Friday, 16 December 2011

Women's Rights - a long way to go.

During the reign of the Taliban, women were not classed as second class citizens. They were actually non-citizens. They had no rights at all. They were not allowed to work, even if that meant they would starve, not allowed an education, not even allowed out unless escorted by a man.

Since the fall of that most intolerant of regimes ten years ago, the new authorities in Afghanistan have made great effort to make theirs a more equal society. Girls now go to school, and even University, women have careers and are seen in the media, there are even women representatives in the Government.

But that doesn’t mean the struggle for equality is anywhere near won.

This fact was highlighted when the world’s media highlighted the case of Gulnaz, an Afghan woman who was jailed for twelve years for “Adultery by force”, that is, for being raped.

Rape is a heinous crime. It is a crime of violence committed by inadequate men who don’t have the ability to control themselves and behave like human beings.

It is NEVER the victim’s fault, and any society that attaches responsibility for the attack to the injured party has no reason to feel proud of itself.

Following international attention, Gulnaz was freed and given a presidential pardon. In itself, this was an insult, implying as it does that she had done anything for which she needed to be pardoned. She is now also under pressure to marry her attacker, making his actions legal and acceptable. This will, she is told, restore her honour, and help make peace between his family and hers.

How many of us would find this suggestion tolerable?

Gulnaz is not the only woman to be in this predicament in Afghanistan. Her imprisonment was ended because of the international publicity she received. Many other women languish behind bars, unseen and unremarked, their only crime to have caught the eye of an aggressor. They all deserve their reputations restored and their blamelessness acknowledged.
Until all these women are free, surely all of us are imprisoned.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Spreading Christmas

Times have been hard for all of us in the past few months. Money is tighter than most of us remember it ever having been before, and this has made us all a bit more careful.

Gone are the days when we would splash the cash on presents our friends and families didn't really want.

When finances are precarious, we don't want to buy something people will put away in a drawer and forget, or something they'll pretend to like to spare our feelings.

And we definitely don't want to buy meaningless tat.

We want our money to stretch as far as it can do, and we want the gifts we buy to have value and meaning that will last way beyond the big day.

Which is where World In Need's Alternative Christmas Gift List can help. Through it you can buy a present for your friend that will make a real difference to the lives of people in the developing world.

For example, a goat given to a family in Uganda will give a supply of milk and cheese, a chicken in Kenya will provide eggs for food and for sale, while a blanket will keep children warm through the bitterly cold Afghan winters and a bicycle allows people to find work as couriers, delivery drivers, even taxis.

We will send you a hand crafted card to give to your friend, so they’ll know exactly what was given in their name.

You can find out more about the Alternative Christmas Gifts by calling our office on 01892 669834 or emailing

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A future for Afghanistan?

This week, there is an international summit on Afghanistan which is being held in the German city of Bonn. The conference aims to secure Afghanistan’s future now that foreign military forces are planning to withdraw from the country.

Ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the people of Afghanistan still live with uncertainty. Even though they are no longer in power, the Taliban are still a force to be reckoned with and could undermine the country’s stability unless the international community continues to support the new regime. As President Karzai said this week, Afghanistan’s “young democracy remains fragile”.

Afghanistan is a land riven with problems. Fighting and violence are everyday occurrences. A trip to the local market takes people into a dangerous world of roadside bombs and suicide attackers. Going to school, or taking on a career makes targets of girls and women whose only crime is to be female and intelligent.

As is always the case in areas of conflict, poverty is rife. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in Afghanistan is just £329 per year, which compares to the UK’s figure of £25,342.

For many families, such poverty affects all aspects of life. Unable to afford adequate housing, whole families live in one room, and many are malnourished. Medical care is denied those who cannot pay for it and simple curable diseases cause suffering, permanent disability and death. Even such things as warm blankets are denied the very poorest, which leaves them exposed to the harsh winter temperatures.

Children cannot attend school, and the lack of education condemns them to repeat the lifestyle that blights their parents.

World In Need works in Kabul, helping to build a future for the people of Afghanistan. Through our child and family sponsorships programmes we enable children to go to school, giving them hope of a brighter future. Our Children’s Day Care Centre provides a warm, safe haven where children can play, or take extra lessons to catch up on school work missed because of the problems the people face. Some children have learned to paint, and the work they produce is good enough that we can sell it, providing a little income to help their families. One girl who attended the Centre has now gone on to study fine art at University.

For the politicians in Bonn, an agreement at the conference guaranteeing peace and stability would mean approbation and kudos.

For those people helped by World In Need, such an agreement would mean very, very much more.

It will mean a future.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Thirty years of AIDS

In 1981, the world was shocked and horrified to learn a new virus had been diagnosed. There was no cure. The virus worked on the human body by destroying its ability to fight off infection. Slowly, sufferers got weaker, their bodies wracked with pain, wasting away until they died.

The virus is called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, or HIV, and the illness it causes is Acquired Immuno Deficency Syndrome – AIDS.

