World Vision


There is nothing more important than having a passion that drives you. You probably know that two of my passions are running and Africa (if you didn’t know you do now!). I have decided to bring these two passions together to create something exciting and hopefully powerful and life changing. Read on to learn more!

A few years ago while lining up for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, I noticed a guy wearing a bright orange jersey with the World Vision logo all over it and the words “Team World Vision”. I found that quite interesting, but didn’t really have time to talk with him before the race started. When I got home I did some research and found out that World Vision has a fund raising program where individuals join the Team, raising money while competing in an athletic event.

Since then I have thought about when would be a good time to join Team World Vision and combine running and Africa. When I started thinking about running my first marathon, I decided this would be the time. I will be running the Twin Cities Marathon, here in Minneapolis on October 5, 2008. I am about halfway through the training and it is going really well. Christy and I decided that this would be a good time to raise money for World Vision in honor of our friends across Africa. We set a goal of raising $2,000, which is roughly $76 per mile! My goal for the marathon is to cover the 26.2 mile distance in 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Will you join our team and support me as I train for this important race and vision? Your gift of any size will have tremendous impact. World Vision is one of the most respected humanitarian organizations in the world today. You can make your tax-deductible donation by visiting the secure website at http://www.firstgiving.com/teamcross

Thank you for your friendship and your ongoing support!

With thanks and hope,

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Week 6 of training is in the bag. Here is a quick recap but be sure to check out the full post.

This has been kind of an up and down week physically. Alternating between tired and sluggish and almost euphoric – sometimes in the same day! Keep reading to find out all the details. Another wedding this weekend forced some major changes to occur at the end of the week. There wasn’t going to be any time for running on Saturday so I opted for a Friday long run! Bike miles have also taken a huge nose-dive. The culprit is that summer school has started and I get 15 minutes in between summer school and working at Commond Bond – not enough time for a bike ride in between the two and neither time is flexible. So for the first time in 6.5 months I’m driving a car to work on a regular basis, yuck.

You can also read about all 6 weeks of training by clicking on this link.

Also, don’t forget that I am dedicating this marathon to all of my friends in Africa by racing with Team World Vision. I need your support to make this happen. You can read the posts I’ve written about that, I’ll post some here as time permits.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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I am planning to run my first marathon this fall. I plan to run the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on October 5. In honor of my time overseas and my passion for the world to experience Christ’s love and the ability to eat three square meals a day I am dedicating this race, journey, and experience to raising support for World Vision’s work around the world.

I have actually been training now for a month. You can read all about my training at Team Cross Runs or by following this link. I don’t talk a lot about running on this site, except for the occasional link to a race review. That will change a little bit as I prepare for this marathon. Below is what I shared last week at Team Cross Runs about why I (and we) are doing this.

World Vision

I have been a long time supporter of World Vision, but before I tell you why – let me talk about the organization a little bit. World Vision is one of the most respected international development organizations in the world. They are distinctly Christian, but a Muslim professor from Bangladesh during grad school had nothing but great things to say about the organization and their work in developing countries. I’ll try not to bog you down in details and jargon but here is their mission:

World Vision is a Christian 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 are known as a child sponsorship organization and Team Cross sponsors a girl in Ghana. Because of our sponsorship she has been able to continue going to school, is current on all of her shots, and receives preventative medical care. Also her entire community benefits through new wells being built, schools repaired, and much more.

Why Do I Care?

The Bible tells me too: Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27 (NLT) is one of many places that says we should take care of those around us. I always felt that if I helped the neighbor down the street or worked in the inner-city that would be good enough. All of that changed for me in January 2002 when I went to South Africa on missions trip/internship.

My first experience in Africa was genuinely life changing and life altering. I left after 4 short weeks knowing that Africa would forever be a part of who I am. It was amazing to see the conditions that people lived in and through, but more importantly to also see the great hope that many of them had. For example, the house pictured at left was inhabited by a family of I think 8 kids, the oldest of which was 18. There entire family had been wiped out by HIV/AIDS, but the young pre-teen we met that day was very excited to show us her house and was proud of it even. She was full of hope and pride that many of us lack in our 3 story houses and nice cars.

It is stories like that one that stole my heart. Since that trip I spent 8 weeks in rural Ghana doing research to finish my Masters of Social Work – focused on International & Community Development and have devoted my life to the cause of peace and justice across Africa. Throughout the coming weeks I will share more with you about my experiences, World Vision, and the hope of Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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1. Iraq Refugees  

Despite continued coverage of the war in Iraq, we never hear about the millions who have fled from their homes.  Most find refuge in another home or poor neighborhoods, not refugee camps.  Most lack access to jobs, health care, and education.  Iraqi’s are the largest and fastest growing displaced population in the world.

  • 4 million Iraqis are refugees or internally displaced persons (UNHCR)
  • 40,000 Iraqis flee their homes every month (UNHCR)
  • 50% of the displaced are children (UNICEF)

2. Sri Lanka War

More people were killed in Sri Lanka in 2006 than in Afghanistan due to the long running war between the government and rebel Tamil Tigers.

