Relief International's team traverses a flooded dirt road in northeastern South Sudan to get to a clinic in a remote community. Elie Gardner/RI
Who we are

About Us

OUR APPROACH

We specialize in fragile settings.

There is one constant in fragile settings: they don’t follow a pattern.

Today, we will work to deliver life-saving aid to millions of people living on the edge of survival. Tomorrow, when the crisis subsides, we will work alongside community members to restore job opportunities, build critical infrastructure, and develop education programs. And the day after that we will be ready for the next chapter. In fragile settings, every day brings new opportunities and fresh challenges.

Relief International’s 7,200 staff and volunteers have the experience and agility to meet the ever-changing needs of vulnerable populations. We partner with them to develop a strategy for the future and create more enduring pathways to stability.

RI staff in Bangladesh. Rachel Elkind/RI
Our work in 2017

Going where the needs are greatest

As of 2017, more than 68 million people have fled their homes due to conflict, violence or natural disaster.

Relief International responded to these crises by continuing to expand our lifesaving work in Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh, and other fragile settings.

Stories from the field

See our work in action

Somalia

Educating Girls to End Poverty in Somalia

Throughout Somalia, violence and extreme poverty have left deep scars, forcing many families to keep girls at home instead of in school. In response, Relief International has implemented the Educate Girls, End Poverty program, providing Somali girls with the opportunity to receive an education and break the cycle of chronic poverty.

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Iran

Kermanshah Earthquake: Two Years Later

Two years after a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Kermanshah, an agricultural region in western Iran, nearly 5,000 people are still unable to return to their homes. The biggest challenge has come, not during the immediate response, but in the lengthy reconstruction efforts that have followed since.

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Afghanistan

Progress for Women Means Progress for All

Decades of war have taken their toll on all Afghans, and has particularly affected women and girls. Our Women’s Enterprise, Advocacy and Training Program (WEAT) is a five-year initiative started in 2017 and aimed at empowering women and girls in seven districts of Ghazni, Kapisa, and Nangarhar.

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Somalia

Somalia Braces as Climate Change Brings Recurring Droughts and Floods

In late April of 2018, Somalia’s two major rivers overflowed after weeks of heavy rains. Our response demonstrates how we provide emergency aid when a crisis is at its height.

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Somalia

Somalia Drought Brings Food Shortages, Leaving Millions at Risk of Starvation

A crippling drought has left 5.1 million people without reliable access to food. Our Somalia teams have the necessary relationships, experience, and expertise to help in this crisis, but are dependent on an increase in resources and donations to meet the population’s urgent needs.

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Ifrah participates in Relief International's education program that empowers young women to break the cycle of poverty.

Somalia

Educating Girls to End Poverty in Somalia

A man sits in front of the rubble of his former home, which was destroyed by a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck along the Iran-Iraq border in late 2017. RI/RI Staff.

Iran

Kermanshah Earthquake: Two Years Later

Masooda Tokhi, Relief International Program Manager, meeting the Minister of Education to sign a MOU on our work.

Afghanistan

Progress for Women Means Progress for All

Somalia Floods

Somalia

Somalia Braces as Climate Change Brings Recurring Droughts and Floods

Drought response, Somalia

Somalia

Somalia Drought Brings Food Shortages, Leaving Millions at Risk of Starvation

Ifrah participates in Relief International's education program that empowers young women to break the cycle of poverty.
A man sits in front of the rubble of his former home, which was destroyed by a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck along the Iran-Iraq border in late 2017. RI/RI Staff.
Masooda Tokhi, Relief International Program Manager, meeting the Minister of Education to sign a MOU on our work.
Somalia Floods
Drought response, Somalia
Ifrah participates in Relief International's education program that empowers young women to break the cycle of poverty.

Educating Girls to End Poverty in Somalia

A man sits in front of the rubble of his former home, which was destroyed by a powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake that struck along the Iran-Iraq border in late 2017. RI/RI Staff.

Kermanshah Earthquake: Two Years Later

Masooda Tokhi, Relief International Program Manager, meeting the Minister of Education to sign a MOU on our work.

Progress for Women Means Progress for All

Somalia Floods

Somalia Braces as Climate Change Brings Recurring Droughts and Floods

Drought response, Somalia

Somalia Drought Brings Food Shortages, Leaving Millions at Risk of Starvation

The RI Way

The RI Way sets out the guiding principles we use to design every project.

Guiding Principles

South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

At Relief International, beneficiaries are not recipients of aid. They are participants in their own solutions. We engage local communities at the program design stage, because programs designed, built, and judged by the community they serve are more likely to succeed. And to last.

Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

Relief International designs projects to cover more than just one slice of life. Because lives are complicated. Education boosts health. Better health improves livelihoods. Stronger livelihoods let families invest in education. Integrated solutions serve people living in the real world.