Thirty years on, there is still no cure, although treatments have alleviated some of the sufferings and helped prolong both life and its quality for many sufferers, especially in the prosperous countries of the world. However, those who live in the developing world, whose finances won’t allow them to pay for the necessary drugs, continue to suffer.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the hardest hit areas of the world, with more than 24 million people living with HIV. That is 6.1% of the population, which compares to just an infection rate in North America, Western and Central Europe of just 0.5%.

With no cure, prevention is the main weapon in the fight against the virus, yet across the world, less than one in five people at risk of infection has access to basic prevention services. Only one in eight people who need to be tested for the virus have the opportunity for those tests.

The spread of the virus has been exacerbated by myth and rumour, as well as by ignorance. In certain countries, people believed that having sex with virgins would cure them, which led to the abuse of young girls, who were then infected themselves.

Infected men passed it on to their wives, who passed it on to babies in pregnancy or through breast feeding, and another generation was blighted.

Because it became known as a sexually transmitted disease, it was shrouded in shame and secrecy. Sufferers could lose jobs, livelihoods and status because of the virus, so many tell no-one they are infected, which inevitably leads to further infections.

In future, we hope, research will lead to successful treatments and cures. In the meantime, we do what we can to halt the spread of the virus. World In Need works to educate people, so that the myths can be dispelled and ignorance countered.

Our sponsorship programme spreads education, which empowers vulnerable people to protect themselves, reducing their susceptibility to the false beliefs and superstitions surrounding HIV.

Sponsored children are less vulnerable too, to lifestyles which endanger them. They don’t have to resort to begging and prostitution in order to survive, and are less likely to fall prey to those who would use and abuse them. They grow into adults who can make informed decisions which protect them, in areas such as family planning.

HIV and AIDS are curses in our modern world. Together, we can work to halt their spread and build a future of freedom for those who are now at risk from them.

If you’d like to know more about helping us in the fight for the future of the children of the world, why not contact us at

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


 One of the main facets of World In Need is our child sponsorship programme. Through this we find people who will help support children in the developing world, giving them a start in life, and opportunities for the future they would otherwise be denied.

Sheetal Wajid hopes we will find a sponsor for her. At fourteen years old, Sheetal is on the verge of womanhood, and sponsorship now could make a huge difference to her adult life.

An intelligent young lady, Sheetal has been attending St Francis Girls’ High School, a Roman Catholic school in Rawalpindi, where her favourite subjects are English, Science, History and Religion. However, her family is very poor and her father is no longer able to pay the school fees for her, putting her education in jeopardy.

A sponsor would solve the problem, allowing Sheetal to finish her studies and fulfil her true potential.

Sheetal’s father helps World In Need in Islamabad, trying to alleviate the problems of the homeless, poor and needy of his community. It can be a tough job, and it is made harder when he is worried about meeting the needs of his own children. By finding a sponsor for Sheetal, we can relieve him of some of the burden.

As Sheetal’s sponsor, you would receive regular updates on her: a report on her school progress and correspondence from her, as well as the priceless gift of knowing you’re making a difference, not just in one young life, but to the future of an entire community.

Sponsoring a child like Sheetal costs £20 a month, although we do recognise that times are hard, and sponsors have to budget, like everyone else. So it is possible to join with one or two others and sponsor a child between you, thus splitting the cost and giving a child a future without breaking your own bank.

If you’d like to know more about child sponsorship – or family sponsorship – you can speak to Anne or Magda on 01892 669875. They’ll happily answer your questions and, if you do decide to sponsor a child, they can guide you through and help you choose the child that is just right for you.

A lifetime is built on the foundations of childhood. Why not find out about helping us make those foundations firm today?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A sudden death in the family

What would you do if you were starving? How far would you go to put food into your mouth? Would you cheat? Steal?

What if your children were crying with hunger and there was no other way to help them?

In Northern Uganda last week, a young woman tried to fend for herself and her children, aged 7, 5, 3 and six months by stealing cassava from a garden.

Cassava is a plant from which we, in the developed world, get tapioca, but in places like Northern Uganda it is a vital staple, producing more food energy per unit of land than any other crop. Its leaves are eaten as a vegetable, providing vitamins and protein, and the tuber is like a nutritionally superior potato. All in all, a plant like this would be of great value to a desperate mother and her children.

Unfortunately, she was caught. And in a place where food is at a premium and many are dying daily of starvation and malnutrition, her defence met with little sympathy. Those who caught her meted out swift and exacting justice: they beat her until she was dead.

Her young children were left with no-one to care for them except their grandmother who is 87 years old and blind. In a world where, too often, only the strong survive, these children will be at a disadvantage before the struggle even begins. The hopelessness moves on to a new generation.

Our representative in Northern Uganda, George Amoli, will be doing what he can to keep an eye on this family. He’ll try, as far as he can, to ensure they don’t miss out when food is distributed. Hopefully, we can help by providing the children with sponsors, people who will pledge a small amount of money monthly.

Sponsored children are fed and clothed, given access to medical care and are able to go to school, thereby getting the education and qualifications they need to end the cycle of poverty.

£22 a month doesn’t seem a lot to most people in the developed world. In Northern Uganda, it can literally be the difference between life and death.

