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, must 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 should ever have to suffer this kind of violence, we focus on the core of the problem: the belief that one person is worth more than another. We believe that everyone is equal. But when people don’t venture outside of their own circle, they are less open to other perspectives. And when conversation dies down, harmful prejudices grow. Violence becomes imminent. To prevent this, we facilitate and inspire dialogue and create a platform for positive role models. This allows us to change harmful beliefs, make people aware of the other side of the story and to 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 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 big cities; we support change processes in hard-to-reach communities. We build on cultural and historical knowledge of local partners and their networks, and their 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 stimulate cooperation in their community.

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 commit to local people and organizations in a long-term partnership. We stay when others leave. We value the relations with our partners and our approaches are inspired by their input. Our 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. While we recognize that religion can be used to justify conflict and oppression, we are convinced that religion can and should be used to build 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.