On September 11, the United States experienced a tragedy of immeasurable proportions. As we watched, thousands died in New York City and Washington, DC, and our illusions of security vanished, perhaps forever.
The immediate global outpouring of support and grief was electric. And in the time since then, we have paused to reflect on our increased connection to people from all nations. At Mercy Corps, we also paused to rededicate ourselves to alleviating suffering and oppression around the world.
For more than 20 years, Mercy Corps has worked in regions and countries like Afghanistan, the Balkans, Central Asia, Indonesia - places torn by conflict and natural disasters. This year, we initiated new programming in New York City to address psychosocial trauma in the wake of the tragedies. By helping children confront their grief and fear, we promoted the healing that is essential in moving forward and resuming a normal childhood.
Mercy Corps has been providing humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan and to Afghan refugees in Pakistan since 1986. Long before September 2001, Afghanistan was a devastated country. Decades of civil war and the worst drought in living memory had reduced the country to rubble and created 3.5 million refugees.
Mercy Corps' mission in Afghanistan since September 11 has not so much altered as expanded. With efforts underway throughout Afghanistan to provide direct relief, we are assisting thousands of additional refugees. Our long-term projects in the region - establishing hospitals and health clinics, providing agricultural support, aiding refugee repatriation - continue as ever, and have been extended to incorporate this most recent crisis in the lives of the Afghan people.
In a world that seems so changed, one fact remains constant: people everywhere want a world where their children will be safe, healthy and secure. While this goal may sometimes seem distant and elusive, it is worthy of our greatest efforts and our most fervent beliefs.