands of citizens and infected hundreds of thousands in Haiti. HIV also has been a problem in the Dominican Republic. More than 52,000 people live with the virus, including 5,000 children younger than 5. World Vision operates community health centers and sanitation and hygiene programs. Pray for better access to health services, clean water, and adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities.
Lord God, You alone can cure disease. Bring relief to those suffering from cholera, and improve access to sanitation and hygiene resources. Inspire and empower church and community leaders to love and serve people living with HIV.
Pray for exploited children in Haiti.
Roughly 790,000 Haitian children ages 5 through 17 are forced to work in households up to 14 hours per day. Families that can’t afford their children’s care often send them to friends or relatives, hoping they will have a better life. In some cases, these children are also abused or neglected. Pray that families can find ways to provide for their children’s needs.
Dear Jesus, through the prophet Isaiah, You declared You would bind up the brokenhearted and bring freedom from darkness. Please make this promise real for Haiti’s exploited children and their families, and provide them the resources they need to achieve fullness of life.
Pray for food security in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Beyond the 2010 earthquake, severe storms have caused widespread flooding and loss of agricultural production in both countries. In late 2012, Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy pushed Haiti into a food crisis, and the Dominican economy lost $30 million in agricultural production. In 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria wrought further damage. Pray for World Vision’s disaster relief efforts and work that is helping farmers recover by improving their agriculture techniques and irrigation systems.
Lord, with so many livelihoods at the mercy of environmental conditions, calm the storms that pass over these island nations. Bring relief to families who have lost homes and food sources. Bless farmers with the knowledge and resources to reap abundant harvests and provide for their families.
Pray for those affected by domestic violence in the Dominican Republic.
Almost 200 women are killed by their partner or former partner every year in the Dominican Republic. In some cases, children are also killed — in part due to a justice system slow to protect women and children. World Vision strives to influence government policy and works with community leaders to nurture children spiritually, lift up their voices, and protect them from domestic violence. Pray that leaders will truly protect families.
Heavenly Father, raise up advocates and help lawmakers understand the importance of creating a safe environment for children. Help all concerned to act on behalf of children’s well-being.
Pray that youth in the Dominican Republic can attend secondary school.
Although about 85 percent of Dominican children are enrolled in primary school, only 66 percent of boys and 79 percent of girls go on to secondary school. About 190,000 orphans are at particularly high risk of exploitation due to lack of resources, few child-rights advocates, and limited educational opportunities. World Vision provides tutoring and vocational training services to Dominican youth. Pray that more young people will have access to education and grow in the knowledge of God.
Lord, Proverbs 1:7 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Raise up those who desire to know You more. Use teachers and community leaders to impart wisdom and practical skills so that Dominican Republic children can reach their full potential.
The post Covering the world in prayer: Pray for the Caribbean appeared first on World Vision.
In eastern Uganda, a community is still reeling from the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency more than a decade ago. Children must walk a long way for dirty water while parents are still walking an emotional path of healing. Through it all, access to clean water would help everyone heal and have a fuller life.
At daybreak, Asamo Grace’s tiny 5-year-old feet swiftly carry her along the narrow dirt path. She softly hums her ABC’s as butterflies flutter before her and crickets chirp in the dry grasses she brushes past. As the Ugandan sun begins its day’s journey across the bright blue sky, Grace begins her journey for water.
Grace’s little sister, Asimo Judith, who’s a month shy of her third birthday, scampers behind, struggling to keep up as they make their way through the high grasses that stand far taller than both girls.
But unlike so many people who begin their day with morning exercise, this 1.75-mile walk in Morungatuny, Uganda, isn’t for fun or to take in the beauty of a peaceful morning. It’s out of necessity — Grace and Judith are making the day’s first trek to get water for their family.
With the nearest borehole about 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) away, the journey for clean water is more than 7 miles round trip. So the family instead settles for contaminated swamp water that’s half that distance — about 2.8 kilometers (1.75 miles) — away.
