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People like to talk about how they need to "find" themselves. This usually means they’re unhappy, lack direction and are primarily focused on themselves. Interestingly, Christ said the way to find ourselves was by losing ourselves: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35). Losing ourselves in service is a great way to find ourselves. It allows us to practice doing what Jesus did. He taught that loving God was the first commandment and loving our neighbor was the second. We show our love for God by serving each other. And we love those we serve. Service gives us a happiness that self-interest never will. It happens in big ways and small, in public and in private, for friends and for strangers.
Even the little things we do, like helping someone in their garden or holding open a door, can make life a little easier for them—and a little happier for us. You don’t have to look far to find opportunities to donate your time and energy. The beauty of following Christ's example is that we don't need to evaluate who, when or how we serve, we just get to act. It can be planned or spontaneous, for someone we know or a stranger. Christian service shies away from recognition, accepts no reward and is motivated by love.
In addition to small, personal acts of service, Mormons give large, organized assistance to areas in need. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than $1 billion in cash and material assistance to 167 different countries in need of humanitarian aid since it started keeping track in 1985. It sent an airlift of tents, tarps, diapers and other supplies to the areas of Chile hit by the February 2010 earthquake, and two planes with over 80,000 pounds each of food and emergency resources to Haiti in January 2010 due to their catastrophic earthquake. The local, national and international organization of the church allows it to coordinate relief efforts quickly so that food, supplies and workers can arrive when they are needed most.
The Church does not discriminate based on religious affiliation, ethnicity or nationality. We offer hope and the potential for a life that transcends disease, poverty and despair. It’s all part of God’s plan that we bear each other’s burdens and act as His hands on earth. The Church’s welfare program also helps people in need locally by offering temporary assistance in the form of food, clothing and in the search for employment. Recipients are given the opportunity to work, if possible, in exchange for this assistance.
Each year, millions of men, women, and children are impacted by war, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters. In these desperate circumstances, quick response is often the difference between life and death.
Because of this preparedness, the Church is able to respond immediately in times of emergency. In addition to providing materials, the Church also helps with funds and volunteers.
As many as 10 percent of all newborns have breathing difficulties at birth and require some assistance. With proper training and minimal equipment, many of the deaths of newborns due to breathing problems can be avoided. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints works with national health organizations and ministries of health from countries around the world to identify areas where training in neonatal resuscitation is most desperately needed. The Church then sends volunteer physicians and nurses to instruct birth attendants in these areas. These local attendants are then able to train others. More than 80,000 birth attendants have been trained so far.
In 2001, the Measles Initiative, a partnership including the American Red Cross, the United Nations World Health Organization, UNICEF, the UN Foundation, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was created. Its goal was to reduce the worldwide mortality rate from measles by 90% by the year 2010—down from its 1999 total of 873,000 deaths worldwide. In 2003, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined the Measles Initiative and committed one million dollars each year in support of the campaign. The Church has also participated in the social mobilization effort that is significant to the success of each campaign. A catchy musical jingle, composed by a young Mormon during the Church’s participation in the Madagascar measles campaign, has been translated and sung in 28 languages on dozens of radio stations in subsequent campaigns. From 2004 to 2008, 59,596 Church members in 32 countries volunteered their efforts in canvassing neighborhoods and helping at vaccination posts. By January 2007 there was a 60% decrease in the world’s measles mortality rate.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ clean water initiative attempts to improve the health of communities by providing access to sustainable clean water sources. Depending on local needs and circumstances, these water sources include wells (or boreholes), water storage and delivery systems, and water purification systems. Since 2002, the Church has helped five million people in over 4,500 communities obtain access to clean water sources. These clean water projects have enjoyed long-term sustainability because communities are involved in their planning and implementation, and provide most of the labor. Community representatives are trained on system maintenance prior to a project’s completion.
The objective of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ vision care program is to strengthen eye care services to the poor by supplying essential technical training, equipment, supplies, and organizational support to assist local eye care professionals and programs. Using ophthalmologists who volunteer their time, the Church has assisted local eye care professionals and programs that have benefitted over 180,000 individuals since 2003.
As many as 100 million people worldwide may need a wheelchair but only one in 100 can afford to buy one. To be mobile, people with disabilities often rely on family and friends to carry them from place to place. It can be extremely difficult just to leave home. Going to school or getting a job may be impossible dreams. To help, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints partners with community organizations serving the disabled. The local partner assesses clients, prescribes a device, and follows up with therapy and support. The Church donates wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, cushions, and other assistive devices – sometimes purchased from local workshops. When requested, teams of therapists give additional technical training to the partner. Since 2001, the Church has distributed more than 300,000 wheelchairs in 101 countries.
Our Humanitarian Aid programs rely on the help of everyday people who want to relieve some of the suffering in the world. Just as we don’t discriminate when giving aid based on religious affiliation, ethnicity or nationality, neither do we discriminate when accepting aid. We welcome anyone who wants to help. You are welcome to call the LDS Humanitarian Services at (801) 240-3544 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.