By Andrea Vogt, Operation Mercy International Director
For 4 months now life has been “different”. The news, our conversations around a lunch table, our project meetings and emails are all dominated by one common theme: Covid-19, Corona, the pandemic. Trainings and visits to projects have been cancelled and postponed and our annual members meeting happened online with more people attending than we have ever had in past years!
While in the first few weeks we were maybe wondering when we would go back to “normal”, we are starting to see that this pandemic is changing us and the world, most likely forever.
So, what are we learning? How is our awareness for things changing? And what does this mean for us in Operation Mercy?
The new corona virus is acting as a magnifying glass. The virus is amplifying problems, injustices, and inequalities that we have been fighting for years, to a totally new level. Suddenly the vulnerabilities of the poor in our own homeland, as well as in the global south, is news and in focus.
This gives me hope that more people and organisations will stand up for justice and the rights of the poorest of the poor as well as providing direct physical, economic, emotional, and social support.
There seems to be an awakening among people of faith, that we need to DO JUSTICE and LOVE MERCY as we walk humbly with our God*, and not only talk about it. This gives me hope, enormous hope, for the future.
How is responding to the challenge of COVID-19 also changing Operation Mercy internally? A year ago, we started an organisational development process to become a more resilient organisation. Are we showing resilience in this crisis or are we breaking? I am seeing amazing resilience, not only among our staff and managers, but in the increasing partnerships across projects, countries, and offices!
Silos, i.e. projects or countries acting in isolation from others, have been broken down in a way that all our talking and planning could never achieve. Some examples of this are:
In Jordan, the produce of the model farm was distributed to the families with kids with disabilities from the Community Based Rehabilitation project.
In Afghanistan, the Self-help groups, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project and the Rahmat publication project worked across their programmes and offices for the first time to produce and distribute over 80,000 booklets teaching children and families about COVID-19.
A new camaraderie exists amongst our country leaders as they compare notes of what to do and how to respond, as they designed a joint Operation Mercy-wide relief project.
We are building community and resilience among ourselves and in the communities we interact with, and I believe that if we stay on track and keep learning from this crisis, we will emerge stronger than before.
Does that mean all is easy? Does that mean we have always enough resources?
No, but we have the hope, community, and capacity to survive this crisis, and with your help we can pass this on to others.
*The Bible, Micha 6:8