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Mercy Corps veteran Jerry Dines celebrates 25 years

October 13, 2010

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    Jerry Dines. Photo: Mercy Corps

I met Jerry Dines the first week of June, 1982, in Beirut. He smoked a pipe as he sat at his desk at the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) office.

He was running the MECC Lebanon emergency relief program geared to assisting refugees and other victims of the interminable violence which have plagued the region. I was leading a Mercy Corps delegation assessing the plight of refugees. A few days later, on June 6, the Israeli army invaded Lebanon. We were together under Israeli Air Force bombardment for days. We witnessed death and destruction. And a long friendship was born.

Jerry continued working with the MECC until 1985, promoting peace and running humanitarian programs. In September of 1985, he joined Mercy Corps and worked in Khartoum, Sudan, as our country director, running our cross-border relief programs assisting famine and war victims in Ethiopia. In April, 1986, Jerry led an assessment in Pakistan and registered Mercy Corps to run a cross-border aid program in Afghanistan. Jerry became our Pakistan country director, serving in Quetta until 1990. From 1990-1994 he worked in Portland as the Mercy Corps desk officer for Afghanistan/Pakistan. In 1995, he became our senior program officer for the Balkans. He also led assessment teams following the devastating Turkey earthquake and in the horrific aftermath of Rwanda's 1995 catastrophic massacres.

Since that time, Jerry has served as senior program officer for logistical support and senior program officer for food security and material aid.

On September 29, Jerry was honored in Mercy Corps' Portland headquarters, in the office of CEO Neal Keny-Guyer, for his 25 years of service. Befitting Jerry, it was a small gathering but with high praise for his enduring diligence in addressing disadvantaged peoples around the world. Jerry could tell many "war stories." But he is a quiet, humble man.

So I will share one of my favorite Jerry Dines memories. Islamabad, Pakistan, 1992. Jerry, Ells Culver (our late co-founder and then president) and I had just returned from an exhausting trip to our Quetta office on the Afghan border. We were invited to the official residence of the US Ambassador by Ambassador Oakley's wife, Phyllis. A lovely person, she served us dinner and, surprise! She played us the newly-arrived video tape of the Super Bowl! And, surprise again, she passed out bottles of Heineken beer. Alcohol was illegal under Pakistan's sharia law. But, she explained, she had the brews flown in a "diplomatic pouch."

We all laughed. And enjoyed the game.

Thank you, Jerry Dines.