While it's sometimes hard to quantify success, one thing is certain - the ripple effect and long-term effects of good development work impact more people for generations to come than any of us will know.
How many future generations will benefit from one child in a poor Kenyan village making her way to university because her high school tuition was paid?
How many lives will be saved from better nutrition resulting from improved farming methods and tools in rural Laos?
On the other hand, because of excellent tracking and reporting by our field staff, there are many occasions when we can quantify results, and they're often quite amazing.
This week we received a report that details six years worth of work with AIDS orphans in Kenya, Zambia and Haiti. This work was accomplished through the support of numerous partner agencies and funding from donors and USAID/PEPFAR.
The numbers are pretty astonishing:
Awareness was raised to enable support for children affected by HIV and AIDS in 6,495,030 people.
Basic needs were met and support was strengthened for 153,663 orphans.
27,943 orphans received access to formal education or vocational training.
6,759 older children (ages 15-17) were equipped to meet their own needs.
It's exciting and motivating to be a part of something so great, yet at the forefront of our minds are the individuals among these numbers - individuals like 16-year-old Jacqueline, who lost both her parents when she was in eighth grade. She was left in the care of her elderly grandmother, and had almost quit school when help came her way.
Jacqueline and her grandmother received resources to grow a garden and to raise pigs and chickens for income. They earned enough to keep Jacqueline in school, where she passed her basic exam, earning her a spot in high school. She plans to become a doctor and return to her village, pledging to support other AIDS orphans like herself.
Even if Jacqueline had been the only one, the work would be worth it. But we're thankful, as we reflect on 2010 and look ahead to 2011 that there are thousands more lives being changed every day.
For more information on World Concern's work around the world, visit www.worldconcern.org.