The paper describes the activities of World Vision International is an international development and non-governmental organization in the context of the cooperation between globalization, individual cultures, and such organizations. The paper aims to discuss the effects of the organization’s activities on individual cultures and evaluate the effectiveness of the organization’s work in addressing the needs and interests of the population that is aimed to be served by World Vision International. Although World Vision International is focused on supporting the poor populations globally, the activities of this organization are often criticized because of direct references to the Christian and Western ideologies.
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Keywords: globalization, non-governmental organization (NGO), World Vision International, culture
The role of development organizations in providing the necessary aid for countries and populations in need is significant. Nowadays, international non-governmental organizations support populations in many countries in terms of economic and social development. In this context, it is possible to speak about the connection between globalization, the country’s social and cultural development, and the influence of non-governmental organizations. World Vision International is among the most influential international development organizations that contribute to social progress globally. In spite of the fact that World Vision International has the mission of supporting underdeveloped societies globally, and especially children in these societies, the activities, and aid of this organization are grounded on the Christian ideology and values that can be discussed as affecting the countries’ cultures.
The History of World Vision International
World Vision was established in the United States in 1950. The founder of the national organization was Robert Pierce. It is important to note that World Vision was established as the Evangelical development organization supporting missionaries and providing charitable assistance in the country (World Vision International, 2015). World Vision International was founded in the 1970s when Walter Stanley Mooneyham opened the offices of the organization in other countries. The main focus was on the promotion of the Christian ideology worldwide and on supporting poor families and children in them (Yuen, 2008, p. 41).
Today, World Vision International has its offices in the Latin American, European, and Asian countries, and it operates in the African countries supporting children who suffer from diseases, poverty, anti-sanitarian conditions, and civil wars. The organization also provides emergency aid, develops nutrition and water projects, and supports environmental initiatives (World Vision International, 2015). The main source of the organization’s funding is sponsorship and donations. Having a worldwide chain of offices and developing global charity projects, World Vision International receives significant donations to support the programs annually (Yuen, 2008, p. 42). In addition to the traditional donations, there is also a program of child sponsorship, according to which individual donors provide financial aid for children and communities in developing countries.
The Role of World Vision International in Supporting the Countries’ Cultures
It is important to state that the role of World Vision International in maintaining the specific cultures of countries where the organization operates is a matter of debate. On the one hand, World Vision International programs are oriented to using the resources of communities to make them stronger. In the context of such programs, the organization’s representatives educate the community members, work to maintain the health care services with the focus on the local resources and donors’ assistance, develop farm and water projects, and realize the family projects. As a result, the organization also works to support societies suffering from the consequences of civil wars and poverty (Murphy, 2013, p. 3).
On the other hand, World Vision International promotes the evangelical activities according to the organization’s vision and mission. As a result, the opponents of the organization point at the attempts of World Vision International to impose the Christian ideology on the population in developing countries, as it was typical for the traditional missionary organizations (Yuen, 2008, p. 45). In this context, the critics of the organization’s activities can state that the impact of World Vision International on the individual culture of countries where the organization operates is significant, and it can be rather controversial in terms of the issue of imposing the Christian values.
However, it is important to pay attention to the fact that World Vision International is focused on finding the balance between the provision of the aid and the actual evangelical activities. The representatives of World Vision International do not focus on the forbidden proselytism, but they explain the role of the Christian ideology in the development of the vision according to which poor people need to be supported (World Vision International, 2015). The activities of World Vision International are also criticized when their orientation to the development of communities based on the Christian traditions is not correlated with the local cultures, especially in the African countries.
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The child sponsorship program is also not relevant for all communities and cultures. Thus, Yuen (2008) states in her work that activities of World Vision International in Zimbabwe are “often accompanied with a sense of confusion because the local religious and political scene is not compatible with the concepts of sponsorship” and “many Zimbabweans follow a religion of ancestral worship whereby the spirits of ancestors protects a family” (p. 48). In this context, such organizations as World Vision International can be discussed as following the appropriate visions and values based on their ideologies, including the Christian one.
However, the problem is in the ineffective connection of the globalization trends, the Christian principles, the idea of sponsorship, and the individual cultures in the specific context. The specifics of the local cultures should be addressed in spite of the context of globalization (Wibbeke, 2013). From this point, it is reasonable for World Vision International to put an emphasis on the local cultures while providing the economic and social aid and adapt the missionary and support activities to the populations’ needs and visions.
Effectiveness of World Vision International in Addressing the Targeted Population’s Needs
According to World Vision International’s objectives and mission, the target populations of the organization are families and children from the poor regions of the world. World Vision International is oriented to providing the support for the underprivileged communities, and the main focus is on children who participate in the Christian sponsorship projects. Since the 1970s, the organization realized a variety of the charity projects in the African countries. The emergency assistance, education programs, farm projects, and child sponsorship projects were successfully realized in Somalia, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Nepal among other countries (World Vision International, 2015). In spite of the fact that World Vision International is mostly known for the development of the child sponsorship and education projects, the organization is also effective in providing the emergency aid for the poorest population in the world and for the societies suffering from the environmental disasters (Smith, 2012, p. 358). From this point, the emergency and humanitarian aid provided by World Vision International is often discussed as effective.
However, there are still controversies regarding the discussion of the child and family sponsorship programs that are actively supported by the Western people, but viewed as inappropriate by the local communities, which culture differs significantly from the Western culture oriented to the capitalist relationships. Still, the majority of the health care, education, nutrition, and environmental projects implemented by World Vision International are viewed as efficient to support the populations in need (Bryant, 2009, p. 1542). As a result, it is possible to state that World Vision International achieved the significant results in addressing the needs of the poor children and communities worldwide, and especially in the African countries.
World Vision International is one of the leading non-governmental development organizations in the world. However, in spite of the reputation, the activities of the organization are often criticized by the opponents who point at the Christian ideology, on which the organization is grounded, and to the ideas of sponsorship that reflect the principles of the Western capitalist ideology. Even though the organization develops the effective projects to support the poor communities in the world socially and economically, promote the health care, and education in them, there is the evidence that the Christian ideology and the idea of sponsorship are not actively supported in all societies where World Vision International proposes its aid. As a result, it is possible to speak about the impossibility to guarantee the effective connection of the principles of globalization, international aid, and individual culture in all contexts. Nevertheless, the support provided by World Vision International in the African region is recognized widely in spite of associated controversies because this organization funded by donors from all over the world provides the significant actual aid to the unprivileged societies.
Bryant, R. L. (2009). Born to be wild? Non‐governmental organisations, politics and the environment. Geography Compass, 3(4), 1540-1558.
Murphy, A. G. (2013). Discursive frictions: Power, identity, and culture in an international working partnership. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 6(1), 1-20.
Smith, S. C. (2012). The scope of NGOs and development programme design: Application to problems of multidimensional poverty. Public Administration and Development, 32(5), 357-370.
Wibbeke, E. (2013). Global business leadership. Oxford, UK: Elsevier.
World Vision International. (2015). Web.
Yuen, P. (2008). Things that Break the Heart of God: Child Sponsorship Programs and World Vision International. Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology, 16(1), 40-51.