Opinion  |  

Anger and compassion ignite my desire for social justice

World Vision Australia CEO Claire Rogers hit by poverty and need

During the past nine months as CEO of World Vision I have been confronted by a world in need that I previously knew of only second hand. I have come face to face with crippling poverty as never before and it has forced me to re-examine my personal commitment to social justice. Witnessing the work of World Vision amongst the most vulnerable people on the planet has been, at times, confronting, heartbreaking and inspiring.

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Many of the refugees are unaccompanied children.

I recently visited Bidi Bidi, the world’s largest refugee camp in Uganda, where I worked alongside World Vision staff providing hot meals and fresh water to the hundreds of thousands fleeing famine and a brutal civil war in South Sudan. Many of the refugees are unaccompanied children.

Can you imagine what fear lies in the heart of a six-year-old child – alone and hungry – who may have seen her parents shot dead?  Or have been shot at herself?

I can now. I thank God that when these little ones arrive, they are greeted by our experienced workers and taken to our Child Friendly Spaces, where they are fed, clothed and provided with compassionate care.

It broke my heart. It made me angry.

Closer to home, I held in my arms a little girl from the Kimberley who attends a playgroup funded by World Vision’s Australia Program. This dear little child called Arnie was very affectionate. She wouldn’t let me go. Later I discovered that Arnie suffers from foetal alcohol syndrome; a devastating effect of dispossession and marginalisation. It broke my heart. It made me angry. I am learning that anger can fuel action and transformation. It is a call to contribute to something greater than ourselves.

At World Vision I have been deeply inspired and humbled by crisis and development programs that are transforming communities. As a Christian, I have looked to Christ – one of the world’s greatest humanitarians – as never before.  I have a greater understanding of the words of Bob Pierce, World Vision’s founder – “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”

Global problems – terrorism, pandemics, refugees and displacement, climate change and poverty – require lasting global solutions. We all have a role to play in creating a fairer and more peaceful world. The power for change – real change – is in all of our hands.

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