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Catching the Vision…One Child At a Time

Catching the Vision…One Child At a Time

Meet Fentiness Mweetwa. Although she hails from Zambia, she’s been a part of my life for the better part of five years. She’s part of a program led by World Vision called the Hope Initiative. That’s how I found her. Upon deciding to do my humanitarian part regarding the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, I learned of the Hope Initiative, a measure dedicated to providing sterile water, food, medical supplies and education in HIV/AIDS prevention to children and orphans who have not yet contracted the disease.

I receive quarterly reports and photos detailing Fentiness’ wellbeing and development. I just received my 2008/09 annual report and have to say that Fentiness is making me proud. She drew me a beautiful picture of a rooster; aced her “Kindergarten” year with flying colors and has been happily promoted to grade 1; her favorite sport is netball and her chore at home consists of drawing water. I’m told she has a kind and friendly personality and her community chores include molding bricks, ferrying sand and crushing stones (yes, it does sound a bit much for a six-year old).

If you’re anything like me then you’re a cynic, especially when it comes to doling out Bennies to organizations that claim to be philanthropic in nature. I mean, where does the money really go? So I did some research on World Vision and was more than thrilled with what I found. If you’re thinking of sponsoring a child or making a one-time donation to a viable cause but don’t know who to trust or where to turn then consider this me taking the grunt work out of your search.

World Vision is a humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. They provide communities with access to clean water, nutritious food, education, healthcare and economic opportunities. What I love most about World Vision is that they are committed to keeping their overhead cost down…way down! In 2008, World Vision received $1.1B in private cash contributions, government grants, in-kind gifts and other net income. 87% of their total revenue($979M) went directly back into sponsored communities, 8% ($97M ) went to fundraising and 5% ($52M) went to management and general expenses. I’d say those are pretty darn good numbers.

World Vision was started by Bob Pierce in the 1950s to help children who had been orphaned by the Korean War. Almost a decade later, the organization began global emergency efforts to bring relief to those suffering from disasters by gathering in-kind donations (food, clothing, medical supplies, etc…) from corporations. Today, 30% of World Vision’s income stems from such donations. By the 70s, the organization had a reputable, global presence but realized that trying to combat poverty and injustice by solely providing care for children was a Band-Aid on a very deep wound. The key to providing long-term solutions to the problems underserved children face was to engage the entire community. With their new epiphany in tact, they then began incorporating vocational and agricultural training for families in the sponsorship program. Now underprivileged families in Kenya and Russia (among several other countries) could learn how to earn money through small enterprise.

So whether it’s fighting to end land mine use and child exploitation across the globe or providing famine relief in South Africa, providing civilian assistance for New Yorkers post 9/11, stopping the flow of conflict diamonds or calling for an end to the use of child soldiers in Northern Uganda, World Vision has a cause and reputation that you can put your money behind. They’ve found innovative ways to utilize the $35/month (guys, that’s like 5 apples at Whole Foods) that we send them on behalf of Fentiness and her family. At Christmas time, birthdays or just any old time, $75 will buy the community a goat; $100 will buy a goat and 2 chickens; $100 will buy a share of a business loan for women affected by AIDS; $70 will provide one year of schooling for an AIDS orphan; $5100 will build a home for an AIDS affected family and $14,435 will build an entire Hope Care Center for a village somewhere.

So while I may not feel called to pack up my stuff and move to Zambia for the cause, I’m doing my part by sending what I can to ensure that Fentiness has a better quality of life. I’m counting on my contributions to make a difference because to whom much is given, much is required. Fentiness, may you grow up to be a strong, healthy and caring citizen of humanity. May you someday change the world or at least your part of it. And always, may the road rise up to meet you, this I pray for you.

Posted by Elizabeth