Grace and Judith must make their daily trek so the family can survive, and struggling for survival is what this community is accustomed to.
A wounded community
Life was already challenging for the people of Morungatuny, but in June 2002, their world became downright terrifying when Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group operating in Uganda and neighboring countries, moved into the area. The LRA launched its insurgency in 1987, aiming to create a new government based on a twisted interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Over the years, the LRA abducted tens of thousands of children, forcing them to fight or marry its soldiers, who murdered, raped, and destroyed.
Auma Mary Margaret, 55, is a local official in Morungatuny. She remembers the horror.
“We rely on cows, which were being eaten by the rebels,” Mary Margaret says. “Food eaten. Houses burned. Most of the schools were destroyed. You couldn’t remain at your home alone.”
To protect people during the insurgency, the Ugandan government created camps for families while it fought the LRA. Borehole wells were installed at the camps, but there was little access to food. Children cried in anguish as they starved. As the calendar changed to 2003, the death toll rose, and desperation drove parents to take bold, dangerous risks.
I was arrested and badly beaten, almost to the point of death. —Joseph
Grace’s parents made the perilous trek home to their farm to gather food, but as they harvested cassava, LRA soldiers found them. “I was arrested and badly beaten, almost to the point of death,” says Joseph, 35.
Soldiers tortured him for six hours. He’s never fully recovered from his injuries due to the lack of medical care in the community. His wife, pregnant at the time, also suffered. “When we were arrested, they separated us, so she was taken in a different direction. I was tortured, and she was tortured.”
The extent of her injuries suggests the worst. “She poured blood,” Joseph says. They lost their baby.
As the government cleared the area, families returned home. Joseph and his wife had more children, including Grace and Judith, but because of their emotional and physical pains, problems arose in their marriage. Joseph’s wife left home two years ago and has failed to return.
Their story isn’t unique. Many people in the community recount terrible events.
People are still traumatized. —Patience
“People are still traumatized,” says Abugo Patience, senior secretary in Morungatuny’s government.
While it’s been more than a decade since the area was under immediate threat from the LRA, the fear hasn’t faded. If Joseph hears a gunshot, it takes him back. He says, “You begin standing [close] with your children, and you get suspicious. You’re peeping around, but you don’t want to get out of the home. At night, you can’t sleep because you think it’s another attack.”
When he can sleep, his slumber is often ruined by torturous nightmares.
“There are moments in dreams that the soldiers and rebels have again come, and when I dream, I get up and find my body very painful. I feel as if it’s a fresh wound,” Joseph says. The dreams emotionally rip open the wounds so desperate to heal.
Wanting to move forward, Joseph eventually remarried and clings to his faith to help him lead his family. He says, “I have a family that has survived, by the grace of God, and we have our hope in God.”
After a shaky peace deal was established in 2006, people began returning home. But they faced a water problem. The boreholes drilled during the war were by the camps, which weren’t close to people’s normal homes. Aluka Elizabeth, the area program manager for World Vision in Morungatuny, says there are 37 borehole wells across the larger district — but only 20 are functional.
“The others got spoiled,” she says. “All of these were put in by the government and local partners during the insurgency to manage the larger populations in the camp. At that time, World Vision was not there.”
Patience, 25, says clean water in the district is accessible — within 1 kilometer — for about an abysmal 20 percent of people.
People in the developing world walk an average of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) a day for water. In Morungatuny, if people want to access clean water, the only reliable borehole is about 6 kilometers one way. Joseph says it can take between 90 minutes and two hours to walk that distance.
Every borehole serves more than 850 people, which makes them incredibly crowded. Joseph says, “Then when you get to the water source, you can take two or three hours” because the line is so long, as it serves six communities.
Even if families wanted to endure the walk and wait, the fields often flood and cut off access during the rainy season.
So many families, like Grace’s, opt for the shorter walk to the dirty swamp. But that creates a host of other challenges.
