How an Olympian, a student, and a humanitarian leader are working together to make a global impact

May 17 2022, 5:00 pm

Every day, there are new headlines of heartbreaking tragedies happening across the world, and the only comfort is knowing that there are people out there who put themselves in harm’s way to make a difference — like the people at World Vision.

The humanitarian aid organization has built its steadfast reputation by doing the hard work we all know needs to be done, but it can feel worlds away while we commute to and from our 9 to 5 jobs. They enter extreme conflict areas — some of the world’s most difficult environments to survive — to help children recover and build a future.

That’s what Kaetlyn Osmond, a Canadian World Champion figure skater, Julie McKinlay, a humanitarian director, and Jinny Choi, a microbiology and immunology student at UBC, all have in common; they each care deeply about humanitarian causes, they’re long-time supporters of World Vision, and they’re continuing to take action through Raw Hope, an initiative that addresses today’s critical needs.

Based in countries like Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honduras, Iraq, South Sudan, and Syria, Raw Hope’s focus is to help affected children overcome war, hunger, disease, and abuse to ultimately recover and build a future. The initiative’s efforts provide children with food, water, shelter, and access to education, and follows through with long-term solutions to help with emotional recovery and ongoing support for families to rebuild their lives. These kids, the “Overcomers,” remain resilient in the face of constant hardship.

The program’s goal is to offer as much relief as possible to the 420 million children living in countries affected by conflict, 700 million people suffering from food insecurity, and the 80% of refugees that have been displaced over the past five years. This immense need is exactly what inspired Osmond to first get involved with World Vision.

Kaetlyn Osmond (Danielle Earl/Toronto Stars on Ice)

“Growing up in Canada, it is safe for me to say I grew up with privilege. I never really had to be scared of anything of importance,” Osmond tells Daily Hive. “That isn’t the case for people all over the world. The Raw Hope initiative helps provide immediate, life-saving necessities to girls and boys living in the most dangerous places to be a kid. Giving to Raw Hope allows for food, water, shelter, child protection, and so much more to go to countries and communities where these necessities aren’t so readily available.”

And the same goes for Choi, a current UBC student and this year’s president of the World Vision UBC club. She’s been a part of the club since 2019, but has always been passionate about advocating for and supporting those in need.

Choi has been so inspired by her participation in the program that her next goal is to one day get out and help those in need in person. “Being able to be a part of this initiative from afar and knowing that my support is helping those who are doing this in person makes me feel like I’m a part of this work and community,” she says. “It’s amazing to see that our work is a network all over Canada and across the world. Altogether we have a synergy to make a huge impact for causes around the world in addition to the sponsored children and the communities that we’re sponsoring. It’s very fulfilling and rewarding.”

No one, though, knows better about the feeling of fulfilment and reward that comes from humanitarian work than McKinlay, the director of fragile and humanitarian programs at World Vision Canada.

“My job involves travelling to some of the most heartbreaking regions in the world,” she tells Daily Hive. “You’d think I’d come back feeling hopeless. I’d be less-than-human if I didn’t struggle sometimes, but I also see concrete evidence that programs like Raw Hope make a difference.”

Julie McKinlay (front) in Jordan, where thousands of Syrian refugee children are living. (World Vision)

McKinlay explains that Raw Hope’s efforts are about meeting children’s needs in the current circumstances, with essentials like healthcare and protection to nurture and strengthen them to survive the days to come.

“Since the reality in these fragile contexts is constantly shifting and fluid, Raw Hope’s responses must be, too. It requires agility, switching back and forth between short-term emergency response, and longer-term, community-based work.” She stresses that World Vision’s teams benefit from 70 years of experience, applying the know-how necessary to respond effectively in these fragile and unpredictable situations.

A boy walking in mud in an internally displaced camp in northwest Syria

A boy walking in the mud in an internally displaced camp in northwest Syria. (World Vision)

It can be a challenge to feel like you’re doing your part to help those in need from the comfort of your home, where we are safe and protected by comparison. That understanding is what drove people like Osmond, Choi, and McKinlay to the various levels of involvement they are at today.

But that’s exactly what Raw Hope accomplishes — the program gives Canadians the opportunity to lend support while still maintaining their own busy lives. “Our teams work together with the resilient people living through situations many Canadians find unimaginable,” says McKinlay. “Raw Hope supports children and families facing some of the worst life can offer, in crises which grind on for years, even decades. It’s tireless, determined, courageous work.”

Aniiri with her child in her arms

In South Sudan, Aniiri regrets getting married early but also hopes to go back to school as soon as her child turns two. (World Vision)

“It’s amazing to connect with World Vision Canada and other leaders across the country to see what ideas and initiatives they have in mind,” says Choi. “Knowing that there are people everywhere with a similar mindset to mine in wanting to help others is incredible.”

Raw Hope needs your support to continue making an insurmountable difference in the lives of vulnerable children. To donate, learn more about World Vision’s Raw Hope initiative, and for more ways to get involved, visit worldvision.ca.

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