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Seeing the work first hand

Uganda, November 2, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Taylor Wegner/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Lucy, an Economic Development Officer, is part of our hard-working team in Pader, Uganda. Photo: Taylor Wegner/Mercy Corps

The work of Mercy Corps in northern Uganda has included an array of projects and activities aimed at solving many of the region's problems. We have a Livelihoods Team hard at work improving road infrastructure and providing jobs for many of the unemployed. Our Agriculture Team provides seeds, tools and trainings to groups hoping to improve their lives with agriculture. Our Water and Sanitation team provides latrines and wells to people in need. There is constant conflict resolution and peace building through a range of activities including building bridges and playing football. Our youth program is aimed at providing two crucial skills to the young people: income generating activities and lifeskills training.

While I had read a great deal about the work that Mercy Corps was doing in the region prior to my arrival here in Pader District, it really hit me on my second trip out to the field. I joined the Agriculture Team as they were passing out seeds to groups in Lira Palwo sub-county. Many of the people living in this sub-country are still living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Those living in the camps are particularly vulnerable to food shortages, as well as lack of opportunity for income generating activities and economic sustainability.

We passed a school where I was told that Mercy Corps built the latrines and provided sanitation trainings for the children in the schools. We drove over a bridge that Mercy Corps built in its Building Bridges for Peace program. Field after field of sunflowers was thriving; seeds and trainings provided by Mercy Corps.

We moved between isolated villages on roads constructed under Mercy Corps guidance and direction. Women walking on the side of the road carrying their yellow jerry cans now had to walk half the distance they were walking previously to get clean water. A well had been built much closer to their homes by Mercy Corps.

It is one thing to read all about the work of an organization. It is something entirely different to see it with your own eyes. It is inspirational.