World Vision (WV) was born in 1950 from the earnest inspiration of one man, Dr. Robert “Bob” Willard Pierce. Their first child sponsorship programme began three years later in response to the needs of hundreds of thousands of orphans at the end of the Korean War.
Eventually, their passion for advocacy found its way to the Philippines. Since then, numerous lives have been touched and changed. The local field of philanthropy and disaster relief has been met with the strident passion and force of World Vision.
We sat down with Marilee Pierce-Dunker --author, radio personality, international ambassador for World Vision, and daughter of WV founder, Bob Pierce. She talks about her passion for advocacy, what's next for the Philippines, and how she is inspired by her father.
Philippine Tatler: What’s in store for World Vision in the Philippines?
Marilee Pierce-Dunker: This year, World Vision launched a new campaign worldwide called “It Takes A World to End Violence Against Children”. Apart from that campaign, WV also recently launched its latest local program, Caring for Communities, as it strengthens its effort not just to improve children’s lives but to help communities to be self-sustaining in the long haul.
The online gift program gives donours the opportunity to support other World Vision’s community-based programmes which promote Economic Development, Child Protection, and Disaster-preparedness programmes.
To make helping more accessible to all, World Vision Philippines is set to launch a World Vision App for sponsors and non-sponsors alike. These are just some of the new ventures entering this 2017.
PT: What was the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your father that has made a significant impact on your life?
MPD: The most significant things I have learned from my father’s life is that if you want to change the world, you have to be willing to pay the personal price and you must trust God with all your heart. My father was a simple, ordinary man but he honestly believed he served a big God who loved the world, especially the poor.
He committed his life to bringing hope to the hopeless and stepped out in audacious faith to do things that only a few others were willing to do[…] like caring for thousands of orphans and refugees after the Korean War and fighting for the right of every child to be nurtured, educated and safe.
He believed that the world could be changed by meeting the needs of its children. He provided an army of ordinary people like him with a way to do that through World Vision child sponsorship and other life-changing programs.
PT: Why is online sexual exploitation the next program for WV in the Philippines?
MPD: The Philippines receives thousands of reports every month on child pornography through the Department of Justice.
World Vision as a child-focused organization aims to address the issues of sexual exploitation of children as often than not, these cases that are not reported and remain hidden in the dark —especially online— are what destroy the future of our children.
PT: What would be your advise for someone, perhaps young adults, who want to get into philanthropy?
MPD: The greatest philanthropists are those who refuse to do nothing. So, find the thing that you are passionate about and start doing something about it now! Don’t wait until it is convenient or easy or you feel ready because that time will probably never come.
Educate yourself about that need or injustice because the more you know, the more you can do. Find out who is doing something about it and get involved.
Offer your gifts and talents and resources to make a difference. Discovering that you can make a difference —no matter how young or old you are—will feed your passion and equip you to do more. Before you know it, you will be a world-changer.
PT: What would you say is the most fulfilling moment in your years of service under the World Vision Organization?
MPD: Without a doubt the most fulfiling moments for me have been meeting adults who are now living productive lives because of the investment World Vision made in their lives as children, and who are now making a difference in the lives of others.
See also: A Warm Refuge
During my recent trip to the Philippines, I met dozens of wonderful formerly-sponsored men and women who proudly wore our “Anak World Vision” pins.
Most are parents and grandparents, and they shared incredible stories of how World Vision provided them with the love and nurture they needed to live healthy, meaningful lives. Among them were teachers, doctors, pastors, business owners, and even government officials.
And some, I am happy to say, work for World Vision, paying back their debt of gratitude by continuing the circle of blessing that began over sixty years ago! Having the chance to meet them and see their joy and gratitude has been one of my greatest blessings!
To know more about Marilee Pierce-Dunker, visit her website: marileepiercedunker.com. Be in the know about World Vision's latest programmes and disaster relief operations by visiting www.worldvision.org.ph.