7 ways you changed the world in 2017

Zar Ni Lwin, a farmer in Myanmar, with her 4-month-old grandson

When so many global crises take place at once, it can be hard to feel like you’re making a difference. In 2017, wars ravaged communities around the world. Hunger put millions of lives at risk. Natural disasters destroyed homes and livelihoods.

Still, despite all this, one fact cannot be shadowed: We have so much to be proud of this year. You have so much to be proud of. Together, we did make a difference.

In 2017, Mercy Corps changed the lives of nearly 22 million people in more than 40 countries around the world — because you were determined to help.

Thanks to you, families facing some of the world’s toughest challenges received the support they needed to survive tremendous adversity and build stronger lives. You provided refugees of conflict with food, water and shelter. You connected mothers and children to lifesaving nutrition and medical care. You helped farmers grow more food and earn more income. And you showed girls the way to a better future.

Your support and generosity make this work possible, and it is truly life-changing.

Below are just some of the ways you made the world better in 2017 — let them remind you of the incredible difference we can make when we work together, and inspire you to create even more lasting change as we move into the coming year.

1. You were there for families forced from their homes

Mother with young daughters smiling in lebanon
As a single mother and a refugee, Iman struggled to provide for her daughters Israa (left), 3, and Islam (right), 4, after the family fled the war in Syria. But you supported work that helped her earn an income and rent a shelter in the temporary settlement in Lebanon where they've sought safety. Photo: Ezra Millstein/Mercy Corps

Every day vulnerable people are driven from their homes by conflict and disaster — this year saw the highest number of displaced people on record. But that didn’t deter you. Your commitment to support refugees and displaced families, despite the scale of the crisis, has been more inspiring than ever.

Because of your generosity this past year, we’ve helped 3.8 million refugees and host community members in 24 countries survive and rebuild.

We reached 1.5 million people inside Syria with emergency food and life-saving supplies, and continue to respond throughout the region to help others affected by the Syria crisis provide for their families, cope with their experiences and find hope for a more peaceful future.

7 ways you're helping Syrian refugees build better lives ▸

When a battle erupted in Mosul, Iraq and sent families fleeing, your support helped us respond quickly and provide more than 300,000 people with the cash and emergency supplies they needed to stay healthy and safe. And after Boko Haram ravaged communities in northeast Nigeria, we supported 200,000 vulnerable people with food vouchers, cash and access to water and sanitation.

Each of these families has a story of incredible loss. But, because you stood with them, they received the practical support they desperately needed — and the tremendous relief of knowing they are not alone.

2. You saved people in crisis from going hungry

Man feeding young child in south sudan
We have been on the ground in South Sudan helping families in crisis for years, and when a hunger crisis struck earlier this year, your support allowed us to rush food and emergency cash to the people who needed it to survive. Photo: Jennifer Huxta for Mercy Corps

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but hunger is still a constant threat for children and families in fragile communities across the globe. Ongoing conflict and natural disasters put more than 20 million people in Africa and Yemen at risk of starvation this year, and a famine was declared in South Sudan, the first anywhere in the world in six years.

You were there when it mattered most. You helped us rush urgently needed food to more than 1.5 million people in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach areas, including South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen, where families are on the brink of starvation.

We reached 60,200 families in conflict-ridden Yemen with food baskets to help them cope with dire shortages of food and other vital supplies. And the food vouchers we distributed in northeast Nigeria helped 30,000 hungry families put food on the table.

In South Sudan, where conflict has been disrupting lives for four years, your support helped 7,500 families buy food and essentials and provided thousands of children with school lunches, which has improved their nutrition — and their learning.

Why we're not giving up on South Sudan ▸

For families impacted by war, displacement or natural disasters, the road to recovery begins when they are no longer worrying about where their next meal will come from. Together, we gave them the food they needed to survive and take the first small steps toward a better, stronger future.

3. You empowered people to meet their most urgent needs

Grandmother and grandson in iraq
In the aftermath of the battle for Mosul, Iraq, people like Wasila, pictured here with her 6-year-old son, Ibrahim, were left to rebuild their lives from nothing. You helped provide her with cash to purchase food, cooking gas and electricity to keep her children warm and fed. Photo: Ezra Millstein/Mercy Corps

Conflict or disaster can strip everything from a person all at once: their house, their job, their safety and, not least of all, their ability to provide for their family. But you helped restore that dignity to over 1 million people in 2017. By supporting our cash distributions, you gave people in crisis the power and choice to purchase the things needed most by their families.

