When an earthquake hits in El Salvador or a typhoon in Thailand, we immediately telex, fax or phone the office to find out if there's anything we can do.
How nice, then, to discover it works in reverse too!
After the earthquake shook Newcastle, WVA got messages of concern from offices in Peru, Bangladesh, Guatemala and other places. They had heard and seen it on their news!
I was able to tell them that our whole Newcastle staff (all one and a half of them) were fine. It's a good feeling to be connected with caring colleagues so far away, yet so close.
From the combined skills of Rowland and Bill W comes the following interesting statistic:
By the end of 1989 there was a little less than a tonne of excess food in the world for each starving person. A small truckload of excess food for every starving child, woman and man.
Where is most of it? More than half of it in developed countries like Australia. Why don't we ask our government to give more of it away? Good question.
The first quarter shows we are staying close to budget for revenue and costs. When you remember that we predicted ambitious growth in a number of areas, this is a good confident beginning to our year.
Here are the numbers:
Estimated Revenue so far $10,737,474
Same Period Last Year $8,679,560
How about that! 5% better than planned and 24% better than last year! Congratulations to everyone who continues to work so hard.
After her recent visit to Bangladesh, Pam Mercier from Brisbane, wrote a lovely story which will be published in the next "World Vision News." Here is part of it:
My thoughts return constantly to the women I meet in Bangladesh and Thailand. They live in a different world from the one I am used to, and it's a frightening one.
These women, unimportant human beings in their community, become very special to me. Their life is so burdened yet they struggle to feed their families. Their children are all important to them. How can they bear the suffering, the sickness, the seemingly endless life of existence? They are prisoners of poverty. They have so little, yet they smile. I wonder what they think of this western woman with short hair and skirt, freely riding around in cars and on motorbikes?
Bangladeshi women are shy, covered from head to foot in their saris, peeping out as I pass. I make a point of looking into the eyes of every woman I meet and smiling. I want to communicate with them, and they smile back. The more women I meet, the more I realise the unspoken bond, Eastern woman to Western one, different yet feeling the same. They call me "Sister", they are curious but they try to reach out to me. In my heart I feel the warmth of common humanity. I try to feel and understand the suffering, not with pity, but with compassion.
I see so much suffering. In Klong Toey, a Bangkok slum, a woman aged about 30 sits on a step outside a one room shack. She is dying of cancer. She receives no treatment ‑ she has no money, and is worried about her children. I identify with her; I've been there, the only difference is I had treatment because we were born in different countries. We pray with her, and then walk away. I hurt, where is the justice?
While staying in a village in Bangladesh, I hear a baby cry pitifully for two days in a little thatched hut outside the window of my room. I ask the interpreter to ask the mother what is wrong. She has a three year‑old girl clinging to her and a two month‑old baby in her arms. Her husband has recently died of TB and her milk has dried up. She is just 18 years old.
The baby is starving. I go to the nearest village store, buy the largest tin of powdered milk I can find and take it back to her. We explain she must use boiled water. It costs only $8 Australian to save that baby's life. Her eyes meet mine; we don't speak the same language, but we understand. I bless her for allowing me to help, and realise it's the giver who gains from the warmth of sharing.
I also realise that I am learning so much in such a short time. The problems are real ‑ you can't blot it out or turn off the TV. I realise it's not just giving money or aid: It's sharing. It's being realistic about the situation and doing something positive about it.
There is a World Vision sewing class in that little Bangladesh village, and the project staff encourage the mother of that baby to join. She will be able to earn some money from sewing. Her children will be sponsored and attend school and receive medical care.
Thanks to our generous sponsors, there is hope. Sponsorship does work. Poor people don't need our pity ‑ they need our understanding. We do not help because we are privileged; we help because it is a privilege.
Jerusalem: My brothers and sisters--Today we begin the last decade of the 20th Century. I send this greeting from Jerusalem. A few miles away Jesus was born. Here he was Crucified. Earlier today I stood on the hills of Galilee where he stood and visited Nazareth where he grew to be a man.
But my message to you concerns the present, not the past. Today he weeps over Jerusalem as he wept then. He sees violence, oppression, misery. The festering wound of the West Bank and Gaza symbolise the pain of a broken world. Into that world God leads us. Shall we be afraid to follow?
May the Holy Spirit lead us forward with one heart and mind, not only into a new decade, but into a new era for World Vision.
[I say A-men to that - Philip]