Hope this Easter - It may seem overwhelming, but we are winning
By Matt Hyam, Senior Church Specialist, World Vision UK
I once saw someone juggle fish underwater. OK, so it was tins of tuna… and someone was holding a glass of water over his head… but it was still impressive!
As a church leader for three decades, this is often how I felt. Trying to keep on top of everything, whether it was paying the bills, teaching, training, or dealing with countless pastoral issues. I’m sure you too have your own juggling act. Whether it’s how to get the kids to their after-school activities while also working, or trying not to spend a fortune on food while eating nutritionally during this cost of living crisis.
I’m sure you, like me, have never juggled fish underwater but at the moment life seems to feel like that. Or to put it another way, juggling with your hands tied behind your back. And blindfolded.
Life may seem particularly difficult right now, what with Covid, the war in Ukraine, and rising prices everywhere.
If this isn’t sounding much like the uplifting Easter message you thought it was, wait! The best is coming.
Yes, we live in a broken world, with many people living in poverty and struggling to survive. But what can you do? There’s so much poverty, how can you even make a dent?
For me, it used to be easier to look away, because it all seemed just too big and too hopeless. So I’d focus on what I could do: something I could impact, something I could actually see.
After all, anything I do is just a drop in the ocean. Isn’t it? Here’s the good news: the ocean is made up of lots of drops.
And guess what? Many supporters are partnering with World Vision – and it is actually making a massive difference across the world. We are impacting so many people, and for individual children that can mean a transformed life.
In 2013, Bono talked about eradicating extreme world poverty by the end of this decade. Crazy talk? Maybe. But, until Covid, the reality was that over the last 20 years, extreme poverty has been consistently dropping. When Live Aid happened in 1985, around 40% of the world’s population was in extreme poverty; in 2020, that was down to around 7%. Were it not for the pandemic, that figure would be around 5% today, but as it is, it’s now closer to 9.5%.
That is still amazing! Things were changing; it had started to look promising. Then Covid, the war in Ukraine, and spiraling prices everywhere have had an impact.
But this Easter let’s remind ourselves that there is hope. From a hard winter can come spring: new life, new hope.
That may be hard to believe when we realise that today in East Africa, the worst hunger crisis in modern times is taking place. Globally, climate change, Covid, and the Ukraine conflict mean that tens of millions of children and their families are on the brink of starvation.
Ukrainian refugee girl who fled with her family and dog at the start of the war
Meanwhile, a recent United Nations report stated that there are now over 100 million people displaced from their homes. That figure will have increased with the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which have destroyed homes, and killed tens of thousands of people.
Change is happening
It’s easy to feel hopeless when we hear the news… but we really are bringing about change.
Change for children like Mustafa and Chileleko.
Mustafa delighted with his goat
“We lost everything”
Working for World Vision, I hear many heartwarming stories and these are two which show we are winning and are making such a massive difference in children’s lives.
As the war in South Sudan spiraled out of control, many lives were lost and families were forced to flee. Mustafa, 10, together with his parents and six siblings was not spared.
Mustafa and his family escaped to Uganda in 2018, ending up at the Omugo refugee settlement. World Vision runs programmes there to provide water, sanitation, hygiene, child protection, resilience, and other support to refugees.
Edina, Mustafa’s mother, recalls the desperation when they faced the bitter reality of starting from zero.
“We had over 18 goats and 20 cows but we lost all of them during the war,” she says.
In 2019, World Vision distributed two goats and ten chicks each to over 2,500 households in the Omugo refugee settlements, to enhance household income and nutrition. Edina recalls with excitement when she first received her goats.
“We had lost everything in South Sudan. I knew that these goats would help us rebuild for the future.”
Although the billy goat died, the remaining nanny goat - who they named Lyete, which means ‘Thank You’ - has since given birth to many others. The family soon boasted 17 goats.
“If the goats were not there, and with the current food rationing, the children could easily die of hunger,” says Edina, who - with the money she earns from selling goats - has also been able to start a small food business selling pancakes.
Now Edina is able to save every week with a local Savings Group, where she is a member. Edina is so grateful for the goats she received from World Vision. “Mustafa and his siblings can go to a better school and have a better future as the goats multiply,” she says.
Chileleko (girl on the left) and family
“Worry is now a thing of the past”
Finally, be as encouraged as I am by eight-year-old Chileleko’s story. From Zambia, she is just one of the many sponsored children World Vision is impacting. Before Chileleko’s mum Vivienne received goats from World Vision, she says,
“My children would… lie down under a tree and not say anything. I knew it was hunger but I couldn’t afford to give them any food.”
That’s all changed now. They use the money (and the manure!) from the goats to farm more effectively. They save money, and Chileleko is thriving at school.
Vivienne adds, "Since the time we received goats from World Vision, worry about almost everything is now a thing of the past - because through the goats we have money, we have food, we have more livestock and we have proper access to education. Receiving goats was a life-changing experience for me.”
In fact, today they own over 70 goats, 43 chickens, and 15 cows! Such an amazing difference between the two families from just a few goats. To coin a supermarket slogan, Every little helps!
World Vision is working across the globe in the hardest places on earth, reaching the most vulnerable children. Because we believe that every child should live life to the full. By the way, providing goats is a small part of our work! We help children and their communities receive education, health and nutrition, child protection training, food, water, and much more.
We are winning. It is worth adding to the juggling act. It is worth your partnering with us because together, we can change the world. Together, we can look into the face of each hungry child, like Mustafa or Chileleko, and know that we are making a life-transforming difference.
You can partner with us by sponsoring a child, donating regularly or one-off, signing up to find out more about our work, or spreading the word about the work that we do among your family and friends.