Tall grasses more than twice as high as Grace’s tiny frame overhang the path she takes to get water. There are noises and rustlings aplenty — goats, cows, and pigs roaming; men zooming by on bicycles; and other women and children also walking for water.
Together, the sounds create a kind of symphony. But not all the sounds are innocent. One of the biggest concerns for children like Grace is safety. Her long walk is fraught with opportunities to get hurt or for others to hurt her. In 2016, a child in a neighboring community was kidnapped while walking for water.
“It frightens me moving alone along that long, bushy road,” Grace says, her voice barely audible. “I fear kidnappers — they use sacks and put the sack on your head.”
I fear kidnappers — they use sacks and put the sack on your head. —Grace
Sexual assault and broken bones from falling are also a risk. But safety isn’t only an issue for children. In a community with such deep emotional wounds, tempers can be short. Often husbands will accuse their wives of infidelity because they’re suspicious of how long the women are gone for water.
“The issue of water is causing domestic violence,” Patience says.
When Grace arrives late at her school, St. Mika, she stands nervously outside, reluctant to burst under the thatched-roof structure to join her classmates. Sometimes administrators and teachers scold or even beat her for being late.
But today, her teacher, Acham Lucy, greets her with a smile and invites her to take her seat on the wooden bench.
Lucy guides the students in learning their ABC’s, numbers, and types of transportation, and she ends their morning lessons with having them draw their teacher reading a book, which Grace pours herself into. She loves drawing pictures — on paper with pencil or in the dirt with chalk — as well as jumping rope, matching, and counting.
Grace enjoys school, but to make it to class, which starts at 8 a.m., she must hurry to get water in the morning. She’s often as much as an hour late — and sometimes she may simply not go at all. During the rainy season, she misses about 10 days a month. But during the dry season, when she must walk much farther for water, her grandmother Selina estimates that Grace misses 80 percent of her classes. And sometimes, she may miss class simply because her family can’t afford her exam fees or supplies.
Because she’s missed so many classes, Grace is two years behind in her studies. “Her performance is poor because she comes late,” Lucy says. “She has to catch up. Sometimes she can’t finish the week with coming to school. She can perform better when she attends every day and is on time too.”
Classmates often ridicule Grace for being late and behind in her studies. She says, “They laugh at me all day.”
But tardiness and absences are problems throughout Morungatuny. Many schools had to be rebuilt following the insurgency. Eloagu Julius, the school founder and a teacher, says the school started four years ago with 168 children. Today, the school has only 109 students, and of those, only 30 had arrived on time that day — a tally that isn’t unusual.
“Children [can] come to school more easily when there is a water source nearby,” Julius says. “It encourages children to run and have happiness.”
Grace longs to become a nurse. She says, “I want to inject the children and be a vaccinator so they can get healed and not have diarrhea and polio.” But she’ll need a solid education to make that happen. She also needs the proper supplies to study. Selina laments that often the children cry because they don’t have notebooks and schoolbooks to do their assignments.
Joseph prays. “My dream, and I’m praying by the grace of God, that he gives them life, and I want my children to study,” he says. “I want one to become a doctor, one an engineer, one a police person, one a carpenter, and one to become a teacher.”
Patience thinks more families in Morungatuny would be able to have such dreams and see them become reality if the community had closer access to clean water. She says, “If water was brought nearer, a child would be at school — the child might not have to go get water.”
At home, Grace seems tired and may be developing a fever. Judith runs around, her tiny body carrying a far heavier-than-normal belly.
“Judith has a problem — she continuously falls sick,” Selina says. She’s had tests done. “They keep telling me she has a high fever and stomach pain, and they tell me it’s malaria.”
She’ll receive a health evaluation soon, but the diagnosis could also be worms, which Grace has been treated for in the past. Grace and Selina have also had typhoid, and the whole family — particularly the children — consistently gets diarrhea.
