Ariunaa treasures her sewing machine above anything else.
For the 44-year-old mother of four, living in rural Mongolia challenged her ability to provide for her family. She once lived as a herder, but as the cost of education soared, it forced her to sell her livestock and move in toward the town center.
With few vocational skills, she found herself jobless, but she knew how to sew. She began making clothes at home and selling her creations to friends and neighbors. Her reputation grew.
World Vision took notice of Ariunaa and gave her a prized electric sewing machine.
“The sewing machine made everything easier,” she says. “It’s very fast, so I can make a lot more clothes. It took me a week to make one deel (traditional dress) before, but now I can finish one in two days.”
World Vision also helped her open a small shop, so now she has even more customers. Her revenue has increased, and she can now provide for her family.
“Now I have a stable source of income, so I can afford my kids’ educational needs,” she says.
The lack of economic opportunities is only one issue facing people in Mongolia. Join us this month in praying for the people of Mongolia.
You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.—Psalm 10:17 (NIV)
Pray for economic empowerment.
Mongolia has struggled with inflation and economic hardships over the past decade. In addition to vocational programs like the one Ariunaa benefited from, World Vision provides animals through the Gift Catalog and conducts savings groups to teach people how to save. Erdenetuya wanted to go to college but couldn’t afford to, and later she dreamed her children would, but finances made that dream seem impossible. Now she has learned how to save, and she believes she will be able to support her children’s educational dreams.
Lord, we thank You for your ability to bring hope to people like Erdenetuya and Ariunaa by providing them with better economic opportunities. Continue to help more people earn a better living through better jobs and small business opportunities.
Pray for better child health.
Urana took her 1-year-old daughter, Khishge, to a World Vision health center, where she learned her daughter was malnourished. Through a World Vision nutrition program, Khishge is now on her way to better health.
Great Healer, we thank You for healing Khishge and ask that You continue to bring more children back to good health. Equip World Vision staff to diagnose and treat children, and work in parents’ hearts to take their children to health centers for treatment.
Pray for education and an end to child labor.
Anara, 15, had been selling rice to help support her family for five years. She would earn only $2 to $3 a day, working in the morning and attending school in the afternoon. But when she badly needed money, she skipped class to continue working. Her mother died when she was young, and her father was an alcoholic who didn’t have a job.
About 16 percent of Mongolian children ages 6 to 17 are involved in child labor. World Vision saw Anara’s situation and engaged her father in training. He has started drinking less and is now working so Anara can attend school full time. She’s studying to be a chef and dreams of opening her own restaurant.
Father, we know education is the key to a child’s future. Our hearts break when we see children who must sacrifice studying to work instead. Thank You for intervening in Anara’s life, and we ask that You change people’s hearts so they see the value of children attending school instead of working.
Pray for improved child protection.
After her parents died, 11-year-old Tuul (name changed to protect privacy) lived with different family members, landing with her sister and brother-in-law. But her brother-in-law began sexually abusing her, which continued for five years. Then one of her stepsisters learned of the abuse and called Child Helpline 108, a program World Vision cosponsored to help protect children by allowing people to report abuse. The program has helped resolve hundreds of child protection cases. Tuul is now getting the support she needs to heal and is living with her stepsister.
Almighty God, we know Your Word forbids child abuse. Move through World Vision’s Child Helpline 108 program so more children will be able to escape harmful situations. Encourage people to show bravery and report children who are in harm’s way.
Contributors: Togtokhbayar Dorjpalam and Enkhzul Altangerel, World Vision staff
By Lindsey Posmanick, Events Coordinator and Research Project Associate
Although anti-trafficking efforts by the Department of Defense (DoD) are commendable, the department has close ties to human trafficking that the Strategic Action Plan cannot fix. This year, the DoD’s five-year strategic action plan to end human trafficking will come to a close. It was created by the Combating Trafficking in Persons Program (CTIP) in response to an investigative report of over 300 military and 200 contractor personnel by the Inspector General’s Office from 2009 to 2012. The evaluation determined that the majority of the DoD did not adequately follow the CTIP Guidelines or policy statements. For the past four years, the military has used the Strategic Action Plan to end human trafficking by implementing four main goals: 1) increase partnership with other agencies and foreign governments; 2) strengthen DoD policies; 3) develop a more robust training and outreach program; and 4) streamline enforcement procedures. Will the military be able to claim success in 2018? Not unless it addresses two key flaws within the department: the perception that all human trafficking is sex trafficking and the DoD’s active role in creating the demand for forced labor by contractors within their supply chain.
