For nearly 70 years, World Vision has been committed to protecting and caring for children and those in need. From our founder Bob Pierce giving the last $5 in his pocket to help care for an abandoned Chinese girl in 1947, to then-CEO Stan Mooneyham purchasing a large ship in 1979 to rescue refugee families stranded at sea in Vietnam, World Vision has gone where others would not. Even in the places where it is hardest to be a child, God is there—and we should be there too. So, our mission continues.
Bob Pierce founded World Vision three years after he came face to face with an abandoned child and chose not to look away. Determined the last $5 in his pocket wasn’t enough, he knew more people had to be involved for a long-term solution and broader impact. Initially based in the state of Oregon, the organisation focused on missions service for emergencies in East Asia. Today World Vision has become the largest Christian international non-governmental organisation working in nearly 100 countries worldwide.
When the countries surrounding Vietnam were refusing to accept the fleeing refugees because of political and racial tension, World Vision believed each person’s life was more valuable than the cost of the risks involved. They were warned against the mission. Despite the captain learning that his license could be revoked and the ship could be denied refuelling and the right to return to port, they all chose to take the risk. Our World Vision ship became the first international rescue ship to provide food and medical assistance to 55 stranded Vietnamese refugees during Operation Sea Sweep in 1979. When no one else would, we did.
During a devastating civil war, Ethiopia was hit with a famine and a hunger crisis which defined a decade and made for one of the worst humanitarian events of the 20th century. The United Nations estimated nearly 1 million famine deaths, along with millions displaced from their homes. World Vision emergency relief workers were among the first on the ground to assist the starving children and families, providing help where it was most critically needed.
During the early 1990s as Romania's communist party fell and President Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown, the world was shocked by images of abandoned children tethered to beds and confined in cages. Tens of thousands of innocent Romanian children were placed in orphanages due to extremely difficult financial hardships and poverty. World Vision was one of the first to give aid to the institutionalised children, and continues to be one of the few international organisations to still have a presence in Romania.
Within 100 days in 1994, Rwanda’s citizens turned against one another during the country’s deadliest genocide, resulting in 800,000 people brutally slaughtered. The majority of survivors were children who lost one or both of their parents. World Vision arrived in 1994 to provide emergency aid and assist the survivors in resettling. As it became evident that physical wounds were not the only ones that needed healing, World Vision initiated peacebuilding and reconciliation programmes to help children and adults work through their emotional scars, and begin to heal a broken country.
At a time when AIDS was stigmatised by the Christian community and many others as something to be ashamed of, 12 million African children were orphaned due to this deadly disease. When no one else would, World Vision challenged the cultural beliefs and attitudes of the time and spurred global action to support the well-being of these vulnerable children through the HIV and AIDS Hope Initiative. World Vision’s three main approaches remain the same today: to prevent new cases, increase the quality of care for children infected or at risk of infection, and advocate to help stop the spread of HIV.
The 9.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Indonesia in 2004 triggered a massive tsunami, which killed 100,000 people and levelled entire cities to the ground in a matter of minutes. The tsunami continued to devastate Thailand and Sri Lanka, before eventually ceasing in South Africa. Nearly 230,000 people lost their lives, with many more injured and left homeless. In response to this tragedy, World Vision initiated its largest-ever relief response across all of the five affected countries, raising US$350 million. We continue to support these communities today.
2010s - Today
World Vision has been in the Middle East for the past 40 years and been responding to Syria’s deadly civil war since it began in early 2011. To date, approximately 5.6 million people have fled from Syria and another 6.2 million people are displaced within the country – half of which are vulnerable children. World Vision is helping with healthcare, emergency food, water and sanitation, shelter repair kits, education and recreation. We're also providing child protection training for adults and psychological support for families. We're also providing this support to surrounding countries including Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Our global impact today
In 2017 alone, World Vision responded to 170 emergencies across 56 countries and treated 118,000 severely malnourished children with a 89% recovery rate. Through Child Sponsorship, 3 million vulnerable children were given a second chance in life, and 3.4 million people gained access to clean water. To see more of our global impact, visit Our Impact page or see Our Progress on Child Well-being.