“It can be frequent,” Selina says, “especially during the wet season and when they go [for water] after the animals have drunk.”
She says the children are all constantly sick. “Every time they use the water from the swamp, there are complaints of stomach problems and headaches,” Joseph adds. Grace has been diagnosed with kidney problems, but proper medical treatment is not available in their community.
The water also creates itchy and painful sores that leave scars. Grace has some on her legs that she says hurt when she walks for water. It’s only one of the pains for her young body. She says she also gets tired and her head and neck hurt from carrying the water “because it’s long, and I don’t rest on the way.”
The distance to the health centers also compounds the water issues. The dirt roads to get there are bumpy, filled with holes, and in some places, only wide enough for a bike — which all make it challenging for families to transport their children.
Okello Emmanuel, 40, is part of the village health team, which serves as the first line of treatment for people in the community. He says, “There are long distances to access the health service facilities. Some parents can’t get to these, so they reach them when they’re already at an emergency level.”
Even if they do make it to the local clinic, there are other difficulties. Ojulong Aaron, the clinic officer for Morungatuny Health Center III, has a sink at the clinic that doesn’t produce anything.
“There’s no running water,” he says. “We [only] get water from the rain, so we can’t wash our hands.”
Aaron has a staff of only seven who see more than 1,200 people a month. He says malaria is the number one disease for the children. The clinic staff also handle many cases of diarrhea, typhoid, and dermatitis from the dirty water, as well as people needing psychosocial support after the LRA insurgency. He says that nationally, about 20 percent of people get diarrhea. The local rate is barely above that at 22 percent, and he hopes to decrease that number.
He says the other major challenge is a shortage of medicine and tests. “Without the test, you can’t get the treatment,” Aaron says. “Sometimes we’re blindly treating.”
But families often can’t afford treatment elsewhere. “You have poverty rates so high, and you tell someone to buy something to clear up a rash; where would they get the money for that?” Patience says. “If they go to the health unit and find there is no medicine, the only solution is to buy from the private drugstores, which are very expensive.” So it becomes a choice between medicine and food.
That’s why Joseph continues to have problems from injuries he sustained during the terrible beating, and it’s why his children have persistent health problems. “When any of the children fall sick, I’m not able to raise enough funds to get a full treatment,” he says. “Our little Grace has a problem with the stomach and has pain in her kidneys and pelvic area.”
Aaron says additional funding would help provide tests and medicine for proper treatment. But prevention is better than treatment, so having access to safe water close to home would change everything.
Joseph sees how clean water would give his family better health, and he says World Vision can help.
“Sponsorship can help Grace get that treatment.”
With so little money to support his family, Joseph struggles to pay all the costs involved with his children’s educations, which in total cost about 990,000 schillings a year (about US$278). But what pains him more is that he can’t afford the medicine his children desperately need when they’re sickened by dirty water.
He feels these strains, but the lingering effects of his injuries prevent him from farming more crops to sell at the market. “I can’t do a big plot that would bring a lot of food for my home,” he says. “My waist gets tired. I desire to do work like any other, but my energy [isn’t enough].”
Stomach pains, cysts, and ulcers slow Selina down when farming, so she struggles to keep up, saying, “The children are my hands of work.”
And without water close by, Joseph can’t water his crops, so they don’t flourish. Instead, he’s forced to depend on the rain — which is no longer reliable. “The rains are very unpredictable nowadays,” Patience says. “We used to have two rainy seasons and one dry season, and now we can’t predict how many seasons we’ll have in one year. … You can’t really say, ‘Let me plant this at this time.’”
By early November, Joseph’s chili pepper crops had already shriveled. He dreams of someday having resources to help him farm more productively.
“If we had a near water source, we could maybe do irrigation or draw water for our crops,” he says. “We would be able to do short-term rotating with crops like cabbages, green peppers, onions, and tomatoes. All those crops have market during the dry season because they’re not available.”
