For change to be sustainable, it must be grounded in a change in community thinking. As an extension of our medical health care work, Mercy Ships conducts development activities that encourage good health and improved quality of life in whole communities.
Health care workers in the developing world often lack resources such as medicines, equipment and specific tools necessary to deliver basic medical care. In addition to providing training and support, Mercy Ships helps meet these practical challenges through the distribution of appropriate medical equipment and resources.
Agricultural programs help families and communities learn practical food-producing skills, thereby directly reducing malnutrition. Improved crops and income bring better health to the farmer, his family and his community. Teams address agricultural topics such as crop and garden planning, seed sowing and saving, natural disease and pest controls, and water conservation and irrigation practices. These principles are foundational for sustainable community development.
Mercy Ships helps to alleviate drinking water problems by providing training and assistance to local communities to repairing existing water systems. Trainees receive basic education in how to maintain and take care of the wells and pumps. Development teams work with villagers to build latrines, a basic component of a healthy community, and teach them about waterborne diseases and sanitation options. Mercy Ships seeks to establish a core group of people in each location who are able to teach and motivate others in creating and maintaining a healthy environment.
In communities lacking resources and destroyed by disaster or conflict, Mercy Ships helps turn vision into reality. Together with local leaders, development teams assess community needs and then provide skills training, planning, assistance, and materials for a variety of building projects. Projects include building schools, clinics, orphanages and other public facilities. During the construction, teams train local community members in useful building skills. The fact that residents are actively involved in Mercy Ships projects gives the local community a stronger sense of ownership.
Mercy Ships emphasises partnership with local leaders, teachers and churchesto bring about lasting societal change. Conferences and workshops cover issues like HIV/AIDS, micro-finance, and community cooperation. Often through self-initiated projects, volunteer crew and staff on ships and land give of their extra time and their own resources to meet needs of the poor and disadvantaged people.
For the poor or disabled in developing nations, the opportunity to learn a trade or skill offers a way out of poverty. Mercy Ships invests in individuals through on-the-job training, classroom teaching and capacity building, empowering peopleto improve their futures. Mercy Ships helps disabled and displaced persons to reach a place of self-reliance through economic empowerment. This involves skills training and financial training for microenterprise development. Beneficiaries carry out small-scale businesses such as tailoring, shoemaking, blacksmithing, carpentry, weaving and agricultural enterprises.
In many developing countries, women in villages spend their lives fetching water and working in the fields, with little or no education. Mercy Ships empowers women in rural areas to embrace the possibility of transformation and to recognise their undeniably important role in society, mobilising them to find solutions to improve the quality of life for their families and communities through trade and commerce as well as emotional and spiritual development.
Mercy Ships works strategically to empower local leaders and establish community centres through training, support and motivation, mobilising them to initiate a compassionate, sustainable response to needs within their own communities.
Alongside Mercy Ships community health education efforts, this program is designed to establish a sustainable response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Strategic emphasis is directed toward the empowerment of the faith community and schoolteachers in creating an effective response to the pandemic with a goal of increasing the number of HIV/AIDS care, support and prevention programs.
Mercy Ships assists the disabled and displaced in restoring functional environments for work and life. Through holistic personal and community development, Mercy Ships works to support the disabled in their everyday lives as they struggle to meet the basic human needs of food and shelter, and addresses deeper issues of personal development in character and maturity as they relate to the communities they live in and the national recovery process.
Mercy Ships assists the disabled, helping them return home or, when there is no home, to establish themselves in new environments. Counselling and skills training is critical.