East Africa is hurting.
Ongoing conflict and climate conditions are primary culprits of the rampant suffering and decimation in this embattled region of the world. A multitude of intranational conflicts – including a two-decades-long civil war that has ripped Somalia apart – have led to over 6 million people fleeing their homes in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia (WVIEA).
This picture of despair is one we must continue to confront, and though the magnitude of destruction in this region of the world is immense, there are splotches of light among the swath of incomprehensible devastation.
Among the many international humanitarian aid organizations who are working to improve the quality of life for the millions of malnourished and displaced people in East Africa, World Vision International is a leading vessel of hope.
In 2016 alone, World Vision East Africa provided child protection and educational intervention to 88,000 children and reached 858,000 people with water, sanitation, and hygiene support through the organization’s community-based aid programs.
The widespread aid expressed to these thousands of people is a reflection of World Vision’s current position as a beacon of light in East Africa – a light sourced in the organization’s pronounced mission to be an example of the love of Christ.
Established more than sixty-five years ago, World Vision is a Christian, global relief, and advocacy organization dedicated to “working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice” (WVI). The organization was founded by Rev. Bob Pierce in 1950 and has grown to include over forty thousand staff members that operate from regional and national bases in almost one hundred countries.
Three years after the creation of the company, the first child sponsorship program was launched in response to the needs of hundreds of thousands of orphans at the end of the Korean War. Since then, the ‘Sponsor a Child’ project has grown to be World Vision’s primary mechanism of outreach, consisting of a network of thousands of donors who commit to making around a dollar-a-day donation to a specific child in need.
World Vision says this network is who they are as an “international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation.”
In addition to the fundamental ‘Sponsor a Child’ program, World Vision East Africa has explored new approaches to their disaster relief and community-development aid systems in recent years to express the love of Christ within the complex, communal crises in the region. One recent operational development is the implementation of various cash assistance projects.
Mark Nonkes, the Regional Communication Advisor of humanitarian emergencies for the World Vision East Africa Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya explains that cash assistance has been provided to families this year in Somalia, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan to “enable people affected by drought, conflict, and other disasters to inject money into the local market and strengthen the local economy.”
“We know from studies of refugees and displaced people from around the world that when given cash, people spend it on children’s education and food first,” says Nonkes. “We know that when people have income, they are less likely to force their children to engage in child labor or other negative coping strategies.”
The recent developments in the operational activities of World Vision East Africa have had an encouraging impact on the health of many suffering from drought and conflict in East Africa; however, there is an urgent need for much more assistance in areas where dangerous conditions have sprouted a rampant sense of desperation over the past few months.
In a report published over the summer of 2017, the United Nations says the world is facing its biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II with nearly 20 million people facing starvation in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, and in South Sudan (BBC).
“We’re witnessing more than six million children under the age of five struggling with malnutrition,” says Nonkes.
The immensity of suffering in East Africa requires an unambiguous direction of immediate aid, and according to World Vision, aid centered around the unfailing love of Christ.
“World Vision is taking action – since the beginning of the year we’ve provided emergency assistance to 3.5 million people,” says Nonkes, “yet the need is overwhelming, and there is much more to do.
To join World Vision East Africa in restoring health and stability to the lives of the families affected by the current conflict and food crisis, visit http://www.wvi.org/emergency/east-africa-hunger-crisis.
Featured Image by Slava Bowman