Our Story

Who We Serve

We renew the heart of a nation through serving thousands of families, children and women in Ethiopia. Those in the community of Yetebon and ChaCha benefit from our programs. A special group of children who greatly profit from our services are the “House Kids”. Their biological families are unable to care for them and entrust us with their care. Today, many of the House Kids have grown up and graduated college.

Where We Work

We work primarily in Ethiopia, in two locations: ChaCha and Yetebon. When we started the second phase of our ministry, we built a school and clinic in Yetebon, a remote village. Today, we have not only a primary school, but a hospital, high school, and Health Science College.

Yetebon is also the site of our adult skills, food security and “House Kids” programs. Yetebon is the flagship in our community development model, due to all five program areas are represented: education, healthcare, food security, adult skills and infrastructure. ChaCha is the site of our Dairy Cattle Breeding Program.

The Why Behind The Work

We strive to be a living example of the love of Jesus Christ. We obey the Ethiopian Constitution and do not proselytize. We are faith in action!

About Us

Our vision is to “renew the heart of a nation by rooting out spiritual and systematic poverty at the roots”. We do this by focusing on five different but conjoining areas: education, healthcare, food security, adult skills and infrastructure.

In 1977, two Ethiopian Refugees, Marta and Deme, had a passion to help those back in their home continent of Africa. They received assistance from the Directors of the Rescue Mission in Fort Wayne Indiana, Chuck and Fran Dickinson. The first phase of our ministry was offering aid and relief to refugees in Africa. The second and current phase began in 1993 when communism fell in Ethiopia and we were invited to Yetebon, a remote village, by the Elders. We started with a school and a clinic. Today, Project Mercy has grown to include two locations and five programs.


  • Lucy Roller
    Office Manager

  • Betru Tekle-Wold

  • Barbara Slauter
    Volunteer Coordinator

  • Kidan Alemishet
    Database Manager

  • Spencer Roller
    Director of Digital Media Productions

  • Josh Patterson
    Communications and Appeals Manager

  • Ann Okoli
    Assistant Database Coordinator

Board and Leadership

Marta Gabre-Tsadick Co-Founder and CEO

Marta Gabre-Tsadick, the first woman Senator of Ethiopia under the late Emperor Haile Selassie, was born and raised in Ethiopia. Marta came to the USA in 1954 to attend Adams State University in Colorado where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She returned to Ethiopia in 1958 and served as a Director in the Office of Ministry for Foreign Affairs until 1967. In that capacity, Marta had the privilege of accompanying international figures on their visits to Ethiopia, as well as accompanying the late Emperor Haile Selassie and his wife on their official foreign trips.

While serving as Senator in Ethiopia, Marta and her family were forced to flee the country shortly after the Communist take-over. The remarkable story of their escape is told in her book, SHELTERED BY THE KING.

In 1977, after relocating to the USA, Marta and her husband, Deme, and Fran and Chuck Dickson established Project Mercy, Inc., a 501 (c) 3 organization dedicated to providing emergency relief aid, educational assistance, and refugee relocation help to African refugees.

In the 1980's through the 1990's, Marta initiated innovative food and sewing programs that enabled Project Mercy to distribute food and clothing to hundreds of thousands of starving, needy refugees from Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

By 1993, Marta established a partnership between the elders of Yetebon, Ethiopia and Project Mercy, paving the way for the current community development program. Project Mercy's development efforts have provided tangible hope and help to the children and families in Yetebon, and most recently, towards the care of numerous orphans of HIV/AID victims.

Author, challenging speaker, businesswoman, mother and grandmother, Marta is an impassioned and knowledgeable advocate for the destitute. She currently serves as an advisor to her sons who have taken up the mantel to run the operations of Project Mercy.

Demeke Tekle-Wold Co-Founder and CEO

Deme has his Bachelor's and Master’s degree from Western Washington College in the United States.  Born and raised in Ethiopia, he returned home to serve his country with posts in the Government. He later went on to own and operate a hard bean business. In 1975, he fled along with his family. Once, the family made it safely to the United States, Deme worked in the Middle East and eventual started Hel-Mar, in Fort Wayne Indiana. Along the way, he worked alongside Marta to change thousands of lives in Ethiopia by co-founding Project Mercy. Today, Deme resides in Ethiopia. He still acts as an advisory to the ministry.

Bete F. Demeke President and Board Vice-Chairman, Project Mercy

Bete is the President and Vice-Chairman of the Board of Project Mercy, a US-based and registered 501© (3) non-profit organization implementing programs designed to eliminate poverty in rural communities.

Project Mercy started operations in Africa nearly forty years ago providing aid (shelter, food, health care, education, and resettlement assistance) to refugees in seven countries.  For the past twenty-four years, the organization has focused its efforts exclusively in Ethiopia with development programs that lift communities out of poverty. 

Prior to joining Project Mercy, Bete has over thirty years of experience with IBM in Information Technology.  His last post was as the Vice President of Software for IBM’s Growth Markets, headquartered in Shanghai, China. He was responsible for managing a multibillion dollar business and leading over five thousand employees, in more than 140 countries, across Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Latin America.  Bete was a member of IBM’s Growth and Transformation Team (GTT) – a selected group of senior IBM executives that are change-agents for transformation and growth of the company.  Following a two-year sabbatical from IBM to serve in Project Mercy, Bete retired from IBM in mid-2016 and now holds the responsibilities as President of Project Mercy Inc.

