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.
Feb 19, 2012

A Simple Solution Makes a Big Impact for Ethiopia's Farming Families

Grain is kept fresh and usable thanks to solution
Grain is kept fresh and usable thanks to solution
Mercy Corps teams in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia have already helped more than 1.5 million people caught in the grip of drought and hunger. But six months after this emergency first hit international headlines, there’s still much more to do.
 
But because of you, we're saving more lives every day.
 
When drought hits and families are struggling to survive, the solutions don’t always have to be complicated or expensive. As Mercy Corps' Erin Gray learnt from our team in Ethiopia, something as simple as a sack can mean the difference between hunger and happiness for a farming family.
 
Our team has been helping communities in Ethiopia since the first signs of drought began more than two years ago, bringing fresh water, food, medicine and supplies to those who need them most. But where a few crops can still grow, in the Oromia Region on the edge of the dry zone, our team has also found a straightforward way to increase harvests and give families more food to go around.
 
When maize and sorghum crops are harvested, farmers traditionally store them in pits dug below ground. The grains are used to make injera pancakes, the staple diet for most families in this part of Ethiopia, so it’s important that they last as long as possible. But drought makes for a meager harvest to begin with, and pests, bugs and mold all take their toll, leaving up to 40 percent of the harvest ruined.
 
Our local staff decided to find a way to stop so much of the harvest going to waste.
 
They talked to farmers across the area, and together came up with a simple solution: putting the grain in plastic-coated canvas sacks before burying it in the pits. The bags are made locally, are cheap to produce and buy, and they really work. They keep out bugs and protect the grain from moisture in the surrounding soil, keeping the whole harvest as fresh as possible. Now, barely any is spoiled during storage, and farmers and their families have more to feed themselves and even sell to others so they can buy things they need when times are hard.
 
Halima and Meymouna Abdi, the wives of local farmers, told me how it’s making their lives easier: “We are so happy now we know what a difference using sacks to store the grain makes. We have much more food for our children and it will help us all survive times when the rains do not come and harvests are small. Our lives as mothers are easier too because our children don’t complain anymore. Before, even when we had grain to eat they would tell us that it tasted old and stale. Now our cooking tastes so much better and everyone is happy.”
 
It didn’t take hoards of experts in universities or science labs years to develop this breakthrough. It doesn’t cost the earth. And it doesn’t need to be shipped in from thousands of miles away. It’s a simple, elegant idea that the community can implement themselves and that will help them for years to come.
 
But the Crisis is Far from Over.
 
Unfortunately, the crisis far from over. Mercy Corps needs your help to continue to respond to the crisis and implement recovery methods.  In Ethiopia, Mercy Corps' teams are rapidly responding to a dramatic drop in nutrients for children, particularly in areas hit hard by loss of livelihoods. In Kenya, people have lost everything, primarily their livestock.  And in Somalia we are dealing with the conflict and the safety issues that arise when daily resources are absent.
Thank you for your support! 
Halima Abdi and Meymouna Abdi
Halima Abdi and Meymouna Abdi

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Feb 15, 2012

Women Back to Work as Seaweed Harvesting Begins

Hiroko Mirura leads 400 women who have found jobs
Hiroko Mirura leads 400 women who have found jobs

The compassion of supporters like you has helped women get back to work in Japan - thank you.

Last week, I met Hiroko Mirura. In her early 60s, Ms. Mirura is a former scallop merchant, proud wife of a fisherman, and a strong female leader in the town of Minamisanriku. Hiroko's impressive life boasts many accomplishments, including being the only female board member of the town's powerful fishery association.

But last March, Hiroko's husband was swept away in the tsunami, and her house and business were decimated. Overcome with grief after losing her husband, she went into a deep depression for the next three months. She didn't eat. She didn't get out of bed.

Then one day, she decided that her drive to help her community was stronger than her grief. She wanted to do what little she could to mobilize the other grief-stricken women in Minamisanriku —and it turned out that 'a little' was a lot. She started hosting teas for the unemployed women in town, which led to a community candle-making venture, which led to the need for re-employment.

With a little help from Mercy Corps and Peace Winds Japan, and thanks to the generous support of donors like you and our corporate partners, she is transforming her community.

Today, Ms. Mirura is in charge of mobilizing the 400 women who have gained employment through Mercy Corps' wakame seaweed program.

Wakame seaweed is wildly popular food in Japan and around the world (I’ve already eaten it many times in only four days here). This northeastern coast of Japan is famous for its high quality wakame, but after the tsunami, cultivating, harvesting and processing of this valuable crop had all but ceased because the specialized equipment was washed away. Generously, Walmart donated 26 pieces of the wakame processing equipment, bringing the industry back to life.

I was lucky to arrive just in time for the beginning of the 12-week wakame harvesting season. Each morning at dawn, as the fishing boats return with harvested batches, a group of women gathers around a large metal tub ready to first boil the seaweed, then wring it, then dry it. It's a complicated and intricate process — and one that these women, and Ms. Mirura, are immensely proud of.

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

New equipment stands ready for seaweed harvest
New equipment stands ready for seaweed harvest

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Jan 13, 2012

Rebuilding a better Haiti: What we've accomplished

Guivens Cemervil, Mercy Corps Youth Coordinator
Guivens Cemervil, Mercy Corps Youth Coordinator

It began with a rumbling in the distance, like a big truck approaching. Then the walls began to shake. Everything started moving, falling. When it stopped, I ran down the street to my house, and saw it had collapsed with my family inside. I searched in the rubble for hours. Finally I found them, alive.

Two years ago, I was one of the lucky ones. Many weren’t so fortunate. None of us will ever forget that day; we all carry the sadness in our hearts.

As a teacher, I was heartbroken at how the earthquake affected our children. They were constantly afraid, especially of being inside. They couldn’t sleep, eat or concentrate. They drew into themselves, not wanting to talk or play with others.

When I heard Mercy Corps was starting a program to help young people recover, I knew I had to be involved. Since then, I’ve helped coordinate youth projects that have helped thousands of kids. We use sports, art, games and specially designed materials to help children deal with their traumatic experiences. It’s great to see them open up, make friends and smile again.

Mercy Corps helped survivors get through the aftermath of the quake with emergency supplies, temporary jobs and emotional support. Today its projects for young people, farmers and small business owners continue to help us build back better.

We continue to help children by giving them life skills that many Haitian children wouldn’t have learned even before the quake. They’re learning things like self-esteem, resilience, constructive communication and how to prevent HIV. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

Thank you for standing with us when tragedy struck, and for helping us build a better Haiti.

Guivens Cemervil, Mercy Corps Youth Coordinator, Haiti

P.S. Click here to watch a video of some of our youth and learn more about Mercy Corps' accomplishments in Haiti.

Art therapy camp for Port-au-Prince Youth
Art therapy camp for Port-au-Prince Youth

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