Our Story

Mensen met een Missie is committed to changing beliefs that lead to discrimination, exclusion and violence across the globe. These include beliefs such as: men have more rights than women, one religion contains more truth than another, or a person of a particular ethnicity is superior to others 

Beliefs that lead to discrimination, exclusion and violence

Deeply rooted beliefs and unequal power relations result in countless conflicts and have led to polarisation and violence all over the world. With terrible consequences for many. For the woman in Bolivia who is murdered simply because she is a woman. For the girl in Uganda who, at the age of fourteen, has to marry a much older man, simply because ‘that is the fate of girls’. For the casteless man in India who is not permitted to enter a temple because he is deemed unworthy. Or for the young Muslim man in the Philippines who cannot rent a house, because no one trusts him. These people are the reason why Mensen met een Missie exists. 

Violence stops where people talk

To ensure that no one has to suffer this kind of violence, we focus on the core problem: the conviction that one person is worth more than another. We believe everyone is equal. But when people live inside their own bubble, they are less open to other perspectives. Consequently, harmful beliefs are reinforced. In order to change these beliefs, we initiate and facilitate dialogue and cooperation, provide a platform for positive role models, increase awareness of the other side of the story and, of course, support victims of violence. 

Together with local partners, Mensen met een Missie builds bridges between divided groups and communities. We encourage people to reflect on and talk about harmful beliefs and to defuse mutual hate and mistrust. Locally led approaches are central to our way of working, as well as a grassroots focus. We work in 15 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. 

Our approach

Living up to the name, our local partners are truly people with a mission: community leaders, religious leaders, local organisations and young people with passion and boundless commitment. They are people who are willing to stand up for change and who have a vision for the future of their community. Locally led approaches are central to our way of working, as well as going beyond the capital; we support change processes in hard-to-reach communities. We build on cultural and historical knowledge of local partners and their networks and trust in the communities. They see the violence with their own eyes, every day. That is why they know best how to tackle harmful beliefs and promote cooperation in their community.

In the focus countries, Mensen met een Missie supports local ‘ecosystems of change’, including local civil society, faith-based organizations, individual people with a mission, movements, knowledge institutes and others that are key to furthering change. We see and seize the value of networks and connections at grassroots level, which is why we averagely support 5-15 local initiatives per country.

Changing beliefs that lead to hate and violence takes time, sometimes even decades. Problems like conflict, gender based violence and discrimination are not solved through short term projects. Therefore Mensen met een Missie chooses to partner with local people and organizations  for a long term. We stay when others leave. We value our relations with the partners and our approaches are inspired by their input. The relations are built on trust and mutual respect.

Having Catholic roots ourselves, we have a keen eye for the role of religion (institutions, leaders, actors) in change processes. We are convinced that religion can and should be used to create bridges and foster equality. We draw upon religious texts, metaphors and values that resonate with local communities and strengthen religious actors to be agents of change.