Help Mercy Corps Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

by Mercy Corps
Fadi Kaheel uses his new photography skills
Fadi Kaheel uses his new photography skills

As the number of Syrians forced to flee the country's civil war continues to rapidly grow, one number stays the same — over half of them are children.

There are now one million Syrian refugee children. And every day, thousands more are ripped from their homes and schools, left with painful memories of violence and confusion over what they've lost.

Mercy Corps has been focused on protecting these young refugees since the start of the crisis. We've created safe spaces and developed constructive activities where they can heal from trauma, build friendships and develop critical life skills. We are helping meet their families' basic needs, while continually finding new ways to ensure their emotional health and development are not forgotten.

Because of you, Fadi Kaheel, 11, along with other Syrian refugee children in the neighboring country of Lebanon, participated in a recent photography workshop, part of our Moving Forward program there.

The goal is to help young Syrian refugees — most of whom feel scared and isolated — integrate into their new community and develop self-esteem, teamwork and coping skills by participating with Lebanese kids in sports, support groups, and creative projects like theater, filmmaking and photojournalism.

During the photography workshops in particular, the youth learn not only the basics of capturing an image, but how to take an active role in their new lives in Lebanon. Through learning, engaging with their peers and documenting their surroundings, the children learn that each new day can be meaningful even as they wait to return to their lives in Syria.

Fadi heard about Mercy Corps’ Moving Forward photography workshop from his aunt and sister. “I was so excited because I was going to learn something new,” he says. For Fadi, the photography workshop also meant making new friends and gaining a deeper understanding of his host community in Lebanon. 

Fadi originally fought with the Lebanese kids in his class because they didn’t understand each other. His instructor taught him how to be calm and better handle the conflict, and by the end of the workshop they had all become friends.

By connecting with others he learned more about Lebanon and started to feel like part of the community. “Sometimes we need to look at different communities and see them and experience them,” says Fadi. Now, with a better understanding of his host community, he is happier in his new home.

Now that he has completed the workshop, Fadi wants to photograph his family events. And he might teach other kids what he has learned. “I think it would be a good thing to give my knowledge to younger people,” he says.

Thank you for joining Mercy Corps to create safe spaces for young refugees like Fadi and for providing the support and protection they need to emerge from crisis and find hope for the future. Together, we can continue to turn the crises families confront into opportunities to thrive.

With Gratitude,

Carlene Deits


Fadi Kaheel
Fadi Kaheel


Fatumo Ahmed
Fatumo Ahmed

Two years ago, the Horn of Africa experienced the worst drought in 60 years. There was no rainfall in southeastern Ethiopia and the land dried up across the entire region. 

But today there are signs of recovery. 

Pastures, previously cracked and barren, are slowly sprouting new growth and animals are grazing and growing stronger. We have been working in rural Ethiopia to make sure farmers and herding families have the resources they need to build back through their livestock, food stores and markets.

One woman, Fatumo Ahmed, relies on her camels to support her family. Camel milk, full of protein and nutrients, can last one month without refrigeration. Fatumo is able to keep her camels healthy and productive through the veterinary care and proper hygiene advice Mercy Corps provides. And with a better quality product, Fatumo can now take milk to a collection center in the village where she connects with market vendors who pay higher prices for the milk. 

Because of you, Fatumo and her fellow milk producers have something to celebrate after a long hardship of droughtListen to them singing at Mercy Corps’ local collection center last month.

Thank you for helping turn crisis into opportunity for the people of the Horn of Africa. It's ongoing support like yours that makes our work possible. 

With gratitude,

Carlene Deits

Fatumo's camels
Women celebrating at the milk collection center
Women celebrating at the milk collection center


If you're a girl in many parts of the world, the odds are stacked against you.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, there is only a 20% chance that girls will study past elementary school. 
  • Girls in Afghanistan face some of the most severe repression anywhere in the world. They are denied education, the opportunity to support themselves, and even the freedom to leave their homes. 
  • Fighting in the Central African Republic has left many girls orphaned or separated from their parents.

