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Bridging the gap between "us" and "them"

November 4, 2009

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I just went to a great brown-bag lunch session here at Mercy Corps headquarters where Cassandra Nelson talked about her visit to the Central African Republic (CAR). Cassandra brought back lots of stories about Mercy Corps' work in CAR. She also brought lots of powerful pictures.

Working here at headquarters, I get to see lots and lots of amazing photos from the field. Sometimes, partly because I haven't traveled outside of the developed world, the pictures can seem beautiful but distant from me — part of a world that I will probably never know. Sometimes the photos portray worlds that seem unimaginable to me — young children holding out guns in their hand as toys, families of 22 living in a room or two, girls married at 12.

But seeing Cassandra's pictures and hearing her stories reminded me once again — every picture you see here on the Mercy Corps website, or in our Action Centers, or on anything you receive in the mail from us — is a real person living a real life somewhere else in the world. They are people that my colleagues here at headquarters have had the privilege of meeting and talking with. They are people who know firsthand what a difference Mercy Corps is making.

And they are people much like "us" in the developed world in so many ways — they want to take care of their families, make a contribution to their communities through good work, and live peacefully.

You can see Cassandra's photos here on the blog, and many other places. Each photo is a snapshot from a life that is both far away from us geographically yet also close to us and our common humanity.