In October 2008, Hannah Teter, who won the 2006 Olympic snowboarding gold medal in the half pipe, met with a group of Kenyan women. They had, many along with their children, been kicked out of their homes because they are HIV-positive. Their husbands wanted nothing to do with them, Teter says…Teter decided to give the women $30,000 to buy land and build a hotel that they can run to make a living. That's on top of a commitment she made to give all of her contest winnings since the 2007-08 season to help provide clean-water infrastructure and other improvements to their community of Kirindon, Kenya. She found the community through World Vision, with whom she partnered after founding Hannah's Gold in the months following the 2006 Olympics.
World Vision Gift Catalog: The Perfect Gift
Quick, what did you give or receive last year? How about two years ago? Most of us can't remember, unless it was a big-ticket item. Two years ago I bought two gifts for people I have never met. One was a goat and the other a sewing class. Both went to people in countries who need just a little to enable them to take care of themselves and their families. The gifts were purchased through the humanitarian organization World Vision and while I can't track my gifts, World Vision has told me stories of people who have received similar presents
A humanitarian agency says greater funding, resources and coordination are needed if targets are to be reached to reduce malaria cases. World Vision is reacting to the World Health Organization’s annual report on the disease, which says “significant progress has been made in delivering life-saving malaria nets and treatments.” Craig Jaggers, World Vision’s health and education advisor, says he’s not surprised at the successes detailed in the report. He credits his own agency as well as the U.S. government, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the World Bank and others.
A baby is born every second in Africa, where the world's highest fertility rates are threatening to drive a desperate continent even deeper into poverty. A McClatchy special report shows how Africa's population boom –expected to reach two billion by 2050 -- is pushing children and families to the brink, and how the U.S. government contributed to the crisis.
Last year…young men from nearby villages began coming around to ask after the slender seventh-grader with the almond eyes and the shy smile. Aine Armando Wasso was determined to ignore the inquiries, but they got her mother's attention. "Enough school," she told 15-year-old Aine one day after coming in from the family's small farm. "It's time for you to get married."…"When we talk to parents, they say they don't have a choice but to marry off their young girls so they can get something for themselves," said Nolita Vasco, a community activist with World Vision, a U.S.- based aid agency.
In Mozambique, World Vision, a Christian charity, runs a child sponsorship program through which donors in the United States help more than 28,000 boys and girls get access to food, health care and education
A Charitable tour
Armchair travelers can now become computer-chair travelers with the Spirit of Christmas tour. Three employees from World Vision, a Christian charity organization that battles poverty worldwide, are visiting five countries to see how its donor gifts are affecting the lives of the recipient families. You can follow the team -- Devin Hermanson, senior director of the World Vision gift catalogue; Heidi Isaza, assignment editor of World Vision magazine; and Tom Costanza, senior videographer…
Charitable Gifts Keep on Giving
What do you give that person who appears to have everything? How about a gift that helps the environment, starving children or even some local organizations? “In pretty much any disaster, economic or otherwise, children bear the brunt of the pain," said Devin Hermanson, senior director of World Vision's gift catalog. For nearly 60 years, the Washington-based Christian humanitarian charity has worked to help impoverished children and their families through charity gifts. The catalog offers more than 100 items ranging from farm animals to school supplies people can purchase in honor of relatives and friends for underprivileged families.
A cholera epidemic is sweeping across Kenya, with 4,700 cases reported in the past month and 119 deaths in what Kenyan officials are calling “one of the worst outbreaks in a decade.” […] “People are really sick, and coming down from the hills, and we really don’t know how bad this is yet,” Nicholas Wasunna, a humanitarian adviser for the aid group World Vision, said Friday... “These are the perfect conditions for cholera,” said Maina Kingori, a program officer at World Vision.
He is 5 feet 6 inches tall with wispy red hair, and he likes to shoot free throws. And at 15, Austin Gutwein of Mesa is using those free throws for a global initiative to raise millions ot help indirect victims of AIDS. Austin founded Hoops of Hope five years ago after he learned that countless children have been orphaned because their parents died of AIDS. "It's amazing that a 15-year-old can do this," said John Yeager, director of communication for Seattle-based World Vision, a Christian-based humanitarian charity organization that has built the facilities in Africa with funds raised from Hoops of Hope.
Legislation would begin to address the problem, said Rory Anderson, deputy director for advocacy and government, relations for Federal Way-based World Vision, which works in easter DRC and endorsed McDermott's bill. "Americans deserve to know whether the electronics they buy are fueling bloodshed in Africa," she said, adding that the law would benefit the electronics and software industries by providing a certified mechanism to label their products "conflict free."
