Love Mercy empowers communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty caused by the horrors of civil war. Founded by Australian Olympian Eloise Wellings, Love Mercy is transforming Northern Uganda by empowering women and girls to increase access to education, health care, and income generation. I spoke to Cassi Bourke, Project Manager of Love Mercy about this amazing organisation making a positive impact for the future of Ugandan female generations…
Leigh: Love Mercy is an amazing organisation. Can you please share how it all began?
Cassi Bourke: Love Mercy began in 2010 after Eloise Wellings, Australian Olympian, met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier, Julius Achon. Eloise promised to fulfil Julius’ dream of restoring hope to his village in northern Uganda after decades of civil war.
Julius grew up in the remote village of Awake in severe poverty. At the age of 11, he was captured by rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to become a child soldier. He was held captive for 3 months until an opportunity to escape arose when a government plane flew over the LRA camp. Julius escaped but sadly witnessed the murder of 9 of his friends as they ran for their lives. When Julius returned to school, he knew he had athletic talent and so began to run 8 kilometres to and from school each day for training. Through a series of multiple local successes, Julius was offered a scholarship to George Mason University in South Carolina. From here, Julius began his professional running career including being flag bearer for Uganda at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Julius was recently elected as a Member of the Ugandan Parliament and uses his position to advocate on behalf of and continue to provide for his community in Otuke.
LV: We LOVE that as well as improving the lives of these beautiful people, you are also EMPOWERING women, with programs such as ‘Cents For Seeds‘. Was this purposely aimed at women, if so, why?
CB: The program was purposely developed for women as women in northern Uganda are both the caretaker and breadwinner of the family unit. After receiving a seed loan of approx. 30kgs, as well as a hand-held gardening tool and access to educational workshops, a woman has all the resources necessary to provide a steady income for her family. This empowers her to reinvest the earnings into food, education and health care. By returning her original loan she is then part of the empowerment process for another woman in need.
CB: There are several ways that individuals can partner with us and we encourage people to get creative and have fun with their fundraising ideas. You can hold your own event (e.g. high tea, trivia night, clothes swap party) or receive sponsorship for an event you are participating in (e.g. fun run, sport challenges). For those who would like to partner with us on an ongoing basis, you can sign up to become a Cents for Seeds Ambassador where for a donation of $30 per month, you can support 12 women a year to participate in this life-changing project.
For more information on what you can do, please visit our website: http://www.lovemercyfoundation.org/what-you-can-do
LV: What has been your proudest moment so far being a part of the Love Mercy Team?
CB: There have been many moments where I have been so proud of what we have achieved in such a short period including gaining Deductible Gift Recipient status, becoming a member of the Australian Council for International Development and being selected as a NSW finalist in the Telstra Business Awards. However, I think my proudest moment was hearing that more than 7,000 women, across seven sub-counties in northern Uganda, received a seed loan this year. That puts us well on the way to achieving our goal of 20,000 women by the year 2020.
Image credit: River Bennett – www.thewolfpackmrs.com