World Vision Launches $350 Million Campaign to Help 72 Million People as Coronavirus Could Cause 30-Year Setback in Fight Against Extreme Poverty

Collins Kiilu and his grandma, Sophia, fill up their jerrycans with water in Mwala, Kenya. | World Vision/ Laura Reinhardt

Warning that the world could experience a 30-year setback in the fight against extreme poverty without intervention amid the coronavirus pandemic, evangelical Christian humanitarian aid organization World Vision has launched a $350 million campaign to help some 72 million people globally with pastors as key players.

“[This is] the largest ever global response in our 70-year history — largest ever,” Edgar Sandoval, president of the development organization, told The Christian Post in a recent interview. “We are aiming to reach 72 million people, including 36 million children. To do this, we need to raise $350 million and that’s what everyone is working really hard to do — to raise the funds that we need to serve the most vulnerable.”

Extreme poverty, according to the World Bank, is living on less than $1.90 a day. The most recent available estimates from 2015 show that 10 percent of the world’s population or 734 million fall in that bracket. That figure is 36% lower than the 1.9 billion who were living in extreme poverty in 1990. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Sandoval believes the world “could basically turn the clock back 30 years” on extreme poverty if nothing is done.

“This virus has the destructive power to potentially turn the clock back 30 years and all the progress that the world has made on eliminating extreme poverty,” Sandoval said. “It is urgent that we respond and that we respond with this level of scale.”

And pastors, said Sandoval, will serve as key players in helping them reach the world’s most vulnerable.

“We know that pastors and other faith leaders can be a real power, force, in stopping COVID-19 because they have the position of trust in their communities and they can,” he said, noting that they are crucial in helping to combat misinformation about the disease.

“Drawing from previous experience, this is not the first time that World Vision is partnering with pastors and other faith leaders. This is something we have done in every single pandemic that we faced — whether it is HIV and AIDS, or the Zika or Ebola outbreaks, this is the model that works,” he said.

He noted that during the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014, World Vision worked with pastors and faith leaders to help share safe but real practices and other ways for people to protect their families. Despite Sierra Leone being the epicenter of the Ebola crisis, not one of the 59,000 World Vision supported children and families died.

“Not one,” he said. “And that was only possible because of the great work that we did in partnership with the pastors and faith leaders.”

World Vision will be mobilizing their 37,000 staffers worldwide as well as their network of 400,000 pastors and other faith leaders in the areas where the organization operates along with some 220,000 community health workers.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair