Mercy Corps is a non-profit organization that was started in 1979 and based in Portland, Oregon. Their mission is to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. They aim to help people grappling with hardships survive by turning crisis into opportunity.
Mercy Corps is structured on a set of core values, which include belief in the intrinsic value and dignity of human life, and the belief of all people to thrive. Additionally, they believe that all people have the right to live in peaceful communities and participate in decisions that affect their lives. Mercy Corps members strive to be stewards of the Earth’s health, as well as stewards of the financial resources entrusted to them. Mercy Corps strives to use its resources to achieve peaceful change.
Mercy Corps is staffed by individuals who speak the local languages, know the culture, and understand the challenges of each community. Most of the time, their representatives are from the countries where they work. This enhances the sense of community and allows community members to help lift their neighbors from poverty.
The type of work Mercy Corps is involved in focuses on places in transition where conflict, disaster, political upheaval and economic collapse are present. The organization strives to provide emergency relief and to move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks. They work to support community-based initiatives that are community-led and market-driven. And finally, Mercy Corps seeks to use innovation to fight against poverty in the places they work.
Mercy Corps has established programs in forty-six countries. Their programs have many different themes including agriculture and food, children and youth, conflict and governance, disaster preparedness, economic opportunity, education, emergency response, environment, health, innovations, water, and women and gender.
An example of an agriculture and food initiative Mercy Corps works with is in Timor Leste, one of the newest, poorest, and most poverty-stricken countries in the world. Mercy Corps is working with 4,500 subsistence farmers to improve their crop production, increase their income and diversify their diets. The goal of this project is to create a solid foundation for sustainable development in the country.
Access to freshwater is a serious problem for many communities in the developing world. In Yemen, Mercy Corps is working with local water vendors to accept vouchers to provide families with 20 liters of drinking water a day. Additionally, they have trained community members on the importance of hygiene practices such as hand washing, and they have installed a 5,000-liter plastic tank to store washing and general use water closer to people’s homes. This initiative has given over 1,000 people better access to water, greatly improving health in the communities.
Mercy Corps relies on donations and fundraising to sustain its programs. They encourage people to attend their events, donate, and volunteer with their organization. For more information, visit their website here.
– Caitlin Zusy
Source: Mercy Corps