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Sep 5, 2019

CONGRATULATIONS to Andrea Vogt on her appointment

Announcement
Announcement

Operation Mercy gives thanks and appreciation to Dr. Scott Breslin who has served as Operation Mercy’s International Director for the past 10 years and welcome's the new International Director Andrea Vogt.

Andrea joined operation Mercy in1996 as a volunteer for work in Uzbekistan engaging in work among the blind and disabled. From 1996 – 2005 she led different community disability projects, eventually becoming the Country Director of Operation Mercy in Uzbekistan. After a pollical change in the country forced many NGOs to leave the country, Andrea studied at UCL in London, completing her MSc in International Community Disability Studies in 2007. From 2008 to 2018 she served as Country Director of Operation Mercy Tajikistan. Andrea returned to Germany in April 2018 and after a period of readjustment at home, accepted the role of Associate Director for Operation Mercy International in December 2018. On 21 May 2019, the board of Operation Mercy appointed Andrea Vogt as the next International Director.

 “I am excited to step up to this challenge after growing and developing with Operation Mercy over the last 23 years. I believe we have the potential to be an even greater blessing and resource for hurting communities in Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. My goal is to grow our capacity so we can fulfil this potential.” – Andrea Vogt

Aug 12, 2019

My Visit to Our Team in Afghanistan

Maternity health training to men
Maternity health training to men

Two weeks ago I retunred from a ten day visit with our project staff in Afghanistan.  We have over 100 staff and two office locations where our staff focus on self-help groups, maturnity health, water & hygene, and literacy.    I arrived in Mazar, Afghanistan in the morning via a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul.  As  we decended on Mazar, I was struck by the endless brown landscape with seemingly no trees, green plants, rivers or contrasting colors to the dry clayish brown terrain.  When I stepped off the airline I was struck by 40 C tempatures and it was early morning!  The airport was crowded with armed military personel reminding me I was now in a war zone.

But what I discovered on the ground, as I visited our staff and the projects they were running, stood in contrast with the somewhat inhospitable physcial geography in which the projects take place.  The Operation Mercy staff were generous, outgoing, and motivated to help imporve the quality of life for the poor and marginalized in the region.

I accompanied our staff to a training program on maturinity healthy to an internally displaced community on the outskirts of the city.  This community had been forced by armed insurgence to flee their villages in the mountains of Afghanistan.  What was unusual about this maturnity training is that it was for men and taught by male Operation Mercy staff.  The idea being, that since men in Afghan society are key decsion makers in Afghan families, they need a better understanding of the pregnancy process and related health issues.  The program is called Birth Life Safety Skills (BLISS).  See https://mercy.se/afghanistan-bliss/ for more details.  I watched amazed as I sat among 40 village men of different ages in a room wth no roof.  The Opeation Mercy trainers did a fantastic job keeping their attention and answering difficult questions.  I've attached a few pictures.  One of the older men said, "If only I would have known this information earlier.  I'm glad my sons can learn it."  

I also visited several Self-Help Groups (SHG) in Kabul.   Operation Mercy facilitates over 20,000 women in more than 1000 SHGs in and around Kabul.  SHGs have the potential to transform Afghanistan from the inside.  They are having a great impact by almost every way you can meassure impact.   See https://mercy.se/afghanistan-shg/ for some cool SHG stories.   I also enjoyed a visit to a WASH (Water Santitation & Hygene) project.  It was a real treat.

You know, it is not only the projects that are important but it is the fact that Operation Mercy staff are on-the-ground being a supportive and encouraging presence to marginalized people who are largely forgotten and overlooked.  There is something transformative and good by just standing together... against the aloneness.  Thank you Opeation Mercy staff in Afghanistan.  You make your nation proud.  

Warmly,

Dr. Scott Breslin, CEO

Jul 24, 2019

From being wheelchair-bound to walking!

Sheya was just like any other child, running and playing with her classmates at school until she began noticing her body was starting to weaken. Sheya went from being completely mobile and walking to school to wheelchair-bound by age 9. Her parents took her to specialists who all recommended surgery in order for her to walk again. Sheya’s father had to make the decision to choose between paying for his daughter’s surgery or using the money for food for the rest of the family. Consequently, Sheya did not get the operation she needed at that time.

As time passed, Sheya had to stop attending school due to her mobility obstacles and became emotionally depressed. She lost her hope in life because of being unable to get married, walk or hang out with friends outside her home. She and her family were forced to flee ISIS in 2014 and have been living in a camp for displaced peoples since then. Our Community-Based Rehabilitation project has been visiting Sheya and her brother, who also has a disability, for the past several years. We have seen her blossom and share deep feelings from her past and how she is feeling presently just from the trust we've gained through our visits. She has also begun laughing again since we initially began our physical therapy visits.

In January 2019, a team of surgeons from the U.S. volunteered their services and performed orthopedic surgeries on 12 of our clients including Sheya and her brother. As of early June, Sheya started walking again for the first time in over 13 years! She needs help with stability and confidence but now has the hope and drive to continue until she can walk independently without a walker or an arm on which to lean. She talks about being excited about her life now and is viewing her future with great expectation.

 
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