>More than 24,000 infants die daily from preventable diseases in developing countries because governments have failed to spend more on health care, an international aid group said Monday. A report from World Vision said that where governments have shown a high level of political leadership on child health, deaths have fallen. The group cited Liberia as an example: childhood deaths there have dropped by half the last five years.
The survey commissioned by Federal Way, Wash.-based World Vision indicates they are prudent to not raise their expectations for now. The survey did find, however, that 74 percent of Americans plan to increase their charitable giving once the economy improves. The nation's most successful fundraising organizations expected to see their income decline by an average of 9 percent in 2009, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. […] World Vision saw individual cash donations drop by $33 million this past year, but government grants, corporate donations and staff cuts made up for most of the shortfall. Devin Hermanson, senior director of the nonprofit's gift catalog, has high hopes for the holiday season, despite the fact that the agency's own survey points in the opposite direction. This year's survey found 57 percent of American adults planned to spend less on holiday presents, but that's better than last year's 71 percent.
Hotelier launches new Hope for Haiti
Grimes, 50, reached out to friends and associates. She also teamed up with World Vision, an international humanitarian organization, and the city of Miami. Operation Hope for Haiti was born… Grimes is helping raise awareness and funds for Haiti's Central Plateau region, where World Vision has been working to create a sustainable village near Hinche, a community of about 52,000… Coming up: MDC honors students are recruiting runners to collect donations for the ING Miami Marathon in January, with pledge money going to Grimes' project and World Vision.
A Weaker Storm Devastated El Salvador
“There’s a gloomy, sad air,” said Laura Mata, a relief worker at World Vision, who described in a telephone interview how roads were blocked by debris and homes were obliterated on the way to San Vicente, where the damage was the worst. “A lot of the homes are made of aluminum or mud. They are now gone,” she said.
Rich Stearns works and lives just outside Seattle. He grew up in New York state. He lived in Philadelphia for 10 years. So he was torn as a fan watching the Yankees and Phillies in the just-completed World Series. He couldn't wait for someone - anyone - to lose. "I just want to make sure someone loses, so others can win," the president of World Vision said.
MLB, World Vision to donate unused gear
The team that loses the World Series may win some new fans abroad. With the Series down to its final days and the outcome still undecided, championship merchandise has already been manufactured for both the Phillies and the Yankees. While the winning team and its fans will proudly sport champion T-shirts, the losing team's apparel will be sent to Indonesia to aid in the nation's recovery from a September earthquake. Major League Baseball is teaming with World Vision, a humanitarian organization, to include the clothing in a shipment of supplies headed to Indonesia late this week.
A month after parts of the Philippines were devastated by successive typhoons, tens of thousands of people remain homeless and more than 150 have been killed by waterborne diseases, officials said. Children are particularly vulnerable, according to Diwa Gacosta, a local representative of World Vision. She said that cramped and unsanitary conditions had caused an increase in these diseases. “The impact of the flood to children’s health is really a problem,” Ms. Gacosta said Sunday.
"The frequent storms are making it very difficult for relief agencies to help rebuild. Another storm, or any calamity, would be sure to set back their recovery," said Filomena Portales, a spokeswoman for relief agency World Vision.
India recovering from floods
World Vision India’s James Watt is interviewed.
President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize? Yes, we can celebrate it, but…holding him accountable may also mean changing our ideas of what peace and security actually mean. In Afghanistan, possibly the least peaceful or secure place on earth, it's time for Obama to shift the balance of U.S. troops from soldiers to armies of doctors, midwives, engineers and arborists… an infusion of new troops was supposed to secure control and help pave the way for more "soft power" efforts. But some influential aid groups, including World Vision, have argued that the U.S. should pay more attention to economic development, and separate that work from its military operations.
"The long term impact is what should concern all of us, especially in a year when we were going through a drought," Jayakumar Christian, India director for World Vision, told AFP from Chennai, capital of southern Tamil Nadu state. "Earlier there was migration due to drought and now there is migration due to monsoon," he said.
Typhoon Parma slams into Philippines
World Vision, the Christian humanitarian organization, was planning to launch relief operations Saturday evening in Isabela Province, one of the areas slammed by Parma. The group also plans assistance for nearby Cagayan province, whose capital, Tuguegarao, is being hit hard by Parma's strong winds.