Rachel Elkind/RI

We partner with communities, governments, and leading international organizations. These relationships let us harness complementary expertise and networks to ensure that each community gets the best solutions available.

Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI

People are powerful when they are heard. By engaging communities in project design and execution, Relief International fosters skills such as transparency, accountability, and open public debate — the cornerstones of effective civil society. And a strong civil society supports good governance, the critical force behind long-term development and stability.

South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

At Relief International, beneficiaries are not recipients of aid. They are participants in their own solutions. We engage local communities at the program design stage, because programs designed, built, and judged by the community they serve are more likely to succeed. And to last.

Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI

Relief International designs projects to cover more than just one slice of life. Because lives are complicated. Education boosts health. Better health improves livelihoods. Stronger livelihoods let families invest in education. Integrated solutions serve people living in the real world.

Rachel Elkind/RI

We partner with communities, governments, and leading international organizations. These relationships let us harness complementary expertise and networks to ensure that each community gets the best solutions available.

Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI

People are powerful when they are heard. By engaging communities in project design and execution, Relief International fosters skills such as transparency, accountability, and open public debate — the cornerstones of effective civil society. And a strong civil society supports good governance, the critical force behind long-term development and stability.

AN INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCE

Our History

Relief International is a 60-year-old development and humanitarian nonprofit alliance that is the product of mergers and alliances between four organizations.

Today, our team totals more than 7,200 staff and local volunteers working in 17 countries across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Scroll through the timeline below to learn more about our history from 1958 through the present day.

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Timeline

1958

Volunteers in Technical Assistance (VITA) is formed by a group of scientists and engineers employed by General Electric in New York. Focused on poverty alleviation, VITA teams work through public-private partnerships to expand access to information, financial services, and technology in developing communities.

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Timeline

1977

Appropriate Technologies International is founded in response to the Small is Beautiful Movement, which sought to expand access to affordable, simple technologies and technical assistance, knowledge, and finance that are appropriate for developing communities. The organization would later change its name to Enterprise Works Worldwide to reflect an emphasis on livelihoods.

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Timeline

1990

Relief International is founded in Los Angeles in response to Manjil-Rudbar earthquake in Iran, the country’s worst natural disaster on record. Our founders sent food aid, blankets, and other items to affected communities. In the years that followed, Relief International’s focus grew to encompass emergency relief and long-term development programs in 10 countries before merging with peer organizations to further expand our global impact.

Ghana. RI

Timeline

1994

Appropriate Technologies International launches programs that use small technology to earn carbon credits, including through a reduction of methane emissions in India’s dairy industry and producing fuel-efficient cook stoves in West Africa.

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Timeline

2001

Relief International launches its first operations in Afghanistan, where we provide a combination of emergency aid and longer-term development programs to internally displaced people. We have operated in Afghanistan continuously ever since.

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Timeline

2003

Relief International-UK is founded in London to establish a European affiliate to Relief International in the USA. We also launch our first large-scale collaboration with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), responding to drought in Niger. Over time, Relief International’s footprint in Europe expands significantly, gaining access to a large pool of talented staff and generating important financial support from donor governments.

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Timeline

2003

On December 26, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake strikes the city of Bam in Iran, destroying 70% of its residential areas. Relief International teams are among the first responders. We reconstruct 850 houses, a library, a bakery, and a computer center. We establish women self-help groups and micro loan pools in PoshtRud and Esfikan villages.

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Timeline

2004

In response to brutal clashes in the Darfur region of Sudan, Relief International launches emergency healthcare operations. Deemed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis at the time, Darfur’s newly formed ZamZam camp for an estimated 200,000 people is in desperate need of the emergency health services our teams provide. Now, more than a decade later, we remain the only organization providing healthcare in ZamZam.

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Timeline

2005

EnterpriseWorks Worldwide merges with VITA bringing together organizational expertise that has worked with local businesses and organizations in 100 countries. By supporting profit-making enterprises to create employment and increase productivity, EWV addresses the challenges of rural, peri-urban, and urban development for vulnerable populations entrenched in poverty.

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Timeline

2006

Relief International merges with Schools Online, an organization founded in 1996 by Silicon Valley technologists with the aim of connecting the world, one school at a time. Often in partnership with Relief International, Schools Online connects 6,400 schools in 36 countries to the Internet. The merger paved the way for Relief International’s expansion in the education sector, and the use of technology and innovation to strengthen its programming.

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Timeline

2009

After the Haiti earthquake, Relief International teams work around the clock to improve access to healthcare, safe water, sanitation services, and emergency shelter for 230,000 people. We also construct and operate a center where vulnerable women and girls can go to continue their education, learn leadership skills, and receive emergency relief services.

