This Ramadan I have decided to work closely with one non-profit organization in order to help create more awareness about the absolutely wonderful active solutions they provide for people in crisis around the world. That organization is the highly-reputable Mercy USA for Aid and Development. All throughout Ramadan, I will be sharing information about the work they do in a variety of formats. We will share videos, a LIVE Facebook interview on April 20, and an upcoming giveaway for a gift basket full of goodies (stay tuned and be sure to follow the Mercy USA Instagram page). I hope you will share this content far and wide to get out the message of the good that Mercy-USA is doing and to encourage others to share the opportunity to donate.
ABOUT MERCY USA for AID and DEVELOPMENT
Mercy USA for Aid and Development is dedicated to alleviating human suffering and supporting individuals and their communities in their efforts to become more self-sufficient.
Incorporated in the State of Michigan in 1988, Mercy-USA’s projects focus on improving health, nutrition and access to safe water as well as promoting economic and educational growth around the world. We are a Zakat-eligible charity with excellent opportunities to fund sadaqah jariyah projects as well.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” –Muhammad Ali
As the legendary boxer and activist Muhammad Ali stated above, it is in service to others that we earn our place here on earth. Service to humanity is the reason that Mercy-USA for Aid and Development exists and the motivating force behind so much of the generous support that we receive.
Each year, with support from our individual and institutional donors, Mercy-USA provides more than a million vulnerable persons around the world with life sustaining relief and opportunity-creating educational and economic development services. Our staff and those of our partners around the world are frontline heroes who provided life-saving health and nutrition services in countries like Kenya, Lebanon, Somalia and Syria, as well as desperately needed food aid to persons displaced by armed conflict Syria. We help visually impaired children in Gaza to have a quality education equivalent to their sited peers, and reassured families in Somalia and Pakistan that it is safe to send their daughters to school. Our
field staff are from the communities we serve and work closely with them to fulfill their aspirations for a better tomorrow.
Food and Nutrition Work in Syria and Somalia
Preventing malnutrition among babies and children under five is an important focus of our work in Somalia and Syria where food insecurity is a huge issue. According to UNICEF, nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition (inadequate nutrients in the diet); undernutrition puts children at greater risk of dying from common infections, increases the frequency and severity of such infections, and
Malnutrition can cause permanent, widespread damage to a child’s growth, development and well-being. Stunting in the first 1,000 days is associated with poorer performance in school, both because malnutrition affects brain development, and also because malnourished children are more likely to get sick and miss school. Hidden hunger can cause blindness (vitamin A deficiency), impair learning (iodine deficiency) and increase the risk of a mother dying in childbirth (iron deficiency).”
Mercy-USA works in both Syria and Somalia to identify undernutrition among young children and breastfeeding and pregnant mothers to prevent this crisis.
In northwest Syria there are 2.7 million internally displaced persons. This means families are either surviving in tent homes or inadequate housing without jobs, access to food or medical care. Mercy-USA provides nutritious monthly food baskets to more than 250,000 people in this region. Our Rapid Response Teams of community health workers visit the tent encampments to identify mothers and children who are suffering from undernutrition and refer them to emergency care when the situation is urgent or the child is started on a therapeutic feeding program that can include plumpy’nut, a peanut based paste and/or high energy enriched biscuits that are packed full of vitamins and minerals, protein, fiber, iron and healthy fats. Families are given nutrition counseling and encouragement toward healthy eating despite the difficult circumstances. Mothers are encouraged to exclusively breast feed their babies for the first six months and continue on for two years as they begin to introduce solid foods. Breast milk is best for babies worldwide, but is especially important during this crisis in Syria.
The support we offer to fathers, mothers and their children is crucial as they struggle with so many losses over the course of this destructive war. Just knowing their children will have enough to eat and that they can see a healthcare provider for free lifts a tremendous burden off their shoulders.
The people of Somalia are historically pastorlists who raise their families on the strength of their livestock herds. Traditionally, a family’s wealth is counted in the number of head in their herd and not in currency.
Somalia has two rainy seasons known as the Gu’ that falls from April until June and the rains known as the Deyr typically fall from October until December. Farmers and pastoralists thrived on this predictable weather cycle for generations.
The combination of armed conflict and political unrest for the last 30 years has created an extremely vulnerable population. Without a strong government infrastructure to respond to natural disasters, families are at the mercy of the weather. Over the last two decades severe drought has struck Somalia three times: in 2007-2008, 2011-2012 and 2015-2017.
When families lose their livestock or are unable to farm their land, they’re forced to seek humanitarian aid in overcrowded camps for displaced persons that further exacerbates the vulnerable condition of millions.
Now the country is also experiencing weather extremes like failing spring rains and exceptionally heavy fall rains that create floods compounded with the worst desert locust outbreak in 25 years. — an entirely new kind of devastation.
Combating Food Insecurity
Fatuma Hassan is a 25-year old mother with an infant and a one and a half year-old. Her family lives in Dahad village, in the Abduwaq district of Somalia. For the past year, her community has suffered an extreme food shortage crisis.
Currently, Abudwaq district is experiencing consecutive seasons of poor rainfall and the worst desert locust outbreak in twenty-five years. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a single locust plague can create a loss of 170,000 tons of grain – enough to feed one million people for a year in Somalia. As a result, parts of Somalia are experiencing an even worse food insecurity crisis.
As fathers have taken remaining herds far afield, mothers and children have had to head to camps for internally displaced people, hoping to find humanitarian aid survival. Compounding the painful break-ups of families, these ever-worsening conditions caused by climate change have made mothers and children especially vulnerable to hunger and disease.
Our field teams live and work among the populations they serve. They understand the needs of the people better than anyone outside the country and are first to alert us when disaster nears.
For more than 25 years, Mercy-USA has been providing life-saving healthcare to people in Somalia. Mothers and their children have especially benefited from our health and nutrition clinics that dot the map across Somalia.
Many of our clinics offer birthing services with physicians and professional staff who save countless lives of mothers and babies. We give mothers prenatal, and postnatal care while caring for baby at the same time with an equal level of medical expertise. Vaccinations, nutrition support and well-baby checks are available at our Mother and Child Health centers. Our nutrition support programs screen and offer therapeutic feeding for pregnant mothers and children.
Case study: Fatuma
This crisis has hit vulnerable populations – including breastfeeding mothers and young children – extremely hard. Unfortunately, Fatuma Hassan and her children were no exception.
When Mercy-USA reached out to Fatuma’s community last fall, medical teams brought a range of screening equipment and medical expertise in addition to distributing biweekly rations. Through the use of Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes, scales, and height boards, they were able to quickly identify children who were in the most dire need of medical assistance. Fatuma’s one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was among them.
The baby was identified as in need of urgent medical care. She was severely ill and malnourished. Fatuma worked together with medical professionals and received her family’s therapeutic porridge alongside learning best practices for preparing it. She was then able to provide consistent, nutritious meals for her family and her daughter began to recover.
During a later interview, Fatuma said that her daughter “can now play happily like other normal energetic children” and she is no longer worried for the baby’s health.
With the generous support of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF, Mercy-USA is saving the lives of mothers and children in Somalia by providing critical health and nutrition care.
You can start helping now by clicking on the donate button below.