Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Mercy Corps helps people survive, recover and become self-sufficient. We partner with the people we serve to help them recover from disasters and conflicts, secure peace, grow more food, improve health, educate and protect children, empower women and start businesses that improve the standard of living for families and communities.
Apr 10, 2012

A Woman's Worth - A Future of Reading on India's Tea Estates

"Now I want to write my name in English"
"Now I want to write my name in English"

On the tea estates in northeastern India, generations of girls and women have grown up without learning how to read — they spend their days in the field, just as their parents did, and there is no access or time to attend school.

Mercy Corps developed the Women Empowerment through Literacy (WEL) program to reach more than 3,000 illiterate women in Assam who expressed a desire to learn how to read and write in order to better their lives and communities. Once given the opportunity to go to class, their enthusiasm for learning is undeniable.

When I was in Assam visiting with women in our literacy programs, I heard the same sentiment over and over again: the women want to learn more now. Some want to learn English or develop their abilities in their native Assamese — but mostly they have gained confidence in their ability to learn, and they want to learn whatever they can.

After years of providing a thumbprint signature, women can sign their name to receive their paycheck. After a lifetime of not knowing if shop keepers at the market were giving them the correct change, they are now financially literate. They are now recognized by as being educated — and are helping their children succeed in school so they never have to know the struggles of illiteracy.

Investing in women is a sure bet. Research shows it leads to healthier children, larger harvests, more vibrant economies and more peaceful communities.

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, Mercy Corps helps girls and women realize their incredible potential to change the world. Learn how we fight for equal rights to educationhealthcarejobs and justice. 

 

Mercy Corps programs are focused on recovery for hard-hit families and children.  We thank you for your ongoing support.

"I want to write in English now."
"I want to write in English now."
"I am confident now."
"I am confident now."
"I want to learn more!"
"I want to learn more!"

Links:

Apr 10, 2012

Insuring women-owned businesses against disaster

Small business owner benefits from MICRO
Small business owner benefits from MICRO

Haiti's economic growth depends on small-scale entrepreneurs. Because of their limited means, they assume huge risks, and there's little or no financial protection if something happens -- like an earthquake -- to shut down their business temporarily. They and their families would enjoy greater financial security if they were insured.

To address this need, Mercy Corps partnered with Fonkoze and other public- and private-sector funders to establish the Microinsurance Catastrophe Risk Organisation (MiCRO) in March

MiCRO’s initial product offers women micro-entrepreneurs protection against the economic aftermath of severe natural catastrophes, such as hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. The insurance costs 3 percent of the loan value, and is rolled into the loan. (The typical loan is between $200 and $250.)

MiCRO’s key innovation is the type of insurance it offers: a new loan product that blends both parametric and basis risk options. In this case, that means the remaining balance on the loan is forgiven and a fixed payout -- $125 U.S. -- is provided for rebuilding purposes. 

Rose Marie buys sugar and rice in Port-au-Prince, and then sells it to women in her village of Kolonbye. The 42-year-old lost all her merchandise in the heavy rains that pounded the region in August, and used the insurance payout to purchase new supplies. “I lost everything in the rains," she told me. "Thankfully because of this coverage I was able to continue my business right away.”

As of November 15, 2011, a total of 5,385 Fonkoze borrowers across Haiti have received USD $1.5 million in insurance benefits during the 2011 hurricane season. (Click here to read more about this.)

Mercy Corps programs are focused on recovery for hard-hit families and children.  We thank you for your support.

Market of Kolonbye open for business
Market of Kolonbye open for business

Links:

Mar 6, 2012

Mercy Corps Progress Report: 1 year later in Japan

Smiling girl displaced by Japanese tsunami
Smiling girl displaced by Japanese tsunami

One year after the worst natural disaster in Japan’s history — the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 — Mercy Corps continues to work with our partner agencies, Peace Winds Japan and PlaNet Finance Japan, to help the Japanese people rebuild. Thanks to your support, we have brought much-needed assistance to four towns where 148,000 people live and are recovering from the disaster. On their behalf, we thank you and offer this brief report of the progress they have made.

After the Disaster: Bringing Relief

In the first days and weeks after the earthquake and tsunami, our team focused on providing a wide range of relief items to survivors.

BASIC SUPPLIES

Mercy Corps and Peace Winds provided relief supplies — tents, tarps, blankets, mattresses, space heaters, kerosene, medical masks, clothing, bottled water, diapers, toilet paper, school supplies and food — to 42,000 people living in shelters.

VOUCHERS

We provided vouchers that 6,300 survivors used to purchase goods — food, clothing and other supplies — from local merchants. People prioritized their own needs while supporting local economies.

MOBILE SHOPS

We supported 15 mobile shops in two cities that brought goods to local people and provided a living for merchants in Rikuzentakata, where almost all commerce was destroyed.

BUS PROGRAM

We started a bus program that provided 7,330 rides to allow survivors to shop for basics and access essential services like medical care and banks, while boosting the business of damaged shops.

After the Disaster: Helping Children Recover

Mercy Corps recognized that the disaster was profoundly upsetting to children. Our programs, described below, helped 2,300 children and the adults in their lives heal from the trauma.

COMFORT FOR KIDS

Comfort for Kids builds up the ability of local communities to help children recover from the emotional effects of a large-scale disaster. We customized this program for Japan and incorporated activities for adults.

MOVING FORWARD

We partnered with Peace Winds Japan and Nike to introduce Moving Forward, a program that uses sports to help young people recover physically, socially, mentally and emotionally from traumas associated with disasters.

ART CARAVAN

We worked with a Japanese art therapy specialist to offer art activities to affected children. Art Caravan helps kids by letting them express themselves through creative play.

Looking Ahead: Boosting Economic Recovery

As the cleanup continues, our team has shifted focus to economic recovery.

SALMON HATCHERY

We provided equipment and funds to quickly rebuild the hatchery in Minamisanriku, which processes more salmon than anywhere else in Japan. Our rapid response allowed the hatchery to harvest eggs and raise fish in time for spring release. These fish will provide a huge boost — $8 million in annual sales as well as jobs — to the town’s economy.

FISH MARKET

We provided a generator, forklifts, fish tanks, ice storage and scales to help reopen the Ofunato fish market, which supports the fishing industry of the entire town. The market employs 20 people who serve dozens of fishermen and 100 vendors who buy, sell and process salmon and other kinds of fish.

SEAWEED PRODUCTION

We are supporting fishing associations in Minamisanriku to restart the production and processing of wakame, a seaweed staple of the Japanese diet. Wakame processing employs 400 local women who traditionally do this work. Mercy Corps helped purchase 100 sets of equipment — tubs and containers for boiling, cooling and preserving — to grow the seaweed and harvest and process the crop.

BUSINESS LOANS

Mercy Corps partnered with local groups to establish a fund that provides grants and subsidies to help small and medium-size businesses rehire workers and rebuild their operations. The program also supports the start-up of new local businesses.

Because of your donation, progress has been made and will continue. Thank you.  

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