On this final day of the year, please take a moment to enjoy our Top 10 Photos of 2021! We want you to know these happy smiles and faces are all due to the kindness of our generous LWB community.
Twelve-year-old Catherine and her four siblings live at a local landfill, searching through the garbage for recyclables to sell. Each morning, LWB tuk-tuks pick up the children and transport them to our Rangsei Village primary school so they can receive an education. Every weekend, we deliver nutritious food supplies, such as fruit, vegetables, and eggs, to make sure they have the best health possible. We thought this photo of Catherine carrying her family’s food supplies back to their home was stunning, reflecting both her strength and hope. Catherine sends her thanks to the sponsors who so generously help the people at the landfill site, and she gives thanks for her teachers who have helped her discover a real love for math.
In 2021, we took significant steps in establishing a strong medical program in India, supporting children of impoverished families. Through October, our LWB community supported 30 children in India for critical surgeries (28 heart surgeries and 2 cleft surgeries). One of the children who received medical care this year with LWB is adorable Puja, who was born with cleft palate. Her grandfather, who works as a rickshaw puller, contacted LWB to see if we could provide his only grandchild, whom he adores, with the surgery their family could not afford. We love this photo of little Puja flashing her gorgeous smile after recovering from her operation. We can’t wait to continue supporting children in need of life-changing medical care next year.
Early in 2021, our team in Cambodia pressed even further into the remote countryside to make sure that food relief reached those most in need. It was then that they came upon Vithu Village, a region of Cambodia still littered with landmines and often inaccessible due to monsoonal rains and flooding. We learned that over 100 children in this village had never been to school, living much too far from the government facility. Every child we spoke with told us they wanted to learn to read. Thanks to our wonderful supporters, the funds were raised to establish a primary school in the very heart of the village, complete with a daily hot lunch program to combat the chronic malnutrition we saw among the children. This photo was taken on the first day the LWB cooks prepared nutritious meals for the kids. Ponleu’s smile, at being given a full plate of healthy food, is definitely one of our favorites.
Two-year-old Mason was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect. Soon after, he found himself taken to an orphanage in central China. Like so many babies born with special needs, he quickly became diagnosed as failure to thrive. We were grateful when his orphanage asked us to move him to our healing home so he could get the nutrition and extra support he needed to reach full health. We absolutely adore this photo of Mason, taken earlier this year, when he was oh-so-proud of finally standing up on his own. Since he doesn’t have a mom or dad of his own to cheer him on, we know you’ll join with our nannies in saying, “Way to go, darling boy!”
We always love reporting happy updates, but especially during COVID we sure love sharing every photo we receive that shows full-out joy. This year, we learned that the children in rural Leap Village, Cambodia had to use water from a contaminated retainment pond, as no other water sources were available. When we posted a photo of the murky brown water they were drinking, our community stepped forward to dig and install several wells in the region. We received many videos of the children laughing and playing on the first day the Leap village well was in service. We love this photo that captures their excitement at seeing clear water for the very first time.
We all remember when COVID hit in 2020. Its economic impact was something most of us had never seen in our lifetime. Although things seemed to be looking up in early 2021, a second wave of the virus then burst on the scene. The hunger and desperation that we saw on the ground in the counties where we work were enormous. Thanks to our LWB family of donors, we have been able to provide emergency food relief to nearly 30,000 people so far in 2021. We loved this colorful photo taken during one of our food distribution trips in India. Thank you, LWB community, for making so many smile with hope!
Oh, yes… Jonathan’s smile in the front takes this photo up toward the top of our favorites for the year. These seven siblings in Uganda had to walk a long way each day to fill their plastic jerry cans with the most precious substance our bodies need: H2o. You probably already know we can live more than 21 days without taking in any food but less than a week without water to drink. Thanks to our wonderful supporters, this year we were able to provide over 100 personal water systems to families in Uganda so that they could have access to this essential resource right outside their front doors. This happy photo was taken right after our team let the children know that they would be getting a rainwater collection system of their very own, allowing the children much more time each day to concentrate on things like studying and playing.
This image of 3-year-old Rita holding hands with her mom in her hospital bed is definitely one of our favorite images ever from our Unity program in China. This life-changing project provides surgery for children whose families cannot afford their medical care. Little Rita had been born with a large hole between the ventricles of her heart and had struggled since birth with repeated bouts of pneumonia. Her impoverished parents were unable to come up with the funds for the cardiac operation she needed to save her life, telling us in their application that they were “filled with despair” in not being able to help their only child. They ended their request with the simple plea of “Please, help our daughter.” We are so grateful to everyone who supports our Unity program. You’re honoring the most special bonds of love by keeping families together.
So who wants to join the Wyatt fan club after seeing this beautiful photo of him with his favorite LWB nanny? We know it’s hard to believe, but earlier this year Wyatt was found abandoned in the cold as a tiny preemie. When we rushed him urgently to the hospital, he needed to be placed on a ventilator in order to survive. Fast forward nine months, and now this adorable baby boy is the very picture of health. He smiles his signature grin if anyone even looks his way, and all you have to say is “peek-a-boo” to get him to dissolve into giggles. Our healing homes program celebrated 15 years of care in 2021, with hundreds of priceless children just like Wyatt receiving their own second chances.
Could our #1 photo of the year be any more precious? When our team originally met Baby Gregg doing emergency food relief along the Cambodian border, his 10-year-old sister Rena was caring for him on her own. She was trying to quell his cries of hunger by giving him water, as they had no food left in their meager home. At 9 months old, little Gregg was sickly and weak, suffering from severe malnourishment. Now safely in LWB foster care, little Gregg (and his siblings) not only have a caring foster mom, but they are also part of our education program in Sokhem Village. Gregg is enrolled at our Early Childhood Development Center, a comprehensive intervention program dedicated to the full and healthy development of the babies and toddlers in the village. Every weekday, we provide quality nutrition to the children at the center as we work to beat the high prevalence of childhood malnutrition in the region. This adorable photo was snapped after he had already eaten one bowl of chicken and rice and was waiting patiently for his second helping.
And that’s a wrap for 2021. Thank you so much for helping kids around the world who are too often forgotten. Their lives have been impacted, and even more lives can be changed for the better, because of you!