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Timeline

2009

Relief International merges with Enterprise Works/VITA to provide emergency relief, rehabilitation, development assistance, and program services to vulnerable communities worldwide. Together, our combined expertise, skills, and resources accelerate Relief International’s growth in fragile settings, including new programs in the Philippines, Guinea, Haiti, Libya, Niger, and Senegal.

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Timeline

2012

In response to the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, Relief International expands our long-standing programming in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan to meet the urgent needs of Syrian refugees uprooted by the civil war. Our work to support Syrians continues to the present day.

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Timeline

2013

On November 8, Typhoon Haiyan makes landfall in the Philippines, cutting off more than 16 million people from access to electricity, healthcare, and clean water. Relief International launches its first large-scale disaster response in the country, providing immediate aid to nine communities in Leyte province. We continue to partner with these communities to rebuild and prepare them to better withstand future storms.

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Timeline

2014

Nancy E. Wilson becomes Chief Executive Officer of Relief International.

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Timeline

2014

The largest outbreak of Ebola is declared in Guinea. Relief International responds, working with local communities to prevent the spread of the disease through awareness activities and the distribution of hygiene kits. One year later, Guinea is declared “Ebola-free.” But not before the crisis tragically kills more than 11,300 people in six affected West African countries and claimed the lives of more than 500 healthcare staff.

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Timeline

2015

On April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake strikes the South Asian country of Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring 22,000 others. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, Relief International teams distribute shelter kits to 2,600 households in 65 villages across the country.

Ghana. RI/RI Staff

Timeline

2016

We partner with local communities in Ghana and international CO2 emissions experts to design and produce fuel-efficient Gyapa cookstoves. In June 2016, Relief International sells its one millionth Gyapa. The award-winning cookstove enterprise has become a self-sustaining, environmentally-friendly business run by our local community partners and is widely acknowledged as one of West Africa’s leading social enterprises.

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Timeline

2017

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees flee persecution in Myanmar for safety in neighboring Bangladesh. Most settle in the town of Cox’s Bazar, which becomes the site of the world’s largest refugee camp. In response, Relief International rapidly expands our programming in Bangladesh, where we have operated since 2004, to provide life-saving healthcare, protection, and mental health services to refugees.

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Timeline

2018

Medical Refresher Courses for Afghans (MRCA), a French nonprofit providing healthcare services in Afghanistan, joins the Relief International alliance and is renamed MRCA/Relief International – France. Under this new partnership, MRCA/Relief International – France continues the historic mission of MRCA in Afghanistan to strengthen the country’s healthcare system, while complementing Relief International’s operations across the globe.

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Timeline

2019

In mid-March, unprecedented rainfall unleashes catastrophic flooding across 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces. Relief International’s longstanding history of responding to natural disasters in Iran enables our teams to be the first on the ground in the worst-affected provinces of Golestan, Lorestan, Kermanshah, and Sistan-Baluchistan. We distribute hygiene kits and cash cards to families whose homes were destroyed by the floods.

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1958
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1977
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1990
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1994
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2001
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2003
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2004
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2005
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2006
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2009
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2012
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2013
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2014
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2015
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2016
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2017
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2018
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2019

Get to know us

Abdullah recently passed the Tawjihi, Jordan's general secondary examination, after attending homework support groups at Relief International's center in Village 5 of Azraq camp in Jordan. Elie Gardner/RI
Our Approach

Collaboration is at the core of our operations. We work alongside communities, local and national governments, and peer organizations to ensure we're delivering the right projects.

Relief International project officer Yones Simon (right) visits Sebit Anguk, 24, a member of a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in Batil refugee camp, South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI
Finances

The support of our donors, including individuals, foundations, and governments, makes our global reach possible. We are committed to being transparent and effective stewards of these investments.

Faida Abtosh and Maneno Ahmed work at the Gentil Tree Nursery in Maban, South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI
Accountability

Relief International consistently receives the highest grades available for accountability and transparency.

Our People

Relief International Regional Directors, Country Directors and senior staff gather for a photo during an annual retreat. Luna Chelesta/RI
Leadership

Relief International's leaders come from a variety of places and backgrounds, and are united in their dedication to delivering sustainable solutions that put vulnerable communities' needs first.

Board Members
Board of Directors

Relief International's Board of Directors work alongside our leaders to ensure the highest standards of governance, and set the organization's strategy and direction.

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Advisory Council

Relief International's Advisory Council provides valuable technical support and expertise to the organization that advances our mission.

Relief International staff, from left, Anzoyo Josephine, Hissien Jabir, Alma Prossy and Bunduki Denis at the Gentil Tree Nursery in Maban, South Sudan. Elie Gardner/RI
Careers at Relief International

Join a Team That's Driving Change

Relief International is always on the lookout for top talent with the expertise, experience, and passion to design and deliver world-class programs in the 17 countries where we work.

Contact Us

Our management staff supports the global Relief International network from the following offices:

OUR OFFICES