Some rescuers dug by hand, watched by anxious crowds looking for lost friends and family. "They're still trying to rescue people, but I don't know if they will succeed when I look at the [damaged] buildings," says Enda Balina, an aid worker for World Vision, speaking from Padang.
Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, has been struggling with a shortage of clean water and fuel. "There's no electricity, there's no running water," said Enda Balina, emergency communications officer for aid agency World Vision, speaking from the center of Padang.
Humanitarian aid agency World Vision also dispatched a needs-assessment team to Padang within hours of the earthquake. "Many buildings have collapsed, including a hospital," the agency's emergency communications officer Enda Balina said. "We're afraid many people are trapped inside the rubble." James East, World Vision's Asia-Pacific communications director, said the organization has hundreds of trained staff, based in countries around the region, who are ready to respond to disasters in their own areas. In the Philippines last weekend, when Typhoon Ketsana dumped a month's worth of rain on Manila and the surrounding area in half a day, World Vision and other agencies were able to immediately begin distributing emergency food and water supplies.
People like Brian Carlson, IT director for humanitarian and emergency affairs at World Vision, are working on technology to improve such early-warning infrastructure. Carlson, who traveled to India shortly after the 2004 tsunami, said he noticed two communities just miles apart: one was full of survivors, while the other was wiped out entirely. The reason for that difference was that the surviving village was notified by a family related to a man in Singapore who saw the tsunami warning on TV and called his family. "It was a simple phone call on a cell phone that saved hundreds of people," Carlson says.
World Vision, a Federal Way-based humanitarian organization, is mobilizing help to the region and will be rallying support in West Seattle Thursday from members of Seattle's Samoan community and local churches. They expect to send a team to the island within days and say help is greatly needed.
"What typically happens is that people become terrified to go back into their homes, especially if damaged, as there will be numerous aftershocks," Jimmy Nadapdap, director of World Vision Indonesia, said on the aid group's website. "Securing alternative shelter will be critical."
World Vision, a nongovernment agency helping people in all weather-affected countries, said the new storm could hamper aid delivery. "Families are now just starting to pick up what was left of their lives," said Elnora Avarientos, World Vision's chief in the Philippines. "Now, I'm afraid ... Typhoon Parma would make it a lot harder for the affected families to cope and for the relief ... agencies to respond."
Typhoon Kills at Least 41 in Vietnam
The floods could reach the historic highs of 1964, said Le Van Duong, a relief and disaster mitigation coordinator for World Vision International, a Christian aid organization.
Airlines Have a Tough Call To Make
Roger Flessing was on an American Airlines flight to Seattle recently when he began speaking with his son on his iPhone.
Danang is predicted to be in the eye of the storm. "It's very windy, and trees have already blown down," said Le Van Duong, World Vision's emergency response coordinator in Danang. "We have seen the evacuation of 3,000 families from our project areas to safer places, including schools, and we have already distributed noodle packs to 700 families."
Recession Pinches People’s Generous Instincts
One in ten responded they've upped their giving, but the headline is the one in three who are donating less. This summer, World Vision had to lay off 50 people from its US staff. It also cut vacant positions. Portland-based Mercy Corps laid off 22 from its stateside staff earlier this year. Lana Reda says her sponsor-a-child programs are holding their own. She attributes that to the "personal connection" donors feel toward the child. But total private donations are down.
Hugh Jackman on Living Green
In celebration of Climate Week, kicking off in New York today, Vulture hero Hugh Jackman took time away from his grueling rehearsal schedule for Broadway's A Steady Rain to speak at a U.N. press conference on green living: "To be fair, as an actor, this is not something I'm very accustomed to, and probably about twelve months ago this kind of event would have maybe overwhelmed me a bit," he told reporters. I started as ambassador for World Vision. I actually started doing the 40 Hour Famine.
NGOs try to give poor a voice
Nearly 50 people from organizations such as World Vision and Oxfam America will work their cell phones and write releases on how decisions of the G-20 might affect the poorest of the poor. The government relations arm of World Vision, a major Christian aid agency, has been in conversation with G-20 advisers to discuss how policies impact the poor. "The NGO role at these summits is to be a voice for the poor and to hold leaders accountable to promises they have already made," said Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, a spokeswoman for World Vision.
A devastating drought is sweeping across Kenya, killing livestock, crops and children…The United Nations World Food Program recently said that nearly four million Kenyans — about a tenth of the population — urgently needed food. But donor nations have been slow to respond, and a United Nations-led emergency appeal for $576 million is less than half financed… “At a time like this, we need donor confidence,” said Nicholas Wasunna, a humanitarian adviser for the aid group World Vision.
