Monthly Archives: May 2010

Running for children’s lives

By Ryan Smith, Associate Editor

This weekend 17 Team World Vision runners are taking on “the ultimate human race.” The Comrades Marathon in South Africa stretches 90 kilometers (56 miles, for us Yanks) from Pietermaritzburg to Durban. Around 17,000 runners are expected to start the race this year.

In addition to the grueling physical challenge of the race, each Team World Vision runner is raising awareness—and raising sponsors—for children in three impoverished countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision in Durban, South Africa (Andrea Peer/WV)

While most of the runners are concentrating on finishing the race under the cutoff time of 12 hours, Josh Cox has a lofty goal—to win. He is the current American record holder at 50k and is widely considered one of the best Americans in the race. “Running Comrades has been a lifelong dream,” he says. “Helping children has been a lifelong passion. Pairing the two makes my heart come alive. Nothing could be sweeter.”

Andrea Peer

Andrea in Honduras

After the race, each of the runners will visit their sponsored child in a South African community, visiting their school and home. My colleague Andrea Peer, a frequent contributor to the magazine, is there to make sure Team World Vision’s visit is successful.

You can support the runners in their goal of raising sponsorship by going to www.theultimatecause.org.

Learn more about the race and track the runners’ progress live at www.comrades.com.

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Goodbye, Art

By Jane Sutton-Redner

Art Linkletter with a member of the Korean Orphans Choir. (WV Archive)

A good friend of World Vision passed away today—radio and TV host Art Linkletter, 97. Over several decades, he publicly supported World Vision, traveling to some of the poorest countries in the world and lending his face and fame to the organization’s early TV specials, boosting fundraising efforts for children in need.

He was a man with a big heart for children, which came through on his programs such as “House Party” and “Children Say the Darndest Things” segments. He had been an orphan himself, abandoned by his Canadian family and adopted by an evangelist. And he experienced the heartache of losing his own children—a daughter to drug-related suicide and a son to a car accident. In interviews he spoke of how these tragedies made him realize it was “pay-back time,” and he certainly made good on that pledge.

Art’s name just came up today in our chapel service, when one of the early directors of World Vision’s office in Korea, Marlin Nelson, recalled Art visiting Seoul. Shortly after chapel, my colleague saw the news of his passing.

At World Vision, we will miss Art Linkletter, but we rejoice in his full and remarkable life … and his joyous homecoming in heaven.

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Class acts for Haiti

by Ryan Smith, Associate Editor

kids help Haiti

The class with a check for mothers' groups in Haiti. (Courtesy Kara Scheid)

One of the best parts of being an editor for World Vision magazine is hearing stories about children helping children. Maybe it’s just my overly sentimental side, but I can’t help but smile when we get letters like the one we recently received from Kara Scheid, a fourth-grade teacher. Her class was concerned about the survivors of the earthquake in Haiti and decided to do something about it.

Here’s the note that Eva Aragó, Katherine Brinkman, Anna duSaire, and Olivia Gredler, four students in the class, wrote:

We’re a class of 27 students from Park Spanish Immersion School in St. Louis Park, MN. As a class we decided to raise money because of the destruction and poverty in Haiti. We reached our goal of over 1,000 dollars. A student’s mom volunteered to help us make buttons that we sold. Some students donated their Christmas or birthday money, and money they earned by having sales, helping neighbors, and allowance. On April 22 our former principal came and talked to us about when she lived in Haiti. At the time, her husband was also helping in Haiti and he sent us photos. She gave some suggestions on where to donate our money. A few days later, we voted on World Vision because we were interested in the mothers’ groups.

We loved being able to help Haiti.

A mothers' group in Haiti. (Katie Chalk/WV)

Thanks so much! I hope everyone in the class has a strong finish to the school year and a fun summer ahead.

Do you know any kids that are doing extraordinary things for Haiti? Let us know in the comments below.

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Caring for the caregivers

By Jane Sutton-Redner

New Day Church's 3rd-to-5th graders with their assembled packs. (Christopher Redner/Children in Need Inc.)

A few months ago, one of the children’s groups at my church, New Day Church in Tacoma, Wash., assembled Caregiver Kits, orange packs containing basic hygiene supplies for the trained volunteers in AIDS-affected communities who care for the sick. This followed a holiday bake sale in which the kids raised $1,600 for 45 kits. Once they received the supplies from World Vision, they gathered at a pizza place to put the kits together.

Assembling the kits with care. (Christopher Redner/Children in Need Inc.)

I had nothing to do with New Day choosing World Vision as its charity, but of course, I’m pleased. And I’m not surprised—New Day kids are almost suspiciously big-hearted.

It’s tough to pinpoint where New Day’s kits went—Caregiver Kits are sent to more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. And the shipping and distribution process can take up to six months, so perhaps they haven’t even arrived at their destination.

But when I came across some photos and quotes from Rakai, Uganda, I thought my church (and others) would be interested to hear why the kits are valued—from the caregivers themselves.

Ugandan caregivers with their new kits. (Sylvia Nabanoba/WV)

“The kit helps me as I look after children who are sick,” says Winifred Nakayima. “I’m able to write down the problems they are facing in the notebook and then include them in my report to the project. That way, we can follow them up and help solve these problems.”

“The torch [flashlight] helps to provide light,” notes Joseph Karamagi, “because sometimes we are summoned to patients’ homes at night, and since we don’t have electricity, it is difficult to see.”

“I give the smooth towels in the kits to the patients’ caretakers for bathing the patients, because sponges sometimes feel hard on their sick, which is tender when they are sick,” says Alex Naggayi.

