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.
Jun 12, 2012

Children being helped in Hunger Crisis in Sahel

12-year old Lauretta
12-year old Lauretta

Lauretta dreams of becoming a teacher. But she hasn’t been to school since January, when she had to drop out in order to help her family at home. While her mother spends all day searching for food to feed her children, the household duties have fallen on 12-year-old Lauretta, who looks after her younger brothers, collects firewood and fetches water to cook whatever they may be able to eat.

“I miss everything about school,” she said. “I miss my friends, I miss class, but most of all I miss the chance that I might be able to become a school teacher someday, so I can help my family by earning an income.”

Lauretta’s family is one of millions in Niger and beyond, who are trying to survive the desperate hunger crisis that has swept across West Africa’s Sahel region. Because of your donation, Mercy Corps is assisting Lauretta and her family. 

Her father had to leave their small village to go to the capital city of Niamey in search of work. They are farmers and lost their entire harvest in October due to the drought.

 Every day, Lauretta and her family are not sure if they will eat. And Lauretta has been forced to shoulder burdens that no child should have to.

Mounkella Adamou, the headmaster at the primary school in her village, noted that 25% of his students have had to drop out of school since the beginning of the year, when the food crisis began. He predicts that the number will dramatically increase in the coming months as the situation worsens.

“The girls have been the most affected in this crisis, as they are typically responsible for filling their mothers’ role now that the women have to forage for food daily,” said Adamou. “I am very concerned about how they will recover from this crisis if they stop school. I fear many of the girls will never return to school, even after the crisis passes. Once they stop coming, they often never come back and then ruin any chance of a better future.”

I came across many stories like Lauretta’s on my recent trip to Niger. So many young children are at risk of suffering the most as families struggle to survive the dire circumstances. With your help, Mercy Corps is able to help more families. 

Mercy Corps is helping people earn an income through our new Cash for Work program so they can buy food and keep their children in school. The projects they participate in prepare the land for planting, building toward a stronger harvest in the fall. Until then, we are also making unconditional cash transfers available to those in the greatest need.

We've been supporting nutritional screening centers that diagnose malnutrition in children and help their families get the assistance they need. More than 300 families arrive each day — and the numbers are growing.

In areas where Mercy Corps has been doing this work for several years, the communities are faring much better, despite the drought. We’ve also seen the positive long-term impact of projects that repair wells, establish community gardens, and connect producers to the market.

Our teams are on the ground, working hard to create lasting solutions that build more resilient communities, while also addressing the emergency needs of the most vulnerable people in this perilous climate. And they need our support.

If you want to have even more impactdonate on June 13, starting at 12:01 am EDT. GlobalGiving is sponsoring a special “Bonus Day,” where every donation you make to Mercy Corps' Responding to Urgent Needs in Niger & Sahel Region project will be matched by a certain percent—greatly increasing the impact of your generous donations! Any gift on any day helps families in Niger get the food they need to survive - and thrive.  

There are $75,000 available in matching funds – we need you to act fast before they’re gone!  Give early! Thank you!

Lauretta and part of her family
Lauretta and part of her family
Lauretta collecting firewood
Lauretta collecting firewood

Links:

Jun 12, 2012

I insisted to breastfeed my second baby

Advocates and Participant of Mother Support Group
Advocates and Participant of Mother Support Group

When I had my first baby, I wanted so much to breastfeed him, but nobody supported my will because I had ill-lung. The doctor and my relatives insisted that I should bottle-feed my baby. So, I bottle-fed my first baby since the day he was born and he fell ill very frequently. He died due to severe diarrheic,” said 28-year old Lena as she burst into tears when she shared her story in a Mother Support Group (MSG) meeting in North Jakarta, Indonesia. 

The MSG started by Mercy Corps was created to provide a safe, trusted and friendly environment for young mothers like Lena to share their personal experiences, fears, doubts, tips and information regarding childcare, with emphasize on breastfeeding. Facilitated by trained Motivators, MSG pregnant and nursing women attendants learn best-practices from experiences shared among them like the one Lena did.

Lena continues, “Learning from my experience with my first son, I insisted to breastfeed my second baby despite of my family’s disapproval. I’m happy to see that my daughter grows healthy and active. I want to help my friends in this group to successfully breastfeed their babies like I do.”  

Participation in MSGs has motivated many young women in Tugu Utara Sub-District to practice optimum breastfeeding. Moreover, many of these mothers has expressed interest to become Motivators as they want more mothers in their neighbourhoods get the chance to learn what they have learned in the MSG.

Because of your support, more women like Lena can learn the value of breastfeeding and motivate others to be empowered. Thank you!

If you want to have even more impact, donate, June 13, starting at 12:01 am EST, GlobalGiving is sponsoring a special “Bonus Day,” where every donation you make to Mercy Corps' Breast Feeding Saves Lives project will be matched by a certain percent—greatly increasing the impact of your generous donations!


Lena and her baby Salsa
Lena and her baby Salsa

Links:

May 14, 2012

Biodiesel enterprise fuels Japan economic recovery

Tomihiro and Akiko Kashiwagi using business grant
Tomihiro and Akiko Kashiwagi using business grant

If you had never visited Japan’s tsunami-ravaged coast until now, the bleak landscape where homes and businesses once stood would be sobering.

Having watched the relief effort and the recovery, my visits back to the Tohoku region have been increasingly reassuring. In fact, my recent visit with partner colleagues was inspiring. We were there to witness the signs of recovery – and we found many. Thank you for your donation to make these improvements possible!

At a recent event organized by Kesennuma Shinkin, a local cooperative bank we’re partnering with to support small business recovery, 13 entrepreneurs were awarded grants. The recipients from Kesennuma and three neighboring coastal towns have used the funds to start new businesses in the disaster area. Their businesses run the gamut — from a day care center, a fish processor and a baker to a machine repair shop, a mulberry tea producer and an ice-making factory.

In only five months since its inauguration, this Mercy Corps program has funded the startup of 20 new businesses (like the three featured in this video) and supported the recovery of an additional 50 businesses through a loan subsidy program. Well over 300 jobs have been created in the process.

But the program does more than restore jobs — it recreates livelihoods and self-determination. Each of the entrepreneurs has an incredible story to tell and an important contribution to make.

Like Tomohiro Kashiwagi, whose repair shop was completely destroyed by the tsunami. Without a building or the capital to buy or build one, he and his wife, Akiko, are starting from the ground up with a completely new — and very innovative — business in their home. They are recycling cooking oil into fuel.

Kashiwagi has lined up a string of restaurants as a source of used cooking oil. He collects it and refines it using a machine that he bought with his grant. He then sells the fuel for use in converted diesel engines. It’s not only good for the couple — and good for the environment — it’s good for customers, as it sells for about 30% less than commercial diesel fuel. The city of Kesennuma, in fact, is Kashiwagi’s primary customer, having converted some of its garbage trucks to run on his recycled vegetable oil. He says they smell like fried chicken when they drive by!

It was a very moving day. Because of your support, the lives of hardworking entrepreneurs, their families and their community ar being transformed. Thank you.

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