Rape and Recovery in the Congo
Women's advocates praise the Congolese government for new laws that seek to punish sexual violence, but note that these laws are rarely enforced. Nonetheless, women have been slowly pressing civil and criminal trials, often with the help of foreign organizations. "There are so many obstacles to women who want to press charges," said Anna Ridout, Congo coordinator for the U.S. relief group World Vision. "There is the embarrassment, of course. But this is not a very legal culture out here, and the courts are not a familiar place for most [rural women]."
Powerful Earthquake Kills 57 in Indonesia
More than a day after a major earthquake jolted Indonesia's Java Island, killing at least 57 people, there is still no word from remote villages along the coast, a relief worker told CNN Thursday. "This earthquake has injured hundreds of people and (destroyed or damaged) thousands of houses," World Vision's Katarina Hardono said.
Some rural regions, particularly along West Java's southern coast, could not be reached by telephone and there may be more victims and damage, said Trihadi Saptoadi, who heads the Indonesian branch of the Christian charity World Vision. He was in the district of Pangalengan, one of the province's worst hit areas, where he said five died, 50 were injured and 6,700 houses were destroyed in 13 villages. "There is a soccer field full of tents for about 500-700 people," he said. Electricity was still cut off and there was a shortage of water and food.
The voting in Afghanistan is over, but the outcome of last week’s elections is still unknown. Beyond the political debate, another growing concern has emerged: the diminishing rights of Afghan women...In recent months, there has been an accelerated Taliban resurgence in several areas of the country, and many development organizations, like World Vision, are concerned that the strides made in the past few years could be eroded.
Inside the cavernous Spokane Arena, thousands of women looking on in eager anticipation, Richard Stearns walks onto the stage...Taking a huge pay cut and moving his family across the country, he landed in Federal Way to lead the U.S. branch of World Vision, the largest Christian relief and development organization in the world.
While completing peaceful elections would be a positive step, "Afghans I've spoken with don't feel invested in these elections because they're not seeing progress or a viable government in their own communities," said Christine Beasley, country program manager for World Vision, a Federal Way-based group that has worked in Afghanistan since 2001 with a staff of 250 on the ground, mostly local Afghans.
Christine Beasley, the program manager in Afghanistan for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian group, says Afghanistan did modernize in the 1960s and the 1970s. But most of the country's rural areas remained conservative in their practice of Islam and treatment of women. "There was relative stability, but the changes in the '60s and '70s were confined to very small, urban elite, primarily around Kabul," Beasley said.
The wrath of Typhoon Morakot has affected nearly 9 million people across four coastal China provinces and killed dozens in Taiwan, officials said Tuesday ... "The most pressing needs now are providing shelter, food and clean water for those who have had to evacuate their homes," said Hank Du, executive director for the humanitarian group World Vision in Taiwan. "We also want to make sure the children are secure and have a safe place where they are cared for."
At least 70 people are dead and hundreds missing after a powerful typhoon slammed into Taiwan and then battered China’s East coat... Joining us now by phone is Albert Yu of the humanitarian group World Vision.
Georgia and the Moscow-backed breakaway province of South Ossetia marked the first anniversary of their conflict Friday with harsh words and quiet, glum ceremony. The five-day war, with Russian troops and tanks backing South Ossetian forces, killed at least 390 people, displaced tens of thousands and left a legacy of animosity between leaders and fears among civilians that more fighting may erupt... About 26,000 people displaced by the conflict are still living in temporary housing in Georgia, many of them on less than $3 a day, according to the international humanitarian organization World Vision.
The city of Tijuana, across the U.S.-Mexico border from California, is coping with a recession and drop off in tourism … In another dusty colonia, Maria del Refugio Salazar is part of a woman's cooperative, also set up with small loans from World Vision.
Audrey Black is feeling the pinch of a tight economy as donations have slowed at the Mountain Creek warehouse she manages. Black oversees The Storehouse, which provides donated items to needy schools and nonprofit organizations...World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization that teams up with communities to fight poverty, operates the Dallas store and eight others ...
When 17-year-old Arielle Arzu hears gunfire, she turns off the lights -- if there's time -- and hits the floor.
"It happens so often that it's become a routine," said Arzu, who lives in Chicago's Austin Neighborhood. She rolled her eyes and sighed, "It's gotten to be it's just another thing that I hate to do. We're just so used to it." That is what she would like to tell members of Congress when she goes to Capitol Hill Saturday with the Youth Empowerment Project, which teaches teens to effect change in their neighborhoods. The Youth Empowerment Project is a program of World Vision, a Christian nonprofit organization.