Alex Naggayi meets with one of her patients, Paskale Kato. (Sylvia Nabanoba/WV)

“We give some of the soap in the kit to our patients for bathing,” explains Yusuf Kakande Mukasa. “This means that even if they are sick, at least they will not have a bad odor.”

Can you imagine caring for the deathly ill without gloves or even a bar of soap? That’s what these heroic people are up against. I applaud the kids at New Day and the many other church and corporate groups who are helping to meet the need.

Learn more about Caregiver Kits here. Or be inspired by this video:

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Coming to a theater near you

By James Addis, Senior Editor

Butterflies of Uganda

(Courtesy Soenke Weiss)

An enquiry from a reader who read “Harrowing Story, Inspiring Play” in the Summer issue prompted me to get in touch with my good friend, Soenke Weiss.

The story is about Soenke’s play, “Butterflies of Uganda,” which is loosely based on the life of Christine Akello—a former child soldier in Uganda whom Soenke met while he working for World Vision. Soenke is now based in Paris and no longer with the organization.

Soenke wrote back with some great news. For the last few years he’s been trying to get money to turn “Butterflies of Uganda” into a film and bring the plight of child soldiers to an even wider audience—and he’s has pulled it off. He’s managed to get support from the European Film Fund, plus investors in Germany and the U.S. He’s also found a worldwide distributor. What’s more, he says he’s got a “high-profile African-American A-list actor on board,” though for contractual reasons he can’t say who that is right now.

Sonke Weiss

Soenke Weiss (John Schenk/WV)

But Soenke’s real delight comes from the fact that most of the cast and crew will be Ugandans—bringing cash and employment to the local economy. Shooting begins in Uganda in July, and Soenke will direct the film himself. If everything goes to plan, the film will be in cinemas in the summer or fall of 2011.

Like thousands of other Ugandan children, Christine Akello was captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to participate in an LRA terror campaign—looting villages, killing and maiming residents, and abducting more children. The nice part of her story is that she managed to escape and was eventually reunited with her family.

Thinking of Christine prompted me to check out the current status of the LRA and its demented leader, Joseph Kony. The LRA has been chased out of northern Uganda and is currently hiding in the Central African Republic. It periodically launches brutal killing campaigns in remote parts of neighboring Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Meanwhile, World Vision is helping thousands who fled the LRA in northern Uganda to resettle back in their villages by reestablishing water and sanitation facilities. Many of the returnees have been forced to live in displaced camps for years. We’ll have a brief report on this in the Autumn issue of World Vision magazine.

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Honoring our mother

Lorraine Pierce in 2004. (Greg Schneider/Genesis Photos)

By Jane Sutton-Redner

Today, I’d like to take the opportunity to honor a special woman, Lorraine Pierce.

We call her “World Vision’s birth mother.” She was there at the beginning when her husband, Bob Pierce, founded the organization. Like many moms, she stayed in the background as we grew. She sacrificed, often putting the ministry’s needs before her own. She has always offered sage words of advice, when asked. And she has prayed for us constantly over six decades—millions of prayers, I imagine.

I’ve had the privilege to spend time with Mrs. Pierce. When I first met her in 2002, I went to Arcadia, Calif., where she was still living in the home she and Bob purchased in the 1950s. I grew up in Arcadia, and while I accompanied her around town, I realized our paths must have crossed in the past. She pointed out a restaurant where her daughter Robin had been a waitress, and she said that she sometimes would cure her evening loneliness by sitting at the counter, drinking coffee and watching Robin work. It was a restaurant my family also frequented. Did I ever see her, the elegant lady with the beautifully styled hair? I wish I’d known that I was in the presence of such a godly woman.

Bob and Lorraine Pierce in the early days of World Vision. (WV Archive)

Man of Vision, the compelling book by Pierce daughter Marilee Dunker, shares in detail the heartaches World Vision’s early years brought Mrs. Pierce. It would be understandable if she harbored some bitterness toward the organization. But she doesn’t, because she believes that World Vision is God’s endeavor. And as someone who has loved the Lord her whole long life, she will not doubt anything that is of God.

Her clarity of vision inspires me and deepens my commitment to this ministry. I thank her for taking this journey with us, now 60 years long.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mrs. Pierce.

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A good week

By Jane Sutton-Redner

This week started out with the huge news that World Vision President Rich Stearns’ book, The Hole in Our Gospel, won the 2010 Christian Book of the Year Award by ECPA in the Christian Life category. Said ECPA’s President Mark Kuyper: “We hope the honor of being named ‘Christian Book of the Year’ will help The Hole in Our Gospel mobilize even more Christians to care for the poor worldwide. In a year of unforgettable world disasters, including the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we are eager to encourage believers to take action for those in need.”

The Hole in Our Gospel is now out in paperback, by the way, and it contains 48 pages of new material, including photos of Rich’s travels (many by Jon Warren) and a comprehensive list of things you can do to answer God’s call by serving those in need.

This cover won a 1st place EPA award.

More good news, from the Evangelical Press Association conference in Dallas, which Ryan Smith is attending: magazine awards! Rich Stearns scored again with a third-place award for his “From the President” column. Also, Jon Warren’s photography brought in first-place honors, as did Kari Costanza’s story, “Five Days of Hunger” (Summer 2009). James Addis also won third place for his strong reporting on “Taking Cover” (Autumn 2009).

I am blessed to work among such faith-filled, passionate people. They could really work anywhere, but they’re choosing to use their considerable skills on behalf of the poor.

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