On December 16th, 2002, former President George W. Bush signed the National Security Presidential Directive 22 (NSPD 22) instructing federal agencies and the DoD, to strengthen their anti-trafficking efforts. In compliance, the U.S. military adopted a zero-tolerance policy. This policy takes a moralist approach that endorses a commonly held misperception: all prostitution is sex trafficking. Therefore, the DoD’s strategies to combat all human trafficking have emphasized that all sex workers need “rescuing” as sex trafficking victims. The DoD approach should not be surprising. The military has a disconcerting history of service members eliciting sexual services in war zones and near military installations. For example, in the 1980s, a brothel near the U.S. Subic Bay Naval Base generated an estimated $500 million and a 2002 report stated that U.S. military personnel frequented bars in South Korea where women from the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe were forced into prostitution.
Not only did the DoD prioritize sex trafficking in the Strategic Goals, but they also focused their efforts on the sexual exploitation of women and children. The gendered language utilized by the DoD reaffirms a skewed perception of a common narrative of human trafficking. A narrow focus on sex trafficking inhibits the military’s ability to properly train and encourage understanding on all forms of trafficking within popular discourse. The view of trafficking as only sexual slavery takes away from impactful anti-trafficking efforts and pushes ineffective anti-trafficking policies. Rather than maintaining a hyper fixation on sex trafficking, the military should use their Strategic Action Plan to address human trafficking within the government contractor supply chain.
Corporate supply chains target vulnerable workers anywhere to fill labor shortages everywhere, including jobs in military combat zones. An understanding of how supply chains operate is vital to understanding how the military overseas creates a demand for forced labor. Although the military does not recruit and enslave persons directly, the DoD is a consumer with buying power that creates a demand for human trafficking. Since the 1990s, they have developed a reliance on the use of outside companies to fulfill their needs for certain services like construction, security, and maintenance. This increase in the use of contractors has had a direct correlation with the influx of labor trafficking in military combat zones.
While the U.S. government may maintain a zero-tolerance policy for all of its contractors, the DoD reflects an attitude that human trafficking is an outside problem, rather than a direct reflection of its internal structure. However, if the DoD reexamines their supply chain purchasing habits, their consumer buying power could lead the world in anti-human trafficking business practices. In a Testimony to Congress, former Ambassador Luis Cdebaca said, “Using governments’ reach as consumer as a tool to combat modern slavery isn’t just about what government can do; it’s also about what they should do.”
If the Strategic Plan is to be considered successful it must first re-examine misperceptions that all prostitution is sex trafficking. It is time to move forward with informed practices and leave behind the outdated moralist crusade of Directive 22. While it is tempting to fall into the “rescue” trope, the DoD’s sharp disconnect between stereotypes of the typical “trafficked victim” the realities of forced labor and migration globally has led to systemic failures in the DoD’s strategic action plan. The DoD needs to employ greater anti-trafficking efforts in their supply chains. One key effort should address the weaknesses within Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), a provision that authorizes the DoD to terminate a contract if the contractor engages in human trafficking. However, the Supplement places sole responsibility on the contractor. For example, the DoD Inspector General identified a sample of 267 contracts, and found that “while 70 percent of the contracts sampled contained some form of a CTIP Clause, only half had the current required DFARS clause.” The Supplement is neither tracked nor enforced. If the DoD plans to claim success for the Strategic Plan, the department must address their lack of oversight and enforce greater preventive efforts that are more than a public relations stunt.
Photo Credit: Flickr
About the Human Trafficking Center
The Human Trafficking Center, housed in the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, is the only two-year, graduate-level, professional-training degree in human trafficking in the United States. One way graduate students contribute to the study of human trafficking is by publishing research-based blogs. The HTC was founded in 2002 to apply sound research and reliable methodology to the field of human trafficking research and advocacy.
Founded in 1964, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies is one of the world’s leading schools for the study of international relations. The School offers degree programs in international affairs and is named in honor of its founder and first dean, Josef Korbel.
