17 Reasons to Hope in 2017

Hope shines a light in the darkness. It’s infectious, even healing. But what is there to be hopeful for? Let’s look at the year ahead with 17 reasons to have hope in 2017.

1. Extreme poverty is giving up ground.

In the last 20 years, the number of children dying around the world from things they shouldn’t — from hunger and poverty and disease — has dropped from more than 30,000 a day to just over 16,000. And the number of people living in extreme poverty, those living on less than $1.90 a day, dropped by more than 1 billion. Now the world’s nations have set an ambitious goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030.

2. We are 99 percent of the way to eradicating polio globally.

Unlike most diseases, polio can be completely eradicated because it cannot survive for long periods outside of the human body. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 20 million people are living with polio paralysis.

At its peak in the early 1900s, polio struck tens of thousands of Americans. But right now, this crippling and potentially fatal disease is at the lowest numbers and in the fewest places ever. With vigilance, the world could be polio-free by 2018.

3. The end of the HIV and AIDS pandemic is in sight.

(World Vision 2014/photo by Jon Warren)
(World Vision 2014/photo by Jon Warren)

By the time the world realized the extent of the AIDS crisis in sub-Saharan Africa in the late 1990s, nearly an entire generation had succumbed to the disease in some nations. In Malawi, orphaned children were living alone or with overburdened caregivers.

Today, HIV testing and anti-retroviral treatment — bolstered by a lack of stigma — allow adults to live normally with HIV while communities in sub-Saharan Africa continue to confront the pandemic head-on. AIDS messaging is everywhere, including on the wall of this school in Zambia. Here, clean water is more of a concern to these students than HIV — they know full well how the virus is transmitted. AIDS interventions in Zambia and across sub-Saharan Africa are an integral part of World Vision’s health programming. 

AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 percent since the peak in 2005 when 2 million people died from AIDS-related causes. Countries around the world are focusing on the 90-90-90 targets of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS. Their goal is that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will be diagnosed, on treatment, and virally suppressed.

4. We can solve the global water and sanitation crisis within our lifetimes.

Nearly 1,000 children under 5 die every day from diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene. So the sixth of 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations includes achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

World Vision is the largest nongovernmental provider of clean water in the developing world, reaching one new person with clean water every 30 seconds. We are increasing our impact and scope to reach one new person with clean water and sanitation every 10 seconds by 2020, and we’ll then continue at that pace to reach everyone, everywhere we work by 2030.

5. Ruth no longer fears snakes when she gets water.

(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)
(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)

For years, 11-year-old Ruth trekked six times a day down a hill to fetch water from a dirty pond. Poisonous snakes, like the one that bit her sister and nearly took her life, were a constant danger. The family kept sticks along the path to ward them off.

In July, when World Vision water engineers drilled a borehole near Ruth’s home, Ruth began to fetch clean water safely and quickly. She now has time to go back to school and work toward her dream of becoming a nurse.

6. World Vision has partnered with the U.N. and UNICEF to launch the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.

Together, we will support the efforts of those seeking to prevent violence, protect childhood, and help make societies safe for children. By 2030, we hope to end abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and all forms of violence and torture against children.

7. Men in India are taking a stand against a harmful tradition — child marriage — that has tarnished the worth of girls for centuries.

Mangay, a member of the Men Care Group in Agra, India, treats his 11-year-old daughter, Marhima, to an ice cream cone. “We have been made to believe by society that a girl is someone else’s property and will marry, so why should we invest in educating her?” Mangay Lal says. “World Vision came, they saw the darkness we were living in, they asked us to come to the light. And that light is, with help of our understanding, creating a healthy environment where we care for our families and community and where our children — especially girls — can study to rise above and empower others.” (World Vision 2014/photo by Annila Harris)
Mangay, a member of the Men Care Group in Agra, India, treats his 11-year-old daughter, Marhima, to an ice cream cone. “We have been made to believe by society that a girl is someone else’s property and will marry, so why should we invest in educating her?” Mangay Lal says. “World Vision came, they saw the darkness we were living in, they asked us to come to the light. And that light is, with help of our understanding, creating a healthy environment where we care for our families and community and where our children — especially girls — can study to rise above and empower others.” (World Vision 2014/photo by Annila Harris)

Instead of conforming to society’s skewed understanding of a girl’s worth — merely as a profit-and-loss venture — Men Care Groups in Agra, India, educate and equip men on the inherent value of women and girls. Members of this World Vision program also support one another in leading their families with empathy and encouragement, convincing other community members not to marry off their teenage daughters.

