The Difference Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals are Making
On behalf of the thousands of vulnerable people you are helping the across the world, we would like to thank you. Your fundraising means that Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals are able to reach out to those suffering both hardship and disaster, giving the resource necessary so they may work their way out of poverty and into hope.For more than 30 years, Mercy Corps has believed in the power of people to transform their own lives. We work in more than 40 countries and know that unlocking opportunity for people in crisis is the most effective way to build up communities and permanent paths out of poverty.Your fundraising will change lives. Thank you for taking one small step (or thousands of steps on the Quad!) to help people step up out of crisis.
Inside Syria, Mercy Corps is reaching around 570,000 people every month with critical support like food, water and hygiene supplies. Despite the ongoing conflict, our teams continue to help people cope amidst war. Here and in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon, Mercy Corps is reaching over 4 million people – including the communities struggling to host them – with long term support such as education, psychosocial support and employment support.
In Europe, in Greece and across the mainland transit routes, we are able to help people on the move, desperately seeking safety by helping them access the information they need to make decisions about what steps to make next and what services are available to help them.
Because of you – no matter what or where the crisis may be– Mercy Corps is able to help families be independent and not dependant. Dignity. Choice. Autonomy. Your fundraising helps us give these vital things back to those in crisis.
Mary’s Meals works with communities in some of the world’s most impoverished areas to set upand deliver school feeding programmes that provide one nutritious daily meal in a place of education for hungry children where children so often miss school because of hunger and poverty. 1,101,206 children receive Mary’s Meals around the world, as well as their teachers,families, and wider communities. Thanks to the commitment and fundraising efforts of Quad competitors Mary’s Meals is able to provide vital support to over 7,600 chronically hungry children in Malawi. It costs just £12.20 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year and we are committed to spending at least 93p of every £1 donated directly on our charitable activities.
Ben is ten years old and from Malawi. When his father died, his mother struggled to find food for the family, he recalls often going to bed hungry and never having breakfast. However, since he started receiving Mary’s Meals, his studies have improved and he has more energy. Ben says, “Since Mary’s Meals, I no longer concentrate on my problems as I am able to enjoy my studies in class. My vision is to build a better house for my family and look after my mother.”
You are giving a gift of hope to Ben and children just like him.
We have some handy hints and tips that can help you with your fundraising, please click here to find out how to Fundraise in a Day!
Thank you so much for all the effort you have put into participating in the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon and for supporting Mercy Corps and Mary’s Meals. Together, we are making a difference.
Best of luck.
How many steps will you take on the Quad itself? Millions it might feel like! At Mercy Corps our belief in empowering people to take their own steps towards a brighter future underpins all of our work worldwide. In particular, we see youth as key change-makers in their lives and the lives of those around them – especially in times of crisis. Rather than viewing youth as troublemakers or as a demographic challenge, we believe in the positive power of youth – in their ability to enable their countries to stride forward, socially, politically and economically. Watch this video to inspire you to make some great strides yourself!
Louise Henderson and Mairead MacRae (accompanied by loyal mascot Louie the dog!) from the Mary’s Meals Quad Team, ‘May the Quads be ever in our favour’ have stepped up their training to prepare for the gruelling 34-mile cycle.
Louise tells us, “Cycling is the sport I am really looking forward to in the Quad. I’ve been taking advantage of the sunny weather at the weekends and have done a few rides to Edinburgh along the Clyde and Union canal. I also cycle to work every day which is a good way of squeezing extra training into my schedule.”
Mairead, on the other hand, has been concentrating on the other disciplines because she is waiting for her shiny new road bike to arrive. Mairead said: “I can’t wait for my new bike to arrive, my old one fell apart, thankfully before I got to the Quad and not during!”
The two have planned some joint training after Mairead’s bike arrives. Mairead told us, “Hopefully, we can get up to practice on the cycle route at Loch Tay. It is a beautiful part of Scotland but I’m not sure how much I’ll take in after 34 miles of cycling! It will all be worth it in the end, especially because I know that my fundraising will make a huge difference to Mary’s Meals.”
“It’s amazing that Mary’s Meals is helping 1,101,206 of the world’s poorest children with a daily meal in school, where they will gain an education that can be their route out of poverty.”
Make sure you focus on these few things and the last 34 miles of the Quad will be a breeze….
1. Train the distance - Obvious one, but make sure you can cycle 34 miles. Training the distance and maybe longer will give you the mental strength of knowing you can do it and keep going to the end of the event.
