“What would it feel like if you woke up one day and the money you had earned and the job you’d had for your entire life were worthless because of economic forces out of your control?” Carolyn Lang asks us during our visit to Mercy Corps’ office in Bogotá, Colombia. “What would happen if you had to tell your children they had to leave their friends and community because they weren’t safe there anymore?”
As Colombia continues to face deep inequality, conflict, and a massive influx of Venezuelan refugees, Lang asks us to imagine ourselves in the positions of those for whom these imaginary scenarios are dismal realities. She insists that empathy is key when responding to help people in crisis.
At Cotopaxi, we also believe in the importance of empathy—in the responsibility we have to stand with and help those in need. Our new partnership with Mercy Corps is an extension of these beliefs. One of the most recognized global humanitarian organizations, Mercy Corps empowers people recovering from crisis to survive and thrive —those who have undergone or who are facing various forms of economic, environmental, social, and political instabilities.
“The ultimate goal is to help all Colombians and Venezuelans live dignified lives,” says Jennifer Daum, Mercy Corps’ Director of Programs in Colombia.
Mercy Corps has worked in Colombia since 2005, pioneering innovative solutions to vast land inequality, connecting rural producers to global markets, protecting youth from the vicious cycle of violence, and helping people affected by half a century of armed conflict rebuild their lives.
Colombia’s needs are great as neighboring Venezuela continues to struggle with economic and political upheaval. More than 1 million Venezuelans have fled and are seeking refuge in Colombia, and that number is expected to grow to 4 million by 2021. Similarly, decades of violence and conflict have forced many Colombians from their homes, sometimes multiple times. In fact, Colombia has 7.7 million people displaced inside the country – more than any other country in the world.
Currently, Mercy Corps is working to meet the urgent needs of thousands of vulnerable Colombians and Venezuelan refugees through cash assistance, medicine, grants to jumpstart small businesses and other forms of support. Soon the organization will lead a consortium of four international nonprofit organizations to provide emergency cash assistance to nearly 90,000 people over the next 18 months, in areas hosting large number of Venezuelan refugees. Cash assistance gives people the dignity and flexibility to buy what they need most – whether that is food, medicine, water or shelter.
For more information on Mercy Corps and how to get involved, please visit https://www.mercycorps.org/. For more information on Cotopaxi Foundation and its grantees, please visit https://www.cotopaxi.com/pages/foundation.