Most people believe the economic downturn has led to more gang violence, according to a new national survey released Thursday. Of adults interviewed at the end of June by Harris Interactive, 71 percent said gang violence among youth is increasing as a result of the current economic climate. Dana Markow, vice president of Harris Interactive's youth center, said she found it interesting that the public was speaking so clearly on gang issues. Markow emphasized the gang poll, which was paid for by World Vision, a Federal Way, Wash., nonprofit that is combating youth violence around the world, surveyed all adults about what they thought about youth violence, not just parents.
World Vision President
Richard Stearns is president of World Vision, the Federal Way based Christian humanitarian charity organization that works on the issues of poverty and injustice. We talk to him and take your calls. Click here to listen to the program.
And then there is Esperanza Ampah, communications director for World Vision in Ghana. She told me how excited she was about Michelle Obama visiting her home turf, regardless of how brief of a stay it was. She also shared how important the First Lady is not only to her but to her daughter who is currently attending university. Mrs. Obama's career path further helps Ampah when stressing the importance of education, especially for young girls, to all of her children. "As a public figure her word carries weight. Michelle has given a lot of hope to Ghanaian women," she adds. Her colleague, associate director Auckhinleck Adow echoes this feeling. "Michelle Obama proves to the youth in Ghana that, no matter how disadvantaged you are, opportunity can be created for you."
The global economic recession is reversing years of progress in reducing extreme poverty--a stark message that leaders from developing nations, in particular Africa, will take to this week's Group of 8 summit of wealthy countries in Italy. Underlying the alarm over a rising tide of poverty, infant mortality, and hunger is the criticism that wealthy nations have not honored their commitments to substantially increase global aid..."The very real risk is of G-8 countries going back on the [aid] commitments they made because of the economic crisis," says Sue Mbaya, director of Africa advocacy for World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization with worldwide reach.
Piled high with food, Minhaj Bahdar rides a rented motorbike back to his family's temporary sanctuary away from the fighting between Pakistan's army and the Taliban. The little motorbike struggles under the weight of food -- 80 kilograms of wheat, 4kg of sugar, 1 kg of salt and 300 grams of tea. It sounds like a lot -- but it has to last the Bahdar family one month. Twenty-three of them live in two tiny rooms provided by a local villager. They don't have enough food. There is no running water. The family is part of a humanitarian crisis in Pakistan that aid groups say is going largely unnoticed..."Up until now it's been a largely invisible crisis. Most of the displaced -- something like 90 percent of those two-and-a-half million (displaced) -- are staying with host families," Chris Webster, of the World Vision aid organization, told CNN.
Approximately 3 million people have fled the fighting in Dir, Buner and the Swat Valley over the past month, marking the largest migration in Pakistan since the country's partition from India in 1947. . . . "We're basically seeing host community populations more than double in some of these areas. The local infrastructure just can't cope," said Graham Strong, country director for World Vision, an international aid group trying to alleviate the strain.
Across the Amazon basin, river dwellers are adding new floors to their stilt houses, trying to stay above rising floodwaters that have killed 44 people and left 376,000 homeless .... "Most people lost their crops and their cows, and the only thing they have left is their children and their homes," said Dorothea de Araujo, the Amazon operations manager for the international aid group World Vision, after touring an area where thousands were affected. "They want to rebuild, but they are scared of what will happen in the future."
The United Nations is demanding full access to refugee camps that are home to an estimated quarter of a million people fleeing war in Sri Lanka, the United Nations Children's Fund said Tuesday .... Suresh Bartlett, Sri Lankan director for aid agency World Vision, said, "The conventional war may be over, but the real challenge now is to foster an environment where fractured and displaced Tamil communities can heal and have a real chance at creating a future for themselves and their children."
The plight of Pakistanis fleeing warfare in the Swat Valley echoes conditions in such hard-pressed regions as Darfur and Congo, a U.N. relief official said Monday, as thousands more displaced people poured out of the conflict area and strained humanitarian organizations .... Jeff Hall, regional assistant director with humanitarian group World Vision, said one family he visited Sunday in the town of Jalala had 28 people living in a three-room apartment, two rooms of which had collapsed roofs. "And with the lifting of the curfew, there were 15 more people on the way," he said.
More than 360,000 people in northwestern Pakistan have fled their homes in recent days. They were forced to leave as the country's military stepped up its offensive against the Taliban. Some have ended up in refugee camps just south of the battle zone. Graham Strong is the country director for the international aid group World Vision in Islamabad. He talks with Renee Montagne about the humanitarian crisis.