Education: Bete holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Systems Analysis from Taylor University and a Masters in Management from Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Lali Demeke Special Projects Manager

Before Project Mercy, Lali worked in the United States Air Force in logistics and operations at various basis in the US, Europe and Asia. He has his degree from Indiana Institute of Technology in Organizational Leadership. He joined Project Mercy in 2013. Currently, Lali works as a consultant with Project Mercy. Lali is married to Wanda and they have two daughters.

Bruce Bacon Project Mercy Board Director

Bruce Bacon serves as President of Glacier Sales, Inc. in Yakima, WA.  Established in 1964 by Frank Bacon (Bruce’s father), a pioneer in the processed frozen potato industry, Glacier Sales supplies frozen foods to customers throughout the world.  Products include quality frozen potatoes and other frozen items such as fruit, vegetables and appetizers.  Presently, Glacier continues to be a front runner in the frozen food industry, generating, roughly $58.0 million in annual revenues.   Bruce serves on multiple boards in the Yakima Valley. 

Education: Foster School of Business, University of Washington

Ed Memmen Project Mercy Board Director

Ed Memmen, now retired, served as the Chief Financial Officer of Spectragraphics Inc., with operations in San Diego, California and Logansport, Indiana. He has lived in Zionsville for 38 years. He is an active member of Zionsville Presbyterian Church where he has served as an Elder, Men’s Group teacher, and Mission Commission member.  He also served as a Trustee of Messiah College in Grantham, PA.  Ed is married; he and his wife have seven grown children.

Education: Wheaton College, B.A. and the University of Chicago, MBA

Tsion Maru Chief Operations Officer and Board Director, Project Mercy

Tsion is the Chief Operations Officer and a Director of the Board of Project Mercy, a US-based and registered 501© (3) non-profit organization implementing programs designed to eliminate poverty in rural communities.

Prior to joining Project Mercy, Tsion served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia as a Deputy where she lead the Economic Diplomacy and Consular Affairs offices. She also worked as a Deputy at the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia. Besides these positions, her previous work experience, trainings, and certificates all a multitude of skills which will aid to move Project Mercy forward.

Tsion has a long personal history with Project Mercy and our founders and extensive travel experience.

Education: Addis Ababa University, Addis (BA); University of Greenwich, London (Masters)

Michael J. Van Noord Project Mercy Board Director

Dr. Mike Van Noord is a general surgeon specialist in Vallejo, CA and has been practicing for 23 years.  Mike’s specialty is in Minimally Invasive Surgery and he serves as Assistant Chief of General Surgery, Kaiser Permanente, Napa-Solano Region in California. Mike along with his wife, Raquel and daughter, Anay, have traveled to Project Mercy’s compound in Yetebon multiple times as part of the Bay Area Medical Mission Team. The Van Noord family are active in their church, First Presbyterian of Berkley.

Education: Wake Forest University, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC

Paul R. Van Noord Project Mercy Board Director

Paul retired from a forty-three-year banking career and lives in Concord, California with Charan, his wife of fifty years. They both are active members of Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church. Paul recently completed a term as Elder at the church. Paul serves on Project Mercy’s Finance Committee.

Education: University of California, Santa Barbara

Teresa A. Wakeen Project Mercy Board Director

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wakeen & Associates Mediation Services LLC, Teri has served exclusively as a professional mediator for over 25 years.  Having successfully mediated over 5000 cases, Teri is known for her ability to bring parties together to settle the most difficult and challenging disputes. Prior to her career as a full time mediator, she worked as the Associate General Counsel for CUNA and Affiliates. She serves as a speaker and trainer of dispute resolution topics for many distinguished organizations.

Teri and her family have traveled and volunteered at Project Mercy several times. Both of her daughters’ career aspirations stem from time spent in Yetebon. Teri lives with her husband, Dr. Gary Darmstadt, and their two daughters, Emilia and Sarah.

Education: University of Wisconsin (BA and JD), MBA Additional Training: Program on Negotiations at Harvard Law School, Advance Mediation Program at CDR Associates and Masters Forum at the Strauss Institute for Dispute Resolution.

William F Zuber, Jr. Project Mercy Board Director

Dr. Bill Zuber is an obstetrician and gynecologist who has been in practice at Kaiser Permanente in South San Francisco for 29 years.

Bill grew up in Ventura, California, the son of a surgeon and a nurse. He attended college in San Diego and New York, then medical school at Tulane University in New Orleans. Residency training was at the University of California in San Francisco. He has been married to Isabella, who is a registered nurse for 17 years. She is the greatest blessing in his life. He and Isabella have traveled to Project Mercy in Yetebon for medical missions many times over the last 10 years. He has attended Menlo Church for over 20 years.

Education: Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tim Teusink Project Mercy Board Director

Tim Teusink’s main work involves teaching Bioethics around Africa to medical students and physicians. Dr. Teusink is an assistant professor at Myungsung Medical College, and visiting lecturer Kabarak University. He recently retired from his missionary work with SIM, based out of France, and he and his wife, Muriel, have moved back to their hometown of Yakima, WA.

Education: University of Washington (BA), Trinity International University (MA), University of Washington School of Medicine (MD).