If you do not wish to pledge a regular amount but would like to help this family and others who, like them, have been affected by the worst drought in East Africa in 60 years, you can donate via World In Need’s drought relief fund at

Together, we can make a difference.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Poverty: The fight back

Poverty is a dreadful enemy. It tortures its victims, leaving them hungry, cold and downtrodden. It destroys their lives and their hopes and dreams, ravages childhood and, finally, kills.

Poverty kills more people than war and natural disaster combined. And it does so with our permission. When we allow people to work long hours in gruelling conditions for less than a living wage, we feed poverty. When we allow children to beg on the streets or be forced into prostitution rather than ensure they have the education they need, we let poverty grow. When we put profit above the wellbeing of those living with treatable diseases, we give poverty power over us all.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Poverty is an enemy that can be beaten, but it takes effort and will, and teamwork. Those living under its heel cannot fight free alone.

World In Need uses myriad weapons in this battle. Our child sponsorship programme ensures children are able to go to school and gain the education that can lead them to good careers with decent salaries. By improving living standards and teaching basic hygiene, we help eradicate common diseases which should not be killers in the twenty first century. Through partnership with those in the front line we enable them to increase both their incomes and their hope.

For example, a family that owns chickens not only has a source of food for themselves, but they can take surplus eggs to market and sell them, giving them money to buy other essentials. A man with a bicycle can generate income by offering taxi services. Palm trees yield palm oil which can be sold to provide income for whole communities.

This year, World In Need is offering these items, among others, as part of our Alternative Christmas Gifts. These are gifts you buy for people in developing countries, on behalf of a friend or relative, thereby spreading the joy of Christmas and, at the same time, pushing the front line a little further back.

Together, this is a war we can win.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Giving at Christmas

It’s six weeks to Christmas and the shops are already full of goodies. Turkeys and trimmings, chocolates and mince pies, all piled high for us to indulge in feasting and being merry.

Even in times of economic hardship, food in the west is plentiful and rich, and this can sometimes make us forget that it isn’t the same for everyone.

In East Africa, where the rains have failed for the last three years, there are dreadful food shortages, and people are starving to death. Whole villages are being abandoned as all but the old and most infirm leave in search of food and water. Crops fail and livestock dies and the people, who had little enough to start with, are left with nothing.

In northern Kenya and Uganda, refugee camps are filled to bursting with people who are desperate for the basics of life. Some have trekked hundreds of miles, watching friends and families die along the way.

Once they reach the camps, their problems are not over. With so many people in such dire straits, there are long waits for help and sustenance, and it’s a constant struggle to ensure the supplies stretch to everyone. Some parents have actually abandoned their children at the camps and then left, hoping this sacrifice will give the children a better chance of survival.

At World In Need, we think EVERYBODY should have that chance. We have a dedicated fund especially for those affected by this drought and famine. If you feel you’d like to help us in this work, you can donate via our page: or you can phone us at 01892 669834. Don’t worry if you don’t think you can give very much: what is a little to you can be life changing to the people in East Africa, and every penny matters.

Between us, let’s spread the joy of Christmas a little further this year.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Gifts for Christmas?

It’s that time of year again, when the conversations go something like this:

You: “What would you like for Christmas this year?”

Your friend: “I don’t know. I can’t think of anything I want.”

Infuriating, isn’t it? You then spend ages traipsing round crowded shops, looking for that special something which doesn’t look mass produced and soulless, which they will appreciate and be proud to receive.

If the thought of all this fills you with dread, World In Need can help you.

Buy something from our Alternative Christmas Gift catalogue and you’ll not only have a present for your friend, but you’ll also be spreading the Christmas spirit to people who really need it.

For example, a goat given to a family in Uganda will give a supply of milk and cheese, a chicken in Kenya will provide eggs for food and for sale, while a blanket will keep children warm through the bitterly cold Afghan winters.

We will send you a hand crafted card to give to your friend, so they’ll know exactly what was given in their name.

You can find out more about the Alternative Christmas Gifts by calling our office on 01892 669834 or emailing

With your help, we can spread the cheer, and give hope this Christmas.

Monday, 31 October 2011

A visit from Kenya, Part Two

As well as assisting her husband, Robert, with his job as World In Need’s East Africa Director, Alice Mulumbi has a busy life as mother to her four children, carer for the children of others who have become unable to look after their families themselves, director of the Nancy George Academy and manager of the Mulumbi family farm in the village of Likuyana, in Soy, North Western Kenya.

Managing the farm is, in itself, a full time job. At this time of year, Alice would normally be working on the harvest, starting at dawn each day and working till well after night has fallen, gathering the crops in before the heavy rains set in in November. She also looks after chickens, and gathers eggs which she sells to supplement the family income.

Farming is a precarious occupation. Last year, North Western Kenya was hit by heavier than usual rains which led to catastrophic flooding, which washed away buildings, including classrooms at the Nancy George Academy, and ruined crops. Without the crops, not only was there no food to store and sell, but there were no seeds to plant this year either, which in turn led to greater hardship which is ongoing.

