2021 Year in Review

By Becky McDonald, President & Founder
January 20, 2022

2021 By The Numbers

And the Unheralded Heroes!

Looking back on 2021, I see God’s hand in profound accomplishments. Some stories we can tell. But, honestly, most are never known as confidentiality and security are so vital. I want to shine a light on one of the most profound, secretly incredible aspects of the House of WAR…four types of unsung heroes who made 2021 an amazing success.

The Staff of The House of WAR

In a year of uncertainty lurking behind every corner, WAR staff quietly, intentionally, and tirelessly lifted the broken, threatened, hurting, starving, tortured, beaten, despairing, and worse. They faithfully lifted others even when their own lives were wracked by cancer, accidents, loss, COVID, worry, and more. The ties of loyalty to a cause greater than ourselves were stronger than the global threat to pull us apart, fraying all around. They were a community to the least of these and especially to each other. Together, lights kept burning, emergency phone lines stayed open, rescues happened, reporting continued decently and in order, partners were encouraged, wounded listened to, customers attended to…the list goes on. They served with a lilt in their voice, a prayer offered, a plan of escape, offering lives with dignity. It is not unusual to hear the sounds of laughter ringing in the Halls of WAR in the face of chaos. They did not run, hide, or fear, but embraced the ‘risk’ with a passion to be a circle of protection to all. Missing kids were found; families reunited; rescues enabled; funds raised to start social enterprises; products lovingly cared for, knowing the hands that made each piece…the list goes on. I salute WAR’s staff, the unsung heroes. They made 2021 a success!

The Volunteers of The House of WAR

Other amazing unsung heroes were our volunteers. Under lockdown, they came to the back door and took things home to do. Now, they come to HQ once again, keeping our costs down. With the best job, they are like Santa’s elves tagging every single new product, attending events to sell the handiwork of our rescued, and the list goes on. I salute WAR’s volunteers all over the world. They made 2021 a success!

The Giving Partners of The Family of WAR

A miracle happened! Like the widow’s oil that never ran out, God multiplied every gift! We stayed debt-free and raised funds to do amazing rescues locally and globally. The gifts allowed immediate intervention in Myanmar, Afghanistan, the USA, Nepal, India, African and Central American lands, and more. I don’t know what the future holds. But I know the loyalty of this family kept the oil flowing where it needed to. It let us be strong for the weak, brave for the threatened, calm in the storm, wise in distribution, and lifted those at the brink of disaster. These gifts accomplished really impossible feats. I salute the generosity, sacrifice, prayers, and encouragement brought to the House of WAR. As your gifts came in, our staff were encouraged to keep on keeping on. You are truly our own circle of protection, allowing us to be a safe place to those we harbor. They have a second chance thanks to YOU!

The Partners of The WAR World

These are who you hear about the most…as it should be! They pour out their lives daily as a drink offering, fighting the fight in the trenches, often alone. Knowing that these unsung heroes are behind them is what keeps them going. I know! I was in those trenches for years and jump in and out of them on a regular basis!

Let’s move into 2022 with renewed passion to sing freedom’s song, learning lessons from 2021:

  • Blessed to be debt-free and found grants to help partners when sales struggled under COVID.
  • Web sales doubled thanks to each of you who shop with a purpose, knowing your gift lifts the lives that made them. You are not giving a handout but a hand up! As my thank you, please use the code BECKYSGIFT to receive a 10% off one regularly-priced item!
  • Lockdown gave time to sit, rethink, reorganize, and work toward new structures.
  • Risk escalated and made our job load heavier. We know this will continue into 2022.
  • COVID taught our partners what our warnings could not. Those who diversified fared better.
  • The WAR family showed strength, resilience, courage, and sacrifice, creating a community that can go further together than alone. Thank you for believing in us!

Often in life, the truly great things are done by people who never get a medal, their name on a plaque, in the paper, or a statue erected in their honor. Every one of you did that in 2021! House of WAR… you are the unsung heroes! Walking into 2022, we take up our crosses and follow dignity for each and every one!


P.S. Read more stories and stay up-to-date by visiting my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WARfounder!

In Honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month

The following is a transcription from the video of WAR, Int’l’s Founder and President, Becky McDonald, sharing about January 2022’s National Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

I want to just send you a quick update and a thank you for your partnership in 2021 and now going into 2022. Women At Risk, International, in 58 countries with 15 different risk issues, is focusing in the month of January on anti-trafficking. It’s our national focus for the year, globally, and we are most known for our fight against human trafficking – this century’s fastest-growing arm of crime – of human slavery either through sexual slavery or labor slavery. Every 30 seconds, a human being is sold against their will somewhere in the world into one of these two forms of slavery, and in the United States of America, 300,000 minors – tender aged children, your daughter, my granddaughter, little people who are at risk, who have constitutional rights – and under COVID, we have seen children as young as three-and-a-half weeks old rescued.

COVID brought the world to a screeching halt, but not risk. And so, we don’t run. We don’t hide, and we don’t fear. We embrace it with the whisper and the message of “come to the Light. Come to the Light, the Light of the World where the peace that passes all understanding, the Prince of Peace, can help bring hope and healing.”

Albert Einstein said the world will be destroyed not by evil people, but by good people who see evil and do nothing. You have been good people. You have supported us. You have supported us in our efforts in Afghanistan both internally and externally, and there, we’re seeing a surge in human trafficking as well as families are desperate for money. Families are in hiding if their daughters are 12 or over. They have to give them to the Taliban as forced brides, but now, some are selling their daughters into a marriage contract at an even younger age to get money to feed the family. And so desperate measures, we are feeding families there and we are working with Afghans outside of the country as well. And thanks to gifts from TCT Family Worldwide, we’ve been able to step into many different risk issues and make a difference.

So, whether you are giving gifts or whether you are shopping with a purpose, we want you to ask yourself “what can you do in 2022 to lift the scourge of human trafficking?” This is a cry for a mother’s heart, from my heart to yours to circle your cradles, to be that safe place to those you love, and to get involved, a call to action. It might be something as simple as shopping. Maybe you go on our website or host an event and purchase the work of their hands. When we rescue women, we immediately give them a way to support themselves and give them job skills while they rewrite the story of their life. So whether you’re buying jewelry or scarves, you know that whatever you’re purchasing comes with a story card and it tells you the story of the people whose lives have been impacted and who are making that. You are buying the work of their hands.

So from our house to yours, in 2022, we want to wish you a wonderful 2022 and thank you for your partnership, and from our house to yours, we just welcome you into the WAR family, and there is an Irish proverb that hangs in my house that I will share with you. It is something that has been seen by hundreds who have eaten here and thousands of others who have come here for safety and security, so take it to heart.

It says this, “So come in the evening, or come in the morning. Come when you’re looked for, or come without warning. Friendship and safety you’ll find here before you. The oftener you come here, the more I’ll adore you.”

So, welcome to the House of WAR, and thank you for your partnership in 2022.

Christmas Around the WAR World!

Christmas Around the WAR World

For many of us, Christmas is often a time where we experience feelings of warmth and nostalgia as we recall happy holiday memories and anticipate creating new memories with those dear to us. We plan weeks, maybe even months, in advance to organize the perfect holiday gathering and choose the perfect gifts for those we love.

While Christmas began as a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ, people from all over the world have embraced this festive season and added their own traditions along the way. Celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike, Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a cultural event. While every family may have their own way of celebrating, Christmas is a time where families come together and share in the festivities of the season.

For millions of Americans, Christmas is synonymous with traditions like baking holiday cookies, decorating a Christmas tree, singing carols, and exchanging gifts. Stockings are hung from fireplace mantels, and people enjoy classic Christmas films and attend holiday concerts and parades. On Christmas Eve, it is traditional to leave some cookies and a glass of milk for Santa!

But what do Christmas traditions look like around the world? You’ll soon discover that many countries have their own unique traditions. In fact, Christmas isn’t even observed on December 25 in some places! However, while Christmas traditions around the world may vary, sharing a joyous spirit is a common theme. Let’s travel around the globe and learn how Christmas is celebrated within the world of Women At Risk, International!


Christmas is widely celebrated throughout both South and Central America. Most festivities include Nativity reenactments, family dinners, and fireworks. On Christmas Eve, Guatemalan families eat tamales and wait until midnight to set off firecrackers. While the sky lights up with fire and noise, a prayer is said around the Christmas tree, and presents are opened shortly after.

