Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mapendo International: Great Love

Below are excerpts from the website of Mapendo International and the Echoing Green website.

"Mapendo International's mission is to identify, rescue, and protect people fleeing conflict and violence in Africa whose lives are in imminent danger and who fall outside existing relief efforts. Focusing on refugees who are targets of genocide, torture survivors, rape victims, widows, orphans, and those with urgent medical needs (HIV positive refugees foremost among these), Mapendo International devises and implements short and long-term solutions for those whose struggle to survive would otherwise go unattended. The organization is responding to the plight of such people through its medical clinic in Nairobi and through its rescue initiatives program in East and Central Africa.

"Mapendo International works to fill the critical and unmet needs of people affected by war and conflict who have fallen through the net of humanitarian assistance. This commitment is expressed through targeting individuals, families and groups of people overlooked by existing aid programs. Mapendo strives to alleviate human suffering, to protect life and health, and to raise awareness for these vulnerable people.

"While working in refugee relief and rescue operations with the International Organization for Migration and the U.N.H.C.R. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) throughout Africa, Mapendo International's co-founder, Sasha Chanoff, traveled into the Democratic Republic of Congo. There he undertook a U.S.-funded emergency mission to rescue Tutsi victims of countrywide massacres, part of the ethnic violence that stemmed from the Rwandan genocide. In the Congo he met Rose Mapendo, a Tutsi who had been jailed with her family. Rose listened as soldiers executed her husband, gave birth to twins in prison, and managed to keep her nine children alive under appalling conditions.

"The rescue team's success in getting Rose and her family out, despite the fact that they were not on the refugee evacuation list, became the inspiration behind the organization's name. Mapendo means "great love" in Swahili. The advocacy organizations, Human Rights Watch and Refugees International have documented the many thousands of refugees in similarly untenable situations who have no access to aid. For Sasha, working regularly with individuals and families in such dire circumstances created an imperative to act. With advice and guidance from senior officials in the U.N., the State Department and NGOs, Sasha launched this new initiative with Dr. John Wagacha Burton, Mapendo's co-founder, to address the critical and unmet needs of those refugees whose lives are in peril.


" Mapendo is action oriented. We identify needs and implement solutions. Through our rescue operations in east and central Africa and in our Nairobi medical clinic serving HIV/AIDS victims and others with critical medical needs, we are reaching out to thousands of people whose struggle to survive would otherwise go unnoticed and unattended.

"Our programs include:

"Rescue Operations

Mapendo International identifies and assists individuals, families and groups of people fleeing war and conflict who need urgent and lifesaving assistance. We compile reports and identify durable solutions for people in danger and provide this information to governments, the United Nations and other aid agencies. We are actively assisting refugees across east and central Africa through this initiative.

"Medical Care
Mapendo International serves some of the most vulnerable survivors of Africa's wars and conflicts through our medical clinic in Nairobi, which works to keep alive and provide health care to HIV positive people, torture survivors, widows with children, and others at risk who have urgent medical needs and no access to health care.

"Awareness Programs
Mapendo International undertakes photography and video projects to raise awareness and understanding for marginalized refugee communities. This information is then exhibited and distributed in the United States through collaborations with refugee resettlement agencies and community-based organizations."

You can find
Mapendo International here.

Echoing Green can be found here.

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