2. Brick training - In the Quad you transition from kayaking to cycling. If you are in the fortunate position to be able to practice this then do it once a week. If not then try going from a rowing machine to cycling at the gym or from a hill walk into a cycle. You will be cycling on tired legs in the race so practice with 2 activities combined together to replicate this as best you can.
3. Hit the hills - Build that all important leg strength by riding hill repeats. These are tough to do by yourself so team up with your partner for this session. As part of a long cycle ride, find a hill that takes 3-5min to cycle up. Cycle hard uphill and slowly roll back down to recover, repeat 4 times the first time and add on an extra climb each session.
4. Bike fit - Make sure your bike is the right size for you, the saddle and handlebars are adjusted correctly and the seat is comfortable. Bikes are not one-size-fits-all! Take yours along to an expert to get fitted to your body shape and you’ll find training and racing much more enjoyable.
5. Nutrition - Being the last of the 4 Quad disciplines everyone will be running out of steam! Don’t forget to stay hydrated and keep eating your snacks or energy bars and gels. In training, be sure to practice what and how often you will eat on the bike and throughout the race. This will make the difference between enjoying the last few miles or hating every minute!
“When we first came here, our children had trauma from the war and bombing. My son was isolated, not playing with other kids. I had to convince him to come and participate in the activities here. At first he didn’t want to, but after a few days, he came alive again.”
I’m standing in the new Mercy Corps ‘Knowledge Centre’ in Sareeh, Jordan, and listening as a local Syrian lady tells us about her 8 year old son.
I didn’t really know what to expect before coming on this trip. In my naivety I guess I thought that helping Syrian Refugees meant providing food, water and shelter. Which is vital of course, and emergency aid is a large part of what Mercy Corps does (very well I might add). But what I’ve discovered is that it’s their longer term approach and their emphasis on sustainable development that makes Mercy Corps’ work so special, empowering local people with the tools to rebuild their lives as best they can.
The Knowledge Centre is an example of Mercy Corps’ Social Cohesion work; it’s a safe space where people can come and take part in training courses such as life skills or computer classes, get involved in workshops, or simply use the games room. The children can enrol in extra-curricular activities or catch-up classes, as many will have missed large chunks of their education. It’s a space that brings people together, and helps refugees integrate into their host communities. Because something I also hadn’t realised is that 80% of the estimated 1.3 million refugees in Jordan don’t live in camps, they’re part of these communities, and competing with the Jordanians on rent, water resources, and electricity, in an already strained infrastructure. Similarly in Lebanon every school does a double shift, Lebanese children in the morning and Syrians in the afternoon. There simply isn’t enough space for all of them. It’s not hard to see how tensions arise.
Mercy Corps works with Community Leaders, giving them the conflict resolution skills they need to solve disputes. At the same time the Community Leaders feed back to Mercy Corps what the community needs. In Eidoun, they built a women’s gym - the only one in an area of 50,000 people - providing health and fitness training, and a support network; forging friendships between Jordanian and Syrian women where previously there had only been a suspicion that these newcomers would steal their husbands. In Sakura it was a football pitch, where the most important division was not which country you came from, but which team you were on. In another village we even heard about a group of boys who had to draw a picture together, each taking it in turns to add one stroke. Soon these boys claimed they were reading each other’s minds, their differences forgotten.
But more than helping to build communities, these projects and activities are incredibly important for providing psychosocial support, particularly to young people. Stressful situations cause us to release a hormone called cortisol, which helps prepare our bodies for ‘fight or flight’. Useful in the short term if you need to outrun a bear, but in situations of chronic stress these elevated cortisol levels interact with the emotional circuits in our brain, and cause them to shut down. It kind of makes sense defensively, if you can’t feel anything then at least you won’t be overwhelmed by sadness or fear. But you also struggle to feel happiness, to express emotion, or to feel empathy for others.
These programs provide a way for Mercy Corps to help children re-engage with their feelings through a subtle ‘atunement’ approach. It’s about connecting your head with your heart. Every course session the teachers dedicate some time to self-reflection and positive coping practices, exploring questions such as what do I want to be, who are my friends, what makes me angry, and who are my safe people to talk to. I also really saw the power of art for helping people to express their emotions. A beautiful example was how at the start of any program the kids were asked to draw a picture about how they felt. Most drew images of war and conflict. But two months later, as their program finished, they drew smiling faces and images of play.
Nowhere was this more evident than at Zaatari camp, home to 80,000 refugees. With a bus system, 12 schools, and its very own champs de elysee, it felt more like a town then an informal settlement. But it was still just a sea of temporary box-like structures, overwhelmingly white and grey. Yet walking into the Mercy Corps extracurricular room, my senses were assaulted with the wealth of colour and creativity inside. Sculptures made from trash, paintings that covered the walls, the vibrant energy reminded me that this is what every child should have, a striking contrast to the bleakness of what they were actually growing up in. I was so glad Mercy Corps could provide spaces like this.