Because of you, we helped more than 125,000 people in Iraq pay for shelter, food, medicine and other essentials necessary to cope with ongoing displacement and instability. Our cash program also provides $715,000 every month to refugees in Greece. For families who have left everything behind in search of safety, this money can mean the difference between survival or an uncertain future.

Your continued generosity helps us give these families the support they need to endure crisis — and build back stronger when they’re ready.

Years after violence erupted in Mali, refugees of the conflict are cautiously returning home. Over the last year, we provided almost 10,000 of them with money to restart their livelihoods and reintegrate into their communities. And we’re still on the ground helping families recover from the deadly Ebola epidemic that ravaged lives, jobs and communities in Liberia. You helped us give $7.2 million in cash and agricultural inputs, like seeds and tools, to help people there get back on their feet.

As a member of the Mercy Corps community, you don’t just support individuals — you support families and entire communities that need you. Our cash assistance infused more than $46 million into local economies this year, in turn strengthening whole villages, whole countries and the world.

4. You gave the lifesaving gift of clean water

Women at the kerow-margan camp in baidoa, filling containers with clean water.
This year you brought clean water to people living in camps in Somalia, like the Kerow-Margan Camp in Baidoa, saving them from resorting to contaminated water collected from nearby open sources. Photo: Peter Caton for Mercy Corps

There is nothing more vital to life than clean water. But for many families around the world, this precious commodity is too often entirely out of reach: warfare destroys water systems, disasters force people away from safe water sources, vulnerable communities lack the resources their residents need to live strong, healthy lives.

But, thanks to you, more than 1.3 million people in need were connected to the clean water they needed this year.

You helped us truck 30,000 liters of water per day to three displacement camps in Somalia, giving families who have sought refuge from a devastating drought the freedom to drink, cook and bathe without worry.

Meet the faces of drought in Somalia ▸

And because clean water is also a family’s first line of defense against diseases that threaten their future, your support of this work has truly saved lives. More than 110,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo — where displacement is chronic and safe water is scarce — were provided with clean water and knowledge about how to keep their families healthy.

We also delivered 348,000 cubic meters of clean drinking water to people living in tents and temporary settlements in war-torn Darfur, Sudan. And you helped us reach more than 30,000 people in Haiti with the water and hygiene supplies they needed to fight the threat of cholera.

Together, we’re changing lives. Your compassion means these families and many more around the world now have access to the thing they need most to have a healthy future: clean water.

5. You helped farmers grow more food for their families

Enkh erdene pictured in rural mongolia with two daughters
As a herder in rural Mongolia, Enkh Erdene lives one of the harshest lives on the planet. The weather is extreme and he has limited access to support for his animals. This year, you helped him expand his sources of food and income, making his family less vulnerable to the precarious environment they live in. Photo: Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps

Healthy, plentiful meals are no guarantee in many of the places Mercy Corps works. But a better life begins when families have the food they need to grow, learn and work to their fullest potential — and you made that possibility into a reality for 1.2 million farmers who learned to increase their production and better feed their families this year.

In countries like Ethiopia and Mongolia, where livestock are many families’ sole source of food, income and stability, you helped us provide medicine, training and information that improved the health of over 3 million animals.

Learn more about herding life in Mongolia ▸

You supported work that helped coffee-growing families in Colombia increase their incomes and build home vegetable gardens that provide new earning opportunities and more diverse, nutritious foods. And you helped us reach half the population of rural Timor-Leste — 60,000 families — with technology to better store seeds and grow more bountiful crops.

Thanks to you, we trained farmers in Afghanistan to cultivate newly-introduced seeds, like pistachio and saffron. Interventions like this give vulnerable families a chance to climb out of poverty when opportunities to otherwise do so are rare. With your help, we’re supporting thousands of farmers in Indonesia, too, with loans, tools and training to expand their operations, an initiative expected to benefit more than 60,000 people by its end.

Because of you, farmers across the globe are growing and earning more, and giving their families better lives — in 2017, and for years to come.

