NORTH TUSTIN, California — People accomplish amazing feats when inspired to make a difference in the lives of others. Running a marathon is a daunting task but one that also raises awareness for common global challenges with its uniqueness, skill and achievement. Don Lee completes two incredible efforts, notably in global humanitarianism with World Vision and the partnership with the Orange County Marathon to raise awareness of numerous worldwide issues.
The Issues to Combat
In everyday life, people often take certain luxuries for granted. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019, only two-thirds of the world retains the ability to access clean water, while 3 billion individuals lack sanitation resources to wash their hands. The importance of hygienic resources became excessively clear during the pandemic, as the lack of clean water exacerbates global health problems.
Additionally, the lack of resources impacts other areas of life. Women and girls are the individuals to collect water in 80% of households, according to research from 2017. This occurrence affects girls’ ability to attend school. Fortunately, various organizations create programs and partnerships to facilitate the path to finding solutions to these issues. One of these organizations is World Vision.
About the Organization
Don Lee is a member of World Vision, a Christain humanitarian organization that works to reduce poverty in communities around the world. The organization began in the 1950s with Bob Pierce and expanded to about 100 countries. World Vision commits to community development, emergency relief, the spread of justice and awareness of social issues through its partnerships with churches.
In an interview with The Borgen Project, Lee particularly emphasized how World Vision bases its assistance on the values of trust and building a cooperative relationship between communities without imposing an authoritative figure. World Vision focuses on providing the support and resources necessary for communities to reduce poverty personally.
World Vision hopes to exist within a community for a short period of 15 to 20 years before allowing the community to become self-sustaining and independently successful. Lee adds the transformation from start to finish in communities in Ethiopia represents an impressive improvement that he personally experienced.
Don Lee’s Journey in World Vision
Before becoming involved with World Vision, Don Lee was a pastor for 11 years. Lee first began his work in global humanitarianism in 2007 when he learned of the Global Clean Water Crisis. According to the Human Development Report in 2006 and a resource on Coping with Water Scarcity in 2007 from the United Nations, a fifth of the world’s population faces physical water shortages and a similar amount lacks the infrastructure necessary to obtain water from natural sources. Developed under the theme of Coping with Water Scarcity in 2007, World Water Day outlined the intention for better international and local management of water resources.
Lee recognized this global phenomenon and also read the book The Hole in our Gospel by retired World Vision CEO Rich Stearns. Lee’s church established a relationship with Team World Vision and its work with the Orange County Marathon in the United States. Shortly after, Lee began to work with World Vision.
Don Lee’s Job with World Vision
Lee’s current title is West Region Manager for Senior Church Advisors, though his previous title was Senior Church Advisor of Team World Vision in Orange County and Long Beach. He manages a group of individuals that facilitates partnerships with churches or other organizations in developing communities.
As part of his first job with World Vision, Lee collaborated with the Orange County Marathon in 2015. Runners embrace the opportunity to complete the incredible accomplishment of a half or full marathon. At the same time, the endeavor creates an atmosphere of support for the runner and other global goals for clean water and resources for communities in need.
Over the years, runners of the OC Marathon raised over $1 million to support World Vision’s global humanitarianism. This number is simply the impact that one small team in Orange County completed. Team World Vision also works in numerous locations around the nation, notably, the larger groups in Chicago and Los Angeles that raise awareness for World Vision’s values and aspirations in the Chicago and Los Angeles Marathons, respectively.
Apart from local community engagement, Don Lee also traveled to Africa, South and Central America and Asia with other members of World Vision in the United States to observe the work World Vision completed in developing communities.
Current and Future Plans
World Vision faces enormous success in global humanitarianism. In the area of disaster relief, World Vision helped 78.2 million people. In addition, 3.4 million people now have clean water, 3.4 million children participated in World Vision’s sponsorship program and ten communities became self-sufficient out of 336 communities in 2020. These accomplishments took place amidst the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and other everyday global challenges. The World Vision organization contains 37,000 people providing life-changing action in communities in need.
One of the plans that World Vision recently launched is an initiative for children to choose their own sponsor, Lee explained. This program is called CHOSEN. In place of the usual sponsorship program where donors choose a child in which to provide support, the child instead chooses their sponsor. The initiative presents an opportunity for children to maintain a sense of choice in their lives where poverty takes away the opportunity of choice.
While World Vision provides new opportunities for children to obtain the ability to choose, the program CHOSEN also empowers children in a way that previous sponsorship programs did not. World Vision’s sponsorship program allows children to spend more time in school, become healthier individuals and strengthen communities.
While World Vision is primarily a Christian organization, it works in all communities seeking its help. As the organization continually expands and increases future goals, Don Lee continues to provide his expertise and a compassionate spirit through his previous work as a pastor in global humanitarianism.
– Kaylee Messick