From Then to Now
The most glaring realization was that we are not ok with creating more dependency among the populations we serve.Jaden McNeely
In 2001, a trip to a far-away land triggered a response that led to the creation of Global Refuge. Many of you know the story, so I won’t go through it all again. However, there were some distinct truths that were instilled in us by the experiences we had there. Those truths have defined our direction and mission for the 20 years we have been doing this work. The world has drastically changed since that time, with even more globally displaced people than ever before. In addition, the world is now facing pandemics and subsequent shifts in how aid and mission work is done.
In recent years, we have seen the end of the “Rambo” way of doing aid work, where the real story was about the American that was brave enough to run into a war zone. There was a time and a place for that, but that approach quickly revealed that people weren’t getting the quantity and quality of help they so desperately needed. They had sadly become an adventure product to sell to Americans. Regrettably, probably some of the work we did early on would fall into that category. Over the years we have seen how dangerous such work can be to the people in need.
2020 was a year unlike others for nearly everyone. It shifted priorities, focus and resources in a way nothing has done in my lifetime. It forced all of us at GRI to stop our international travel, which was a first for us since GRI started. As a result, we decided to take a deep dive into the work we do and the way we do it. We found that we must always be adapting if we are to be best prepared to meet the needs of the people we desire to help. The most glaring realization we faced was that we are not ok with creating more dependency among the populations we serve. So, we decided to shift some in our direction that would focus more on dignity and transformation as the end goals we desire to reach.
This is why we have changed our name to The Global Refuge Project. Projects are goal-driven, researched, professional and work toward a specific measurable result. They are also flexible, adapting interventions that can be evaluated and improved on-the-go.
The business side of our work is geared toward two main goals:
- To create jobs, and opportunities for investment, among the populations that have been displaced by conflict.
- To produce revenue that funds our health work within the same location, reducing the amount of donor money needed from outside the country.
We are already doing this in Democratic Republic of Congo, where we operate businesses raising livestock and growing food. This work is generating revenue to rehabilitate health centers in Eastern DRC and will grow to fund training, mentoring and growing the health system in the region.
The health side of our work is geared toward three main goals:
- To repair and build the necessary infrastructure for a functional health system in the areas we work.
- To train the necessary staff and volunteers to sustain the health system.
- To shape the health system toward a focus on “holistic” health that provides mental, physical and spiritual assistance.
We are incredibly excited about this addition of the business side to our work. The current state of our world is in dire need of people who desire to help, but also that are willing to do it the planned out and strategic way that produces real results. People are innovative, skilled and unbelievably capable, but they need interventions at specific times that give them a chance to seize opportunities. That’s where we want to be, providing exactly what is needed for people to heal, grow and succeed.