A personal and insightful look into the work of World Vision
Sometimes we are so determined to do good that this determination actually stops us from doing good. You decide you want to volunteer with a local charity. You then painstakingly look into as many charities as you can, trying to decide which you are going to invest your time, energy and perhaps resources into. Which is the best? Somewhere along the line, during your research, you get lost. It all becomes too hard. Too confusing. Who knows where the money goes? What was that media report about sponsors sending money to sponsored children who had long since passed? No, it’s all too hard and too confusing. So you stop. Comforted by the notion that you meant to get involved and you meant to do good.
I’m a researcher by training. Researching, reading, looking – that’s in my nature. Reading and asking questions and finding answers is how I learn. For almost 5 years now I’ve been a World Vision Australia Blog Ambassador. And surprisingly my involvement with them came about in a rather serendipitous manner. I was living in Australia at the time, working on my PhD. I had heard of World Vision, but not Time Costello (who was their CEO for about 13 years). Not until my husband brought home a book titled Hope written by one Tim Costello. It was a beautifully produced book. I flipped through it and noticed that it was a collection of ‘stories’ (moments of inspiration as Tim calls it), most just three or four pages long. I was surprised. Patrick isn’t one to read for leisure. He finished the book in no time and talked about how much he enjoyed it. It was a brief conversation. I remember just really liking the titles to many of the ‘stories’.
A year or so later I was at the ProBlogger conference at the Gold Coast. There was a session on blogging for social good and a young lady from World Vision Australia was there talking about their work and how bloggers can assist them. I found it fascinating, but at the same time, I thought well this is World Vision Australia and I’m not going to be in Australia much longer. So even though I chatted with the team and kept in touch I didn’t reach out to join their program. It wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand, that I thought, there isn’t any harm in trying. World Vision New Zealand don’t have a similar program so I reached out. They were excited, supportive and welcoming.
Last year I was lucky enough to make it to their annual ‘blogger day’ where the World Vision team talks about the work they’re doing and simply engages with the bloggers they partner with. At the end of the day we were given a copy to Tim Costello’s latest book Faith. I brought this new copy home, but pulled out Hope from our bookshelf (it made the move from Australia to New Zealand, which speaks to what Patrick thought of the book). I settled in and as I turned the pages and read the words I felt a great sense of pride. In these pages Tim talked about the work World Vision did, he addressed many of the criticisms the organisation received – that he received as an individual, and he talked to the issues that many of us try to avoid in everyday conversation (politics, religion, race). He painted the confronting reality of the world we live in with a gentle tone. Sometimes I felt like he was whispering something and I had to really listen to hear what he was saying. It made me think.
I finished reading Hope and picked up Faith. It followed the same sort of format but for some reason both Patrick and I preferred Hope. If you ever wanted to sit and chat with a CEO, or a person who works in an organisation like World Vision, these books are an alternative. I felt like they were anecdotes that Tim would tell a group of friends, and I was privy to it thanks to the books. There was something about Faith that just didn’t sit right with us. After we both read it, we got into a long, heated conversation about the book, the hindsight with which it was written and the position of privilege that Tim wrote it from. Mind you there was nothing wrong with the book. Not at all. Both books are books that make we smile when I see them on our shelves, and we hold onto very few books. I guess our conversation was simply a result of the numerous issues Tim touches on and is a reflection of the reality that organisations like World Vision face. There are many ways to look at a problem, and many ways to fix them. But while Patrick and I talked about the various ways the book could have been written, Tim went out and wrote the book. While others talk about the best ways to address poverty, World Vision just get out and do the best they can. And in doing they are improving, the world and themselves and their approaches.
I suppose that’s what this post is about. It’s about doing something. Even if it’s not the best way forward. Even if it isn’t perfect. Your showing up to the smallest, least well-known charity is infinitely better than your thinking about helping a larger one, or worse, deciding not to help at all. If you’re waiting for the right opportunity to come along, I hope this post serves as a sign that the right opportunity is the one you make for yourself, with the time, resources and energy that you have, right now.
To learn more about World Vision Australia visit their website.