Dean Hirsch, GHF Board Member

Dean Hirsch
President and CEO, World Vision

Dean Hirsch has been President and Chief Executive Officer of World Vision International since 1996. As one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations devoted to humanitarian causes, World Vision assists approximately 100 million people in 98 countries. It has an annual budget of US$2.6 billion and employs 40,000 people.

Hirsch has focused his organization’s relief, development and advocacy work on children. World Vision’s goal, he says, is “working for the well-being of all people, especially children.”
World Vision International was founded in 1950 by Dr Bob Pierce who led the organization for 20 years. World Vision began caring for orphans and other children in need first in South Korea, then expanding throughout Asia and the world. It also enlarged its activities to broader issues, such as community development and advocacy for the poor, as part of its basic mission to help children and their families build a sustainable future.

Today, World Vision operates as a federation of interdependent national organizations. In addition to national offices in the countries with field and fund-raising operations, World Vision has partnership offices in Geneva, Bangkok, Nairobi, Cyprus, Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica.

According to World Vision’s report in 2007, 83% of its funding was spent on programmes, 9.8% on fundraising and 7.2% on management and general overhead. Its goal is to continue improving its operating efficiency and programme effectiveness through monitoring, evaluation and learning that will help reduce fundraising and overhead costs.

In addition to his activities on behalf of children, Hirsch has worked extensively in disaster and post-conflict regions including Somalia, Cambodia, North Korea, Ethiopia, Bosnia and Rwanda.
World Vision contributes to people’s needs in five major areas: emergency relief, education, health care, economic development and the promotion of justice.

“World Vision provides emergency relief to people whose lives are endangered by disasters or conflict and who need immediate assistance,” says Hirsch. “For example, the organization has responded to famine in Ethiopia and North Korea, hurricanes in Central America, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean nations, earthquakes in El Salvador, India, Taiwan, Turkey and China, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, and war refugees in Kosovo, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Angola and East Timor.”

World Vision is a Christian organization whose programmes and services are provided without regard to race, ethnic origin, gender or religion.

Hirsch also feels strongly about reducing poverty. “One way to do so,” he says, “is to promote justice. That is why World Vision speaks out on issues such as child labour, child trafficking and the use of children as combatants in armed conflicts. World Vision has endorsed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as fundamental expressions of the freedoms and responsibilities that should exist in every country.”

Hirsch also attaches importance to “public awareness about the needs of others, the causes of poverty and the nature of compassionate response. These efforts include collaboration with media.”

Another big and important activity of World Vision, in Hirsch’s view, is “transformational development” which he describes this way: “It is a process that first helps people and their communities to recognize the resources that lie within themselves to make change possible. With support from Word Vision, communities transform themselves by first identifying their needs and then carrying out their own development projects in health care, agricultural production, water projects, education, micro-enterprise development, advocacy and other community programmes.”

He continued: “We recognize, however, that alleviating poverty and suffering must occur at two levels – at the grassroots with the poor and through international institutions.” (P.Ress)


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