Brazil intensified efforts to ship aid to areas isolated by severe flooding as waters continued rising Monday in a jungle state nearly the size of Alaska and more than 300,000 people remained homeless. At least 40 people have died in the worst northern flooding in at least two decades, and two were still missing Monday after an overloaded canoe capsized over the weekend. While waters were receding in most states, they were still rising in the jungle state of Amazonas, said Dorothea de Araujo, the Amazon operations manager for the international aid group World Vision.
Tens of thousands of civilians, many on foot or donkey-led carts, took advantage of a lifted curfew to flee Pakistan's embattled Swat Valley on Sunday, while the army said it had killed 400 to 500 militants in its battle against the Taliban . . . The international aid agency World Vision said its relief workers were finding "intolerable" conditions at some camps due to soaring temperatures, overcrowding, inadequate toilets and a lack of electricity.
A mass outpouring of refugees from a civil war in its final, bloody phase is spurring a huge aid effort for more than 190,000 ethnic Tamils. By night, bulldozers are clearing more land for vast tented cities being put up during the day on the flatlands of northern Sri Lanka, where the military has corralled the Tamil Tigers along a tiny strip of coastline .... The LTTE has accused the government of deliberately stopping food and medicine from reaching the war zone. Only one ICRC shipment of 30 tons has been delivered in the last month. These deprivations make it crucial to scale up aid for evacuees, says Irene Gates, a relief worker in Vavuniya for World Vision. "If we got their basic needs covered, people may lose some of the trauma that you see in their eyes."
Praying for rain
. . . One year later, the coming crop season brings back some optimism. Farmers are preparing seeds and fertilizers and readying their fields for what they hope will be a harvest of more than enough food and plenty of livestock. “We’re coming now into the first full agricultural season since the cyclone,” says Jeff Wright, emergency response manager for the nonprofit World Vision. “If the season is undisrupted and the crop is a good one, we could be seeing something of a return to ‘normalcy’ on that front.”
A thin girl with caramel skin and a yellow silk blouse walks alone through a barren landscape of rubble. Her legs are marked by cuts. Her face is smeared with white streaks of powder. And her eyes are blank as she sifts through the debris of what used to be her home before Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar one night and swept her parents away. Her name is Nway, and that's how she looked when aid workers found her after Nargis destroyed her isolated village. She refused to talk about the cyclone, pretending it never took place. She became, according to a CNN story, the "girl who refuses to remember." A year later, an aid worker returned to the village to see how Nway was doing. She found Nway living in a tidy, bamboo house flanked by palm trees. The 8-year-old greeted her visitor with a big smile. Then she asked whether she could play with her visitor's hair. Pam Sitko, the aid worker, said Nway -- like thousands of people in Myanmar -- is slowly recovering one year after Nargis demolished their country. "After all of her pain and loss, she really is a spunky girl," said Sitko, who works with World Vision International, a humanitarian group. "She wasn't shy about reaching out to touch my blonde hair."
Heather Ferreira works in the slums of Mumbai, India, where she has watched thousands of women live under a "curse." The women she meets in the squalid streets where "Slumdog Millionaire" was filmed are often treated with contempt, she says. They're considered ugly if their skin and hair are too dark. They are deemed "cursed" if they only have daughters. Many would-be mothers even abort their children if they learn they're female. Yet lately she says Indian women are getting another message from the emergence of another woman thousands of miles away. This woman has dark skin and hair. She walks next to her husband in public, not behind. And she has two daughters. But no one calls her cursed. They call her Michelle Obama, the first lady. "She could be a new face for India," says Ferreira, program officer for an HIV-prevention program run by World Vision, an international humanitarian group. "She shows women that it's OK to have dark skin and to not have a son. She's quite real to us."
Weeks before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization alerted the public to a growing number of swine flu cases, a startup based in Seattle's suburbs already had a hunch something was up. Veratect Inc., a 2-year-old company with fewer than 50 employees, combines computer algorithms with human analysts to monitor online and off-line sources for hints of disease outbreaks and civil unrest worldwide. It tracks thousands of "events" each month -- an odd case of respiratory illness, or a run on over-the-counter medicines, for example - then ranks them for severity and posts them on a subscription-only Web portal for clients who want early warnings .... Even with the flaws, clients like World Vision, the large Christian humanitarian organization based in Federal Way, Wash., pay Veratect for its intelligence. Recently, World Vision shifted resources - water purification tablets and education staffers - to areas Veratect thinks might see cholera outbreaks, said Brian Carlson, the head of technology for World Vision's global relief efforts.
