Love Mercy is an organisation dedicated to overcoming poverty and empowering women in Uganda after decades of civil war. Founding Director, Julius Achon, was abducted from his small village when he was 11 years old by the Lord’s Resistance Army (the LRA – led by Joseph Kony), and was forced to become a child soldier.
He escaped and went on to become an Olympic athlete. While training in the USA he met Australian athlete Eloise Wellings, who was so moved by his story she joined with a friend, Caitlin Barrett, to establish the Love Mercy Foundation.
Love Mercy operates several successful programs including Cents for Seeds, designed to help women support their families through loans. With each $30 donated to Cents for Seeds, a woman is provided with a loan of a 30-kilogram bag of seeds, such as beans or sesame, as well as a handheld gardening tool, agricultural education and workshops and access to a savings group.
This loan can harvest a yield of 150 kilograms. At the end of the three years, the woman repays her loan, which then sends another woman into the program. This year alone, Love Mercy Foundation has awarded 10,471 loans.
Love Mercy also operates the Kristina Health Centre in Julius’s hometown, which is named after his mother who was killed by LRA rebels; more than 50,000 patients have been treated so far. A maternity ward has also recently been established, with 10 babies born so far.