  • 600,000 people have suffered homelessness (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
  • 4,500 World Vision sponsored children have been displaced (World Vision)
  • 70,000 have died in the 24-year conflict (The Economist)

3. Burma Trafficking

Each year tens of thousands of impoverished Burmese women  and children are lured by human traffickers promising well-paying jobs in Thailand, China, Bangladesh, Malaysia, or South Korea.  They end up being sold into brothels and forced into slave labor.

  • 20,000 – 30,000 sex workers come from Burma to Thailand (Coalition Against Trafficking in Women)
  • 400 traffickers were identified last year (US Department of State)
  • $220 average annual income in Burma (UNICEF)

4. Somalia Anarchy

In 2007 hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled Mogadishu (the capital), as Ethiopian forces fought to oust Islamic militants.  Fleeing children contracted life-threatening diarrhea and their desperate mothers were often mugged and raped.

  • 400,000 people fled the latest violence in Mogadishu (The Economist)
  • 15% of children affected by recent conflicts are suffering from malnutrition (Food Security Assessment Unit)
  • 70% of children do not attend school (UNICEF)

5. Chechnya Adversity

Two different civil wars have taken a heavy toll on the civilian population in Chechnya’s civilians.  More than 200,000 people lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands have lost everything they had or were forced to flee.  While some of the 220,000 homes that were destroyed are slowly being rebuilt there are still formidable challenges.

  • 70,000 people are still displaced from fighting (Norwegian Refugee Council and Danish Refugee Council)
  • 186 kidnappings occurred last year (Memorial Society)
  • 80% of Chechen families live below the official Russian poverty line (Russian Ministry of Labor and Social Development)

A Free One: Democratic Republic of Congo

Josh Ruxin of the NYTimes says:

Congo’s crisis is of greater human magnitude than Darfur’s, but – unlike Darfur’s – it is clearly solvable. Despite Congo’s mixture of ethnic rivalries, contested natural resources and armed interference by neighbors, why am I so confident? Because there’s a proven track record of international cooperation successfully stopping Congolese bloodletting, as it did in 2002 when a United Nations peacekeeping force helped end the four-year civil war.

  • 50% of school children aren’t in school (World Vision)
  • 1,000 die daily from hunger and disease (World Vision)
  • Congo hosts the world’s largest UN force (NYTimes)

Unless otherwise noted all information comes from the Winter 2007 edition of World Vision’s magazine (pdf). The ENOUGH Project has more information about the Congo Crisis and other known genocides.

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That was the question answered in a series of articles published by the Christian Science Monitor on August 22.

Reporter Danna Harman interviewed a variety of celebrities, humanitarian professionals, and Africans to see what kind of impact celebrity’s are having on the continent.  She was met with mixed reviews, but concluded that overall it is having a positive effect.  We are left to wonder if maybe their impact could be increased by better coordination and overall planning.

In the first article, Can Celebrities Really Get Results? Bruce Sievers, a visiting scholar at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif, points out that,

“There are so many dimensions to intervening in a different culture. The question is, how well informed are all the celebrities trying to do a thorough job in Africa, let alone those who just travel over and are blown away by the poverty?”

Maybe a more important question is are they willing to stick with their “cause”  as long as necessary for it to succeed?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. Celebrity attention to Africa runs the gamut. Some stars show up for a single celebrity poker match in Las Vegas or a benefit cocktail party in New York to raise awareness for an issue. Others write large checks, lend their names, and even roll up their sleeves to help, but still court controversy along the way. And yet others get deeply involved, hiring advisers and studying to understand the challenges, before deciding on what role they can play most effectively.

Former President Clinton reminds us that celebrities are humans too and that while the struggle to change societies may be a long time coming, lives are still being changed.

“We should not have unrealistic expectations,” says Clinton, at the conclusion of the interview in Zambia. “It’s not easy to change societies … but still, all of us can change lives.”

 

“Celebrities are like other people who do this … some of them will stay at it for a lifetime, some of them will quit. Real life will intrude on them just as it does on the rest of us. They will have children and want to spend more time with them … or they will get bored or get sick. But on balance, these high-visibility, high-profile movie stars are part of a global movement of giving, which is a function of our interdependence.”

In the second article, Harman tackles the questions surrounding celebrity adoptions. Her conclusions again are mixed but this data point is hard to argue with:

In October 2006, after Madonna took custody of David, phone inquiries to WHFC (Wide Horizons For Children which helped Jolie with her adoption, but not Madonna) increased by 38 percent – this despite the fact that the agency had nothing to do with Madonna’s adoption and does not even facilitate adoptions in Malawi. In July 2005, the month Angelina Jolie’s adoption became public, the number of phone inquiries received by WHFC more than tripled over the previous month.

 

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He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8

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