We have confronted the task of saving lives during war, famine, outbreaks of disease, and natural disasters. Logistics based in communication, transportation, and security are full-time jobs in and of themselves, let alone informing the general public on how they might contribute and help. Over the past seven years in leading Humanitarian Aid efforts, this is what I have come to learn that may be beneficial to other caregiving organizations.
⦿ DONATED GOODS CAN HURT:
Depending on the area of impact and the situation, some traditional ways of helping can hurt the people we try to provide a hand up to. MERCY PARTNERS collects blankets, children's clothing, personal hygiene kits, eyeglasses, teaching aids, and shoe wear at periodic intervals. When we do, we strategically weave them into existing programs, which has empowered the local church to show the equality of God's grace.
When logistics are burdened in crisis times, certain goods can be a hindrance to our network. It can also compromise our accountability structure. The cost of shipping these items from around the country—let alone the time it takes to sort, pack and send them—can cost more than the value of the goods themselves. When we take in donated goods in advance, we can have relief supplies stocked and pre-positioned when needed the most. We have done this often with donated Personal Hygiene Kits to prepare when conflict or disaster strikes because it allows us to respond immediately. It works!
Our donation guidelines are not meant to limit compassion but are designed to meet international standards for humanitarian relief, packaged up and ready for us to deploy as soon as a crisis strikes. Many times, like in our current state of emergency, cash donations are the best, most cost-efficient way to help deliver life-saving supplies quickly and purchase supplies close to the disaster zone when possible. Afterward, we replenish the stock in preparation for future disasters.
⦿ CASH DONATIONS GIVE MERCY WINGS:
100% of our earmarked cash donations make it to the disaster site (that includes online giving after the small percentage that our DonorBox service costs, which you can choose to cover). How can that be? Twelve percent of our monthly partners' contributions sustain our operations of monitoring, reporting, and other activities that facilitate transparency and efficiency of logistics, along with sharing information with those who can help.
⦿ HANDS-ON VOLUNTEERS CAN STIFLE RELIEF EFFORTS:
While hands-on service may feel like a better way to help in a crisis, disaster response is a highly technical and sensitive effort. Organizations should deploy professionals with specialized skills and overseas disaster experience to disaster sites. Volunteers without skills and experience can do more harm than good and can siphon critical logistics. After recovery, hands-on service venues may exist only to help faith-based organizations directly. MERCY PARTNERS is sensitive to the projects and plans the local church has to reach their people, and many times they exclude foreign intervention.
⦿ LOCAL-TO-GLOBAL WORKS:
In our areas of impact, we work with local churches to multiply our efforts for God's Glory. Mobilizing native caregivers within the local church empowers them to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their villages, which allows their community to experience the mercy of Jesus Christ directly and personally.
Our partners in the United States are composed of churches and the American public. We are expanding in Europe. Many have a heart's desire to make a difference, and we are grateful that we can be the tool in the hands of God that allows them to make an impact like no other.
Thank you for choosing us as your partner in showing mercy!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR...
Tom was born in South Amboy, New Jersey, and grew up in North Carolina. At age eighteen he was selected for the scientific expedition, "Operation Raleigh" Australia Expedition 9a 1986 (a project spearheaded by Prince Charles of Wales). He pursued theological studies in Elizabeth City, NC where he had met his wife, Sandie. Being an ordained minister, Kilian preached in churches within three states. He studied art at the College of the Albemarle and held craftsmen jobs. Kilian initially used his creativity to raise awareness about the Darfur Genocide by creating an art exhibit in 2008. His initial ambition was to raise support for a project on the border of Darfur. He created the "Darfur Monument" with the vision that proceeds could be used for funding an orphanage or hospital. Humanitarian groups took an interest, inviting Kilian to partner with them so that the plan could be realized. Kilian took an invitation and traveled to Darfur. While working with Darfur's displaced children, Kilian concluded that education itself is not the solution. A "wholistic" approach that provides spiritual, mental, and physical healing coupled with tools for self-sufficiency would be a fit pattern to "change the world one life at a time." In 2010, Kilian redirected his efforts to form the charitable, humanitarian organization, "MERCY PARTNERS" which he is currently the Executive Director of.