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Apr 19, 2019

Under starters orders...

In the Pamirs everyone is hot off the blocks as farmers busily prepare that land to make sure they have harvested enough by October to see them through the next winter. For the staff at Operation Mercy we know our working season is also short and implementing our plans to bring hope to the eight communities we work with is well under way.

Greenhouse Project:

Though it is the winter season, the Greenhouse project was by no means inactive!  This is a time of preparation for the upcoming growing season.  Here are some of the things that the greenhouse project has been doing:

  • Always seeking to increase the people we train and work with, the Greenhouse project has met up with a government official who is keenly interested in greenhouses. He has hoop greenhouses that he is using now for growing lettuce and green onions.  He has travelled to such places as Japan to see their greenhouse technology. He is keenly interested in sharing his experiences with our greenhouse partners. Diligent, he is comparing the seeds of four countries to see which is better:  Russia, the Netherlands, China, and Turkey. 
  • Nothing is free, and with that mentality we have had budget training with our partners. We have encouraged them in the important duty of money management, how to cover their costs. How to cover the costs of plastic, seeds, and other materials that are needed. To continue to develop, they need to do so without Operation Mercy’s financial assistance. 
  • The locals have a saying here, “Blessing comes from action”. When you cannot be doing labour outside, you can do it inside.  Now is the time to think through all the necessary things that the greenhouse needs.  Do they have the plastic?  Do they have the quality seeds?  Do the school house directions know who will watch their greenhouses?  We have discovered that the best trainings are not giving answers but asking questions so that they can discover their solutions to their problems.
  • It was privilege to see the greenhouse that we donated plastic to in an area with hot springs. Though not actually in one of our eight target communities, by donating the plastic to the Botanical Garden greenhouse we reaffirm our partnership with the government that we are seeking the welfare of the people around us.  

Fruit Project:

The snow in the Pamir Mountains has finally melted away, which means Operation Mercy’s Orchard Management and Fruit Processing project can begin its project activities for 2019.  This year, project partners from previous years have been appointed to take ownership of varying parts of the project within their own villages.  These partners have been assisting in Operation Mercy’s “Tree for Tree” and Tool for Tool” programs.  However, many trees their neighbours also plan to purchase from the local botanical gardens will be matched by Operation Mercy.  Likewise, if a partner purchases a tool of decent quality from a local shop, Operation Mercy will provide another without cost of the farmer. 

So far with the help of these ambitious farmers we have seen over 300 fruit trees planted throughout 5 different locations. The farmers are also equipped with previous trainings in pest management and fruit tree pruining. They will take the responsibility as a point person for these subjects as their neighbors take care of their newly planted trees. 

Community Health

Despite very heavy snowfall in Tajikistan this year, the roads have remained largely open this year. This has allowed the health team to get out to the distant villages in their efforts to support health workers reach their communities with much needed knowledge of health during pregnancy and childhood health issues.

Stories of positive behavioural changes and revelation of basic steps to improve health have come flooding in as our team supports two village health workers to train a group of seven women in childhood health issues. They are preparing for follow-up session on mental health issues, first aid and anti-biotic use as well as starting their project in new, even remoter, locations.


Feb 25, 2019

Winter-visits bring warm welcomes


Many wrongly hold the opinion that winter time in the Middle Eastern areas must be fairly warm and comfortable. Reality is that temperatures in Jordan often range between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius in the winter months – sometimes with more comfortable temperatures a few hours around noon in sunny weather; but sometimes also with occasional frost and snow.

In the winter, locals therefore tend not to want to take their kids outside due to rain and cold weather. This is especially true for families with children with disabilities, as some of the children have conditions which make them less immune to illnesses.

In the CBR-team we therefore decided to stop the activities in the center during the cold months of January and February, and instead we spent the time visiting the different families in their homes.

Building up relationships

The visits had several purposes: We wanted to build up the relationships between the families and the work going on at the center in order to increase the understanding of what we’re hoping to see happen through our work. The visits would also give us a chance to show the family members what activities and exercises we normally do in the center, and therefore also encourage them to continue doing the exercises at home. This is something which greatly contribute to their child's continuous development. Lastly, but not the least, the visits would give us a chance to hear more from the families themselves, how they think things are going with the child, what hopes and dreams they have for the future, how they can see the work for inclusion develop even more etc.

A new experience

Visiting the families was a new experience for our local volunteers. In their culture, women, especially, wouldn’t normally visit homes that are not a home of a relative. However, they finally all got the permission from the fathers or husbands to make these visits “for the sake of the good work”, and it has been a very enriching experience for all of us. We were always well received and experienced the warm welcome and the hospitality that characterizes the Bedouin community.

“I wasn’t sure how these visits would turn out as this type of work was new to me,” one of the volunteers explained. “Looking back, I feel so thankful, I have a lot more of an understanding now for the situations the mothers with children with disabilities are finding themselves in.”

“Is it the same girl?”

In one home we visited, the mother told us with delight about the positive changes she’s seen in her daughter's life since she got involved in the program.

“We recently visited relatives whom we haven’t seen for two years”, she said. “They asked me if this is really the same girl, they saw 2 years ago! It really encouraged me and I felt so proud!”

The role of the families

“To see long-lasting change in the community, it’s important that we all work together, and the role of the families is very important in order to see inclusion happen. We who are working in this project, were seeking to be an encouragement to the families through our visits. I think we in many ways succeeded, but also, we ourselves feel very encouraged by them and are thankful for the increased insight the visits have given us into the situations of these families. It really gave us an opportunity to share in their joys and challenges,” says the manager of the CBR Project.

The team is now looking forward to starting a new semester and having the center, yet again, filled with the laughter of the children who are enjoying coming together and being given the chance to grow their abilities!

Feb 4, 2019

Pushing forward in Iraq

The Iraq Community Based Rehabilitation and rewarding start to 2019 preparing our patients for a visiting team of volunteer surgeons and nurses.  25 patients received free surgeries and we are currently following up with them, removing sutures, and beginning follow up therapy.  This week we are also beginning a family and peer group program to empower our clients and their families with more tools to care for themselves, each other and their communities.

The operations performed ranged from relatively minor to quite complicated.  One of our precious patients had extra digits removed from all both hands and both feet.  When the casts and bandages were removed her father held up his hand so that she could put her 5 fingers to his 5 fingers, and she cried with joy as she realized that this minor procedure would enable her to be seen as a normal member of her community!  

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