1950s (The Beginning of World Vision)
Bob Pierce, then a young American journalist, arrived in China and came face-to-face with many children who had been abandoned. Deeply moved by their needs, he knew that giving the last US$5 in his pocket would not be enough and that more people had to be involved in order to reach more children in need. In 1950, he founded World Vision to support missionaries in providing emergency assistance in East Asia. Child Sponsorship was later established to transform the lives of needy children and their communities, bringing them healthcare, education, love and protection.
1970s (Operation Seasweep)
Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the political turmoil in Southeast Asia forced over 3 million people to flee from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Many refugees were fleeing by sea, but the neighbouring countries were all reluctant to take them in. As refugees helplessly tried to stay afloat and alive on tiny boats, it is estimated that some 200,000 to 400,000 died. To save lives, World Vision purchased a vessel, the first of its kind during this humanitarian crisis, to rescue the refugees and provide food and medical assistance for them.
1980s (Ethiopian Famine)
Famine hit Ethiopia at the peak of its ruthless civil war, trapping the country in one of the most severe food crises of the 20th century. The United Nations estimates that nearly 1 million people died in the famine, while several million were displaced. World Vision was one of the first to respond to the emergency, providing food for starving children and their families and saving lives at risk.
1990s (Orphan Crises in Romania and Africa)
When the communist regime in Romania fell, the country’s extreme financial hardships caused tens of thousands of children to be abandoned in orphanages. In 1994, 800,000 were brutally killed in the Rwandan genocide, leaving many children orphaned. In this decade, AIDS was rampant in Africa and killed the parents of 12 million African children. In response, World Vision entered Romania to support orphanages and provided assistance to help children orphaned by the genocide and AIDS.
2000s (Indian Ocean Tsunami Response)
In 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake trigged a tsunami that destroyed multiple coastal cities in Indonesia within minutes, claiming the lives of 100,000 people and continuing to devastate Thailand and Sri Lanka. Nearly 230,000 people lost their lives while many more were injured and left homeless. In response, World Vision initiated its largest-ever relief operation in Asia to date across affected countries to provide basic necessities. We ended up staying for more than a decade in some of the most affected areas, assisting families and communities in rebuilding their lives from scratch.
2010s to Present (Syria Crisis)
World Vision has been working in the Middle East for the past 40 years. Since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, we have been responding to the needs of those affected by it. As of 2020, about 5.6 million people have fled Syria and another 6.2 million are displaced within the country – half of which are vulnerable children. In Syria and neighbouring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, World Vision is providing healthcare, emergency food, water and sanitation, education and recreation for affected children. We are also offering child protection training for adults and psychological support for families.