6. You empowered women and girls to see what’s possible

Ethiopian women at a cooking demonstration
You helped women in Ethiopia learn to cook more nutritious foods, take charge of their families’ health and become changemakers in their communities. “If I demonstrate and take the lead, the community is eager to learn,” says Halima, who leads cooking demonstrations for other mothers in her village. Photo: Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps

In many places around the world, women and girls have unequal access to the resources they need to achieve all they are capable of — things like information, money, jobs, education and land. But as a member of the Mercy Corps community, you know a better world starts when everyone has tools to thrive. And your support over the past year has made an incredible impact.

Thanks to you, we helped more than 10 million women and girls improve their education, health, leadership opportunities and livelihoods, empowering them to build stronger lives, families and communities — now, and for the future.

Tens of thousands of women in countries like Tajikistan, Pakistan, Uganda and Ethiopia can take control of their health with better access to medical services and knowledge about nutrition, family planning, exclusive breastfeeding and hygiene. And thousands more in places like Niger received agricultural training, seeds and tools to grow more nutritious food for themselves and their families.

What happens when women lead ▸

You helped establish women’s rooms in the country of Georgia, giving women there safe places to gather and newfound access to services like internet, childcare, business advice and health consultations.

Because of you, women across the globe have become leaders of their own lives through opportunities to earn their own income, including 35,000 women in Nigeria who received vocational and technical training to start small businesses. And, with your support, 120 women in Mali received training on basic leadership, advocacy and representation skills, after which 38 of them ran for local office — and 14 of them won.

You also helped educate over 50,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 270,000 in Kenya about gender equality, making these countries better, safer places to be a woman or a girl.

Women in these places face what can sometimes seem to be insurmountable challenges. But we are so powerful when we work together. Collectively, we stood with millions of vulnerable women and girls to prove the difficult world they live in is still a world of possibility.

7. You gave children and youth a brighter future

Young people in guatemala
Your compassion helped us reach thousands of young people in Guatemala City, one of the world’s most dangerous cities to grow up in, with violence-prevention activities like student council, which teaches kids how to become leaders, set goals and make positive change in their communities. Photo: Corinna Robbins for Mercy Corps

With everything going on in the world, it can be hard to remember that our future depends so much on the success of our children. Young people are the next generation of teachers, doctors, scientists and leaders — and the support they receive today will determine who they become tomorrow.

Unfortunately, so many children who should be learning, playing and growing are caught in crisis or don’t have the resources they need to reach their full abilities. But, as a supporter of Mercy Corps, you intervened in a big way this year, lifting roughly 11 million of the world’s most vulnerable children up with the tools and compassion they needed — when they needed it most.

You helped send nearly 200,000 children to school, giving them an education and, along with it, the opportunity to have a bright, productive life. More than 8,000 of these kids are refugees with disabilities in Jordan who would otherwise have no access to formal education, as many schools there aren’t equipped to accommodate children with special needs.

For refugees with disabilities, a back to school to remember ▸

Because of you, we were able to connect over 160,000 young people to safe spaces, emotional support and other resources to help them overcome the stress of growing up amid crisis, like the war in Syria.

In Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Greece, we’ve helped thousands of children cope with painful experiences, like witnessing violence, losing their homes or being separated from loved ones. For many of these youth, this work may have been their only chance to move past their anguish and keep hope for their future — and you made it possible.

You also helped connect 19,000 young people in Nepal with activities that promote social cohesion and development of life skills, and more than 35,000 children in Colombia to after-school programming that keeps them safe and teaches them how to peacefully resolve conflict.

In Niger, one of the most difficult places to be female, you helped equip 3,000 young girls with the confidence to avoid child marriage, return to school, improve their nutrition and find their way out of poverty. And in so many more places around the world, you lent a helping hand to keep our future leaders healthy, happy and on track to becoming everything they dream of being.

You make this change possible. Thank you!

Group of child refugees smiling with their arms raised at a mercy corps youth center surrounded by bright decorations
From us and each one of the nearly 22 million people whose lives you have changed this year — including this group of child refugees at one of Mercy Corps' youth centers in Jordan — thank you. Photo: Sean Sheridan for Mercy Corps

We faced many global challenges this year, but you saw the possibility of change. Thanks to you, we helped nearly 22 million people overcome adversity, build stronger lives and believe in a better world. We hope you’ll stand with us in the year ahead, too.

Help us provide even more food, water, shelter and support to the people who need us around the world.
Tell Congress: People are in need of lifesaving assistance. We must continue to support them.