But these odds can change.

Mercy Corps has a mission to educate and empower girls to end poverty in places like Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.

Here's a snapshot of what we've been able to accomplish:

  • In a dusty provincial capital that was once a Taliban stronghold, thousands of girls are stepping outside to learn job skills for the first time at a vocational school run by Mercy Corps.
  • Scholarships provided by Mercy Corps have given girls in Ethiopia the chance to complete high school — and spread the power of their education through their family, community and country.
  • Mercy Corps helps girls in conflict-ridden Central African Republic heal from violence, stay in school and make choices that keep them safe.

When we invest in a girl through education, we give her a chance to succeed. And we set in motion a change that lasts for generations. Thanks to your support, we are providing opportunity and hope to these girls!

See more of what a girl can do today. 

With gratitude,

Carlene Deits


Fetching water while fleeing Joseph Kony
Fetching water while fleeing Joseph Kony's LRA

As we ring in the New Year, we spend time reviewing what has been done in 2012. Because of you, we at Mercy Corps were able to do some real life-changing work this year! 

You are the reason we were able to provide emergency food in the Sahel region, vocational training in Afghanistan, and Hurricane Sandy relief in Haiti -- among our many other projects and programs around the world. Thank you.

We like to see the people you impacted, and I bet you do too. Over 17,000 photos were collected this year and we would like to share some of them with you! 

Check out our slide show of the ten best images from 2012 and witness photos of:

  • Wiam, a seven-year-old living with just a suitcase and a cardboard box of belongings in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan.
  • Donatien, 13, on his daily trek to fetch water. He and his family fled to this new village during attacks by the Lord' Resistance Army in the Central African Republic.
  • Jhon, during his training as a mechanical engineer in our rehabilitation program in Colombia. Jhon escaped life as a child soldier with the FARC militants.

And many others!

These images capture the resilient and strong-willed spirit of those we work with, but there is still so much to be done.

As you consider your end-of-year giving, I encourage you to donate to Mercy Corps through Global Giving. Pick a project to make a lifesaving difference for families in need:

With you, in 2013, we will continue to make it a brighter, healthier year for families in the world’s most desperate places. With your support, we can make it happen - together!

In gratitude,

Carlene Deits

Syrian refugee 7 year old Wiam in Jordan waits
Syrian refugee 7 year old Wiam in Jordan waits
Ex-Child Soldier is now training to be an engineer
Ex-Child Soldier is now training to be an engineer



While crises have been happening around the world and continue even today, you have helped to save and change the lives of many men, women, children -- and whole communities. Thank you for caring and for turning your caring into action!

Because of your compassion and generosity we were able to achieve so much in 2012. You made change possible!

The accomplishments shared below are a testament to the more than 70,000 donors (including you!) who’ve made this work possible. Because of you:

  • Our teams in Mali helped 2,300 families survive the worst food shortage in decades.
  • In Iraq, we taught 5,500 women to read — and learn their rights in a newly democratic country.
  • We staved off malnutrition in 23,585 Guatemalan mothers and infants.
  • In the new nation of South Sudan, school supplies and newly constructed classrooms are helping 13,969 children continue their education.
  • In Afghanistan, 2,000 women graduated from our job training classes.

To show how your caring has made an impact in the world, we have put together a slideshow of what we were able to accomplish in 2012. Check out how you transformed lives this year!

And if you haven't received our free 2013 Mercy Corps calendar yet, we still have some left! Just send your mailing address to

On behalf of the millions of people our work has touched this year, thank you!

In gratitude,

Carlene Deits

South Sudan
South Sudan



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Organization Information

Mercy Corps

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lyndi Liersemann
Portland, Oregon United States
$34,785 raised of $40,000 goal
231 donations
$5,215 to go
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