Volunteers

Recycling to Beauty: Un/Plastic Project

Ibu Aci is an Indonesian woman who is part of World Relief''s up-cycling program in Indonesia. This program, The Un/Plastic Project, teaches women to turn their plastic waste into beautiful products and income.Here in her own words, she shares how she gained confidence and pride in her work:

Fifty percent of Indonesia’s population lives on less than $2 per day. The Un/Plastic Project is a livelihood project that re-purposes plastic and paper into jewelry and household items.

World Relief volunteers teach young mothers skills such as beading and plastic yarn crocheting, but also important life skills. As products are sold, these young women are empowered with incomes that help support their families while surrounded by a faith community.

Check out World Relief's Catalog of Hope to find products made by Ibu Aci and other gifts from around the world.

A trip in Burundi

by Michael Beeman I have a card from my grandmother, on the front of which, it is written, “Grandson, life will take you to some faraway places.”, and on the inside, “Know that wherever you go, love goes with you”.  It is true.  During a trip to a Care Group outside of Gitega, southeast of Bujumbura, I witnessed the power of community and God’s love.

In the Kibuye Health District, World Relief manages a Child Survival Project.  Through the Care Group Model, promoters train a group of volunteers on issues pertinent to Child Health, like malaria, diarrhea, and nutrition.  These volunteers in turn visit approximately 10 households to share this information.  The program is quite effective; malnutrition rates in children under 5 have plummeted to 8% from 36%.

With a few from WR offices, I recently journeyed from Gitega to the Care Group Meeting in neighboring Itaba commune.  For one hour, we traversed a severely rutted road.  Surrounded by hills of banana plants and coffee fields, we drove through heaps of mud and deep puddles of rain, only to reach narrower roads.  Along these roads were men and women coming and going, students at the end of their day, and toddlers who would stop playing and stare at the large, white Land Cruiser slowly making its way over bumps and around bends.

With the help of Lucie, the Care Group supervisor, we eventually made it to the school grounds where the Care Group met.  Once there, the welcome was naturally genial; greetings exchanged and a short song sung for an opening.

For this day’s meeting, the topic was nutrition.

They discussed the best practices to nourish children.  A couple acted out two skits: one showed the preparation of a meal low in nutritious ingredients, while the second showed the proper preparation of a meal that meets babies’ nutritious needs.  The subsequent discussion drew out the importance of a meal rich in micronutrients important for their babies.  The participating parents identified the problems in the skit and the solutions, which they in turn would apply themselves and share with their neighbors.  The discussion was successful; everyone actively participated and supported their peers in preparing the distribution of this knowledge.

Our departure hardly meant a disconnection.  Rather, the exchange strengthened the connection, in the spirit of turikumwe: although separated, we are together.  During the ride back home I thought of my Grandmother’s card.  Here, in the Itaba commune, the strength of community and the love of God were present.  In the beauty of the hills and the energy of the Care Group, the health and strength of families, World Relief, and myself were being restored.

Michael Beeman is a Program Research and Development Intern with World Relief in Burundi.

Photos by Marianne Bach

(1) A few of our World Relief health promoters in Burundi.

(2) Care groups are places of knowledge, learning, and relationship building.

(3) Mothers and children alike benefit through World Relief's care group model.

Refugees in Indonesia: Ministry of Presence

By Mikey and Jeana Master, Church Engagement Coordinators for World Relief Indonesia Stepping out the door of the detention center, into the courtyard shared by the asylees’ rooms, we were greeted by twenty faces waiting to see ours. Twenty men: all with different stories, all from broken places, all carrying disappointment. Literally trapped between the land they are fleeing and the land that could give them freedom, they spend their days waiting. We did not exchange handshakes or words for long, but it was a moving moment. It was moving because we cannot give them the freedom they desire. It was moving because many of them come from countries that are broken, in part, because of ours. It was moving because as they unapologetically stared at us, their eyes spoke louder than their words.