8. We are working toward a more open, inclusive, and fair world for people with disabilities by 2030.

Individuals with disabilities can face a lot of barriers — in their living environment, in the form of outdated laws and policies, and in the attitudes and prejudices of people in their community. But now five of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals created by the United Nations will address needs in sectors such as education, economic growth, employment, governance, and infrastructure. World Vision operates disability-specific programming as well as disability-inclusive programming around the world.

9. Rosemary doesn’t know the hunger and hardship her family did.

(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)
(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)

This 9-year-old from Moyo, Zambia, knows only the prosperity. She knows about plenty. She knows about learning. She knows about sharing. And she knows she’s free to follow her dream of being a chef. Five World Vision Gift Catalog goats, her family’s hard work, and child sponsorship helped to lift her and her family out of poverty.

10. Innovative technology is transforming remote communities around the world.

Mobile technology and other innovations allow humanitarian organizations to work better and smarter, improving efficiencies so more resources can help people in poverty and communities in crisis. The Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation and Global Humanitarian Data Center were also launched at the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016.

11. Restored relationships are possible — even in the worst of situations.

(World Vision 2013/photo by Jon Warren)
(World Vision 2013/photo by Jon Warren)

In April 1994, when Rwanda erupted into violence, neighbor turned on neighbor, family turned on family, and love turned to hate. The genocide turned friends, like Andrew and Callixte, into enemies.

After Callixte was part of a group that killed Andrew’s wife’s entire family, Andrew turned him in to the authorities. Callixte was imprisoned. Yet after going through training in peace and reconciliation, the two men are as close as brothers again.

12. Since the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, World Vision has helped millions of people in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq.

Syria children build a snowman this winter just north of Aleppo. (World Vision 2016)
Syria children build a snowman this winter just north of Aleppo. (World Vision 2016)

“This is what gives me hope — seeing people from all over the world caring enough to help,” says Eyad, a mechanical engineer turned aid worker in Syria. “There is still goodness in this world.” 

13. Haiti is beginning to recover and rebuild after Hurricane Matthew.

(World Vision 2016)
(World Vision 2016)

Hurricane Matthew pounded Haiti on Oct. 4 with torrential rain, massive storm surge, and winds up to 145 mph. More than 2 million people have been affected, including nearly 900,000 children. World Vision is delivering relief supplies and assistance.

World Vision’s goal isn’t only to be the “first in” when responding to the most urgent humanitarian crises, but also be the last out — seeing families and communities through hardship to restoration.

14. Jennifer Nyirmbe is back in church.

(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)
(World Vision 2016/photo by Jon Warren)

After her baby died last year during a home birth that resulted in complications from obstetric fistula, 21-year-old Jennifer would only pray outside church. She felt she couldn’t step inside for fear of losing control of her bladder. In September, World Vision Uganda brought surgeons specializing in fistula to Jennifer’s community. Her surgery was successful. The Sunday afterward, Jennifer was back at church — this time inside.

15. The standard for a basic education has changed from simply attending school to ensuring students can read, write, and do basic math.

World Vision’s programs prioritize equitable access for all and measurable learning outcomes, so we can ensure children have the education they deserve — and a solid start to reaching their God-given potential. And with one in four children living in a country grappling with humanitarian crises, we are providing education along the continuum from disaster relief to development.

16. Moms around the world are tapping into their vast potential.

Community members water their vegetable gardens early in a Saturday morning in Kuajok, Warrup State, South Sudan. (World Vision 2015/photo by Jon Warren)
Community members water their vegetable gardens early in a Saturday morning in Kuajok, Warrup State, South Sudan. (World Vision 2015/photo by Jon Warren)

With help from World Vision, moms around the world are raising, harvesting, and preparing food to make their children healthy and their communities more prosperous. We’re equipping them with the economic tools and training they need to build a brighter financial future.

World Vision is committed to helping the people of South Sudan get back on their feet through agriculture. The community gathers together on a Saturday morning to tend a garden teeming with eggplant, squash, arugula, and onion.

Mothers like Akook Anuei (centre) say they see a difference between their children and children who don’t have access to fresh vegetables. “This helps us put vitamins in our children’s bodies. If the mothers don’t participate,” she says, “the children aren’t as healthy.”

17. As one of the largest Christian humanitarian organizations in the world, World Vision has the infrastructure, experience, and relationships needed to bring about lasting change.

Our 46,000 staff worldwide — 95 percent of them working in their home regions — apply 65 years of field work to transforming lives. We work in more than 1,600 program areas in nearly 100 countries. Our integrated model addresses the many causes of poverty, and our tailored approach is community-based and community-owned. And we’re more committed than ever to eliminating conditions of poverty and vulnerability for children in 2017. 

By Heather Klinger, edited by Megan Radford