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The day Gholam showed up on his father’s doorstep escorted by three adults was the day that changed the 13-year-old’s life in Afghanistan.
“Three years ago, I was walking on the street with a sack in my hand, looking at the ground to find wood to burn, when a man with two women came up to me and asked for my home address,” Gholam says.
The three adults escorted Gholam back to his house, where they knocked on the door.
“When I opened the door, I saw a man holding Gholam’s hand,” Gholam’s father says. “I thought Gholam had stolen something or had a fight with someone.”
Instead, the adults standing with Gholam were World Vision staff members. They came to tell Gholam’s family about a center they ran for street children who work instead of attending school. There, Gholam could learn.
“I was happy,” the father says. “I gave my son’s hand to him and said, ‘… Gholam is in your service — take care of him.’”
So Gholam began attending the center.
“Now, I am in the third grade and the only person in my family who can easily read and write,” he says.
The center has helped hundreds of children between the ages of 6 and 12 through 11-month remedial education programs and also offers access to healthcare, proper nutrition, and counseling. Of the students who have graduated from the center, more than 95 percent passed formal school entrance exams and more than 90 percent are now attending formal schools.
Many Afghan students lack education and are working on the streets — one of many challenges children face. Join us this month in praying for Afghan children.
… defend the rights of the poor and needy.—Proverbs 31:9
Pray for children who must work.
In Afghanistan, 29 percent of children are involved in child labor because their families live in poverty. That means children like Gholam aren’t attending school and are at risk of trafficking, abuse, child marriage, and physical harm from dangerous jobs. World Vision operates centers like the one Gholam attended to help children catch up with their studies even if they aren’t in a formal school.
Almighty God, we cry out to You on behalf of all children who, for whatever reason, have to work. It saddens us, and we know Your heart grieves more than ours. Please protect the children from danger, and help them get connected to opportunities to learn and grow so they can have stronger futures.
Pray for child marriage to end in Afghanistan.
Khadija was only 16 when she was married to an older man and forced to drop out of school. Her marriage quickly turned abusive as her husband’s drug addiction became apparent, leaving her to also support their household. He finally threw her and their two children out of the house into the rain because she couldn’t find $100 for him to support his drug habit.
Sadly, Khadija’s story is common. In Afghanistan, 33 percent of women ages 22 to 24 report being married by age 18. World Vision started a program aimed at enabling faith leaders to influence change in social attitudes and behaviors in families and communities.
Father, we thank You for the work You have equipped World Vision to carry out in influencing change in Afghanistan. We lift up this program to You and ask that You turn hearts and minds to see the value of children not marrying.
Pray for education, especially for girls.
Working and child marriage are two reasons children like Gholam and Khadija struggle to get an education. In Afghanistan, 71 percent of boys and 40 percent of girls are enrolled in secondary school. But only 14 percent of all children complete their secondary education. Without education, the cycle of poverty is likely to continue. In addition to the remedial education centers World Vision operates for street children, it also conducts life- and job-skills training programs.
Khadija received health training and now, as a 27-year-old, she teaches the very programs that helped her. World Vision has also reached more than 600 children through early childhood centers and enrolled more than 75,000 children in a structured learning institution. Additionally, World Vision has helped train more than 2,500 teachers in positive discipline techniques.
Lord, we praise You for the work being done to educate children and train teachers in Afghanistan. Multiply these efforts so even more children can learn and adults who missed out on their education as children can learn new skills.
Pray for improved child and maternal health in Afghanistan.
Shaysta visited a World Vision health center four times to get help for her sick child, who suffers from malnutrition. Malnutrition is a big problem in Afghanistan because of lack of access to food, poor childcare and feeding practices, and illness.
As a result, 41 percent of Afghan children suffer from stunting — being small for their age — a common and largely irreversible effect of malnutrition. World Vision provides food for 790,000 children younger than 5 who face malnourishment. Shaysta also has learned how to better feed her baby, whose health is improving.
Great Healer, please continue to work in little children’s bodies to restore their well-being. Revive them, and bring their parents the resources and knowledge to know how to better care for them so they can grow up healthy. Guide World Vision’s programs and allow more children to grow strong.
