Our Story

Love Mercy exists to empower communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty caused by the horrors of war. Love Mercy began in 2010 in Sydney, Australia after Eloise Wellings, Australian Olympian, met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier, Julius Achon. She promised to fulfill his dream of restoring hope to his village in Northern Uganda after decades of civil war. Love Mercy sees a future where Northern Uganda is transformed through simple solutions to poverty. Our projects increase access to education, health care, and income generation and are funded entirely by generous donations from the public. We need your help.

Our Vision

Northern Uganda is being transformed by simple solutions to poverty, by empowering women and girls to increase access to education, health care, and income generation.

Our Mission

We exist to empower rural communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty after decades of civil war.

Our Values

One humble person can make a difference.

Through our values, we will seek to:

Meet the dedicated team behind the day to day operations at Love Mercy

Eloise Wellings
Founding Director
Julius Achon
Founding Director

Eloise's Story

Olympic athlete Eloise Wellings is passionate about athletics and helping those in poverty. After realising at the age of 15 that she wanted to make running her career, she committed to training and qualified for the Olympics at the age of 16. Unfortunately soon after qualifying, Eloise suffered a stress fracture, which continued to plague her career for the following decade. Despite this set back, Eloise’s life changed when she became a Christian through a friend at school who supported her throughout this difficult time. Eloise’s personal faith motivates her running career and her humanitarian work in Northern Uganda and her genuine desire to make a difference to the lives of others.

After many years of highs and lows, Eloise has returned to top form after competing at the London Olympics, and three Commonwealth Games, and is on her way to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. She was the highest placing Australian Olympian at the Rio Olympics, finishing 9th in the 5000m and 10th in the 10,000m track events. 

Eloise met Ugandan Olympian and former-child soldier Julius Achon while recovering from a stress fracture before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Eloise was moved by his story of triumph over adversity, and while she didn’t recover in time for the Beijing Olympics, she felt that her troubles were put in perspective by Julius’ life and that the purpose of her trip was to meet Julius.

Eloise is committed to seeing change in Uganda and supporting Julius in his dreams to see his village prosper and overcome the effects of war and poverty. You can read more about her athletic career on her website.

Julius's Story

Julius Achon has an inspiring story of hope which continues to unfold. He grew up in the remote village of Awake in Northern Uganda in severe poverty. At the age of 11, he was captured by rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to become a child soldier. He was held captive for 3 months until an opportunity to escape arose when a government plane flew over the LRA camp. Julius escaped but sadly witnessed the murder of 9 of his friends as they ran for their lives. When Julius returned to school, he knew he had athletic talent and so began to run 8 kilometres to and from school each day for training. He was selected to run at the District athletics carnival but could not afford the bus ticket. To avoid missing out on competing, Julius ran 72 kilometres in 4 hours to make the carnival which he went on to win. This was the first of many local successes, which lead to Julius being offered a scholarship to George Mason University in South Carolina. From here, Julius began his professional running career including being flag bearer for Uganda at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

One morning on a routine training run in Uganda, Julius literally stumbled upon 11 orphaned children living in a bus shelter. These children, who had been displaced by Africa's longest running war, were without food, clothing, housing or education, with some of the children unable to remember even their own names. From that day on, Julius took the children in as his own family. It was after this time, when he was struggling to take care of the orphans that he had a chance meeting with Eloise and the seeds for Love Mercy were sown.

Julius’ dreams of seeing his village prosper have begun to take shape with the opening of the Kristina Health Centre in 2012, named after his late mother who was shot and killed by the LRA. Julius lives in Kampala with his wife Grace and two children, where he manages Love Mercy’s operations on the ground.

Caitlin Barrett
founding ceo of love mercy
Cassi Jenkins
Project Manager for Love Mercy

Caitlin's Story

Caitlin has a passion for our women in Uganda, and is most at home sitting under the mango tree in Northern Uganda, bringing about real change within communities in poverty. Caitlin holds a Bachelor of International Studies and a Masters of International Development Studies from UNSW. She is passionate about people, and has a young family based in Sydney's south. Caitlin was committed to setting up Love Mercy when Eloise came back from her first meeting with Julius and navigated the minefields of the not-for-profit world to set up the Foundation. Caitlin worked in a volunteer capacity for three years until becoming the first paid full-time staff member in 2015.

Cassi's Story

Cassi excels at people management, has a compassionate and loving heart, and loves to get around Uganda at the speed of light. She graduated from UTS with a law degree, and pursued a career in corporate law, but knew that her heart lay elsewhere, namely, in Africa. She is passionate about helping people to access justice and become aware of their universal human rights in order to create a better life for themselves.

Love Mercy Board Members

Ben Poppett - Director & Treasurer - Principal at Shire Accounting
Ben Poppett has been a member of the board since the Foundation began in 2010. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant and completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and began his own practice in 2003. He serves the organisation by providing his skills in finance, audit, governance, systems and accounts.
Roger Wellings – Founding Director - Owner at Raw Strategy
Roger serves the organisation by bringing his skills in finance, governance, systems and partner relations. He completed a Bachelor of Commerce with Honours in Finance and Accounting. He was the founding owner and manager of Fiji and Pacific Specialist Holidays in Sydney. He now acts as a consultant for tourism and property development in the South Pacific.
Eloise Wellings – Founding Director and Chairperson - Australian Olympian
Eloise is a professional athlete and Australian Olympian. She serves as Love Mercy’s ambassador in a volunteer capacity and brings her vision and strategy to the board to direct the overall operations for the Foundation. She has in the past owned a small business as a personal trainer, and is a mother to India, 2.
Reverend Michael Hardie - Director - Thrive Church
Mike Hardie serves the board by facilitating the relationship of the organisation and local churches. Mike brings his experience in project planning, ideas leadership and vision development. Mike Hardie is a Reverend with Churches of Christ at Thrive Community Church having completed a Bachelor of Ministries.
Joshua Hollis – Founding Director & Secretary - Engineer at CBHK
Josh Hollis is a member the board in the capacity of risk, governance, and strategy. He has completed a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering and a Masters in Engineering Science. He is a member of the Institution of Engineers and is a Chartered Professional Engineer.
Katie Rosser - Director - Director at Seldon Rosser
Katie Rosser joined the board in 2016. Her experience in recruitment is invaluable in managing the HR needs of the organisation. Katie has a Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice Certificate, and is a UK qualified solicitor. She is partner and director at Seldon Rosser recruitment firm in Sydney.
Adam Ballesty - Director - Director of Marketing and Innovation at Diageo
Adam Ballesty is Director of Marketing and Innovation at Diageo Australia. He is a passionate runner and and serves the board by bringing his skills in branding and marketing to our fundraising efforts. He loves to see great teams thrive and has played a key role in Love Mercy's strategy to double the funds raised by Love Mercy during the financial year.
Danielle Thomson - Director - Permanent Care and Adoptions Case Manager
Danielle went to Uganda on the first Love Mercy trip in 2010. She was captivated by it's people, particularly the Ugandan children. She is a Permanent Care and Adoptions Case Manager for Barnardos Australia and brings her skills in child protection and her passion for Uganda to the board.
Rob Cairns - Director - Head of Corporate Affairs for Syngenta Australasia
Rob is the Head of Corporate Affairs for Australasia at Syngenta Australia. He joined the board in 2016. Rob became aware of Love Mercy through our shared vision of empowering small holder farmers. Rob serves our board with his agricultural skills and through our corporate partners Syngenta.

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