Mercy Corps

To alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.
Oct 7, 2014

Helping Build a New Generation of Female Teachers

Saida’s dream of becoming a teacher was shattered when she was only 17.

She was forced into marriage, became pregnant with triplets, and gave birth to four children all before she had even turned 20.

Instead of pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher, Saida spent her days cooking, cleaning, and caring for her children.

Saida’s story is not unique in Somalia, where barriers like early marriage, household responsibilities, and restrictive gender roles make staying in school nearly impossible for girls and women.

Somalia has some of the lowest enrollment and retention rates in the world for girls and young women. Only 23 percent of girls are fortunate enough to attend primary school, and even fewer attend secondary school – an appalling 96 percent of girls between the ages 14 and 17 are out of school.

Walking alone to-and-from school is a risk in itself. And upon arriving at school, female students have access to few, if any, girl-friendly spaces. Some schools don’t even have private latrines for girls.

With few female teachers, girls in Somalia have no role models or female advocates championing their education.

Thanks to your generous contributions, young women like Saida, are able to break free of this vicious cycle, pursue their dreams, unlock their economic potential, and empower other girls and young women to do the same.

Saida is one of 50 women currently attending a two-year-long teacher training at Amoud University in Borama, Somalia. Through the training program, Saida has developed a new sense of confidence. She engages in group discussions and frequently raises her hand to ask questions.

“When you are learning to become a teacher, you need to be confident in yourself,” she said. “Then when you’re in your classroom, you need to build the confidence in your students and encourage all to participate in class.”

With her own dreams unleashed, Saida hopes to pave the way for a better future for girls and young women in Somalia.

“I want to act as a role model for my community,” said Saida. “I want to be a teacher to empower the next generation of girls.”

Programs like this, which rely heavily on your support, set in motion long-lasting changes within communities and across the country.

Saida and the other trainees have committed to return to their hometowns to teach at their local schools for three years, providing girls in their communities with role models who will increase their confidence, help develop their skills, and advocate on their behalf.

The benefits of an educated female populace extend across entire communities – not just to girls and women. When women earn income, they invest 90 percent of it into their children and households for more nutritious food, school fees, and health care. Furthermore, a 10-percent increase in female enrollment is linked to a three-percent increase in GDP.

Your generous donations are bringing hope to girls and young women across Somalia and improving the quality of life for Somalia’s youngest generation – both male and female.

Change is not possible without your help. Thank you for helping set in motion long-lasting and far-reaching positive change in Somalia.

You can continue to make a difference by:

  • Donating to change a life today. Your support helps millions of Somali girls and young women acquire an education. Your donation will helpbreak down restrictive gender roles, unlock the economic potential of women, and provide hope for the next generation of Somali girls. Please consider becoming a monthly donor. Every dollar helps. Thank you!
  • Be an advocate. Read more about our work on our website and through our social media channels, and share with your community!
Sep 17, 2014

Bringing Hope to Syrian Refugee Youth

Hussein Issa Massalmeh, 19
Hussein Issa Massalmeh, 19

Five months ago, nineteen-year-old Hussein Issa Massalmeh arrived at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan.

“When I arrived,” he recalled, “I made some mistakes. Some other guys asked me to work with them, but then they stole everything from me and didn’t give me any money. After that I just stayed alone and couldn’t trust anyone.”

His family still in Syria, Hussein lived alone in unfamiliar environment, struggling to envision any possible future for himself.

“In the beginning, I felt that life here was the same as death — like I wasn’t alive or dead, just nothing. I was destroyed,” said Hussein.

Like hundreds of other young men, Hussein spent his days near the gates of the camp waiting for any possible work. He spent the nights alone in his tent.

One day, when Hussein was waiting for work near the front gates, he saw a man he recognized talking with the other youth hanging around. It was Mohammed Al Karad, a 32-year-old Syrian refugee who had risen to notoriety as Syria’s national wrestling champion. Mohammed was now also a refugee at Za’atari camp. 

