USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah paid a visit to World Vision US headquarters in Washington this week. The USAID is the United States Agency for International Development and this government organization has been leading global humanitarian and development work on behalf of the U.S. for more than 50 years. USAID works to support long term programs that provide economic growth, agriculture, health, development, conflict resolution, and emergency assistance to people and communities in need all around the world. Shah came to us to address the involvement of faith based organizations (i.e. World Vision) in international development, discuss the current drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, and strengthen the partnership between USAID and World Vision. Shah also thanked World Vision for the important work we’re doing, and recognized that most long term development work happening in the world could not be done without groups like us leading the charge. It was truly an honor to receive this gratitude from him personally.
Shah is an incredibly qualified man. He has earned his M.D., attended many different universities, worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture, served on the board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), and much more. But what impressed me most was how personable, driven, and compassionate he was. It is important to remember why we do the work we do and Shah has definitely not lost sight of that. While sharing about his recent experience in the Horn of Africa, he got choked up telling a story of a mother who had to make the heart wrenching decision of which child to take with her on the long journey to the refuge camp and which to leave behind. Shah’s passion for serving the poor was evident as he shared about his many experiences in the developing world. While Shah was rattling off statistics without notes, it was clear that he undeniably knows what he is talking about, is truly invested in his work, and committed to helping communities worldwide to overcome poverty.
It was very encouraging to learn that World Vision and USAID have already been partners for 30 years. The most recent partner initiative is FWD. The FWD campaign’s goal is to combat the three major issues – famine, war and drought, which have led to the current famine in the Horn of Africa where more than 13 million people are affected. The FWD campaign website is http://usaid.gov/fwd/ and offers interactive maps of the Horn of Africa, educational tools, and quick ways to spread awareness about this tragedy. To truly make an impact and fight global issues like hunger, the public and private sector need to work together, and that is exactly what USAID and World Vision have been doing for more than three decades. In addition to partnering on new initiatives like FWD, World Vision has also worked with USAID specifically on food programs, health, emergency relief, HIV and AIDS care, and more for those around the world who need it most.
Ellie Hutchison is the 30 Hour Famine’s newest intern. Ellie went to Burundi this August on the Study Tour and is passionate about social justice, traveling, and missions. She recently graduated from high school and is interning at World Vision in Seattle this fall. This spring, she will travel to Australia for missions training.