Perversely, while North Western Kenya was being devastated by too much rain, North Eastern Kenya was part of a large area that has received little or no rain for years, leading to drought and famine. The situation has become dire in recent months, with desperate people crossing the border from Somalia in search of food, swelling the numbers at Daddaab camp, the largest refugee camp in the world. Built to hold ninety thousand people, it is currently home to four times that many people.

The situation for the starving of Somalia has become much worse in recent weeks. Al-Shabaab, a terrorist organisation with links to al-Qaeda, is trying to gain power in Somalia and had already made it difficult and dangerous for the starving to make their way to Kenya for help. In recent weeks, they launched attacks on the Kenyan island of Lamu, popular with tourists. They killed one man, kidnapping his wife and another western woman. Trying to prevent a repeat of this, the Kenyan authorities have tried to close the border, making security as tight as it can be. This may stop the terrorists crossing into the country, but it also prevents the needy people from reaching help.

The attacks on Lamu have had devastating effects on the Kenyan economy. As the main tourist season starts, many westerners cancelled their planned visits, depriving the country of their tourist dollars. Coupled with the droughts and the aftermath of last year’s floods, this is dreadful news indeed for the people of Kenya, and will increase the numbers living in poverty. The work of World In Need, and the care given by people like Alice and Robert are going to be more needed than ever.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A visit from Kenya

This month, we’ve been honoured at Head Office to be visited by Alice Mulumbi. Alice lives in Soy, Kenya, with her husband Robert, who is World In Need’s East Africa Director. As well as helping him with his work for us, she also cares for their four children, manages the family’s small farm and is Director of the Nancy George Academy, the school set up by World In Need in Soy.

In recent months, Alice has also taken responsibility for a young girl whose family could not care for her, welcoming her into the family home, and for the children of a young woman who has AIDS, and who has now become too ill to look after them herself.

Alice has come to Britain for three weeks to help us raise awareness of the work World In need is doing in Kenya, and the difference it can make to the lives of people there. During her time here, she is visiting local schools, churches and women’s groups, showing them what has been achieved so far and telling them of the plans for the future.

Children in British schools are fascinated to learn how their African counterparts are taught. Children here, surrounded by computers, learning aids, books and high tech equipment are amazed to see how others learn in basic buildings, sitting three to a desk, sharing text books one to several children, and the only teacher’s aid being a blackboard painted onto the classroom wall. They are astounded to discover that the children in Soy have walked as many as 7 kilometres to school, many of them barefoot.

Often the children will have left home without breakfast, there being no food in the family house. The school recognises this and all pupils receive a nutritious breakfast and lunch as part of the school day. World In Need believes you cannot feed a child’s mind if their bodies are undernourished.

There are currently 168 children at the school. It is supposed to be a fee paying school, the fees covering the cost of teachers, equipment and meals. However, many families in the area cannot possibly afford the fees and their children would have to miss out on their education, which in turn would reduce their chances of a decent career in adulthood.

World In need overcomes this by providing sponsors, who pay for the children, working with them to build their futures. However, Alice and Robert believe so passionately that every child deserves the chance to learn, that even when they have no more sponsors available, they take children into the school, doing without themselves to ensure they are catered for. If we can find sponsors for more of the children, we can ease Alice’s burden tremendously.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Fancy Volunteering in Israel?

Alkhaimah, the Association for Education and Development, is a registered, non-profit organisation that aims to enable the children of Bedouins in Israel, especially girls, to receive an education and develop their skills. They are registered as a legitimate organisation by the Department of Home Affairs in the Israeli Government.

They also work to ensure that every citizen is granted gtheir legal right to access to Government services such as health, education and Social Security. It is the only organisation with accomplishments in community building and in youth education in the Bedouin community of Taibeh and other Arab villages in Israel.

Alkhaimah aims to strengthen the education of the children, giving them tools to lead their community to a better life, improving both decision making and social infrastructure for Bedouin women. At the same time, they try to ensure Bedouin tradition and culture, origins and history are not forgotten.

Alkhaimah is looking for volunteers for both short term and long term periods of service. Volunteers would take part in many activities, including teaching English in schools, being involved in sporting activities with the children and providing support in areas of self esteem and personal development.

Alkhaimah has four learning centres of its own, but also works with other organisations within the country to strengthen the learning of English.

If you think this might be for you, you can contact Saeed Azbarga of Alkhaimah at for more details, or to register your interest.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

News from Head Office...

 In 1991, after a lifetime of working for organisations such as Operation Mobilisation and People International, Ron and Nan George founded the charity, World In Need. The aim of the new organisation was to provide people in the developing world with the skills and tools to build self sustainable lives.

Twenty years on, World In need has a presence in twenty countries. We run schools, children’s homes, vocational training centres and a child sponsorship programme that over the years, enabled thousands of children to access education and a start in life they might otherwise have been denied. Whole communities have benefited because these children were given that chance.

For the last twenty years, the Child Sponsorship programme has been headed by Nan George. Despite severe health issues of her own, she has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of each and every child that came her way, and her name has become synonymous with the work. She even has a school named after her in Kenya, and hopes to visit this academy in the near future.