With water the source of so many problems in Morungatuny, both the government and World Vision are working toward solutions.
“The priority is mostly water because without water, you don’t have life,” Patience says of the government’s efforts. “But the resources we have are very meager.”
She says the government is able to rehabilitate one borehole a year. It would take 17 years to fix what already exists, let alone build new wells or fix more. Over the last four years, World Vision has installed four borehole wells in the district and trained community leaders on how to maintain the wells.
“World Vision plays a big role because it does almost everything a government is supposed to do,” Patience says. “It’s helped us with livelihood, agriculture, sponsorship, education. The pit latrines they’ve given us are improving the sanitation in the schools. It has also drilled boreholes. It encourages us and trains us on other issues that are related. The community is empowered.”
She says the evidence of that empowerment is visible throughout other communities in the district where World Vision hasn’t yet worked, but where the principles it teaches are already being applied. Patience says it “shows that people have really learned something” when you see practices and programs being shared by word of mouth.
Mary Margaret sees change in the community as well as a correlation between clean water and recovery. “We’re grateful to World Vision for the healing we have seen,” she says. “We have some boreholes.
It’s not enough, but we have some — we are lucky. The relationship is so good. They are helping.”
World Vision is working with the community to install three boreholes in the area in the year ahead. Paul Oiesigye, a water engineer for World Vision in Uganda’s eastern region, says drilling for shallow wells in the area has been challenging.
“You have to drill and go deep to get water,” he says. “In some areas, you’re really limited by the underground water situation.”
Elizabeth noted that some of the borehole wells run dry faster than expected. World Vision wants to install a mechanized system. Paul says, “A solar-powered, motorized water system is cost-effective. They use a generator or a grid. The only challenge is in the initial investment of buying the solar panels. After the initial investment, the people are able to manage that system.”
A project like this can help about 20,000 people, in comparison to 900 served by a regular borehole.
The first priority is the health centers, says Paul: “We need to ensure the health centers are equipped with continuous water year-round. We can’t mainly rely on rainwater.”
Elizabeth says that if World Vision can drill 13 boreholes, they can reduce the local walk for water to around 3 kilometers. With 20 boreholes, the distance will drop to 1.5 kilometers — significant progress toward reaching the ideal 1-kilometer threshold. She says, “We will be very intentional,” when World Vision plans the well locations with the community.
Even though Joseph still struggles with pain and Grace and Judith are still walking a long path for water, the family is hopeful. As they attend church every week, Joseph encourages his children to seek God in the midst of their burdens.
God will remove this wound of pain. —Joseph
“I use the Bible and tell them the living testimonies of our home based on the trials the family is going through,” he says. “Every challenge we go through, I share with them and encourage them every Sunday to go for prayers, and when they go, they shouldn’t just be going to church; they should pray, repent of anything the family has done to God, pray for God to forgive them, and pray for God to open a way for them. God will remove this wound of pain.”
How to help
- Help bring water to communities like Grace’s. A gift of $50 provides clean water to one person, bringing lasting change.
- On May 19, join others around the world to walk or run — and change a life! — through World Vision’s Global 6K for Water. Learn more and register.
- Pray for families who don’t have water and for families as they prepare to receive clean water in their communities.
The struggle for clean water isn’t specific to Africa. Water woes consume much of the developing world. In Honduras, as in every other region, children suffer the most. But in this community, people decided to do something about it.
Normally gregarious, Pedro Antonio Goday Sosa was miserable. Every day, he watched families slog down a muddy trail to the Hato River in eastern Honduras, their horses and wheelbarrows laden with empty plastic containers. Winding through the coffee and tobacco fields of the Jamastran Valley, the Hato River is shared by men, women, children, cows, horses, and pigs. It is filthy. The 70-year-old grandfather, known affectionately as Don Pedro, saw how drinking from the river was making people sick, and he was determined to stop it.
