When you visit World Vision’s work in the field it’s easy to be overwhelmed by how many inspiring stories you hear about improvements to communities, volunteers leading change, children accessing health care or schooling that they couldn’t access just a few years earlier, and local World Vision staff dedicating their lives to helping others.
Over my time working at World Vision Australia, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit our programs in Nepal, India, Cambodia and Myanmar. Each time I’ve felt so lucky to be welcomed into the communities that I’ve visited and been amazed to see how with a little help from World Vision communities are coming together to create real and lasting change to their lives.
Something that blows me away every time I’ve visited the field is the local World Vision staff in each area I’ve visited. In programs that are working to change the lives of thousands of people, just a small number of staff are working tirelessly to create that change. Without fail, the staff I’ve met have always been incredibly dedicated to their work and passionate about creating a stronger future for their country and the communities that they’re working with.
My first visit with World Vision to see their programs was to Nepal in 2014, where my admiration for the local World Vision staff really started to grow. I met a very impressive Area Development Program Manager, Rajan, who was hard working, very knowledgeable about development and the community that he and his team were working with, but also incredibly humble. In all interactions with the communities that we saw, Rajan and his team cast the limelight on the communities that we were visiting and encouraged them to share their success stories. Seeing the mutual respect between Rajan and members of the community; it was clear to see how through great relationships great changes can occur.
While most staff in our programs are employed in their own country, often they have travelled long distances away from their families to work with remote communities. In Cambodia while visiting an Area Development Program some of the staff told me that they lived too far away from the program to go home during the work week, so they slept at the office. They showed me their sleeping quarters in the office; The women had one room and the men had another, with just enough beds for each staff member lined up in a row.
Many World Vision staff in the field have incredible personal stories to share, for example in India I met a staff member who had been a sponsor child when he was growing up. He told me that he remembered the changes that took place in his community as a child and chose to work at World Vision to give back and help others in the way he had been helped.
My most recent trip to the field was to Myanmar, where once again I met many inspirational staff. One such staff member was Nwe Ni Hlaing, a Community Development Facilitator in World Vision Myanmar’s Thanlyin Area Development Program since 2008. Nwe Ni is a trained nurse who works closely with communities as part of World Vision’s health programs to improve awareness of health issues and how to prevent them. Nwe Ni identifies community members who are influential in their communities and passionate about improving health, and she imparts her knowledge to them through training courses so that they can become Community Health Volunteers.
Some of the Community Health Volunteers told us that with their health training from Nwe Ni they were able to help identify the difference between a normal cold and a respiratory infection in children and with this knowledge one of the volunteers told us that she had recently had a case where she had been able to identify the symptoms of a respiratory infection in a child. She had informed the child’s mother that she thought it was more serious than a normal cold or flu and had encouraged and helped her to seek medical support, which likely saved the child’s life.
After meeting Nwe Ni in Myanmar I wrote to her and asked her a few questions about her role at World Vision. Here’s what she wrote:
What is your favourite part of your job?
“In my job my favourite part is to conduct health awareness to community health volunteer and under 5 caregivers.”
What motivated you to start working with World Vision?
“Working with World Vision because World Vision is a Christian organization and working for children and families.”
What is one of the challenges of your job?
“Driving motor bike by myself. Anytime accident can occur because most of the motorist/driver are speed merchant in this township.”
What is one of the highlights of your time with World Vision?
“I got best friends in World Vision who are like my relative. We help each other. When I feel depressed, they comfort me. They are special person for life.”
Working in the field has its challenges as well as its rewards and World Vision is very lucky to have such great local teams working hard to ensure our programs are effective in creating sustainable change in communities.