Feb 12, 2018

Hope for a Victim of Trafficking

Blerina's Story
Blerina's Story

At only 15 years old Blerina was trafficked within Kosovo and made to work in brothels. Here she was forced to drink and take drugs. She tried to leave several times but without an alternative place to live she ended up returning to the brothels. After 9 years of this living hell, she started a new life at O.Mekembjes. This is a safe place for her to live and while there she is receiving intensive psychotherapy and counselling as well as health care. She has started to work towards finishing high school and is enjoying a fitness class and learning English. She has discovered that she has real talent for caring for pre-school children and she would like to pursue this in the future.  

There are many girls like Blerina in Kosovo. Once abused, they become stuck in a circle of violence and exploitation. Even if they decide to try and leave they have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. O.Mekembjes is the only project providing long-term assistance once they decide to leave abusive situations.

To continue to provide this level of intensive support we need continued funding.

Thank you for your interest. Please consider sharing this project with others you know, who might want to help young women like Blerina.

Feb 5, 2018

Putting your money to work

Poverty assessment
Poverty assessment

Since the last report winter has hit the mountains of Tajikistan. Whilst not as bad as last year, night time temperatures have plunged to -20 degrees and snow is knee deep in some of the villages.


But we have not be idle. Each project has been taking part in exercises to understand how our project partners and their community define ‘poverty’. Also how they see the impact of poverty on their lives. This is providing us with really important information that will help us to work ever more closely with our partners as we tackle some of these issues. Problems ranging from wolf attacks to the price of food have come up. But we have also seen so many strengths: the spirit of volunteerism still thriving, more work available in the towns, and the hope brought through savings groups.


The Greenhouse Project


It has been a slower month for the greenhouse project for obvious reasons. Nevertheless, we have been gathering data, from a greenhouse we have supported at a technical college, to assess the potential for extending the vegetable growing season. It is exciting to see the opportunities here to train young people in the use of greenhouses.


Another of our partners has been experimenting using sawdust fired stoves to see whether it would be possible to grow herbs during the winter months. The exciting news is that he is about to harvest his first crops. We are still not sure whether this will be a viable option but the achievement of growing vegetables in this village for the first time is huge.


The Fruit Project


In the last juicing season, our three juicing partners produced more that 16,000 litres of fresh, organic apple juice. It is for sale in many shops in the town and the juice was the talking point of many a New Year party.


Now the important work of securing packaging suppliers begins as well as working out how we can support the businesses to become totally self-reliant over the next twelve months.


The Health Project


We have been working with a village nearby to the town for the past month, teaching about good health during pregnancy. We have observed two major changes already. The first is the attitude to the importance of drinking water. The perceived wisdom is that tea is encouarged and water is not – cold water is assumed to lead to health problems such as saw throats and could even damage the baby. They now see the benefits to immunity, and to the health of vital organs, and have started to drink more cold, clean water.


The second change is related to iron. At this time of year, particularly, it is difficult to find natural sources of iron and many women are anaemic. We have been teaching about the use of iron tablets and the participants have committed to understanding their haemoglobin counts and to take iron tablets during their pregnancy when needed.

Juice waiting to be sold
Juice waiting to be sold


Nov 13, 2017

Look what we've achieved together!

Health lessons
Health lessons

It has been a busy month as we put your donations to work.


Health Education

The health education project has been training three groups of health workers and groups of village women on common problems during pregnancy as well as childhood illnesses. They were also able to provide additional trainings on mental illness and basic first aid for workers from four villages.


This is a story from one of the health workers we are training: 

Cabzani is a student from one of the villages where we work. She has recently become very weak and has struggled to take part in her studies as she regularly faints and cannot concentrate. Her parents tried all sorts of expensive treatments to help and were worried that there was no improvement. 

I went to Cabzani's house and from a discussion with her and her mother it seemed likely that she was anaemic. I gave her a copy of the book we had received from Operation Mercy, about how to eat well, and suggested she starts on a course of iron tablets.

After four months I re-checked her haemoglobin levels and they had increased. Her health was better and her mother was very excited to see the change. She is hoping to come along to the lessons we are giving at the medical clinic.

I’m so thankful for Operation Mercy staff and for such lessons. Now I’m more confident after having a good result. The girl is now back to her study she feels better. She is also thankful to her nurses.


Greenhouses for Children

The greenhouse project is in the process of completing the last of the eight greenhouses built with communities this year. In 2018 these will start producing vegetables for children in four schools and students in one technical college. We were also able to train parents in how to preserve the vegetables and make them available over the winter months.


Fruit Processing and Orchard Improvement

The fruit project has been supporting our three partners in establishing their juice businesses. The juicing continues but they are already over 2,000 litres each. We have been supporting them with acquiring packaging and renewing their government hygiene certification. The project benefits not only the partners and their families, but also the extended community who sell their excess apples to the businesses.


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