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Sunday, April 19, 2009

World Vision

World Vision, founded in the United States in 1951, is an international Christian relief and development organization whose stated goal is "to follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God." Working on six continents, World Vision is one of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world with a 1.6 billion dollar budget (2007).

World Vision was founded in 1951 by Dr. Robert Pierce, a young pastor and missionary, who had first been sent to China and South Korea in 1947 by the Youth for Christ missionary organization. Pierce remained at the head of World Vision for nearly two decades, but resigned from the organization in 1967. Pierce also founded the evangelical organization Samaritan's Purse.

World Vision began caring for orphans and other children in need first in South Korea, then expanding throughout Asia and, eventually, in more than 90 countries, embracing larger issues of community development and advocacy for the poor as part of its basic mission to help poor children and their families build a sustainable future.

According to World Vision's 2006 Consolidated Financial Statements, around 40% of their revenue comes from private sources, including individuals, World Vision clubs in schools, corporations and foundations. 27% comes from governments and multilateral aid agencies such as USAID and the Department for International development (DFID) in the UK. 30% comes from other World Vision programs and nonprofit organizations as Gift in Kind. Aside from cash contributions, World Vision accepts gifts in kind, typically food commodities, medicine, and clothing donated through corporations and government agencies.

Approximately half of World Vision's programs are funded through child sponsorship. Individuals, families, churches, schools, and other groups sponsor specific children or specific community projects in their own country or abroad. Sponsors send funds each month to provide support for the sponsored children or projects.

World Vision Famine events like the 30-Hour Famine and 40-Hour Famine also help to raise money for impoverished countries. Typically, a group signs up to organize such an event, and then spends the next 30 or 40 hours abstaining from food, technology or other things that are taken for granted, and increasing awareness about world hunger. Many schools and individuals are annually successful with this fundraising activity. In the beginning there was only the No Food Famine, but now there is the No Talking Famine; the Techno Famine, without technology (i.e. cellphones, computers, TV or digital audio players); Sports Famine, a triathlon or a sports activity for the whole weekend; and the Theme Famine, where participants come up with an idea of their own: living in a tent, cardboard box or living only on rice for a weekend. Another one is the 24 hour wake, an event that involves a group signing up for lack of any form of rest or energy drink supplements to show the overworked conditions the third world has to deal with

According to World Vision's annual report, in 2008, 87% of its funding was spent on programs, 8% on fundraising and 5% on management and general overhead.


In a report on famine in Ethiopia, reporter Andrew Geoghegan visited his 14 year old sponsor child. The girl has "been part of a World Vision program all her life" yet says (in translated subtitle) "Until recently, I didn't know I had a sponsor." and when asked about her knowledge of World Vision sponsorship says "Last time they gave me this jacket and a pen." Geoghegan was disconcerted to find that despite being "told by World Vision that [the girl] was learning English at school, and was improving... she speaks no English at all."

In their response, World Vision states "World Vision unapologetically takes a community-based approach to development – a fact we publicly promote at every opportunity. Providing money directly to the families of sponsored children simply does not work, no matter how dire the circumstances. A ‘direct benefit' approach creates jealousy among community members that do not have sponsored children and fosters an ethos of dependency. So while sponsored children may receive some direct benefits – like school materials or a jacket for warmth – this in no way represents the entirety of our work in a community, and it was disingenuous for the Foreign Correspondent story to imply this."

It is clearly stated on the World Vision website: "When you make a gift, your contributions are pooled with that of other sponsors of children in the community where your child lives. Your child receives health care, education, nutritious food, and the entire community benefits from access to clean water, agricultural assistance, medical care, and more."
The journalist and producer were offered the chance to view the full breadth of work World Vision is undertaking in the community, in health, education and food security, but this offer was not accepted."

Foreign Correspondent replied to World Vision. In part, that response reads: "Foreign Correspondent sought answers from World Vision representatives on why the organisation's literature creates the impression that donated money goes directly to the sponsor child. The World Vision representative failed to adequately respond to the questions and instead outlined the community projects where sponsor money is spent. Foreign Correspondent does not dispute the integrity of World Vision projects but questions the way sponsorship is promoted to the public. In its response, World Vision has ignored the reporter's surprise at finding his sponsor child speaks no English, yet he has been receiving regular reports from the organisation that she's learning English at school and has a good command of the language. .., Andrew Geoghegan has sponsored Tsehaynesh Delago for a decade and yet she claims she was unaware, until recently, that she had a sponsor and says the only benefit she has ever received directly from World Vision is a pen and the denim jacket she wore on the day of filming."

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