Category Archives: Recommended Resources

Our history channel

By Jane Sutton-Redner

Here’s a great way to walk through World Vision’s 60-year history (a good prep for the next anniversary-themed magazine). It’s the first of six documentaries available on worldvisiontv.org.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Like it? Watch the next two chapters on the site; three more are in production. See clips of the Korean Orphans Choir singing and dancing with the Muppets and Julie Andrews. Watch heart-tugging footage of Operation Seasweep, World Vision’s rescue ship that plucked “boat people” refugees from the South China Sea in the 1970s. Hear from the people who witnessed pivotal events (and me, although I wasn’t there—I just love our history).

Also on worldvisiontv.org, don’t miss “Back to Amoy,” a documentary of Marilee Pierce Dunker’s visit to China. This is a great preview for the article Marilee wrote for our upcoming Autumn issue, mailing in just a few weeks.

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Man of passion

By Jane Sutton-Redner

Stephen Lewis at a World Vision conference in Bucharest, Romania, in 2004. (Rienk Van Velzen/WV)

One of the people I have most enjoyed interviewing for this magazine is Stephen Lewis, the former (and first) UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, in 2002. He was well-spoken, as you’d expect of a former Canadian politician, but he did not communicate in impersonal sound-bites. His heart was clearly engaged in his work; his passion came through clearly over the phone as we talked.

Recently I was happy to hear him again on World Vision’s excellent radio program, World Vision Report. Now the co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization, Lewis continues to use his influential voice on behalf of a group greatly affected by AIDS—women. A major cause of the global AIDS pandemic, Lewis argues, is gender inequality, “the greatest scar on the face of the planet.” In many developing-world societies, women not only lack rights, but they are also victims of sexual violence. They cannot stop the spread of AIDS or effectively network to change their culture.

Listen to Lewis, and you can tell how deeply he feels these injustices. For example, on the topic of rape in Congo, he says, “I’m 71 years old … I never thought I’d reach the age where I would see such wanton malice visited on women with such indiscriminate brutality as to sear the soul.”

Wow. You get the sense that this man will use his last ounce of energy for this cause. That’s exactly the kind of person we need in the fight against AIDS.

After you listen to Lewis’ great interview on World Vision Report, stick around on the site and explore the fascinating stories this award-winning team produces every week.

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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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Art and music in Congo

By James Addis, Senior Editor

I’ve traveled all over Africa for World Vision to report and write about events in the continent, though regrettably, I have never been to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

That’s a shame, because the war-torn country exerts a fascination for me. I’m not exactly sure why. Perhaps because the country’s vast interior is given over to jungle, perhaps because the famous George Foreman/Muhammad Ali fight was hosted in the capital, Kinshasa, or maybe simply because I’ve edited a lot of copy from there.

Benjamin Yumba at work in Kinshasa. (Vianney Dong/WV)

The last piece was from our communicator Vianney Dong, who tells the story of a former sponsored child who has gone on to study at the Kinshasa Fine Arts Academy and recently won a major international art competition. Although growing up dirt poor, Benjamin Yumba never gave up the urge to produce great pictures. When he could not afford paint and brushes, he would resort to using charcoal from the embers of burnt-out fires. You can read the full story of Benjamin in the Summer issue.

I was reminded of Benjamin when I read a story in The Economist the other week. It’s about a new documentary called “Kinshasa Symphony,” following the ups and downs of the Kinshasa-based Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste as they prepare for a concert of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The all-amateur orchestra is more inventive than most. When strings break on their violins, they are compelled to replace them with brake cables from old bicycles. Other scenes include a viola player scraping away at a busy Kinshasa traffic interchange amidst great clouds of dust.

The film sounds like an absolute joy. View the trailer here. I looked up “Kinshasa Symphony” on Netflix; it’s not in stock yet. But you can reserve it now, and if many people show an interest, maybe it will appear sooner.



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Summer reading

World Vision magazineSummer 2010 is out!

