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Just like in the rest of the world, World Vision is not a foreign name among NGOs in Malaysia. Founded in 1950 by Rev Bob Pierce while he was in South Korea, the organization is now 69 years old. Realising that the need in Korea was too great to handle alone he got supporters to help him.
A good video cameraman, as well as a good storyteller, Rev Bob used the mass media to get his message across. It helped him in starting orphanages, and through that, his work continued to expand worldwide. Up to this date, World Vision has done work in 100 countries and it is one of the largest relief organizations in the world with more than 45,000 staff.
The CEO of World Vision Malaysia, Daniel Boey, shares more about World Vision Malaysia and its work here.
“World Vision Malaysia is part of World Vision International. We are part of the same team and have 90 staff. We were set up here 21 years ago with the support of World Vision. We have managed to gather local sponsors for children in countries where there is the most need, such as in India and Cambodia,” he explained.
He adds that they operate under the same principles of World Vision International which is community transformation. That is, to create sustainability than just giving money to those in need to buy things.
“We want to create sustainability for underdeveloped communities, to help them stand on their own feet by providing things like clean water, and better education,” he explained.
He also states that World Vision also stands for advocacy, especially for the children.
“We are advocates for children especially those children involved in child abuse, child soldiers, child pornography, and even cyberbullying. By helping the children, we help the child focus on what is important which is education and growth,” he says.
He says World Vision Malaysia initiatives, such as their Tulid Community Development Programme in Sabah, are helping 545 Malaysian children and their families to enjoy an improved quality of life through their work in education, child protection, economic development and water, sanitation and hygiene projects.
“As a community-based organisation, World Vision’s approach to poverty is to tackle the root cause of it. We want to help communities sustain themselves and overcome the root causes of poverty. We look at the community, not just the child. The money we get from the World Vision sponsorship programme is not given directly to the children but used for the community, so that the entire community will benefit and the child will have a good environment to grow up in,” Daniel explained.
“For example, many families have no clean water. And to get water, sometimes it takes hours just to fetch the water. So many of the mothers are busy taking care of their families. So it’s up to the daughters to walk 3 or more hours to get water from a river. This takes too long and the children cannot go to school. They also fall sick because there is no clean water source to bath in. Part of the money from the sponsorship is used to pump water from a free source so that they don’t have to walk far,” he explained.
In order to be more effective, they work with the government, for example, the ministry of health, in order to provide regular checkups for pre-natal mothers, and post-natal mothers.
“We visit this community and guide them in ways and things like that. This is unique among NGOs,” Daniel explained.
He adds that there is more to their work than just handing food and money to communities.
“We cannot come to a community and come out with a program and force them to adopt it, because each community is different and unique. For example, we once helped some aborigines to breed fish. But later when the fish were ready to be harvested, we found out they were not interested in fish. In order to avoid problems like this, we work with the community for many years and observed them. Then we can give them what they want.
“Sometimes it’s requests like parents wanting to make sure their children are educated before they go to Standard One. So, we build nurseries and kindergartens for them. And then we train them up to manage the kindergarten. We get them the curriculum and the books. Out of nothing, they learn leadership for themselves. We also collaborate with other NGOs. It’s not an instant process and can take up to 5 years but it is worth it as we make sure they are on their feet and can take care of themselves,” he added.
Other times, it can also be as simple as building toilets, he explains.
“We don’t build toilets for them. If not, there is no form of ownership. They have to go and build it themselves. We only provide the technology to a certain extent. We even get the locals to promote the use of toilets among themselves. The reason is that in some rural areas they don’t see it as a problem to defecate anywhere they want.
“In India, there was this guy, a farmer that went around telling the villager the benefit of having a toilet. He explained that houseflies from around would carry bacteria and dirt from exposed feces and bring it to family food tables causing sickness. To avoid wasting money on medical bills, would it not be easier to avoid it by building toilets? The result from building the toilets was that farmers in those areas could share with others how their children didn’t get sick anymore,” he said.
Whether in Sabah or overseas he adds that World Vision continues to evolve in their methods to reach out to people.
“For example, we have One Goal Malaysia, a project for ensuring nutrition for Malaysian children. We use One Goal Malaysia to tackle child malnutrition by leveraging the power of football with the goals of proper and balanced nutrition, sports, and a healthy lifestyle. The program is a partnership between the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and World Vision Malaysia,” he said.
“When we tried to go to rural areas and get the kids to eat healthily, many would not be so cooperative. Hence, we introduce football training to them. Many kids are into that. We promise them that by eating well, they can play football properly. We will coach them and provide them proper nutrition. We also get parents involved and hold talks about proper nutrition. The results have been very good so far,” he added.
He also shared that one of World Vision Malaysia’s mission is to empower children. They do this by having events such as children’s clubs that are run by children, with the committee members being children themselves.
“These clubs meet regularly. They are taught things like the need to study and do homework and what are the careers available in the world. We teach the kids how to deal with child abuse, what to do when adults try to harass them, which telephone number to call. We also get the parents to help,” he said.
He adds that child advocacy is as important as community development.
“A community can learn a lot and be taught about development, but if its social fabric is still in shambles, then it is of no use. Therefore, we have to teach the parents too on how to properly raise the child and give them a good education, and to avoid things like child marriage; to create a societal fabric that can free them. When children can lead a good life they can move forward,” he added.
He gives many examples of children under World Vision programs who have become leaders of nations, star athletes, and even high members in the church. One example is Jimmy Morales, the President of Guatemala.
Daniel explains though they do not proselytize, their actions speak louder than words, and many come to the faith through their acts of love.
“Preaching can bring harm. If you preach but your life is different from what you say, it becomes a liability for the Kingdom. But when you bring help to the community for years and take nothing in return, people will respond. People will start asking questions and realise maybe there is a God because the human being either doesn’t help on a sustained basis for free or they do so for selfish reasons,” he said.
As such, Daniel would like to encourage readers to be child sponsors.
“I would encourage all the readers to go to the website to sponsor a child. Donate RM 65 a month. It’s not much. Try to use RM 65 in one month or in one week. It is a few meal’s worth. RM 65 a month means nothing to us, but it means the world to these people who live in this kind of condition. We are not giving money to them to buy food, but to get them educated, learn to keep themselves clean, healthy, protect themselves. After all, isn’t it written in the Bible that we are blessed to be a blessing to others?” he concluded.
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