The ethos of the Tamil Tigers rebel group in Sri Lanka has always been to fight and die for the cause, namely, a homeland for the minority Tamils. So it wasn't surprising that the government treated the surrender today of two rebel officials as a significant coup -- and further evidence of its imminent military victory .... As more people emerge, the government and aid organizations are struggling to ramp up relief efforts. "The people are all absolutely exhausted and had a tedious journey and came out with little or nothing, many wading through waist-deep water, bringing their children," said Suresh Bartlett, Sri Lanka director for the humanitarian group World Vision, in a telephone interview from the town of Vavuniya today after visiting a camp for displaced persons.
. . . The decline in tourism in Baja California has been hard for hotels, restaurants and businesses in the region. But the recession threatens to wipe out the principal source of income of dozens of these indigenous women, who for decades have sold their handicrafts on the streets of downtown Tijuana .... To help them find a new source of income, World Vision, an international nonprofit organization, has been using workshops to teach many of the women basic skills in sewing, carpentry and cosmetics. The organization also provides meals daily to dozens of children and teaches the mothers how to become involved in their children's education. Since 2002, the organization has been paying half of the cost of materials for the crafts the women sell.
I spent last week in Zimbabwe, a nation that has lost so much ground from a humanitarian perspective and yet still has so much potential. I saw real signs of hope during my visit. There were media reports of various delegations visiting to assess the country's progress. Previously opposed political parties were talking about the importance of reconciliation. Food commodities were plentiful on shelves in the stores. We even witnessed garbage disposal trucks making rounds for the first time in several years. . . . My discussion with Sekai convinced me that while aid agencies like World Vision bring in significant amounts of humanitarian support, it is committed citizens like Sekai who truly keep a country going.
Ryan Hall conducted his dress rehearsal for the Boston Marathon last Thursday, 11 days before the 113th running of a race last won by an American male 26 years ago .... A win also would give Hall what he covets, greater exposure for his religious and charity work. He and Sara, a national-class 1,500 and 5,000 runner, became affiliated last year with Team World Vision, which raises funds for humanitarian projects in Third World countries. The Halls helped raise more than $1 million, according to the organization, through pledges. In October, they spent 10 days in Zambia on a project to bring clean water to a village.
The crowd gathering in Kansas City each spring to talk about feeding the world typically focuses on tough realities. Always more mouths to feed and more obstacles — wars, weather, politics — standing in the way. But even as people at this year’s International Food Aid Conference discuss world hunger with growing urgency, they speak about a growing will to tackle the problem. . . . Robert Zachrits of the Christian aid group World Vision said he expected “a real opportunity to change things in ways we haven’t seen before.”
..."Before this association, it was hard for Hutus to sit and talk with Tutsi," says Samuel Nyibizi. "When others see members of the association talking freely, they approach and ask, 'How did you get to that point?' Hutu would ask [each other], 'How can you talk to them?' Even Tutsi were asked by other Tutsi." Nyibizi and other members of Ukuri say the association opened the space for dialogue that victims and perpetrators needed, especially after a 2003 amnesty let those who pled guilty to genocide charges return to their homes. The news of their freedom left survivors like Mukangarambe uneasy. " I didnt want to live with any Hutu," she says. "But they tell us that those who died, died. They can't be brought back. Those who remain should find a way to live in harmony." She admits, though, that's not why she joined. Ukuri is more than a dialogue group; members build homes for other members, recieve counseling as they need it and share their stories of forgiveness with other villages to promote reconciliation. It uses some of its financing -- it's now backed by World Vision, an international Christian organization -- to buy goats for its members, who give kids to other members.
The President announced his plan to double U.S. assitance for global agricultural productivity and rural development and called for a comprehensive strategy to alleviate chronic hunger.
Fargo flood relief
Just because the flood waters are receding in the Fargo-Moorhead area doesn't mean the victims don't need anymore help. That's why dozens of volunteers came together to do what they could to help the victims transition to the next phase -- cleanup and recovery. While they are not sandbagging, volunteers are bagging up other essentials for flood victims, including shampoo, lotion and deodorant ... "Someone who's already existing, already has existing problems with hardship, now they have been compounded so we're able to offer some great assistance to those very same people," Audrey Black, of World Vision, said.
Zimbabwe: Country in Crisis
Chaos is put on hold following the death of Prime Minister Tsvangirai's wife.
