Power of Nonprofit Storytelling | What does a displaced family look like? (Mercy Corps)

January 18, 2016


What if you were asked this very question? It’s not exactly something you can just turn away from, going about your day as if you never heard it (or saw it).

Now, what if you received an email in your inbox with this very question as its header? Would you be able to just throw it away? As a long-time witness to your will to create positive change through the work that you do, and the sincere compassion that I see you show, I’m going to bet that you’d feel compelled to open that email and read on. Additionally, there’s that “f-word”: family.

Your header matters. But so does opening with a sensational story. Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian aid agency engaged in helping people displaced by extreme adversity, commences their letter with Furaha’s story. She is one but she is one of many. In beginning with a narrative focused on an individual person, Mercy Corps brings their cause to life through attaching an identity. As humans, we relate to each other by sheer virtue of being human, so what better way than to start with a name?

The story about a woman whose name means “joy,” yet has never known joy, is short but it is heartbreaking. The pictures provide us with a visual of her devastating reality, making it our reality, too — and one shared by one of the things we hold dear: family.

Read this letter from start to finish and I think you’ll understand why, when Mercy Corps asked, “Please show your compassion right now and send a tax-deductible gift to Mercy Corps…” I couldn’t say no to them. I couldn’t say no to Furaha and her family, and I truly hope that she can find her joy soon.

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