At a community meeting in 2016, Don Pedro’s frustration spilled over. He appealed to World Vision Project Manager Ruth Cardenas and World Vision Facilitator Noe Rodriguez, an expert in water and sanitation, on behalf of the children. He begged Noe and Ruth to find a solution to the problem. The Hato River was a plague on the 3,000 people who lived in two communities, Sartenejas and Zamorano.
Noe and Ruth consulted with World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene staff at the national office in Tegucigalpa. They got good news. “Suddenly, the project was planned in the budget for 2018,” says Noe, “but only for drilling a well.” Don Pedro wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t enough. Children were suffering.
Don Pedro knew the water crisis in Jamastran had to be fixed right away. But a permanent solution would only be possible if World Vision, two communities, and big-hearted donors united in a project orchestrated by God.
A Honduran community in crisis
Drinking dirty water affected all of life in Jamastran, creating perpetual health problems for children. “We found it was contaminated with Hepatitis A and poisons,” says Dr. Zulema Lopez, who blames the animals who drink and waste there and the pesticides that trickle into the river from the coffee and tobacco fields that provide residents with a meager income. “It’s normal to see children throwing up and expelling worms,” says Ana Lainez, the clinic’s nurse.
The clinic routinely treats children who are malnourished, suffering from diarrhea, and infected with cholera. Some damage can never be undone. “It affects their cognitive development,” says Dr. Zulema. If that’s not enough, the clinic gets its water from the very source of so much illness — the Hato River. Lips pursed, Nurse Ana opens the tap in the delivery room. Brown water runs out like tea steeped too long in a pot. “We can’t even wash our hands in it,” she says.
At the primary school, dirty river water is stored in a pila, a cement tank. The tank is so deep that the littlest students risk falling in when they scoop water. The school’s gentle janitor, Lionel Arriola, 44, worries for them. “Sometimes their thirst is so big they go to the pila and drink water,” he says. “One hour later, they are vomiting.”
Families suffered the most.
Every day, Johanna Hernandez, 23, would walk 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) — the average distance people in the developing world walk to get water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning — for dirty water. Three times a day, she would fill an old wheelbarrow with empty soda bottles and take her sons, David, 5, and Noe, 3, to the river. Shivering, she’d wade knee-deep into the cold, chocolate-colored water while the boys played in the sand on the bank.
Filling soda bottles, their once-cheerful labels peeling with wear, is both tedious and dangerous. Only a few months before, David was caught in the current, drifting out of his mother’s reach until a big rock stopped his path. “I was washing my clothes here,” she says. “He almost drowned.” David survived, a deep cut on his lip as a reminder of his brush with death.
Good news at last
World Vision staff in Jamastran worked tirelessly with the national office to move the project forward, spurred on by phone calls from Don Pedro. “He called me every day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, morning, noon, and night,” says Noe. Noe lived in a constant state of agitation. The conflict with Don Pedro hurt his tender heart. Then came a break.
“Our colleagues [from the U.S.] came to visit,” says Noe. “We went to the river for them to see the community’s situation, and we saw that they were really moved by the suffering. They took pictures to share with their friends in the U.S. Three months later, [they] returned with good news. Donors in the U.S. saw the photos and heard the Lord call them to help.”
Refined Technologies, a chemical decontamination company, had watched a video of the community at the filthy river. Moved to action, the company pledged the funds needed for the project. Noe jumped on his motorbike, racing to tell Don Pedro the news. “When I saw him, I told him, ‘Don Pedro, this is the last day we will argue over water problems. Your problem is solved. The water project for Sartenejas and Zamorano is a reality.’” Don Pedro grabbed Noe and hugged him hard. In August 2017, the work to bring water to 3,000 people began.
First, a miracle — clean water
The project kicked off with a miracle when drillers discovered clean water on the first try: “The perfect well,” exclaims Don Pedro. Builders from the community created a sturdy hut to protect the source as 600 people began backbreaking work every day for four months, rising with the sun to move heavy rocks and dig miles of trenches.