Now, however, Nan is moving on and last Friday, 30th September, saw her final day as World in Need Child Sponsorship Manager. Past and present Head Office staff joined her in a celebratory lunch in glorious sunshine at Barnsgate Manor, and we wished her well as she begins a new chapter in her life, working with Ron from home.

From Monday October 4th, our new Child Sponsorship Manager is Anne Symons, pictured below. She has worked alongside Nan for several months now, getting to know the work, our field representatives and some of the children.

We know you will join us in wishing both Nan and Anne the very best in their new roles.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

For the person who has everything...

It’s the end of September. This morning over Crowborough there was a light mist that carried a damp chill. When it lifted, the sky was a cool blue tinged with the soft gold of a sunshine that promised beauty but not great heat. Summer is drawing to a close.

Now come the first fleeting thoughts of Christmas. Shops are already filling shelves with Christmas goods, children start to tell us what they absolutely must have on December 25th, and we start compiling mental lists of everyone we must add to our gift list.

The trouble is, for most of us, there’ll be at least one person on that list who will cause us headaches. You know the one, the person who has everything they need and want. The aunt who hopes no-one will buy them ANOTHER ornament or box of chocolates or bottle of bath salts. The father who has drawers full of socks, ties and hand knitted jumpers. We’ll spend hours – days – trying to think of something for them, and still draw a blank. Direct questions just lead to shrugs and weary replies of, “I don’t know,” or “Don’t give me anything.”

But you want to give something. You want to show them you’ve remembered them, appreciated them, and done something to honour them.

All is not lost. World In Need’s Alternative Christmas Gift Programme allows you to buy a meaningful gift for someone you love and help people who face extreme hardships, all at the same time. Instead of spending money on something nobody wants, you can use it to make a real difference, giving in their name. The recipient receives a card of grateful thanks, your gift problems are solved, and people in some of the poorest places on earth are shown the true spirit of Christmas.

There are gifts to suit every pocket, from stocking fillers to major items, which will be available from October.

It may not be the most beautifully wrapped present you’ll give this year. But it will probably be one of the most satisfying.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Water, water everywhere...

Nor never a drop to drink!

Yesterday, eight days after he started, David Walliams completed his epic swim of the River Thames in London, and by doing so he raised over £1 million for needy children throughout the world.

Swimming 140 miles in the cold water of a tidal river would take all a man’s strength, grit and determination in itself. But Mr Walliams also had to cope with the effects of heavy pollution in that water. Within twenty four hours he was suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, which must have made swimming interesting.

Thankfully, his own ability to fight infection was boosted by the best medical care. He had antibiotics and inoculations to help him cope. And he knew that when he reached Westminster his trial would be over, he could step on to Terra Firma and know that from then on, the water he would use to drink and bathe would be clean and purified.

Around the world, millions of children don’t have this get-out clause. Day in and day out, the water they drink, cook with and wash themselves in is dirty, polluted, filled with effluent. The stench rising from it is unbelievable, and the things it contains would make the Thames water seem like mineral water. Every time these children have contact with their only water supply, they gamble with their health, their futures and even their lives.

Water is the most precious thing on earth. Without it, no-one can survive. But dirty water is as bad as none at all. It does no-one good. And in the twenty first century, there’s no reason why anyone should have to deal with it.

Providing clean water is relatively cheap and easy, but the difference it can make to children in the developing world is priceless. Healthy children will grow strong. They are more able to learn. They grow into healthy adults who can work and benefit themselves, their families and their communities, thereby helping to cut the need for aid in future, and so benefiting us all. Clean water is vital to that development.

Let’s make sure they have it.

The photos show the water tower that supplies clean water to our school in Soy, Kenya.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Joshua Gales, 26th February 2007 – 1st August 2011.

At World In Need we invest in the future of children, working to give them the best possible start in life, that they may grow up achieving everything they are capable of achieving.

Sadly, not every child grows up, and it is with heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of one of our children in the Philippines, Joshua Gales.

The odds were stacked against Joshua from the start. He had encephalitis, asthma and myriad other ailments. In his first year of life he endured four operations, and he had low resistance to disease, which meant he frequently needed antibiotics and painkillers. He could not walk or stand unaided, and needed full time care. Yet, as his photograph shows, he was a darling little boy with a ready smile and a lot of love within him.

At four days old, Joshua’s birth family, unable to give him the help and care he required, handed him over to former pastor, Miguel Gales and his wife Merlyn. Miguel is 60 years old and his income is unsteady, but nonetheless, he and Merlyn worked hard to provide for all of Joshua’s needs.

Had they lived in the UK, there would have been help for them – welfare benefits to assist with the burden a disability places on family finances, social services to ensure his needs were met and perhaps to give respite to the family. His medical and educational needs would have been taken care of, and both the quality and length of his life might have been increased. In the Philippines, there was none of this. The Gales family were on their own.

World In Need’s child sponsorship programme can literally mean the difference between life and death for a boy like Joshua. By providing enough to cover his basic needs, such as medication, a sponsor relieves the family of stress and worry and enables them all to enjoy the best life possible in their circumstances.

