When World Vision writers and photographers travel, they visit some of the most generous places in the world. They are received with hospitality, but also get to witness generosity passed on to others. Through their eyes and photos, see this sacrificial giving spread.
In Armenia, families always offer food and coffee to visitors. It’s cultural, and people wouldn’t think of not doing this no matter how they might be struggling. So our Armenia staff made sure to tell families that, even though a team of bloggers would be visiting them, they wouldn’t expect this type of hospitality. They only wanted to hear the family’s story.
Even though Anoush, a widow with a teenage son, heard the same message, she insisted on going to the store and buying not only coffee and sugar but also the cups with which to serve the group. On that visit, Anoush teaches us all a lesson about the hospitality of the heart.
What difference can an act of generosity make? In the case of 14-year-old Srey Neang, it means the chance at a brighter future. She used to live on the streets of Phnom Penh with her mother, who was HIV positive.
When they came to some of World Vision’s nightly training sessions, our staff asked Srey Neang’s mother about getting the girl involved in an apprentice program at a beauty salon. For parents living and working on the streets, this is a difficult dilemma. They desperately need the aid of all their children to help earn money. It warmed my heart that her mother took a chance on an opportunity for a better future for her daughter.
The beauty salon owner, Srey Pich, also took a chance by taking on a girl to train. But that chance paid off. Srey Neang is learning and helping with customers.
Of the World Vision team, Srey Neang says, “They paid attention to me. They care for me.” Sometimes the small act of paying attention can be the biggest act of generosity.
The Dominican Republic
The relationship between sponsors and their sponsored child can sometimes seem distant and unconnected. So when best-selling author and blogger Matthew Paul Turner had the opportunity to meet his sponsored child, Juan, in the Dominican Republic, the emotions came to the surface at the very end of the visit.
When Matthew and Juan hugged each other goodbye, in their embrace there was recognition of six years of kindness and generosity, and the tenderness of having a loved one within arm’s reach was shared without words.
Far from Guatemala City, in a rural community, the sweet sounds of a children’s orchestra ring forth. Every Saturday, you can find Gustavo teaching violin and viola to kids at World Vision’s music school.
“I teach them what I learned, what I continue to learn, and I also encourage them to find opportunities to fight for their dreams — that they can accomplish them,” Gustavo says.
As a sponsored child, Gustavo was part of World Vision’s children’s orchestra. Once he was there, he never looked back. “I’m not sure if it was the music found me or I found the music, but I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come so I could go to the music classes. It was a place where we could be free and at peace,” he remembers.
He practiced every day for four to six hours. Martin, who heads up the orchestra, mentored him, and now Gustavo passes that mentoring along to his own students both about music and life. And who knows who some of his students might go on to mentor?
Sixteen-year-old sponsored girl Arti Yadav spends a few days each week playing games, teaching hand-washing techniques, and tutoring children living in her community’s garbage dump. In her own life, she fights off harassment from men, breathes dense urban air pollution, and struggles to break cultural expectations that favor boys over girls for educational opportunities.
Arti has every reason to look out for herself, but she doesn’t.
She chooses to go into a more dangerous neighborhood, walking over broken glass, and give her time to children living in greater poverty than herself.
Milk mustaches take on a special meaning at the Tare Milk Collection Center in Rwanda. World Vision helped build the facility and train staff as a place for farmers to bring milk and know they would get a fair price. The staff then began to notice malnourished children around the center and saw an opportunity to give back to the community plus to support World Vision’s goals of child well-being.
Chantal Mugirase, who works as the cashier at the Milk Collection Center, faced hunger herself when she was growing up. Now she oversees the feeding program.
Emmanuel (left) is an orphan on his own, moving from house to house for shelter. The staff makes sure the 12-year-old is part of the feeding program. Since he’s been receiving milk, they’ve noticed that he’s more involved with other children in the community as well as being physically healthier.
Chantal says, “I am very confident that these children will be okay. They will grow up. They will grow with that kind of helping heart. They will also be able to help others.” And so the kindness and support will continue to spread.
Four-year-old Claire blesses those around her with her brilliant smile. Before she came to live with a kindly couple — Beata and Vedaste, who attended her church — she showed signs of malnutrition. Her single mother couldn’t provide enough food. Beata and Vedaste once struggled with their own children’s hunger, but thanks to World Vision’s training and support, they now thrive.
“I know pain. I’ve been through painful situations. I know what it means to be hungry. I know what it means to have a child when you don’t have food or drink to give to them,” says Beata. “I feel compelled to help people because God restored my life when I was almost dead. The second chance was given to me to live. I want to use it to help people.” From that pain comes a chance for a brighter future for Claire.
The United States
James Dawson is a school bus driver who had volunteered to evacuate people in his school bus from the oncoming Hurricane Matthew.
Initially, the plan was that he would drive a busload of evacuees who didn’t have reliable transportation to a shelter in Valdosta, Georgia. Then he would turn around and pick up more evacuees.
However, before he could return to his home in Brunswick, Georgia, he got a call telling him to stay in Valdosta at the shelter. He had no supplies with him. Now he had become an evacuee himself. But James wasn’t worried. He put his complete trust and faith in God.
In fact, every day before he starts his bus, he says, “I always say a little prayer asking God to take the steering wheel.” This man of faith’s servant heart and positive attitude in the face of life’s obstacles challenges us all to greater faith.