Poverty, disease, hunger, and war are all human ills that Baltimore, Maryland, based World Relief hopes to help people all over the world to overcome. Established in 1944 as the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, World Relief is celebrating its 70th Anniversary this year. Serving over 4 million people, World Relief focuses on a wide variety of issues by upholding its mission statement that, “In our own backyard and around the globe, we stand with individuals and communities through the process of healing, reconciliations, transformation and empowerment.”
As World War II came to a close, many churches partnered with sister organizations in Europe in hopes of addressing some of the major humanitarian concerns brought on by the war. As a part of this effort, the National Association of Evangelicals established the War Relief Commission in order to send supplies to Europe. The Commission’s efforts continued long after the war ended, and, in 1950, its name was changed to the simpler World Relief.
Although initially World Relief focused on being a reactionary organization, arriving soon after disasters to support those affected, it soon changed its focus to longer-term development in order to help the poor and underserved to rise from subsistence. One method of achieving this goal has been microfinance, or giving small loans to help individuals start business they may not otherwise be able to get off the ground.
One story shared by World Relief is of Sahara Begum, a Bangladeshi woman who started her journey to small business ownership when her husband became paralyzed from an illness. After working at a poultry farm to support her family, Sahara wanted to start her own farm, but she couldn’t find the capital needed and had nothing to use as collateral. With a small loan of just $60, Sahara has been able to start her own poultry farm and now has a yearly income of $3,000 that has helped her escape poverty in her Bangladeshi community.
More stories like this happen all over the world thanks to World Relief’s efforts in training, health, and finance that have allowed many individuals to free themselves from what would otherwise be debilitating poverty.
The same is true for World Relief’s efforts to reduce child mortality, save mothers’ lives, and support AIDS prevention and training. These are all very important issues, particularly as we near the deadline for the United Nations Millenium Development Goals.
World Relief currently operates in 19 countries and focuses on: agriculture, HIV/AIDS, peacebuilding, anti-trafficking, immigrant services, refugee resettlement, child development, maternal & child health, savings, disaster response, micro-enterprise, and teacher training.
For more information on World Relief and its efforts, visit the organization’s website. For more information on some of the countries in which the organization is active and what you might need in order to travel there safely on a humanitarian mission, visit the destination advice pages on the Passport Health website.