Joshua was a special little boy who meant a lot to the World In Need teams both in the Philippines and at head office in England. We all feel saddened and diminished by his loss. We pray for his family at this sad time, and will continue to give them our prayer support and love for as long as they need us.

We also pray that in future, through our Child Sponsorship programme, we can ensure other children like Joshua have the best chance possible.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Nigeria: Clouded by poverty

UN Abuja bomb blast: A police officer walks past the blast shattered United Nations building
Nigeria is a troubled land. Poverty hangs over it like a storm cloud, blotting out the light of hope, taking from the people the vision of a brighter future. Too many of its young people grow up without any prospect of improving things for themselves and their families. Jobs are scarce, pay minimal and the only people who seem to have anything at all are the ones who take it.

The military wield great power and their leaders live well. Armed groups kidnap foreign workers and find profit in ransom. Militia make their mark and gain from the fear they engender.

Last week, the UN building in the capital, Abuja, was targeted. A massive bomb destroyed much of one wing of the building and killed nearly two dozen people. Many more were horrifically injured. The wheel of violence turned again.

If the children of Nigeria are left to believe that violence and crime are the only ways to success and prosperity, then it is understandable those are the routes they will take. We cannot blame them for wanting to break free of poverty. Nor can we condemn their methods of gaining that freedom unless there is a viable alternative.

This viable alternative is what World In need is working to provide. Through our child sponsorship programme, we aim to give children a start in life that will enable them to make better, safer and more hopeful choices in the future.

Sponsored children are able to go to school, gaining the education to allow them to think for themselves, to access training and qualifications that lead to decent careers with worthwhile wages, and to develop the skills and tools their communities need to build better and brighter futures for all. Properly educated people are less likely to fall into the clutches of gangs, or to take part in criminal activities. They are more likely to be involved in building their country, rather than in blowing it apart.

Every child we sponsor takes us a step nearer to breaking through that cloud called poverty. Together, we can shine the light of hope on this blighted nation.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Two weeks ago, several of England’s cities were plagued by civil unrest on a scale seldom seen in this country. Shops were looted, cars and buses torched and buildings destroyed, wantonly, including several homes. The people whose homes burned lost everything they owned and treasured and faced the heart breaking task of rebuilding their lives from scratch.

Thankfully for them, they do not face this daunting task alone and unaided. The local authority has stepped in to provide temporary accommodation and there will be help as they rebuild their homes and replace lost possessions. The Government has indicated that it will compensate them for their losses. Thanks to these measures, their current circumstances, whilst distressing, should turn out to be temporary.

Across the world, not everyone can share this hope. In many places, those who lose their homes through unrest and conflict face an uphill struggle to simply survive. They are often left to fend for themselves, forced to sleep rough on the streets, huddled in corners and vulnerable to every threat that comes their way. Many are reduced to begging for food for their children. There will be no recompense, no help from the authorities, and precious little sympathy from anyone else. Through no fault of their own, they join an underclass of the dispossessed and despised, and this is where they are likely to stay.

In Kenya, for example, the disputed elections of December 2007 led to riots and violence in January 2008 that left many people with nothing. Their homes were destroyed, businesses looted, breadwinners killed. Afterwards, many felt unable even to return to their former neighbourhoods, and instead, found themselves in makeshift camps, sleeping in tiny tents or in Red Cross dwellings the size of an average garden shed – if they had any shelter at all. Years after the violence had ceased, these people are still displaced, their lives still in ruins and with no change in sight.

It is not just those who have lost their homes that suffer in these circumstances, but the entire society. When suffering is allowed to continue, healing cannot take place. Those who have lost everything cannot forgive and move on if they cannot rebuild their lives. Hope melts away and despair takes its place, and the blight goes on, infecting the newest generation and perpetuating the conflict.

World In Need works to help people who have nothing build lives filled with hope and promise. We enable children to go to school when they might otherwise be denied the education on which their future depends, and we encourage and support their parents in various ways, from helping them set up small businesses to providing training in vocational skills. Our sponsorship programmes give hope to children in the poorest families in the poorest places on earth.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

What could you not live without?

A question asked, lightheartedly, of friends in a pub or at a party, when the atmosphere is mellow and the appetites sated, laughter fills the air and the cares of every day life are far behind.

"If everything was to be taken from you except for one thing," the questioner asks, "what would you choose to keep?"

Take a moment and think about your answer.

What did you say? Your house? Your car? Your favourite shoes? Perhaps it was your computer, or your guitar, the watch your father left you, the family Bible that has been on the shelf since Great Grandfather's day? Your dog? Your spouse? Your child?

There are many things in our lives without which we would feel the poorer, many things we treasure and will do our utmost to keep. But finding something precious is not the same thing as being unable to live without it. If your house collapsed or your car was stolen, you'd live. The shoes, the computer, even Daddy's watch, can be replaced, albeit with some sadness. Even the heartbreak of losing a family member will not actually kill you, although it may feel like it has for a long time afterwards.

Perhaps you thought of food. Without food, our health will suffer, our bodies shut down, eyes go blind, muscles waste, our stomachs devour themselves and, eventually, we die, in agony. It can take weeks.

