Relief International is a nonprofit organization whose sole mission is to reduce human suffering. We respond to natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies and chronic poverty. We are non-sectarian and non-political.
With legal standing both in the United States as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization and in the United Kingdom as a registered Charity, Relief International has a global board of directors who bring an informed perspective to the communities we serve. We work in 19 countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Relief International seamlessly blends humanitarian and development efforts so every program resolves immediate issues while laying the groundwork for long-term impact. Our signature approach — which we call the RI Way — emphasizes local participation, an integration of services, strategic partnerships, and a focus on civic skills. In this way, we empower communities to find, design and implement the solutions that work for them — and for generations to come.
The RI Way reflects our proud history.
Relief International was founded in 1990 by Los Angeles resident Farshad Rastegar in response to the devastating 7.7 magnitude Manjil–Rudbar earthquake in northwestern Iran, which killed more than 50,000 Iranians and left 135,000 more destitute. Working out of a warehouse in Los Angeles, RI sent and distributed food, shelter, blankets and other emergency items to earthquake survivors.
Our mission expanded over the following two decades, growing to embrace issues such as poverty, hunger and lack of economic opportunity. In 2009, RI merged with EnterpriseWorks/VITA, an organizational pair with more than 50 years of experience providing relief and supporting robust livelihoods by applying expertise in areas such as irrigation, resource management, communications and entrepreneurship. Programs customized to local needs connected producers to broader markets, applied innovative technologies such as rainwater harvesting, and enabled entrepreneurs to boost their productivity.
This merger remains the foundation of RI’s dedication to solutions built on knowledge, expertise and abiding compassion.