Contributor: Narges Ghafary, World Vision staff
Athletes research the best running shoes to enhance their performance. But in many places, children walk for water, to school, and play in bare feet or terrible shoes.
Today’s photo series shows some of the worst running shoes you’d never want to wear … let alone walk 6 kilometers in.
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I painfully walked as the sun slowly peeked over the horizon and began meandering its way up over the water, creating a gorgeous, late-summer Midwest morning. The beauty of the Great Lakes surrounded me, with Lake Huron to my left and Lake Michigan to my right. But the beauty of what surrounded me was marred by the throbbing in my feet.
You see, each year during Labor Day weekend, the Mackinac Bridge — a 5-mile bridge that connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan — shuts down. Walkers and runners alike are bussed from the Lower Peninsula to the Upper Peninsula, where they begin the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk. I was in northern Michigan visiting a friend’s family that weekend when they spontaneously decided we should all do the walk. But they had a lake house, so I had only brought flip flops for my weekend beach getaway.
Masked by naivety in my younger age, I said I could totally do it in my $5 flip-flops. It only took a couple miles in to realize the error of my ways, but I had to get to the other side. By the time I did, my feet were blistered and beaten.
Flash forward more than 10 years, and I was following two young girls, 5-year-old Grace and 3-year-old Judith, in northern Uganda as they walked barefoot to gather dirty water for their families. These girls walked about 6 kilometers every day with heavy jerry cans on their heads — without any footwear. I couldn’t even fathom it as I followed closely behind them with my fancy trail runners protecting my feet.
While runners, walkers, and athletes around the world search for the best shoes to enhance their athletic performance, children living in poverty often work, travel, and play in the worst shoes. Our photographers share some of the worst shoes you wouldn’t want to run or walk in.
On average, women and children walk 6 kilometers every day to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink, many of them in poor — or no — footwear. But the state of their shoes or lack of them is often quite low on their list of concerns. This water makes them and their families sick, the children spend their time walking for water rather than going to school, and there are dangers along many of these routes: animals, difficult terrain, and people with evil intent.
On May 19, tens of thousands of people will come together for World Vision’s Global 6K for Water to change this! Every step we take is one they won’t have to, so start your walk for clean water today.
Children and families struggling to survive and thrive in South Asia need your prayers. Please lift up World Vision’s work with communities in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.
… Uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy. …—Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)
Praise God for minimal casualties from Cyclone Phailin.
The Indian government and aid agencies revamped the country’s disaster response system after the Odisha cyclone of 1999 killed 10,000 people. Authorities evacuated nearly 1 million people to storm shelters before Cyclone Phailin hit India Oct. 12, 2013, and this response likely saved thousands of lives since fewer than 25 people died. While lives were spared, livelihoods were not. The storm destroyed about 250,000 homes and millions of dollars in crops. World Vision distributed relief supplies to the hardest-hit families in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh states.
Lord, we thank You for improved systems and alert leaders, and we are especially grateful for the lives spared during Cyclone Phailin.
Pray for child marriage to decline in Bangladesh.
Two-thirds of Bangladeshi women ages 20 to 24 were married or in union before they turned 18 — the legal age for marriage. Often induced by financial hardship or social pressures, child marriage is one reason babies born to adolescent mothers are more likely to have low birth weight, be malnourished, or die in infancy. As part of its child marriage prevention work, World Vision teaches children about the dangers and challenges of child marriage and the benefits of education.
Father God, give young women forced into child marriage a patient hope for stability and improved health and relationships. Allow parents to value their daughters for who they are, not how much money they cost the family. Help education become a priority for girls and their parents.
Pray for child well-being in Nepal.
About 41 percent of Nepali children younger than 5 are stunted — short for their age. About 1 in 8 young men and 1 in 5 young women are illiterate. And due to widespread poverty and insufficient child protection laws, children may be mistreated and have few rights in society. World Vision helps Nepali adults improve their parenting skills and livelihoods to provide safe, stable home environments. World Vision also provides children with after-school activities like music, sports, and vocational and leadership development.
Lord, touch the hearts of Nepal’s leaders to create and enforce laws and systems that protect and empower children. Bless parents with wisdom to guide their children and provide opportunities for nurturing as well as sustenance.
Pray for resettled communities in Sri Lanka.
