Sunday, March 15, 2009

Organization Profile: Medair

Planning ahead is a good thing - after all, it's what we teach our sons in the Boy Scouts. Planning ahead can make it easier and faster to adapt to changes. For example, bringing a rain jacket to India during the Monsoon season is probably a good idea.

But if you plan too much, you come burdened to your destination with things you'll likely never need. And if you plan for a specific set of circumstances that don't happen, you can find yourself with skills or items that are no longer needed. You're not flexible to handle the unexpected.

And so it's been a hard decision for me to leave some of the "pre-planning" for this time in Africa until after I arrive. The most important decision I have still to make is which organization I'll be partnering with when I arrive. I'm not fitting neatly into any organization's application process - the truth is I'm making some of this up as I go along. But it's also a tremendous lesson in leaving up my direction and expectations to God. And so as I arrive in Uganda, I will be meeting with several organizations to get a hands-on look at what they do. With time, I'm confident there will be an organization that will be a good mutual fit. Since my trip to Uganda last Fall, I've found 3 different organizations that I think may be a great opportunity. Over the next 3 posts I'll outline what they do. The first is Medair.The Organization
Medair is a Swiss organization that does relief and rehabilitation work in many countries all over the world, including Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Madagascar, and Uganda. Their work in Uganda focuses on the devastation caused by the Lord's Resistance Army, a brutal force that terrorized the population (especially children) of northern Uganda. Though the fighting has subsided (at least in Uganda), the physical and psychological wounds require much healing. This is where Medair steps in.

Medair provides two services as a result of humanitarian disasters. The first is immediate relief; as soon as is possible, Medair staff arrive to assess the situation and begin work. They have three areas of expertise: health, water & sanitation, and shelter & infrastructure. Medair works to provide each of these to return the impacted region to its previous level of these services.

Once immediate relief is provided, Medair then begins the rehabilitation process. In this stage, Medair trains local staff and population to provide health, sanitation and shelter without outside assistance. This is known as "capacity building". Through this work Medair ensures that the relief provided will be sustainable in the future.

Medair is not a development organization, and so there are many regions in need of assistance that may not be candidates for Medair's assistance. Instead, Medair focuses specifically on regions most hard hit by humanitarian disasters - in this way limited resources and expertise are used to the greatest effect.

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