By Shuk Ying Chui
Founded by two Olympian athletes, sending their precious love and support to the rural community in Uganda. With a small office in Sutherland, Love Mercy Foundation has proved the influence of charity work does not have any matter with the size of the foundation, but the power of love.
The story of Love Mercy Foundation begins with an occasional met of Uganda Olympian Julius Achon and Australian middle distance runner Eloise Wellings. The difference in the ethnic background did not form a barrier to their friendship.
“There’s just so much joy in their friendship.” Wellings’ working partner Rory Darkins described. “How much they have in common in terms of their character and what they believe and what they stand for that they, you know, as a great friendship. “ Darkins continued.
Because of Achon, Wellings started to know more about this mysterious African country, where a place that she “didn’t even know where it was on the map”. After associating Achon in a long time and notified his child soldier background, as well as her first visit to Uganda, a thought came out from Wellings’ mind.
“We really didn’t expect to see and experience what we saw, but we were so glad that we did because it kind of shock us into action and, and it forced us to realize that what we had back here, well, we could do something to help and to stand alongside people over there,” Wellings said.
The power of two is far not enough. And they met Caitlin Barrett, a UNSW graduate who is keen on giving a helping hand to the project. Then, a new chapter began.
All things are difficult before they are easy. But a small-scaled office is never an obstacle to their benevolent works.
“Everyone on our team is really really passionate and motivated, and we got to the optimisation so that everybody’s role is really clearly defined,” Barrett explained.
Until now, there are three main programmes which are undergoing in supporting Northern Uganda by the Love Mercy Foundation.
In the light of the limitation of medical facilities, the Kristina Clinic was built in honour of Achon’s mother. About 700 patients are treated in every month. The maternity ward is under construction which aims at providing enough maternal care there.
More than that, the foundation is also running a micro-farming loan programme named Cents For Seeds. It can be marked as one of the successful programmes by the foundation. The women in Northern Uganda can loan the seeds under the project and make money after the harvest. On this year’s March 11th, it is also marked as the first day of the seed distributions in Northern Uganda.
“In order to get the seed loan to, we learned over 13,000 women. It seems like you actually get the things out to the villages.” Barrett said.
In these years, Love Mercy Foundation is going for a new project, partnered with a Perth-originated organisation – Water for Africa. Along with its eleven years of experience in Tanzania, it is definitely a glad tiding to the people in Northern Uganda.
“It basically means that people are no longer woke up at five to 10 kilometres three times a day, to get dirty water if he didn’t get contaminated water from swamps,” Wellings said. “So they’ve got clean water in their village that they can go to and they definitely have more time to spend on their crops or other work that they do are on their families.” Wellings continued.
Besides holding such meaningful projects, Wellings and Barrett also stand right at the forefront, visit Uganda every year as a regular basis and to see the progress and the achievement of the programme there.
“At the moment where we’re working in, there are not many other NGO. It is an area where there’s a lot of suffering, but government responses are quite low. Since there are not many NGO, So it is quite important that our project was there and can use to grow, especially at the moment there are communities are facing famine and food shortages. So, but some people in our programme is one of their main sources of food at the moment.” Barrett said.
“Each time we go, we can see the difference,” Wellings said. “It means it. It’s their work. We’re just standing alongside them and saying that we believe in them and they’re actually doing, they’re doing the farming, and they’re there.” Wellings explained.
Great teamwork helps the success of the work. But at the same time, generous supporters is an essential factor to make things work out. So do the Love Mercy Foundation. Therefore, they are always active on social media and make frequent updates on their works. Among all social media platforms, their Instagram account has the highest popularity with more than 5000 followers. Along with the promotion by their ambassador and co-founder Eloise Wellings, Barrett endorsed the impact of social media certainly helps to get attention from the public to their charity works.
“With events that we’re running are fundraisers and trying to raise more attention and more involvement from people to join the team, things like that. It’s pretty easy to get involved, and fundraise and make different. So people will hear about that better.” Barrett explained.
This year is the ninth year since the Love Mercy Foundation has established. It has already become an inseparable part in Barrett and Wellings’ hearts.
To Barrett, it is a precious memory and experience that she is fortunate to do.
“I think I’m really lucky that I get to work in an organisation where I can have a direct impact on so many lives. And I mean to be really fulfilling. It’s something that I feel really lucky to be able to do.” Barrett said.
To Wellings, it is an unexpected journey. A journey that is filling in her missing pieces in her life.
“It wasn’t something that I was ever, ever thought about ever, ever imagine myself being a part of like God had another plan, you know?” Wellings said.
About the future of the Love Mercy Foundation. Barrett has indicated that the current charity sector is altering and there is still a long path for her team to run.
“People are becoming more focused on the impacts that charities are having. So they want to know what is the charity actually achieving and what’s the measurable difference that’s being made by that charity.” Barretts explained.
“We will continue to do more and more impact measurement of all of that programme,” Barrett said.
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