In Peru, December 24th is called La Noche Buena, or “Good Night,” and it is the main day for Christmas celebrations. In the evening, families go home to feast on elaborately prepared dinners and open gifts. Gifts are spread around a Nativity manger instead of a Christmas tree, and family members usually hug, kiss, and thank the gift-giver before opening their present. At midnight, adults will toast with champagne, while children toast with hot chocolate made with cinnamon and cloves. Afterwards, families go outside to watch fireworks.

Celebrating Christmas in Haiti comes with many special traditions. On Christmas Eve, children fill their newly cleaned shoes with straw and place them on the porch for Santa to replace with presents! After a late-night church service, families gather together to eat the main meal called reveillon, which means “waking,” and it is a time to celebrate the awakening of Christ with a feast. The meal normally starts in the early hours of Christmas morning and lasts until dawn!


One of the most important ways of celebrating Christmas in Italy is with the Nativity scene. Traditionally, Italian families will put out a Nativity scene on the 8th of December, but the figure of the baby Jesus isn’t put into the manger until the evening of December 24th! Families attend a midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and if it’s cold when they return from the service they might have a cup of hot chocolate and a slice of Italian Christmas cake called Panettone which is like a dry fruity sponge cake. On Christmas Day Babbo Natale, or “Santa Claus,” might bring some small gifts, but the main day for present giving is on Epiphany. Epiphany is celebrated 12 days after Christmas, and this special holiday commemorates the visit of the three wise men to the Christ Child. On Epiphany night, children believe that an old lady named ‘Befana’ brings presents for them, and they hang stockings up by the fireplace for her to fill. If you live in parts of northern Italy, however, it might be the ‘Three Kings’ who bring you presents instead of Befana.

On the island of Cyprus, Christmas is celebrated with a set of unique local traditions, many of which center around food. Along with other traditional sweets, people bake christopsomo on Christmas Eve, a sweet bread whose name means “the bread of Christ” and typically has a cross kneaded into it. It is eaten on Christmas Day along with a huge buffet. Typically, gifts are opened on New Year’s Day rather than at Christmas, to honor Saint Vasilis, the Greek saint associated with Santa Claus. On New Year’s Eve, a traditional cake called Vasilopita can be found in every home. It is left out on the table with a glass of red wine in order to be blessed by Saint Vasilis on his way to deliver the gifts. The next day the family cuts the cake, and the person who finds the hidden coin in their piece is believed to be the lucky one of the year!


Christmas isn’t an official holiday in China, but it is becoming more and more celebrated each year. Because such a small percentage of the population is Christian, Christmas is often only celebrated in major cities. In these big cities there are Christmas trees, lights, and other decorations on the streets and in department stores. Sometimes the postmen dress up as Santa when delivering letters before Christmas! As a festive treat, people will give each other ‘Peace apples’ on Christmas Eve because, in Chinese, Christmas Eve means “peaceful or quiet evening,” and the Mandarin word for apple sounds like their word for “peace.” They package the apples in special boxes or wrap them in colorful paper, sometimes adorning them with Christmas messages.

In Nepal, Christmas is celebrated more among Christians, however, other communities will also participate in parties and nonreligious celebrations during the holiday. Believers will attend Christmas parties with friends and family, exchange presents, and decorate their homes with Christmas lights and Christmas trees. The trees will be decked with ornaments such as bells, stars, reindeer, and miniature wrapped gifts. At midnight on Christmas Eve, many Nepali Christians will attend special church services and on Christmas morning, those celebrating Christmas will visit friends to wish them a merry Christmas. In the evening, families host a special Christmas feast with traditional Nepali foods, along with pumpkin pies and Christmas puddings!

Christians love to celebrate Christmas in India! Instead of having traditional Christmas trees, families will decorate a banana or mango tree. Most families also have a Nativity scene with clay figures and endeavor to create the best one! In Southern India, Christians often put small oil-burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world. Midnight mass is a very important service for Christians in India, especially Catholics, and the whole family will walk to the church that is decorated with poinsettia flowers and candles for the Christmas Eve service. The main Christmas meal is also eaten on Christmas Eve, and presents are exchanged.

