What is Mercy Corps?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 September 2019
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Mercy Corps is a charitable organization which works in countries in transition, and also in areas which have experienced recent natural disasters. The goal of the organization is to empower people to make positive changes in their communities, using a heavily community based and led approach to make changes from the ground up. Rather than simply offering food to a hungry village, for example, Mercy Corps will help the village establish fields for crops and irrigation systems to supply them, thereby bringing both aid and independence.

This organization was founded in 1979 as the Save the Refugees Fund. In 1982, the scope of the organization expanded radically, addressing a variety of topics in addition to refugee issues, and the name of the organization was changed to Mercy Corps International to reflect this. Organizations which rate charities consistently mark Mercy Corps very high, because the organization demonstrates extreme efficiency; around 90% of the resources at Mercy Corps go directly into charity programs.

Mercy Corps works with communities in need a variety of ways. In addition to providing basic support like food, shelter, and medical care, Mercy Corps also offers small business and educational loans and participates in construction and revitalization projects. Almost15 million people are assisted by Mercy Corps each year, in ways from small to large, and the organization's market-driven approach to fighting poverty and injustice is lauded by some activists in the field.


The organization incorporates a belief in being financially responsible right into their statement of values, along with ideas like “human imagination and energy can inspire innovative solutions.” Mercy Corps focuses heavily on empowering the people they work with, and in giving everyone a voice. The organization also believes that people have a right to live in peaceful, secure environments, sending workers to regions of the world which are struggling after civil wars and chronic social problems to help communities get back on their feet.

The motto of Mercy Corps is “be the change,” a reference to a quote by Mahatma Gandhi. Mercy Corps workers come from a variety of extremely diverse backgrounds, ranging from economists to farmers, and they show up in every corner of the world with active programs in places like India, Uganda, East Timor, Kosovo, Liberia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Honduras, Jordan, Colombia, Tajikistan, and Peru. Mercy Corps also has several programs which offer assistance to North Americans, including MicroMentor and Gulf Coast Response.


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