Across the region, millions of children are suffering from the effects of poverty, conflict and natural disasters. Hunger, exploitation, lack of hope, inability to access education and healthcare are just some of the hurdles children must overcome if they are to live their lives to the fullest.
World Vision’s community development model is built on four main pillars we have found to be crucial indicators of future success.
- Children enjoy good health
- Children are educated for life
- Children experience the love of God and their neighbour
- Children are cared for, protected and active participants
It is our belief that if one of these primary pillars is weak or missing, the child is vulnerable. At World Vision, we strive to work with the most vulnerable families in the most vulnerable communities to achieve significant and lasting change and strengthen the weak or missing areas.
Our programs vary from country to country, depending on the context. The following are but some examples of the hurdles children, families, and entire communities face across the region.
Children Enjoy Good Health:
Good health starts before birth. In Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza—a country where 42 per cent of girls are married by 18 and which has the highest rate of fertility in the world—World Vision comes alongside young mothers to help them know how to care for themselves and their children before, during, and after pregnancy.
Likewise, in Lebanon, World Vision is working to make sure all children, regardless ethnicity, religion, gender or their parents’ financial abilities, have access to basic healthcare.
Children are Educated for Life
Access to quality education, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion is another key factor for success for individuals, communities and entire countries. Study after study has shown that educated populations consistently outperform those with less education. Women who are educated make better decisions and are more prepared to take care of their children. Society, as a whole, benefits.
While the statistics show there has been a marked increase in primary school enrolment across many countries in the region, one number alone doesn’t tell the whole story. While it is true that, in general, more children are going to school, secondary studies show that just getting children in the classroom is not enough. The quality and type of education the children receive needs to be comparable to what children in developed contexts are getting if these students are to compete in a globalized and evermore connected and competitive workplace in the future. And, they need to be trained in employable skills, an area where the statistics seem to indicate is not happening.
The Middle East has the second highest youth unemployment in the world, after Sub-Saharan Africa, at 26.9 per cent. And, the situation is not likely to change quickly. Experts estimate the region must create 80-100 million jobs in the region over the next 40 years just to maintain the current abysmal employment rates.
Children experience the love of God and their neighbour
The countries in the Middle East are plagued with conflict—past and present. In a region divided by religion and ideology, World Vision works to promote peace and understanding among children and adults and empower individuals and communities to share the message of understanding with others.
Children are cared for, protected and active participants
In many countries around the world, it is increasingly important for youth to have a seat at the planning table and a say in their future. No where is this more true than the Middle East which, together with Northern Africa, has the youngest population in the world.
In many cases, if young people are not educated, they are exploited. Lebanon is home to the highest proportion of working children between the ages of 10 and 17 in the world. Early marriages also remain a concern as they logically lead to higher numbers of adolescent mothers which often put both the mothers and their babies at risk.
A long road ahead
World Vision been working in the Middle East for nearly 40 years, and is dedicated to improving the lives of children, families and the communities where they live through long-term sustainable development as well are responding to emergencies—both natural and man-made. Much progress has been made, but there is still a lot left to do.