In preparation for Christmas or Bara Din, which means “Big Day,” Christian Pakistani families decorate their homes and place a star on the roof. The crib is an important decoration, and sometimes there are crib competitions! On Christmas Eve, churches are packed for the midnight service, and the choir sings very special hymns. In some places, there are fireworks that help celebrate the start of Christmas. People wear their best colorful clothes, dance, and exchange presents. Families gather on Christmas evening and enjoy eating a special meal together.

With only a small minority of the Thai population being Christian, the celebration of the birth of Jesus is simply not the huge event it is in predominantly Christian countries. Even though Christmas is not a holiday traditionally celebrated in Thailand, you can still find shopping centers and malls decked with Christmas lights and decorations, and hotel staff can be seen wearing Christmas hats in the days leading up to Christmas. Christmas trees also appear amongst the palm trees, and Thai school children practicing their English can be heard singing “Jingle Bells.” Christians in Thailand celebrate the coming of Jesus in small gatherings, and some even invite members of their community to come hear the Christmas story. Their message is simple: Christmas is about Jesus; Jesus is about love, and we want to love you because we follow Jesus.

The Philippines has the longest and most lavish Christmas season in the world. People there like to celebrate Christmas for as long as possible, and the playing of Christmas carols can be heard as early as September! The most popular Christmas decoration in the Philippines is the parol, which is a bamboo pole or frame with a lighted star lantern on it. It is traditionally made from bamboo strips and colored Japanese paper and represents the star that guided the Wise Men. Christmas Eve is very important in the Philippines, and many people stay awake all night into Christmas Day! On Christmas Eve, Christians attend the Christmas Eve mass which is then followed by a midnight feast, called Noche Buena. The Noche Buena is a large open house celebration with family, friends, and neighbors dropping in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! A traditional Christmas treat they enjoy is ‘puto bumbong’, tubes of bamboo stuffed with purple rice, butter, sugar, and coconut.


In Egypt, Christmas Day is celebrated on January 7 instead of December 25. During Advent, Egyptian Christians fast from certain foods and sing special praise songs. On their Christmas Eve, families go to church for a special service. When the service ends, people go home to eat the big Christmas meal. All the foods contain meat, eggs, and butter—all the yummy things they didn’t eat during the Advent fast! On Christmas Day, people celebrate together in homes and often take kahk, special sweet biscuits, to give as gifts. Santa is called Baba Noël, meaning “Father Christmas,” and children hope he will climb through a window to leave them presents!

For the people of Ghana, Christmas Eve night is when the celebrations really begin. Church services have drumming and dancing, and children often put on a Nativity play or other drama. The choirs come out to sing, and people dance in front of the priests. Songs are mostly sung in the languages the people understand best because this makes them feel that God speaks their language. Sometimes these services and dancing go on all night long! On Christmas Day the churches are very full, and people come out dressed in their colorful traditional clothes. After the church service on Christmas morning, people quickly go back to their houses to start giving and receiving gifts.

Christmas in Uganda, known as Sekukkulu, is the most important holiday of the year, and it is a joyful season characterized by time spent with family and friends. Festivities begin on Christmas Eve with a “watch night” service, and Christmas carols and church bells can be heard all across the country. Churches are decorated with candles and rich colors, creating a festive atmosphere. Preparations for the feast on Sekukkulu also take place on Christmas Eve with children traditionally helping to prepare the home and food for the following day. Christmas is not about the giving and receiving of presents as it is in the western world but instead about spending time with family, eating food, dancing, singing, playing games, and storytelling.

In Zambia, most activities at Christmas revolve around church and coming together as a community. As part of the Christmas service, Zambians will hold a Nativity play, complete with biblical figures and a crib for baby Jesus. A couple of days before Christmas, people often go caroling around the local streets for charity, and children are encouraged to bring a present for less fortunate children to church on Christmas Day. But what really makes a Zambian Christmas unique is that all the adults will typically eat and celebrate together in one house while the children have a Christmas party of their own in a different house!