The detention centers here in Indonesia are holding people who were caught attempting to flee their country for Australia. They come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka, Nepal and more. Some left because they were being harassed by the Taliban, some are part of ethnic groups that leave them as refugees in their own country, and others fled the consequences of war. The majority tend to be young men, but there are also elderly men and families as well. Most commonly, fishermen promise these people a safe boat journey to Australia. The price for a spot is high, but for many, it’s worth the cost. However, these fishermen leave out an important detail: as soon as the boat nears Australia, the Australian Navy directs them to Indonesia where the asylum seekers will be held in legal limbo.

photo by Michael Masters
photo by Michael Masters

World Relief partners with IOM (International Organization for Migration) to serve these people as they wait for the appropriate paper work to begin a new life in Australia. Ours is a ministry of presence, teaching English, photography, arts and crafts.

For those we work with, the center in Bali is the first stop. This is a high security holding place from which they are transported to West Java, where they are given bigger living spaces and small freedoms. The length of time they spend there is uncertain; some people have been waiting for eight years.  Currently, the center on Java has about 200 people, and 100 people stay here in Bali, although the numbers are always fluctuating.

For these refugees trapped in a place of waiting, disappointment and little hope, World Relief steps alongside to love, serve and listen to those made invisible behind walls - yet still remain incredibly close to Christ’s heart for the homeless and displaced.

The Masters serve with World Relief as volunteers. To learn more about World Relief Indonesia and the work happening there, click here

World AIDS Day 2011

Kandal Province, Cambodia: A sea of matching white hats filled the tent in Kohtaom District early this morning. More than 200 secondary school students dominated the crowd, and were joined by government officials, religious leaders, police, medical personnel and NGO representatives. They had gathered together to demonstrate the same message printed clearly on their red-ribbon t-shirts: “We are united to protect ourselves from AIDS.” Similar ceremonies are taking place across the globe this World AIDS Day. And there is much to celebrate. The combined response in the past decade by governments, donors, local organizations, international NGOs, and countless volunteers has resulted in new HIV infections falling, AIDS-related deaths decreasing, and treatment being made accessible to millions more individuals, particularly those in low- and middle-income countries.

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Here in Cambodia, participants reflected on the country’s astounding accomplishments in addressing the epidemic. Thanks to prevention efforts over the last nine years, adult HIV prevalence rate has been reduced from 1.2% to 0.5%. Cambodia is also one of the few countries in the world that provides antiretroviral therapy to more than 80 percent of those eligible for it.

The presence at today’s event of more than 100 HIV-positive individuals, however, was a stark reminder that the fight is not over and that resources and responses cannot waver. There are more than 75,000 people living with HIV in Cambodia, and they remain vulnerable. A recent national report found that HIV-affected households experienced lower income and increased medical expenses, which negatively impacted their financial stability, food security and psychosocial wellbeing, as well as the status of women and education of children.

More than 30 million people have died worldwide from AIDS-related causes since the epidemic began. And this does not begin to account for the untold toll on families, communities, and countries as a whole.

Yet despite so much unnecessary loss in the world, or perhaps to honor it, the overarching theme of today’s event was hope.

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The students, aged 15-18 years, sat attentively as World Relief staff presented a drama on the pressures of teenage life. The skit’s message was simple—to value life and make healthy choices about sex—but the issues it raised are relevant to these teens and complex to address: poverty, drug use, migration, “sugar daddies,” unplanned pregnancies and suicide.

World Relief meets with more than 7,000 youth throughout Cambodia on a weekly basis to discuss these issues. In Kohtaom District alone, World Relief works in 42 villages. Youth are provided a safe space to ask questions as they build life skills and learn about disease prevention, nutrition, and trafficking prevention. Evaluations have found that the program helps youth to increase their knowledge about AIDS, promote HIV testing, share health messages with friends, improve school attendance, avoid drug and alcohol abuse, and mentor orphans in their community.

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At the AIDS Day event students were randomly chosen and asked questions by the district officer to test their AIDS knowledge. Despite giggles from their friends when selected, each would walk confidently to the front and respond correctly to questions like, “What should people living with AIDS do to take care of themselves?”, “Can people who look healthy be infected by HIV?”, and “What should you do if your relative or friend finds out they are HIV positive?”

This is a generation for whom AIDS is a reality. They have never known the world without it. But they are informed, they are supported, and they are capable of making choices that protect their future. AIDS may be the currently reality, but with continued investments in the response, this generation can be the one to lead the charge on making it a thing of the past.

Imagine what an AIDS Day celebration we will then have.

Joanna Mayhew, World Relief Asia HIV/AIDS Programs Advisor