It has been a very special experience witnessing the work that Mercy Corps do, and I still haven’t told you the half of it! We saw WASH projects - that stands for Water Health and Sanitation - delivering water, piloting greener latrines, and renovating facilities in schools that would have otherwise been closed down. We learnt about their INTAJ program - Improving Networks Training and Jobs - helping small businesses to expand in order to tackle unemployment. One textile factory owner said that although his business nearly 30 years old, with Mercy Corps he felt he’d had a fresh start, and by the end of the year he’d have gone from 25 employees to 52! Their home kitchen program teaches people how to grow their own vegetables and eat a balanced diet, as aid food is high in calories but low in nutrients. Everyone we met was so dedicated to helping their country, from the volunteers who drove an hour each day to work at Zaatari camp, to the local Mercy Corps staff whose passion for their projects was contagious. Next to their work my own job at home seemed self-centred and inadequate. But at least I had helped in some small way, because without our fundraising, many of these projects would not exist.
If you’re doing the quad this year, every penny you raise really will be changing lives. The quad is an incredible experience, and it supports an incredible cause. Good luck to you all, and I hope you smash those fundraising targets. It’s truly worth it.
Are you able to go above and beyond in your fundraising efforts? If so, you could be in with a chance to win our 2016 Top Fundraiser Prize!.......
The Quad is really a five discipline challenge: swimming, running, kayaking, cycling AND fundraising. This last one is arguably the most important and has the greatest lasting impact from all your training. So in recognition of your efforts to get that fundraising in we are awarding a £500 prize to the team that collectively raises the highest amount over £3,000. The cut off for raising funds will be 30th September 2016 and the prize winners will be contacted by Wildfox soon after this date.
In addition, if you manage to make your minimum fundraising target* one week before the event there will be a little something for you at registration too! And a hearty cheer from the registration team.
Good luck, Quadrathletes, with your training and your fundraising!
* as per the Terms & Conditions, the minimum fundraising targets are £450pp for a team of two and £250pp for a relay team
Our Mary’s Meals team, “May the Quad be ever in our favour”, are training hard to participate in this year’s wonderful event and they are helping to raise money for Mary’s Meals at the same time.
To see the great work that Mary’s Meals does in 12 different countries throughout the world, click HERE to order a screening pack of our new film, Generation Hope. This film follows the lives of the first children to receive Mary’s Meals back in 2002 and the extraordinary effect it has had on their lives. It is a great example of how your fundraising can help to change the lives of children throughout the world.
Water and the Syria crisis: did you know that because of the recent influx of refugees, 1 in 4 people in Lebanon are now Syrian? In Jordan, the third driest country in the world, it’s one in 5.
Countries like Jordan are experiencing a spike in competition for resources such as water as the country sees over 600,000 refugees arrive. Tensions arise between host communities and locals as water becomes ever more scarce. See how Mercy Corps worked to repair Jordan’s ageing water system to bring more vital resources to citizens and refugees.
Meet Gus, Water Engineering Director for Jordan, who works to address this problem. As he says in the video ‘We are helping Jordanian’s, Syrians – everybody! – for years to come.’
This is how you #DoMoreWithMercyCorps. THANK YOU
Mary’s Meals team update: May the Quads be Ever in Our Favour
Mairead and Louise, The Mary’s Meals Quad Team, have been training hard the last few months but are waiting for better weather before attempting kayaking!
Mairead, who is a Scout Leader, has dabbled in a bit of kayaking before. She says; “Once I went kayaking with my brother, I really enjoyed it! It was hard work though, so I know I’ll need to start training soon. In fact, while kayaking my brother lost his shoes, and I spent more time in the water!”
Louise has been concentrating on hill walking, always accompanied with team mascot Louie the dog. She tells us; “Louie and I are quite new to hills, and neither of us have particularly long legs but our weekly training sessions are really starting to pay off. And I’m loving Munro bagging with my trusty sidekick!”
The team have also been fundraising, setting up their own Artez page so that friends and family can donate online. They also plan on organizing a fundraising event in April to raise lots of money for hungry children.
If you have not tried Kayaking before you need to make sure you gather some experience prior to the event. All participants will use 2 seater Malibu 2 kayaks (issued by the event). They sit low in the water so you are guaranteed to get a bit wet but its ideal to cool you down after completing the mountain phase of the run! For inexperienced kayakers, here are our top tips to get you started: