World Vision Spearheads Efforts to Help Children

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SEATTLE — Founded in 1950, World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization that is spearheading community-building efforts and grassroots initiatives in more than 98 countries. With strongholds in Asia and the Pacific, East Africa and South Africa, World Vision initiatives are empowering children all over the world to grow more self-sufficient.

Recently, the Borgen Project was given the opportunity to interview with World Vision Singapore executive Elizabeth Lee and attend a talk on one of World Vision’s most pioneering initiatives: child sponsorship.

World Vision has a very distinct five-sector approach that forms the bedrock of its outreach to various communities. The pillars are the provision of water and sanitation, health and nutrition, education, food security and economic development. By targeting each of these systematically, children are more likely to maximize the potential of their education and become economically self-sufficient.

World Vision Singapore’s Heart to Hamper and Help Asia Hamper is proving especially beneficial to sustain families throughout Asia and to alleviate food insecurities. Due to World Vision’s initiatives to improve education, literacy rates in Sri Lanka have moved from 37 to a record 50 percent, and in Myanmar, from 65.7 percent to a record 98 percent.

World Vision operates a unique three-pronged program to help poverty-stricken children in various rural communities, taking 15 years from start to finish. The first stage revolves around assessing community needs, conducting research and surveys to better understand communities. Experts from cities are consulted so that the field workers and staff are better equipped. Stage two is an implementation period of nine years, and the final two-year stage is referred to as the Phasing Out Stage, during which communities become self-reliant and are able to build on the foundations that World Vision created.

World Vision’s initiatives, namely Children Crisis and Child Sponsorship, are also instrumental in reaching out to children. Despite facing struggles in appealing to the public at times, World Vision Singapore is achieving massive success on this front. For just $45 a month, donors can sponsor a child and provide them with basic necessities. Donors also provide gifts such as books or stationary that specifically enhance the child’s learning abilities and potential. The gifts are coupled with letters to them and even visiting them whenever possible.

“My sponsor inspired me to study,” says 13-year-old Namphron, who has benefited from World Vision Singapore’s Child Sponsorship program. Additionally, World Vision Singapore also focuses a lot on fundraising and collaborating with other regional offices to help contribute to other World Vision initiatives and to cater to the needs of children all over the world.

However, the Children in Crisis program caters to more short-term aid and is not a community-based initiative. This is primarily aimed at children who are especially vulnerable to the threat of trafficking and other human rights violations.

Many of World Vision’s initiatives also target communities that are adversely impacted by natural hazards such as intense droughts, flooding, earthquakes, landslides and much more. World Vision Somalia is currently grappling with the combined effects of drought and mass displacement.

Financial accountability is extremely important to World Vision. Reports of audited accounts are published online for the public to view. In FY15, 84.5 percent of World Vision’s funding went towards its initiatives, international and local ministries, while the rest are earmarked for public education and administration.

World Vision staff face many problems in the provision of aid. It is difficult to channel aid to communities that are in remote locations and build and repair schools in places like Kathmandu. It can take aid workers many days to reach these communities.

Sometimes, it can take plenty of advocacy efforts to dispel the skepticism and initial suspicions of the people in the initial stages of community building. ‘’Doing work in the field is very different because of the cultural mindsets of the people and geographical difficulties,’’ Lee said.

The social progress that World Vision is making is truly remarkable as it is directly providing assistance to bolster the capacity and resilience of communities. World Vision’s initiatives are paving the way for future generations to enjoy a sustainable future.

Shivani Ekkanath

Photo: Flickr

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