Imagine the energy of a sold-out sports event, like an NFL championship game. Excitement ripples through the crowd, punctuated by chants and cheers. Every time the home team scores, the fans go wild, as if points on the scoreboard could make their lifelong dreams come true.
That was the mood at an unforgettable event I joined in Kageyo, Rwanda, earlier this year. Throngs of people filled two massive tents and more spilled out onto the surrounding hillsides. They were there for speeches and testimonials, prayers and praises, live music and dancing. I found myself in a sea of kids wearing World Vision–orange shirts. Together we raised our fists and joyfully chanted “ONE MILLION!”
This was a celebration better than any championship game.
Why? We were celebrating the milestone of World Vision reaching 1 million people across Rwanda with access to clean water. Everyone here was a winner! These families now enjoy a water point within 500 meters of their home, instead of a source that took them hours to get to. And clean water flows in their schools, health facilities, and churches.
I visited a health center where the mere turn of a tap was a sign of impact. Previously, expectant mothers had to bring their own water to deliver their babies because the facility couldn’t provide it. Higher school attendance records were another sign, showing that students are in class instead of out gathering water or ill from waterborne parasites. And at a local church, the pastor told me how critical handwashing stations have become in enabling his congregation to feel safe from disease as they greet one another. In these simple but significant ways, clean water is truly a gamechanger, as its impact continues to grow across the community.
The greatest impact promises to be for the kids I met, like 13-year-old Merci. Merci told me that ever since she was a small girl she has had to walk hours to collect water for her family. She was often late to school and fell behind, putting her at the bottom of her class. Now, with a water tap right near her home, she’s not just thriving in school—she wants to become a doctor!
Children like Merci have so much potential, limited only by their circumstances. What makes the difference is the people who invest in them and cheer them on. That’s what you do as a child sponsor or when you give the gift of clean water through the World Vision Gift Catalog. Those gifts grow in impact. Access to essentials like clean water levels the playing field, empowering kids for achievements like finishing their education and discovering their God-given gifts. Further empowered by strengthened families and thriving communities, kids have a shot at becoming the champions we believe they can be.
And as we do this work together in Jesus’ name, we demonstrate the truest meaning of victory — especially significant at Christmas — that Christ came to usher in a new kingdom where hope wins. In the words of 1 Corinthians 15:57, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It’s success when babies are born safely in a clean, sanitary delivery room. It’s a win when churches are able to protect their congregants with handwashing stations. And it’s a triumph when a bright girl goes from doubting she can finish school to dreaming of becoming a doctor. But the biggest prize of all is transformative faith in the One who defeats our earthly troubles and invites us into everlasting life with Him.
Edgar Sandoval Sr. is president and CEO of World Vision U.S. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @EdgarSandovalSr.