World Vision Ambassador Alex Trebek cradles a baby during a visit to Ethiopia in the 1980's. The longtime "Jeopardy" host harnessed his outrage at the injustice of a devastating famine in the region for good, using his platform to draw attention to the crisis. Photo: David Ward
A movement can be defined as a group of people, believing in the same cause, working together to advance their shared goals.
The World Vision movement began because one man was challenged by one woman to see the need of one child. They understood that knowledge comes with responsibility and it requires action. One person can do something, but many, together, can make a greater impact.
For 65 years, we’ve turned our outrage at injustice into action
, going wherever children are most vulnerable. And we are not satisfied until justice is done. Together, with millions of Canadians and partners, we are a world-shaping movement that knows no boundaries. Because children everywhere should have the opportunity for life in all its fullness.
Wherever they are, we are there.
In the 1970s, when the Communist government began persecuting ethnic minorities, groups of Chinese migrants fled Vietnam and made their way to neighbouring countries by sea. These people became known as the “Vietnamese boat people.” Often families began to lose hope as bordering countries refused to let them land. Faced with the reality that they may die slowly in open waters, parents were forced to consider throwing their children overboard instead. Understanding the plight of these people, World Vision purchased a freighter and with Operation Seasweep came to their aid. The ship was the first international rescue operation to arrive, providing food and medical care to desperate refugees. Seasweep went on to provide relief to many other vessels that were in trouble.
When the waves crashed down, we were there.
In 1983, because of a perfect storm of recurring drought, failed harvests, food scarcity and conflict that kept aid from reaching people, the BBC’s Michael Buerk reported that Ethiopia was being devastated by a “biblical famine in the 20th century.” When almost one million deaths occurred, the world took notice. Along with many other aid organizations, World Vision was “first in” during the Ethiopian famine and “last out” leaving behind fertile, green valleys and more resilient communities.
When hunger raged, we were there.
In 2005, at the peak of the AIDS epidemic, as many as 40.3 million people were living with HIV worldwide—roughly two-thirds of them in Africa. In the same year, nearly 3.1 million died of complications from AIDS; 600,000 of these victims were children. The world was slow to understand what was happening. World Vision mobilized faith leaders, often the most influential members of a community, to help in the global response.
When disease reigned, we were there.
It was the day after Christmas 2004, when a tsunami crashed down on the coasts of multiple South and Southeast Asian countries. Eight hours later and 5,000 miles from its epicenter in the Indian Ocean, the tsunami claimed its final casualties on the coast of South Africa. The world watched in shock as the tsunami killed at least 225,000 people across more than a dozen countries. In the days following, people were moved to help. World Vision raised over 350 million dollars and focused on the needs of children, families and their communities by supporting child protection, health care, education and livelihoods.
When disaster struck, we were there.
On January 12, 2010, Haiti was ravaged by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that claimed nearly a quarter of a million lives and left over 300,000 injured. The country was ill-prepared to deal with such a large-scale disaster. Makeshift camps sprung up around the island, housing the 20 per cent of the population that had been affected. World Vision responded within hours. And with the support of Canadians, we remained in the country long-term, helping families find permanent housing, getting children back to school and helping people regain access to healthcare.
When the earth shook, we were there.
Across the globe, children are forced to work in conditions that are harmful to their wellbeing and jeopardize their futures. Whether it’s a garment factory in Bangladesh or coffee fields in Guatemala, child labour is a form of exploitation. At World Vision we are advocating to end this often-hidden abuse, petitioning our government
to ensure companies have full supply-chain transparency and encouraging organizations in these countries to pay fair wages to parents so they can support their families on their own.
When a child labours, we are there.
A movement only works if there is sustained action. What began as one woman spurring on one man to help one child has become a global movement, spanning multiple countries and partnering with countless people. Our movement isn’t confined to the emergencies that hit the headlines, it spreads to countries across the globe, from the most dangerous cities to the political arenas in our home country, from emergency response to development to advocacy.
If we only worked in safe places, if we only helped people who agree with us, fear would win.
We can’t let that happen. We haven’t before, we won’t start now. Join us as we continue to partner with the world’s most vulnerable children.