Mother Teresa’s prophetic words about humanity resonate a veracity that’s memorable: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Overcoming poverty, however, is not a gesture of charity. In fact, Nelson Mandela felt ‘it is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and
a decent life’.
With that goal in sight, I was privileged to witness, first-hand, the positive impact of ‘a few helping hands’ at two rural communities in India. As a sponsor for more than a decade, I observed some of the affirmative outcomes that have allowed World Vision Australia to work diligently to eliminate poverty and its causes around the globe.
To achieve change and attain self-esteem is no mean feat. Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. As a World Vision sponsor, I’ve realised the extent to which I am a “change-maker”. You just have to care, be compassionate and be munificent. If each and every one of us does that, then together we can bring about a change and contribute to making things better for people in need all over the globe.
World Vision is a community development organisation that provides short-term and long-term assistance to 100 million people worldwide (including 2.4 million children).
More than 45,000 staff work in 96 countries. It’s enlightening to learn 81.4 per cent of every dollar donated goes to field programs and advocacy work.
Having sponsored two children in India – a girl and a boy – for more than 10 years, I met them for the first time just before Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) late last year. I spent some time not only with Mohini Mangal, 15, and Rehan Imamudin, 10, but also met their families, friends and members of the communities in which they live – in Jaipur. They were all happy and thriving in their environment! I felt their overwhelming sense of love, feeling wanted with a dynamic sense
of purpose, being cared for, and above all, not being forgotten.
Even at her young age, Mohini is a homemaker who loves sewing. Rehan is studious and is keen about sports. Over the years, I’ve maintained contact with them through school reports and getting updates on various community development projects in their region.
Spending the day with program manager of World Vision in Jaipur Dr Josiah Daniel, and sponsorship effectiveness co-ordinator Nitin Lall, was a bonus. They spoke about the various economic development assistance and education programs and the benefits experienced by families and the local community. Their insight revealed how World Vision worked to provide the tools and resources to create more equitable societies for children so they can prosper and have a better future.
One of the most effective and rewarding ways to give children in hardship a better future is with child sponsorship. Through your sponsorship journey, you can change lives for just $48 per month. Dr Daniel says the presence of World Vision in the communities has “created safer and more secure environments for children in their homes and villages which has enabled them to thrive”.
World Vision’s sponsor visit consultant in Melbourne Emma Whitty says the organisation has engaged people to work towards eliminating poverty and its causes for five decades.
“We work to achieve transformation,” says Whitty. “We do this through relief and development, policy advocacy and change, collaboration, education about poverty, and emphasis on personal growth, social justice and spiritual values.”
Whitty elaborated on the vast range of support and resources provided for the children. From immunisations in early life, to primary and secondary education – all children in the community benefit from improved health care, education, water sanitation and food.
“We also improve infrastructure in communities so that parents have better job opportunities or travel less to obtain water,” Emma said. “Advocacy and empowerment is also a big focus. We have established youth parliaments in many communities so that children also have a say in the running of their environments while creating future leaders. In emergency situations the basics of survival and support are provided [food, shelter, clothing, psychosocial support].”
“Our vision is for children to experience life in all its fullness and it’s what motivates us all to come to work every day. Ultimately, our aim is to provide the tools and frameworks so that the communities are self-sustainable.”
Whitty described what it was like for both Mohini and Rehan to meet their sponsor.
“Meeting you – their sponsor – was an exciting and motivating experience. Our colleagues who work in the communities, who facilitate the visits, do an incredible job of preparing the children and families for the visit. Ultimately the purpose of the visit is for the supporter to learn from their sponsored child, family and community visit.”
The future of World Vision looks promising with the first female CEO. Claire Rogers has a proven track record of strategising and delivering major change initiatives. Rogers understands the challenges facing not-for-profits as they adapt to the new economy.
Whitty described Rogers as “definitely a great asset … a pragmatic optimist who sees the digital revolution as an exciting opportunity to reach new generations who want to fight global poverty”.
In the light of what Mahatma Gandhi espoused – “In a gentle way, you can shake the world” – I know I have made a difference, in some small way.
How you can help
You can assist in a number of ways: Sponsor a child, support Child Rescue, help those fleeing Mosul or Syria or help families from South Sudan.
World Vision: 13-32-40; worldvision.com.au