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.
Jul 25, 2011

Dispatches from the Horn of Africa

Photo by Kwislinska for Mercy Corps
Photo by Kwislinska for Mercy Corps

Thank you for your generous donation to help alleviate the intense suffering people in the Horn of Africa are currently experiencing.

Mercy Corps is on the ground providing emergency relief and ramping up efforts for a crisis that may prove to last many, many months.

 

The Christian Science Monitor today published an opinion piece written by Mercy Corps’ own Joy Portella, who just returned from northeast Kenya where she was assessing the impact of the drought and how Mercy Corps could best use its resources to help those most vulnerable.

 Excerpt:

The central element of this story is water; everyone is obsessed with finding it. I saw this in the eyes of the herder who’d been walking with his family – including his 10-year-old daughter – for 17 days to find water. I met a young woman with a baby who’d trudged eight hours to collect dirty water at a borehole, and was steeling herself for the grueling return trip. I witnessed a man climb a tree and ever so gently hold down a lone green branch so that his parched, starving camel could gain some strength.

 Read the full article and forward to friends.

 

CNN also posted an interview with Joy Portella today discussing the “drought widows” and children she met who have walked 17 days to find water in the Horn of Africa.

Watch the full video and forward to friends.

 

Again, thank you for your donation to help Mercy Corps respond immediately. As this crisis unfolds, please visit our website for more updates and share with friends. 

REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR, courtesy Trust.org - AlertNet
REUTERS/FEISAL OMAR, courtesy Trust.org - AlertNet

Links:

Jul 25, 2011

Donation to Mercy Corps in Haiti Last Year - Long-Term Recovery Update

Cash for Work. Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps
Cash for Work. Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

A year-and-a-half has passed since the devastating earthquake shook Haiti, already the most fragile country in the Western hemisphere.

With the donation you sent last year, Mercy Corps was able to deploy a team of disaster professionals within days after the disaster struck and provide critical aid to survivors. Today, Mercy Corps’ strategy in Haiti addresses two simultaneous realities on the ground: the need to continue to assist those still living in camps and the need to help Haitians begin the longer term work of building a stronger, more self-sufficient country.

After the earthquake, an estimated 140,000 people fled Port-au-Prince to take shelter in rural, agricultural areas. The new arrivals strained the resources of local families. That’s why Mercy Corps has focused its efforts on the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite Valley, where development can be a magnet for new investment and long-term recovery.

Thanks to your generosity, Mercy Corps’ programs in Haiti have improved the lives of more than 830,000 people over the last year.

 Your Donation Helped Mercy Corps:

  • Support 172,000 people with temporary employment, including improving roads and helping mitigate rainy season flooding by cleaning drainage canals and building levees.
  • Work with women heads of households to resume or take up new income-generating activities.
  • Organize market fairs and provide vouchers people can use to purchase the goods they need–shelter materials, tools and water–from local vendors, infusing cash into the local economy. These vouchers improved the living conditions of 7,000 people.
  • Work with small-scale farmers to improve yields, reduce post-harvest losses and increase incomes. 
  • Customize and implement our signature “Comfort for Kids” program that trains educators and caregivers to understand and respond to the emotional and physical needs of children affected by the earthquake.  Our program reached 61,400 kids. 
  • Develop an innovative partnership to launch the country’s first mobile money solution, turning cell phones into “mobile wallets” that offer a safe and convenient way for the poor to access financial services. 

Great challenges lie ahead to build a functioning economy in Haiti that offers opportunity to all. We’re enthusiastic about the innovative projects proposed by our Haiti team and others. And we’ve seen the entrepreneurial spirit of the Haitian people. They are determined to seize the work opportunities that will enable them to take care of their families. We believe it is up to us, along with the Haitian government and our colleague organizations, to help them succeed.

Thank you, again, for your generous support. 

Comfort for Kids. Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps.
Comfort for Kids. Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps.
Mobile Wallet. Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps.
Mobile Wallet. Fabiola Coupet/Mercy Corps.

Links:

Jun 7, 2011

Update: Savings and Loan Program in CAR

Mercy Corps began working with Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) groups in Central African Republic in 2008. Mercy Corps facilitated the formation of 30 VSLA groups, of which about 72 percent of membership was comprised of women.  During the pilot phase of the program, VSLAs saved a total of $26,863, 448 percent of the expected target.  The average saving amounted to $41.45 per person.  Drawing off this capital, 979 loans were taken out and more than 97 percent of them were repaid. All of the interest went back into the fund and was paid out to the VSLA members at the end of the cycle at an average annualized return of 32.7 percent.

Building off its initial success working with VSLAs, Mercy Corps now works with 165 groups with 3,417 members. The average savings per member is $54.74 and the average loan size is $78.76. A total of 2,487 loans were in circulation as of the end of January 2011, and approximately 90% of members have taken loans since the start of the program. Members can use the capital repeatedly and monitoring data shows that there is a 48% profit on business enterprises and 180% profit on original capital. 

Mercy Corps has developed and conducted a training module on basic business skills for VSLA members. The module, called Participatory Budgeting, enables beneficiaries to plan their business cycles, including the use of limited human resources and other assets, and leverage their loans to invest productively in their enterprises.  

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