Because South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes in the summer. The Christmas meal is often eaten outside, and if it’s really hot, they might even have a barbecue! On Christmas Eve, the community gathers to sing Christmas carols and attend candlelight church services. Families decorate traditional “fir” Christmas trees, and children leave a stocking out for Santa Claus, also known as Sinterklaas. On the afternoon of Christmas Day, people visit family and friends or travel to the countryside to play games or go for a swim. Pulling Christmas crackers is also an activity they enjoy.

Embracing Christmas Traditions

Maybe learning about these global holiday traditions has given you some ideas on new ways you can celebrate Christmas with your family. From midnight firework displays in Central and South America to a “summer” barbecue in South Africa, there are plenty of ideas to choose from! As part of the Advent season, perhaps you can incorporate some of these traditions into your own activities. Not only is it fun, but it also helps us appreciate the inherent beauty and values found in other cultures. Let’s celebrate the special moments of the Christmas season with love in our hearts—for both those gathered around our own fireplace and for those in lands far, far away. At the heart of Christmas is peace and goodwill to all men. Let’s strive to make that a reality every day of the year.

You Heard Our Battle Cry and Joined Us in the Fight!


YOU HEARD OUR BATTLE CRY! A primal roar went up from the House of WAR’s Team of Lions. A sincere thanks to all of you, we not only met our 911 Giving Tuesday goal, we surpassed it! The Staff of WAR were doing a jig (an Irish one to be exact), ringing bells of joy! We’ve never set a goal this high before. But then the need has never been greater than under COVID’s escalation of risk. We DON’T RUN, HIDE, OR FEAR…we embrace it with HOPE!

ONE CALIFORNIA DOCTOR is how this started. For two years, he encouraged us to do a match on Giving Tuesday with his generous promise as the jump start. This year, it started a small flood of three other matches. We hit our goal only $3,000 short and when this doctor sent in his match, he made up the difference! I woke to pray at 5:00 am and opened my computer to see his note. I’ll admit it. I wept. I wept for the heart of a doctor, a healer who we have never met. Yet even still, his heart is for healing those we lift done in honor of his own mother! I wept that we have a Good, Good Father who hears the cry of the broken-hearted allowing us the privilege of wrapping arms of love around them. I wept that each one of you so faithfully and sacrificially empower us to be a safe place.

THEN WE GOT ANOTHER SMALL MATCH, promising to go through the end of the year. This means the barometer of giving on our website will stay up. We’ll watch with wonder again at the House of WAR!! I’m blown away (as usual) by the House of WAR. I NEVER take for granted – even for a minute – your sacrificial gifts. I know that a match is such an encouragement to those of us who give smaller gifts knowing $100 = $200 and gives twice…Each gifts is being doubled AND being deployed, bringing hope and healing in crisis, offering a hand up to inherent dignity! I see these gifts. I know some of you who send them have little to give…single moms, widows, kiddos bringing coins, even sometimes incarcerated. Yep…they write precious notes saying it is time they sacrificially give back from their tiny earnings. Whether big or small, these gifts gut me and honor those they lift. Ancient Scripture says, “When you GIVE to the poor, you LEND to the Lord.” You’re paying it forward, giving out of a heart of love and will be repaid on the “other side”. Thank you for trusting us to lift theleast of these.

THE 911 FUND LETS US RUSH TO AID THOSE IN DANGER, even ‘prevent’ the danger. It takes emergency calls from friends, family, or the victim in evil’s cross-hairs, bringing life-saving rescue, stitches, X-rays, and all kinds of interventions. At that moment, there is no time to ask for donations. This fund can respond in an instant. So, it is critical we keep it replenished, ensuring funds are available on a daily basis.

YOUR GIFTS LIFT THOUSANDS, rescuing a three-week old, three teens, two runaways, seven women, two men, one family on the run, as well as helping investigations into murders of trafficked, legal fees, medical care for domestic abuse situations, refugees…those are the ones I know off the top of my head and am personally involved in for 2021. Thousands of calls are handled by staff. Most cases we will never be free to talk about…but because of you, these are real stories.

WE SURPASSED OUR $80,000 GOAL RECEIVING $81,135…and still counting since today’s mail hasn’t been opened yet! We will watch with wonder until the end of 2021 to see what this Mighty Army of the House of WAR…YOU…will do! Check our progress here: warinternational.org/givingtuesday

From our house to yours this Holiday season, Peace, Hope, and Joy as we march into 2022! 