...To celebrate International Women's Day, 30 women from World Vision in eastern DRC joined Martha and her association to spend the day working the land and harvesting crops. World Vision is also presenting them with 100 Congolese dresses, 50 hoes and a contribution to help the group pay their land rental.
...Although initial reports of Israel targeting a U.N. school proved inaccurate, more than a half dozen schools were destroyed and about 175 damaged. "The emotional problems children face result not just from three weeks of severe conflict, but prior to that, a year and a half of essentially being under ssiege," said Ashley Clements, a spokesman for the charity World Vision. "They have been unable to get out and do not live what most of us would regard as a normal childhood."
Plum teens get a taste of going hungry
When Sara Townsend gets home from school on Friday afternoon, she won't be getting ready to go out to a restaurant or to the movies with friends. Instead, the Plum Senior High School student will head to Unity Community Church in Plum, where she and about 35 other members of her youth group will go hungry for half the weekend to raise money to feed starving children across the world. Dozens of teens in the Pittsburgh area -- along with thousands across the country -- plan to participate in a nationwide "30 Hour Famine" on Friday and Saturday. Participants ask donors to sponsor them during the fast, and all proceeds go to World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to providing food and care to impoverished children and their families.
The youth and young adults of Grace Lutheran Church, 254 Curtiss Parkway, Miami Springs, will join this weekend with more than a half-million other youths from around the world to be a part of the 30 Hour Famine from 8 a.m. Saturday to noon Sunday.
Ever wonder where the levitating tire from “Cats” went? The helicopter from “Miss Saigon”? The Broadway League’s Broadway Goes Green environmental initiative means that much of what used to wind up in a trash heap will be repurposed or recycled. Seven tons (steel, wood, fabric and carpet) will be recycled, and eight tons will be reused by various organizations, including the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens; ReBuilders Source, a reuse store in the Bronx; and the children’s charity World Vision.
Before the Super Bowl and conference championship games, the NFL and its official apparel licensees print up hundreds of shirts and caps to be distributed to the players and coaches on the winning team's sideline and thousands more that eventually will be sold in stores and online. The winners -- in this case, the Steelers -- get to celebrate in their new gear. But the losers are left wearing their street clothes after the game. World Vision, a Christian relief organization, collects the losers' items and redirects them to impoverished families.
NFL Super Bowl gear
Where does the Superbowl loser's apparel go? Find out as NBC's Today accompanies World Vision to Nicaragua.
Rwandan troops have crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo to prepare for a joint operation with Congolese forces against a Hutu militia, the United Nations said. "We can tell you there are Rwandan soldiers here, but I cannot confirm the numbers," said Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesman for the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo .... Michael Arunga, a Kenya-based spokesman for the World Vision aid organization, said his colleagues in Goma -- a city in eastern Congo -- told him that Rwandan troops arrived Tuesday morning in the village of Ishsha, outside of Goma.
Palestinian militants declared Sunday that they would stop attacks on Israel for a week, a statement that came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a unilateral cease-fire in the country's assault on Hamas in Gaza. The Palestinians demanded that Israel remove all troops from Gaza within the week, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said from Egypt. The agreement appears to cover all Palestinian armed factions, not only Hamas .... Israel said it launched the offensive in Gaza to stop the firing of rockets -- primarily the short-range homemade Qassam rockets -- from the territory into southern Israel by Hamas fighters. "We welcome any alleviation of violence, with cautious optimism and hope that these declarations of cease-fire will lead to the end of fighting," said Charles Clayton, national director of World Vision Jerusalem, an aid group. "We call on all parties to stop attacks, including Hamas' rocket strikes against Israel, and refrain from further hostilities."
A shoe shiner with a global agenda
A Seattle man makes a difference by helping bring much-needed clean water to a village on the edge of the Amazon Forest in Bolivia. NBC’s Chris Jansing reports.
Israel has agreed to establish a "humanitarian corridor" to supply residents of Gaza with aid as international concerns about conditions among civilians mount, according to a government statement. The statement, posted on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Web site, said Olmert decided to accept a proposal from security advisers to open the corridor. It said a path into Gaza, where Israel launched a ground offensive against Hamas militants on Saturday, "will be opened for a specific period of time, during which the population can receive the aid" .... Jerusalem has been under intense international pressure to let goods pass, because of shortage of food, medicines and fuel. “There are food shortages. ... The health system is overwhelmed. The people here don't have electricity," Mohammed El-Halaby, program manager for humanitarian group World Vision, said earlier this week.