But without water, the end, though just as agonising, comes much quicker. Water deprivation kills in just a few days. And without water to grow crops and sustain livestock, there is no food. Rain is needed to fill the streams and rivers and irrigation channels. If the rain doesn't come, we are soon in trouble.

In April, the UK had a heatwave. For some weeks, the sun shone and no rain came. Children played, lawns were mowed, washing dried on outside lines. But soon the farmers complained. The crops suffered, food was not growing as it should. In a very short space of time, the blessing of sunshine had become a curse, and everyone was glad when it finally rained in May.

Imagine if it had not rained for two years or more. If the sun beat down and the earth cracked, and plants withered as reservoirs dried. If livestock died and the earth turned to dust. If your child was crying for want of a meal, every spare ounce of flesh gone from their bodies, the weakest, and youngest, giving up the fight for life.

This is exactly the predicament of the people in East Africa. For two years and more, the rains have failed to arrive and now, the situation has reached crisis point. In the worst places, it has been exacerbated by conflict and war, and ordinary people have, through no fault of their own, watched their lives crumble. There is, literally, nothing left for them.

In desperation, they leave behind the things they find they CAN do without: home and possessions. They gather their families and walk towards the faint promise of help. They walk for weeks, hungry, thirsty, sun baked. They hide in brush to escape warriors and guerrillas, and bandits who will even take the clothes from their backs, until they reach refugee camps which are overcrowded, filled to four times their capacity. Camps with resources that are so stretched, it can take ten days to get the first help.

And here they sit, patiently waiting in makeshift shelters or under trees, desert dust swirling about them. Some abandon their children at the entrance and melt away, hoping the aid workers can care for the little ones better than they can. The problem seems so big, insurmountable.

But the truth is, it isn't insurmountable. A very small amount of help can make a world of difference. The money a person in the UK spends on a king sized Mars Bar, to eat for a moment's pleasure, is all that is needed to feed EIGHT people all the food they need for a whole day. 68 pence. A US Dollar. Eight people.

Could you live without a Mars Bar, or a similarly priced indulgence every day for just one month? If you could, you'd have saved yourself £20. But if you were to give that money to our East Africa Drought Appeal, you'd save a great deal more. You'd save lives.

What can you not live without?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Football, life and death

"Football is not a matter of life and death; it's far more important than that." Bill Shankly.

Southern Nigeria has been in the news frequently over recent months because of a spate of kidnappings of foreigners, and demands for huge ransoms. The effect of these crimes has been to damage the region’s economy, causing high unemployment, little or no prospects and frustration for young people who live there. They see jobs becoming scarce to the point of extinction, while those engaged in criminal activities seem to have all they want, materially.

Small wonder then, that youths in the area see more future in joining criminal gangs than in completing education and training.

There is a gun and gang culture in the area that is hard to overcome, but World In Need, in partnership with the Universal Centre for Child Health and Youth Development (UCCCHYD), has developed a project which encourages youths to realise their dreams and ambitions, and their need for camaraderie using football training.

Through football, the young men are able to develop and improve skills and, at the same time, they learn positive competitiveness and discipline, and discover a way of being that doesn’t involve crime and guns.

World In Need were loaned a small piece of land, which the youngsters helped to prepare, uprooting bushes and flattening the ground to the best of their ability to turn it into a very basic football pitch. This teamwork gave them a sense of purpose and allowed them to become deeply invested in the project.

The fact that the coaches are local people rather than westerners is helpful, for two reasons. Firstly, local people are more aware of the nuances of local culture than even the most empathetic westerner – one reason World In Need uses indigenous staff for its projects whenever possible.

Secondly, local coaches are not at risk from kidnappers as westerners would be, thus keeping the young men safer and more likely to stay the course.

However, things are not perfect. Despite the best efforts of the team, the pitch is uneven and in rainy weather it becomes waterlogged and unusable, which is discouraging. We need to raise £4,700 to landscape the ground and prevent the waterlogging, and to provide a mower and steam roller to maintain the pitch. Only then can we be sure of the long term success of this project.

You can read about this in the online magazine Footy Matters at

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

When America sneezes...

dollar sign vectorOn Monday, the American Government voted through a deal to allow an increase on their country’s debt limit. On the plus side, it means the US can now pay its bills for a little longer, public servants will get their wages and the poor will still be able to access welfare.

It also means the debt increases to far more than the country can hope to repay, interest payments will rise to amounts most of us cannot even imagine, and there has been postponement of, rather than reprieve from, the final moment of reckoning.

Americans are waking up to the cold hard fact that they are broke. Their debt, as a percentage of GDP, is on a par with Italy’s, a country that was told to tackle its economic crisis as a matter of urgency. But America’s debt crisis has much further reaching consequences than does Italy’s. America’s problems affect us all.

America is a society of consumers. Many Americans live well, surrounded by the best products that money can buy, and that has been essential to the economies of the rest of the world, where those products are made. If Americans have no money, they stop buying, and if they stop buying, the rest of the world goes into decline. Germany has already experienced a 14.4% rate of decline, while in Japan the fall was 15.2%.