This was one of the roughest parts of the camp, and Mohammed was not there by accident. Mohammed was serving as the volunteer Head Coach at Mercy Corps’ Shabab Littagheer, or Youth Center. The Center – two giant white tents, several trailers, and a large open yard – gives young refugees access to a gym, martial arts, fine arts, computer classes and training in life skills like leadership and communication.

It offers youth an escape from the chaos and confusion of camp life – a sense of normalcy and belonging, and, most importantly, the tools they need to envision a future.

Seeing his idol, Mohammed, at the Youth Center convinced Hussein to attend.

“Now I come to the Center everyday,” said Hussein. “It is doesn’t feel like I am trapped anymore. I have even made some good friends…For the first time since I left Syria I don’t feel so alone.”

Thanks to your generous support, Hussein and other Syrian youth have access to safe spaces like Shabab Littagheer. Your financial support has given thousands of young Syrian refugees the opportunity process trauma, take classes, talk about shared experiences and make friends.

The Syrian war, and the accompanying refugee crisis, has no end in sight. And Mercy Corps relies on your generosity and support to ensure that millions of young Syrian refugees are able to have some semblance of a childhood and mature into strong and capable adults.

You can continue to make a difference by:

  • Donating to change a refugee's life today. Your generous gift helps more children get the resources and protection they need to survive this crisis and have hope for the future. Please consider becoming a monthly donor to save even more lives. Every dollar helps. Thank you!
  • Be an advocate. Share links to stories and videos of the brave refugee youth and families impacted by the Syrian crisis http://www.mercycorps.org/tags/syria-crisis and ask your community to donate.  
Champion wrestler + volunteer, Mohammed Al Karad
Champion wrestler + volunteer, Mohammed Al Karad
children play at Za
children play at Za'atari youth center
Sep 17, 2014

You are helping children get the food they need

Nana with two of her children
Nana with two of her children

For most of her life Nana Balki has struggled against poverty and hunger.

The 28-year old mother of seven and her family subsist entirely on her husband’s farming. But the land has suffered from years of droughts and floods, and insects have damaged crops, causing persistent food shortages for Nana and her family.

Nana tells Mercy Corps, “We get very little rain and when we do get rain…there are no seeds to plant.”

Because of drought, food prices have skyrocketed, and access to clean water is minimal. Unable to store crops or purchase food, families like Nana’s are forced to go hungry.

To make matters worse, restrictive gender roles, early marriages and childbirth, and limited nutritional knowledge have intensified the region’s hunger and malnutrition.

But thanks to your generous support, Nana and women like her are acquiring the resources and knowledge to provide their families with healthy meals through periods of drought and flooding.

Nana joined a mother care group run by local health workers and Mercy Corps staff in her village. In this group, Nana receives training about healthy nutrition and childcare practices –information that she shares with other women in her group and her village. Nana has also received emergency food supplements to meet some of the immediate food needs of her family, as well as climate-appropriate seeds and improved farming training to grow more diverse crops in community gardens so that families can rely on their own grown food in the future.

The emergency food supplements meet an immediate need, but the community gardens will allow the women and their families to prepare nutritious meals even during periods of drought.

With the training Nana receives in the mother care groups she teaches other women how to prepare healthy meals for their young children and infants and how to care for them when they are sick.

“There is no greater benefit than learning how to take care of our babies’ nutrition and health,” she says. “The knowledge is a great benefit. The knowledge is in our village and gets spread to even more people in other areas.”

Your help has given these women, their families, and their villages the hope for a healthy and secure future. “The big garden that Mercy Corps helped us start is giving us hope,” says Nana, “but it is only beginning right now. Next year it will give us a lot of food.”

Without your generous contributions, Mercy Corps would be unable to provide communities, like Nana’s, with the knowledge and resources to improve their lives. Thank you for your support. 

 

You can continue to make a difference by:

  • Donating to change a life today. Your generous gift helps women and children become less vulnerable to unpredictable weather and help improve their health and access to nutritious food. Please consider becoming a monthly donor to save even more lives. Every dollar helps. Thank you!
Nana meets with her Mother Care Group
Nana meets with her Mother Care Group
 
   

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