From the Field

Photos: Christmas around the world

At nighttime, a small group of children in Myanmar smile and laugh as they hold up candle sticks, the light of the flames glowing on their faces.

With the holidays drawing near, signs of the season are emerging in our neighborhood stores, living rooms, and mailboxes. If you’re a child sponsor, you’ve likely received a Christmas card to send to your sponsored child. We encourage you to take a moment and write them a special message before popping it in the mail. We’ve seen firsthand how encouraging these cards can be.

Christmas manifests in various ways around the world for the children we serve. For some, it’s a joyful celebration full of cherished traditions. For others, the season may pass quietly or bring a painful reminder that life is not all it should be. In this collection of photos, we honor each of these children and their Christmas experiences. We also honor you and your partnership with World Vision, for it is through that commitment that children around the world continue to feel the hope of Jesus this season — and beyond.

Ukrainian refugees in Moldova

A little boy sits on a stool surrounded by cardboard boxes inside a golden-walled church. He is bundled up in a thick winter coat and hat. His mother crouches in front of him as she slips winter boots onto his outstretched feet.Natalia placed new shoes on the feet of her 3-year-old son, Macar, during a World Vision distribution for Ukrainian refugees in Moldova in December 2022. Despite being far from home and loved ones, Natalia was determined to make Christmas a celebration for her child. “We will buy a gift for the child … We will definitely put up a Christmas tree,” she says. “At home we bought a goose, but this year [we’ll have] a little chicken.” She continues, “I hope that the war will be over very soon, but a child should still have memories of the fact that there were these little traditions, which in my family have been passed down to me since childhood.” (©2022 World Vision/photo by Eugene Combo)


A girl smiles at the camera while holding up a Christmas card.

Thirteen-year-old Zar in Myanmar was elated to receive a Christmas card from her sponsor in the United Kingdom. She said that receiving these cards make her feel very special. “There are hearts, stars, Christmas ornaments, birds, bells, and snow on this Christmas card. It is so beautiful! I like it very much.” Despite limitations from the pandemic, disasters, and conflict in various regions, World Vision staff will still deliver Christmas cards like this one to sponsored children around the world. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Khaing Min Htoo)


A family of seven or eight people, mostly children, sing happily while sitting on the floor of their simple cement home in Malawi. Each member holds a candle, the golden flames casting warm light upon their faces.Singing songs, lighting candles, and gathering with family and friends — this is how the family of Leon, a 12-year-old girl in Malawi, celebrates Christmas. After back-to-back years of devastating natural disasters, causing food shortages and cholera outbreaks, is no small miracle. Leon and her family don’t face their challenges alone. She is sponsored, and it’s a lifeline for her family and the whole community.

Leon’s family now has four goats to breed and sell thanks to the World Vision animal program in their community. Sponsorship has also helped fund agricultural training and seeds to boost food harvests in the area, as well as nutrition training to improve children’s diets and overall health. (©2023 World Vision/photo by Ben Adams)

South Sudan

Three boys wearing Santa hats smile directly into the camera, their arms looped around each other’s necks.In South Sudan, Christmas is a season of coming together to share God’s love and good food with family and friends. Here, 9-year-old Kobong (left), 11-year-old Maring (center), and 10-year-old Moses (right) don Santa hats in preparation for the festivities. Maring says, “As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, may He grant us peace and love, the joy to love Him back, and for our parents to be blessed so they can send us to school next year.” (©2020 World Vision/photo by Scovia Charles)

United States

Standing in the doorway of a storage room full of toys and games, a little girl in glasses and a pink top smiles happily at the camera, clutching the boxed game she chose from the gift items.A little girl grins after selecting her Christmas present at the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club in Tacoma, Washington. The club held a toy distribution in partnership with World Vision and NBA player Isaiah Thomas on December 12, 2022. For 12 years, Isaiah Thomas has partnered with World Vision to support the Al Davies Boys and Girls Club with coat drives, backpacks, Christmas presents, and Thanksgiving distributions. (©2022 World Vision/photo by Amy Van Drunen)


A group of children in white and black matching outfits gather at the front of an elaborate church to sing as a choir at Christmastime.

A choir of children — many sponsored through World Vision, others registered for sponsorship — sing Christmas carols during evening services at a Romanian Orthodox Church. Through World Vision’s community-based model, both sponsored and unsponsored children benefit from community improvements and programs funded through sponsorship. In fact, for every child sponsored, another four will also benefit. (©2019 World Vision/photo by World Vision staff)


A large group of young children hold up orange plastic bags to the camera during a Christmas party in Brazil.Through a program called “Christmas of Hope,” World Vision and local churches invited Brazilian and Venezuelan children to write each other Christmas cards. The goal of the program was to inspire intercultural unity between two peoples who are learning to coexist as Venezuelans migrate to Brazil.

Pedro, a 10-year-old Brazilian boy, said, “When I made the card, it was an incredible feeling knowing that the child had to leave their country and come to ours. I can’t explain the feeling. At the moment it is sad, but at the same time happy to be making the card. I think he will feel special like I felt doing it.” (©2022 World Vision/photo by Tiago Orihuela)


A boy in Ethiopia is holding a Christmas card and looking into the camera.

Eleven-year-old Kalkidan in Ethiopia holds the Christmas card he received last year from his sponsor in the United Kingdom. His favorite part of the card was the stickers that came inside of it. When asked how he and his family celebrate Christmas, he said, “On ‘Gena’ Christmas holiday, I wear special clothes and celebrate the day with my family.” They play musical instruments, and he likes to play “a drum that is made from animal skin.” (©2019 World Vision/photo by Meron Belay)


Seated closely together in a colorful, striped hammock, a young Cambodian boy and girl smile at the camera while holding a Christmas card between them.“I am very pleased that I received a Christmas card from my sponsor,” says Sinil, 11, in Cambodia. She and her friends got together to turn their cards — which doubled as festive crafts — into 3D Christmas trees. (©2023 World Vision/photo by Vanndeth Um)

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