At least 70,000 people died and hundreds of thousands were displaced during Sri Lanka’s 26 years of civil war, which ended in 2009. The war fractured communities and destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure. World Vision is helping families to achieve economic stability, communities to rebuild infrastructure, and children to become healthy and catch up on their studies.
Heavenly Father, as war-weary families return home hopeful for lasting peace, may leaders catch a glimpse of Your vision for restoring a stable, healthier life in their community. Bring hope for lasting peace to fulfillment.
Pray for the church in India.
Most Indians identify as Hindu, but almost 6 percent of the population is Christian. The church is growing throughout India at a rate not seen in most countries. World Vision educates local church leaders about the causes of poverty and trains them to build long-term relationships with people living in poor communities. We also facilitate prayer meetings and empower youth nationwide to effectively suffering privation.
In Luke 4:18, Jesus tells us His mission includes bringing good news to the poor. Lord, anoint and equip leaders and youth in the Indian church to take up the cause of the poor in their cities, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God as they serve people’s needs.
Antonio Moldovan shares a worn two-room house with his parents, grandparents, and three siblings in Romania’s Transylvania region. The 11-year-old’s family has so little that, at times, the adults sacrifice a meal so the children can have clothing or other essentials.
Antonio’s family is Roma, an ethnic group that faces discrimination in Romania. His parents and grandparents can’t read. They work in neighbors’ fields during the growing season to earn income for the whole year. Their only hope for the children is that they learn to read, so they will have more options in life.
World Vision and the local mayor are working in Antonio’s community to help families living in extreme poverty. The organization built a learning center near the clustered Roma homes so children can get extra help with homework after school. Between school and the center, Antonio has learned to read. He now reads to his parents and grandparents — and he especially likes to read the Bible.
This family has rising hope for the future. Please lift up Romanian children who still lack educational or economic opportunity, struggle with disabilities, or have lost the connection to their spiritual heritage.
Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?—Job 30:25
Pray for access to education.
While about 98 percent of Romania’s children attend primary school, children from many Roma communities do not. As a result, the work Roma families can do is limited, and the children suffer.
Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing Antonio with an education. Please help his peers in Roma communities to access schools with passionate, dedicated teachers.
Pray for economic opportunity.
Many Romanians living in rural areas have trouble finding reliable income. Entrepreneurial parents like Gheorghita and Florintina have found a sweet solution to their economic woes in their own backyard — keeping beehives and selling the honey. World Vision makes this possible for struggling families, providing training, hives, and equipment to help families launch their own beekeeping businesses.
Lord, thank You for the many ways You creatively provide for people. Reveal more ways for Romania’s rural families to earn a living from Your creation.
Pray that youth will have their spiritual needs met.
The mission of the Orthodox Church — Romania’s Christian heritage — was highly suppressed during communist rule. Today, World Vision is helping the re-emerging church reach young people like 13-year-old Elena Damaian in relevant, engaging ways. Elena is one of many teens connecting to the Orthodox Church through newly established youth groups. These youths are encountering Christ and growing together in faith.
Jesus, You are the hope of the world. Reinvigorate pastors and Orthodox Church leaders to inspire young people to be Your disciples. Empower all believers to preach the good news with boldness.
Pray for children with disabilities.
Ionela can’t afford treatment for her 5-year-old daughter, Valentina, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant. Today this doting mother is able to take her daughter to a World Vision center in Bucharest. Here Valentina receives free therapy, and Ionela connects with other parents and learns to care for her daughter’s special needs at home.
Lord Jesus, in the spirit of Matthew 4:24, please heal Romania’s children suffering from debilitating ailments and disabilities. Provide adequate support and resources to enable struggling parents to care for these beloved children.
Pray for abandoned Romanian children.
At least 2 million Romanian adults have crossed into neighboring countries in search of higher-paying jobs — often leaving their children behind. Eight-year-old Toader and 11-year-old Parascheva were abandoned and now live with their ailing grandmother in a cramped two-room cottage. The children earn good grades in school, but the family has sold most of its pigs just to survive.
God, You are sovereign over these children’s pain and struggles. Help Romania’s leaders improve infrastructure so families can seize employment opportunities at home and be reunited.
Contributors: Chris Huber and Nathalie Moberg, World Vision staff