Medair was on-the-ground in Sri Lanka within 24 hours of the deadly Asian tsunami, and operational in five days. We worked in a neglected fishing village to secure safe drinking water and provide temporary shelters for the most vulnerable. The project culminated in a distribution of new fishing boats and nets to the recovering community.
"I went to see the first catch of one group," said Maha, a national staff. "It felt so good to see life starting again. I like the longer-term aspect of this programme, and I was impressed to see how fast and efficiently Medair was able to help these affected families."
Against a backdrop of brutal insecurity, Medair's team persisted in providing life-saving health care to over one million people a year across northeast D.R. Congo.
"What struck me most about Medair is that it stayed during the war, when other health centres and NGOs either closed or left the country," said Alphonsine Unwang, joint coordinator of SYNERGIE, a local NGO. "Because Medair stayed and continued to act, despite all the violence and danger, it is the most respected organisation in the entire region."
Sudan (Northern States)
As the longest-serving international NGO in El Geneina, Medair has witnessed great suffering in West Darfur, and our dedicated staff have provided ongoing vital aid to Sudan's most vulnerable throughout the crisis.
In 2005, Medair launched a reproductive health care programme in West Darfur with a focus on training midwives and on obstetric care for women.
"It's amazing what's been achieved in such a short space of time," concluded Dr. Sally Bell at the time. "Women have often been neglected, so they really appreciate services and attention that are specifically for them."
Four years later, the results are even more amazing.
"The maternal mortality rate we can observe in women helped by our midwives has been dramatically lower than the global Sudan rates," says Medair's Emily Chambers. "These are significant, life-saving results."
When a massive earthquake struck the Kashmir region in 2005, Medair was again on-the-ground and operational in five days. Millions were without shelter and winter was fast approaching. Our team went door-to-door in the mountain villages of isolated Poonch district and provided life-saving shelter for thousands of families.
"My house collapsed on top of our two cows," said Jamman, 43, "and over the next few days we buried my brother's wife and daughter. We cried all the time, we felt completely lost, and we even forgot to eat. We slept outside under the stars for a month. Then Medair gave us shelters, blankets, soap, and a new cow. Medair saved our lives; they are the only ones to come right out here!"
After the emergency passed, Medair stayed to rebuild 11 schools in some of the least accessible regions of Poonch.
"We highly appreciate Medair's efforts to work in difficult terrain and hard weather conditions," said Raja Tariq Mehmood, Poonch official. "It was a great contribution... helping to ensure a bright future for our next generations."
In 2006, peace talks led to improved security. Displaced residents slowly transitioned to smaller satellite camps before returning to their devastated villages. At every step along the way, Medair supported Uganda's most vulnerable, particularly its traumatised children.
"The energy of Medair's [child] protection team, coupled with its technical knowledge and first-hand field-based realities, has greatly contributed to the work," said Stephanie Schwarz, U.N. Children's Fund.
"I cannot say enough about how impressed I was with the team when we visited," echoed USAID's Ian Moise in 2008. "What I liked best is that they feel the community can take responsibility, both financially and for labor and maintenance. ... The way that they talked about this issue showed that they really respect the beneficiaries and treat them as equal partners."
Medair provided major health care and safe water programmes in Southern Sudan, while also responding to emergencies across the region.
"Special mention is made of the excellent work attitude of the Medair staff," wrote UNICEF's Marie-Helene Thunus in 2005. "They were not only a committed team, but also displayed a total willingness to go the extra mile."
In 2007, Medair and Tearfund staff spent hours trekking through swamps that rose as high as their waists in order to provide emergency health care to isolated villages. The residents greeted them with looks of absolute shock, having never expected to see an NGO travel to assist them through flooded, snake-infested swamps.
"Medair is a very committed organisation," said local resident Eg Chol Deng. "They care about people, and act fast."
Behind the Scenes
Since 2004, CEO Randall Zindler and Medair's committed team have led the organisation into a new period of growth and stability. During this period, Medair developed a long-term vision, instituted efficient operational procedures, and strengthened accountability to donors and beneficiaries alike.
Internationally-recruited staff received significantly improved support from Medair including better health insurance. Emergency response capacity improved so that we can now be fully operational in a new country within five days of an emergency. And in 2007, a major organisational review clarified Medair's identity: we bring life-saving relief and rehabilitation in disasters, conflict areas, and other crises by working alongside the most vulnerable.
Today, Medair possesses a renewed strength of vision, capacity, and organisational integrity. Donors, beneficiaries, and other agencies have expressed their appreciation for our work, and for the unique way we live out our values-founded in our faith in Jesus Christ-as we bring aid where it is needed most.
As our first 20 years come to an end, Medair now looks ahead to a future full of untold challenges. However, we advance with confidence in a strong foundation, enriched with the lessons learned from 20 years of sacrifice and success, and firmly grounded on the Rock.
- Over the past six years, Medair responded to sudden emergencies while also strengthening our rehabilitation work to make a long-lasting impact on vulnerable communities. Our teams worked in Afghanistan, Angola, D.R. Congo, Indonesia, Iran, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.