We started in February 1993 in response to the plight of refugees in the former Yugoslavia, by a small group of volunteers based at St Alphonsus RC church in Old Trafford, Manchester.
We are very much a ëgrass rootsí, prayer centred charity; the emphasis being on participation and sharing of skills and time, in the service of refugees and the poor. For example volunteers have included mechanics servicing and repairing vehicles for the convoys, journalists publicising our work, typists preparing literature, everyone packing food and blankets, hospital workers securing second hand equipment and supplies, and numerous others using their contacts to obtain the necessary aid and financial support.
Also volunteers share expenses, like stamps, envelopes, phone-calls etc so that all funds raised go where they should - to those in need. Over the past eighteen years we have run providentially, relying on a donated building, with ZERO expenses.
Similarly, most of the aid originated, not from large donations but from individuals at churches, schools, synagogues and mosqueís - typically parishioners bring in items each week to their churches and then onto our centre for packing. In this way people are giving something tangible, 1 meal for another person, or a toothbrush or Christmas gift for a child. Volunteers then pack and label everything. In the early 90ís we were able to then drive over in convoys (usually in donated vehicles) and deliver the aid into the hands of the refugees personally. As our activities continued over the years and more and more opportunities arose to help in different countries, we have tended to work in partnership with other groups, particularly missionaries and shipped out supplies by lorry or container.
The work has crossed all boundaries in that people of many Christian denominations worked together as did the Moslem and Jewish communities, and people of no faith to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need. Similarly all aid is distributed without regard to race or religion.
Over the years we have been able to work with other Medjugorje prayer groups around the country also, united in work and prayer.
All in all to date, Medjugorje International Relief has been able to help in 28 countries, in a variety of roles, often in a small way, with one-off projects or donations and sometimes more sustained work over a number of years.