Read the cover story about microfinance in Mexico; a feature about empowering disadvantaged U.S. youth; a Haiti reflection; the president’s message; an essay by John Ortberg; and more.

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The Lazarus effect revisited

By James Addis, Senior Editor

Lazarus Effect

(Jon Warren/WV)

I had a strong feeling of déjà vu watching “60 Minutes” last Sunday. Their second story related how funding made available during the last Bush presidency to combat AIDS was saving millions of lives in Africa by making available anti-retroviral drugs.

“America’s Gift” spoke about what they referred to as the “Lazarus Syndrome”—describing how ARVs were enabling AIDS-sufferers to literally get up off their death beds and start living again.

That had me flicking through back issues of World Vision magazine to Autumn 2008, where I had written about exactly the same phenomenon in a story entitled, “The Lazarus Effect.”

Lazarus Effect

World Vision caregivers receive bicycles so they can visit patients in their homes. (Jon Warren/WV)

The focus of the “60 Minutes” yarn was Uganda, whereas my story was based in Zambia. However, a critical point made in both was that George W. Bush’s vision back in 2003 in committing $15 billion toward AIDS projects—then the largest sum ever committed to a foreign health initiative—was having extraordinarily beneficial effects. Whatever else one might think of Bush’s foreign policy; this is certainly one thing he got right.

“60 Minutes” went on to make the point that the move had generated enormous goodwill toward the United States in Africa. As one health worker put it, “The impression that people in Africa have of America is that America is no longer the world’s policeman. It is now Africa’s friend.”

Lazarus Effect

Medical care gives those living with HIV hope for thier children. (Jon Warren/WV)

There were, of course, differences in the two stories. “60 Minutes” tended to focus narrowly on the provision of ARVs, whereas my story, about World Vision’s RAPIDS program, looked at several other aspects. These included the training of volunteer health workers to help people take the medication (it can be a complex treatment regimen); AIDS prevention education in schools; and—an often neglected aspect of the crisis—the need to care for the millions of orphans that AIDS has produced.

That’s no criticism of “60 Minutes” though. It was a powerful piece of journalism, and, while overwhelmingly optimistic, captured the horror that AIDS has wrought on African families. Particularly poignant were the scenes of couples who had congregated in a big marquee to get an AIDS test and allowed themselves to be filmed as they received their results. One HIV-negative husband physically distanced himself from his tearful, pregnant wife who turned out to be positive. Painful though the scene was, the fact she got the U.S-funded test means she can now access ARVs and take precautions not to infect her unborn baby.

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Magazine helps Haiti

By Ryan Smith, Associate Editor for World Vision magazine

In the midst of all the stories and photos of the destruction and devastation in Haiti, it’s nice to get some good news. One of my favorite magazines, RELEVANT, just announced that half of every new subscription will be donated to World Vision’s relief efforts in Haiti.

RELEVANT's Jan/Feb 2010 issue

If I may indulge for a moment, RELEVANT magazine is one of the biggest influences on my career. When I was in college, it was the one magazine I subscribed to. Whenever it arrived in the mail, no matter the homework load, I sat down and read through it for about an hour. I was completely captivated by the design, stories, and tone (yes, even when it’s a bit snarky). I loved that the editors found a way to put together stories about rock stars and developing countries and movies and questions of faith—and somehow it all works together.

Those magazines opened my eyes to what a magazine can be, both in style and substance, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

As I’ve been at World Vision magazine for the past three years and learning about the many issues facing the developing world, it’s been interesting to see RELEVANT follow the same path. They recently launched a digital magazine and website Reject Apathy, which focuses on ways that readers can make the world a better place.

Check out the video below, from Cameron Strang, RELEVANT’s publisher, talking about the decision to donate subscription revenue to World Vision, despite the financial challenge.

Sign up for RELEVANT now, and half of your $15 subscription will go to World Vision’s relief efforts in Haiti.

Related Links:

  • Read A World Divided by World Vision US President Richard Stearns (from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue)

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