In her front yard, Juana Martinez stored 1,000 pipes and 1,000 bags of cement used to construct the massive 60,000-gallon water tank. Juana serves on the water committee made up of men and women, responsible for overseeing that a near-marathon — 40 kilometers — of trenches are properly excavated. Her red hair tucked beneath a jaunty cowboy hat, Juana, 57, motors her all-terrain vehicle along the trenches, recording names of all present, as men and women dig with tools they’ve brought from home.
This is Juana’s first time as a project manager, and she says she loves it. It’s a hallmark of World Vision’s work to involve everyone in decision-making — men, women, and children. “This is an example for other women in the community,” says Juana. “They tell us we are blessed and that we are doing a great job.”
A mission accomplished
Juana and others on the water committee are documenting every moment of this journey. “We’re creating a big photo album,” she says. “It will serve for future generations to understand why you have to take care of the water.”
The album will have a spectacular ending: the celebration when the project is christened with good food to eat, folk dancing, and a marimba band made up of sponsored children. There will be speeches of love and thanksgiving. Hundreds of people will attend, including the health clinic staff, teachers and students from nearby schools, and families like Johanna’s who will no longer have to drag a wheelbarrow full of soda bottles to the river to collect water that poisons them.
The gift of water in Jamastran is seen as a gift from heaven. “The power of God has shown here,” says water committee member Julian Ordonez, a father of four. They are thankful to World Vision staff like Noe. They’re thankful to the donors who stepped forward to fund a dream. How World Vision, two communities, and caring donors came together as a team was something that could only have been orchestrated by the Almighty. “God put his eyes on us,” says Julian simply. As for Don Pedro, he’s going to retire. “My dream will be achieved,” he says. “I fought for children. Now they will have clean water.”
Last spring, people around the world were inspired to walk or run the Global 6K for Water by 5-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water. The effects of this life were keeping Cheru — like so many other girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa — from living up to her potential. Today, thanks to our caring donors, World Vision is working in West Pokot County to bring clean water access to Cheru’s community.
Here’s how water engineers and villagers are bringing life-changing clean water from a pure mountain river down to Kesot, Kenya, where Cheru lives.
- Water engineers identify and inspect a weir, a dam that diverts water from the Kwok River, in the wooded hills about 15 miles away from Kesot.
- World Vision upgrades water services, building a new water kiosk with four taps, a cattle trough, and a water tank at the primary school. This work is being done in Cheboret, about 9 miles from where the water is piped from the river.
- Villagers from Kesot help build a pipeline extension from Cheboret to Kesot, 8 miles, to bring water to their school, health center, and market. Workers clear brush, dig trenches, and haul rocks and sand to the location.
- Workers erect and build kiosks, water troughs, and tanks to serve the school, health center, and market at Kesot.
- Kesot community members train others in areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene. A local technician learns how to perform repairs and maintenance.
- A standpipe will bring fresh water to Cheru’s family, just steps from where her mother cooks, washes clothes, and prepares tea.
You’re sure to find man’oushe (pronounced ma.nuʃ) at a traditional Lebanese breakfast. It’s a flatbread often topped with za’atar (thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt), cheese, or kishk (fermented dried yogurt and ground bulgur wheat). Serve with olives, fresh cheese, croissants and jams, tabbouleh or fattoush salad, and keep the courses coming for a taste of Lebanon this spring!
Recipe for man’oushe
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup za’atar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup water and yeast. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes until yeast foams.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add yeast mixture, remaining water, and vegetable oil to flour mixture. Mix until combined, and knead 10 minutes until dough is soft and elastic.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Punch down dough and divide into four to six balls; use extra flour, if needed. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place a baking stone or steel on the bottom rack. (An upside-down cookie sheet will do.)
- Combine za’atar and the olive oil. Set aside.
- On a floured surface, press each ball with your palm. Turn and flatten from the center to edge, adding extra flour as needed until each is 1/4 inch thick and about 8 inches across.