Developing countries suffer most harshly. Cambodia’s growth has declined, from 10% in 2007, to zero today, and Kenya’s rate of growth has halved.

These declines come from shrinking demand, drops in commodity prices and investments, plus the fact that migrant workers, stripped of their jobs, are unable to send so much money home. As growth stutters, unemployment rises, and with it, levels of malnutrition and other ills associated with poverty. Families struggling to eat and pay rents have nothing left to pay for things such as education, thus condemning the next generation to the same hardships.

Loss of income for the worker also means loss of tax revenue for the country, so they’re unable to fund schools, hospitals, infrastructure and other essentials.

Someone once said, “If America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold.” They were wrong. When America sneezes, it starts a plague.

Trauma and tragedy

Last weekend, Norway experienced its most devastating tragedy since World War 2. That such a dreadful event could happen in Norway, one of the safest and most peaceful places on earth, caused horror throughout the whole world.

As news cameras captured the scene, that horror, together with shock and fear, showed on every face. The trauma was especially stark on the faces of the young who had survived the shootings at Utoya Island.

Such trauma, such fear, is a daily reality for many children in other parts of the world. Places where conflict is the norm and where men of violence see the lives of others, especially children, as cheap and disposable. Places where lack of education and lack of opportunity make recruitment into the world of violence all too easy. Where manipulation of beliefs and understanding can cause untold misery for whole communities.

At World In Need we know the way to overcome these obstacles and free people from the fear and horror that traps them is to give them the tools to free themselves. By educating children we can ensure they achieve their fullest potentials, giving them access to better jobs and futures. If we teach adults skills we can ensure they are able to care for themselves and their families, earning money, building and investing in their futures. We can give the people the freedom to think and act for themselves, and through this, we can break the power of the men of violence.
World In Need has a child sponsorship programme through which we sponsor children in some of the poorest and most troubled places on earth. Sponsored children are able to go to school and gain skills and qualifications they might otherwise be denied. They eat regularly and have access to medical care and other essentials, and are given hope for the future.

We never forget that a lifetime is built on the foundations of childhood. World In Need is trying to ensure those foundations are built on solid ground.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Can you spare 68 pence today?

The drought in East Africa and its consequences are making news headlines. Many countries in the region have had little or no rain for at least two years, resulting in crop failures and corresponding food shortages.

These shortages are not exclusively an East African problem but are, in fact, worldwide. This year, one third of the crops in Russia have failed, which led to the Russians banning the export of wheat in an effort to maintain supplies for their own population. This has clearly put pressure on other supplies and all markets.

The resulting shortages have caused worldwide food prices to soar. In places like Uganda prices for basic foods such as sugar, flour and beans increased by as much as 300%. Those who struggled to pay before have absolutely no hope now.

Another effect of the drought has been the widespread deaths of livestock, which not only cuts off food supplies but, for many, means the loss of most, if not all, of their income.

Most parents try to put the needs of their children first. Thus, adults stop eating to ensure children have as much as possible. Malnourished parents die, leaving vulnerable orphans.

If 15% of a country’s population is malnourished, it is considered an emergency situation. In much of east Africa at the moment the level of malnutrition is at 37% or higher. Eleven million people are affected, the worst hit areas being Somalia, Northern Kenya, Northern Uganda, Southern Ethiopia and the Sudan.

Drought and famine affect everything. In Kenya and Uganda, schools are closing because the children are too hungry and weak to come. Without an education, they cannot hope to break free of the cycle of poverty in the future, and their lives will be permanently blighted.

Long term malnutrition stores up more problems for the future. Certain deficiencies in people now will lead to increased numbers of disabled children being born in future, putting more pressure on an already oppressed society. And perversely, malnutrition now can lead to obesity related illnesses in the future. Research shows that malnutrition in children leads to stunted growth, which in turn leads to lower than usual metabolisms, fat is more easily deposited in the body and is harder to get rid of, and diabetes and heart disease become problems. It is, therefore, in our long term interests to overcome the immediate problems as quickly as we can.

World In Need works with some of the hardest hit people in Northern Kenya, close to the border with Somalia, and also in Northern Uganda, where our Director, George Amoli, tells us that parents are abandoning hungry children at camps, hoping this will give the children a chance at survival.

Small amounts make a huge difference to starving people. For instance, £20 will feed a family of eight for a month. That is just 68 pence a day, less than the cost of a double Mars bar.

If you would like to help us to help these people, you can donate at our page:, or you can phone us at 01892 669834.

Don’t worry if your donation is small. Every penny is precious to those who receive.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Bewl Water here we come! Again!

On 17th of September it will come down to 16 paddlers and one drummer to give it their best to win the dragon boat race at Bewl Waters in East Sussex.

Dragon Boat race originated in China over 2000 years ago. This competition has taken place annually for more than 20 centuries as part of folk tradition. Today it is one of the most 'fun' fundraising events to be part of.

Our team are members of Tunbridge Wells BNI. It’s the third time that they’ve kindly decided paddle for World In Need.

Please support our team here.

Your gift will help World In Need in our work with children, widows and families in some of the poorest places on earth.
Thank you!