If My Jewelry Could Talk

Raising 4 kids around the world, we “lived off the land.” We did NOT take “America” in a container overseas to outfit our home. We went on treasure hunts & searched for “what’s this culture make that’s uniquely theirs, tells a story, shows their art & skills?” If jute carpets were the thing, we hung them on the walls of the tall tropical ceilings. In former Russian Central Asia, Saturdays were treasure troves. I’m no garage saler but I wandered streets filled with antiques once gracing dachas (private cabins), mansions and more. Carved mirrors or desks inlaid with leather no longer cherished, were sold for pennies to make room for uber-modern. Crystal decanters became our flower vases. Chandeliers lined sidewalks. Elegant china no longer fit their modern dream. Oil paintings, leather bound classics, silver work stuffed in cardboard boxes was cheaper than any Walmart wannabe.
My own parents raised me overseas too. For my high school graduation in the lofty Himalayans, they bought me a set of hand carved chairs and tiny table from Peshawar in the Vale of Swat in the Khyber Pass where Osama Ben Laden hid out in caves. We got carpets and brass for birthdays. There were no game boys, tv’s or apple products in the Himalayas.

Moving back to the USA, our children’s friends that flowed through our home called it a museum asking for the stories behind the furniture, wall hangings, table ware, water pitchers, foot stools & more. Most everything has a story, a life it lived before us and then with us. If it doesn’t, it probably doesn’t belong. Those stories get asked over and over and over. Things don’t really matter to us. Stories and the lives lived do!

An inventory of our home would be brass, oil paintings, leather, carpets, tapestries, carvings, china, collections of painted fans, mirrors, eggs, spoons from dozens of lands, weird trash cans, funky table games in bone, ivory, marble, jade, agate, blown glass, brass, sandalwood, stones from Israel, Samarkand, the pyramids, Mount Nebo, the Taj, the Bay of Bengal and more. A head count found throw pillows each with a story from 14 of 86 lands we’ve roamed, décor from 67 & jewelry from 48. Each corner you turn hides another treasure and story.

I have been asked to tell YOU some of those stories. The way I’m asked to do this is by making some of my personal possessions available to YOU. Yes. You read that correctly. Things don’t really matter to us. Stories and the lives lived with them do. So, WAR is going to start making available my own personal collection of artifacts, treasures and particularly my jewelry.

Many pieces I wear are made by survivors as personal gifts. Often I’m asked if I’m wearing one we carry. If it is board or staff come and remove it to sell “on the spot” while I stand talking to someone. I’m used to being stripped of my jewelry OR often give it away while traveling. When a flight attendant compliments it, I give it to her. When she asks to pay for it, I say, “No, just tell the world that it was made by a precious survivor and they can shop the work of her hands at warchestboutique.com.” Sometimes it is a piece we’ve never carried or no longer do.

No matter what, these pieces have traveled the world with me. They’ve run through red light districts, hugged crying children offered to me in sale, giggled with girls in a safe house while we talk about their dreams, or sat faithfully on my sink in the hotel or guest house at each stop along the way. I’ve worn these pieces in palaces with Princesses and attended royal weddings with them on. I’ve worn them to humble widow homes where the only place to sit is on the mud floor. They’ve attended banquets for hundreds of rescued where we twirl, dance, giggle, play games and dwell in the joy of being girls set free. They’ve sat through graduations of tiny girls and a few boys now raised to be doctors, lawyers, seamstresses, engineers, nurses, teachers or precious mommies that are to their babies what no one was to them. They’ve had soap bubbles and baby spit on them when we taught teen moms how to bath their babies. They’ve hugged a child with polio being hidden by her mom under her bed to protect her from predators. They’ve had too many tears on them to count and listened to the cry of my heart as I wept with, prayed over and comforted. Some times they’ve heard me fight my way through a crowd of angry men or stare down a predator that is daring me to pass him. Then they become my warrior jewelry, mighty and fierce shouting to those around me, “This was made by broken hands now set free, I dare you to defy that freedom.” Ah…If my jewelry could talk…

Click the picture above to find out how far our newest featured piece has traveled!