- Spread za’atar on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch edge.
- Slide pieces onto the heated stone, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve warm, and enjoy!
The post In the kitchen: Recipe for man’oushe, Lebanese flatbread appeared first on World Vision.
The co-founder of the nation’s largest drive-up pure drinking water and ice company grew up in a town with bad water. “I remember as a newlywed on the front of the water bill, it would tell you what you would owe, and then you’d flip it over and on the back side,” says Lani Dolifka.” There would be a warning, and it would say, ‘Do not drink the water if you were pregnant or under 6 months of age.’”
Watermill Express is born
In 1984, Lani and Don, her then-boyfriend and now-husband took action. “With the help of family and friends, we developed an automated water purification kiosk that could take municipal water, process it through a multi-barrier system, and produce a very high quality, affordable source for safe drinking water,” she says.
Their goals were modest. “All we wanted to do was just provide water for our small community,” she says, “and a few communities in northern Colorado. But we learned there were a lot of other places in this country that had similar issues, and a lot were in underserved communities.”
With that knowledge, Lani began a 30-year journey to seek out America’s communities with contaminated water. “I’ve traveled to many of these small, forgotten areas in this country, seeing firsthand what it’s like to not have safe, affordable drinking water,” she says. Today, their company, Watermill Express, has 1,300 locations around the United States.
A clean water moment
Fast forward to 2016, and Lani traveled to a small village in Kenya — which, like her hometown, had dirty water. She met Naomi, who would trek daily for 7 miles to carry dirty water back to her family. “It had that green sludge on the top,” remembers Lani, “and when she pulled out water in the jerry can, it looked more solid than liquid.”
Call it a “green sludge moment.” Call it an epiphany. Something changed in Lani. “I think it was that moment it hit me. I thought, ‘As a mom of two kids, what must a mom feel like when this is the only water she can give to her kids?’ It’s the best she can do.” And then another horrifying thought: how so many children die every day from diarrhea.
Lani immersed herself in the experience, even getting the chance to carry water like so many women and girls do around the world. “And for those of you who have also had that experience,” she says, “you know it’s one of those things that hurts everything at the same time. It did for me, at least. You know, my back hurt; my head hurt; my arms, my legs, even my feet hurt that day.”
The pain was beyond physical. “My brain also hurt,” she says. “Because I knew that no sooner I took that water home, it’d be consumed in a matter of hours. And that meant I’d have to go back again and get that water again, and again, and again. And if I was pregnant or ill, that would be really, really difficult.”
Lani put herself into Naomi’s shoes. She now knew how it felt to spend seven hours gathering water. Every single day. It was so much to fathom. “When you’re spending that much time doing something just for basic survival,” she says, “you don’t have a lot of extra time to make your life or your kid’s lives better, and that’s what we want.”
More than child sponsorship
Meeting Naomi deepened Lani’s heart for the poor. It also touched her mother’s heart. “We want to make our kids’ lives better,” says Lani. “And when clean water is brought to a woman like Naomi, she starts seeing hope and a better future for her kids, especially her daughters.”
Lani learned that when women like Naomi receive clean water, it cuts down on water-related diseases that plague families. Sick less often, kids spend more time in school. Families held back by the long walk for water can move forward in new ways. Everyone gets back precious time. “That additional time [allows] Naomi to attend church and tend to her family’s well-being,” says Lani. “I can’t think of two better things to do than go to church and raise your family, and that’s what the clean water helped her achieve. We take so much for granted.”
Although Lani and her family were child sponsors, they did not know that World Vision is the leading provider of clean water in the developing world. “When I found that out, I immediately decided I was going to support World Vision’s work in water,” she says. So far, her foundation has provided more than 100 million gallons of clean water to families around the world so women like Naomi can spend more time raising their children and praising God.
The post Watermill Express: ‘Seeing hope and a better future’ for children appeared first on World Vision.