About us

What is CanDo?

CanDo is a community of global humanitarians who believe that critical life-saving work is done at the front lines of a crisis, by local life-savers. We are working together to bring local humanitarians the funding they need and deserve to continue this important work.

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Audacity is a prerequisite of the CanDoer. So much so, we’ve fashioned our own enterprising way of doing things which makes us a combination of...


CanDo is a global engaged community of global humanitarians. CanDo relies upon the inherent good nature of people and the idea that the power of collective action can solve problems.

Social Enterprise

CanDo is a non-profit social enterprise. As well as having a financially sustainable business model, technology enables us to pioneer a more efficient and effective humanitarian response.


CanDo is a registered charity. This means we’re regulated and must demonstrate a responsibility to our stakeholders.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Lens of a Young Homsi

Our Focus

CanDo supports local organisations providing healthcare solutions to people affected by conflict. We believe in the right of universal access to the health care needed to reach life's maximum potential, and this is never more important than in areas where people’s lives have been devastated and often uprooted by conflict. To this end, CanDo supports organisations and campaigns focussing on three key areas: primary health care, secondary health care and community-driven health.


Primary Health Care: Doctors and nurses serving their communties in times of crises


Primary health care is the essential, affordable health care provided by doctors and other medical professionals to their patients. It is usually the first point of contact for a patient to see a doctor, nurse or pharmacist who can provide advice or treatment, bringing health care as close as possible to communities. Depending on the nature of the condition that the patient has, they can then be referred for more specialist care, although most cases are dealt with in primary health care centres. Our partners' primary health care services are often the only health services available in communities as the nearest hospital or government clinic can be many miles away, along poor roads or through conflict areas. Examples of primary health care programmes offered by CanDo partners include health checks for pregnant women and new-born babies, vaccinations, prescription and provision of medicines to treat common illnesses like malaria and community mobilisation and education.


Secondary Health Care Specialist treatment, emergency medicine and enabling access to healthcare


Secondary health care is specialist treatment and support for patients who have been referred for expert care, often provided in hospitals. Secondary healthcare includes a wide range of specialists, such as midwives, psychiatrists, cardiologists, obstetricians, dentists, paediatricians and gynaecologists. It also includes the provision of access to healthcare - such as construction of roads to hospitals, or undertaking repair work on health clinics. We support partners who work in hospitals where the local systems lack resources to provide adequate care. Our support includes improving the skills of secondary health care professionals through training, education and support, saveing lives in the short term, and ensuring that the skills and knowledge needed to operate a functioning health care system are developed and kept within communities. CanDoers have supported secondary health care projects including building a child-focused hospital, funding a peer-to-peer pyschosicoal support programme, training specialist medical professionals and providing medication to health clinics.


Community Driven Health Responding to peoples' stated needs


Many community-based approaches tend to use ‘top-down’ efforts to involve people in projects. CanDo's community-driven health care is firmly and proudly bottom-up. This approach empowers communities to take active, leading role in the prioritisation and delivery of support projects. CanDo partners have used this approach to support the training of community members, teachers and children on child rights, supporting displaced populations to grow their own nutritional food products, and the distribution of hygiene kits whereby the community requests the items they need.

Our Manifesto

We have the courage to imagine a better world, the resourcefulness to make it real, the humility to know we don't have all the answers, and the tenacity to stand up again after we have fallen.
We will lead with intellect and compassion, with the heart of a humanitarian and the mind of an entrepreneur.
We believe that positive change happens when we are willing to try, curious to learn, when we face challenges, embrace doubt, create new solutions and treat failure as a teacher not an enemy. 
We bring a fresh, cando, bottom-up approach to humanitarian action, working in the most volatile places on earth to provide their communities access to healthcare. 
We are a global community standing with and for local humanitarian partners. Together we channel resources where they have the biggest impact and can save the most lives. On the front lines, in local hands.
With audacious openness, we can create the trusted, relevant and impactful humanitarian community that we all deserve. 
Together, transforming humanitarian action. 
Together, we CanDo.

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Our Story

Our Founder, Dr Rola Hallam, on how CanDo came into being.


War shows us the worst people can do to each other. But it also brings out the very best in humanity.

I was practicing as a doctor in the United Kingdom when war broke out in my home country of Syria in 2011. So I did the only thing I knew I could and got involved in the humanitarian response, delivering medical aid, war, death, suffering and emergency aid became part of the narrative of my family’s daily lives. And dozens of my family members are among the more than half a million Syrians killed in the conflict.

As war engulfed the country, Syrian doctors, nurses, aid workers and volunteers rushed to help our communities.  We turned our houses into aid depots. We sent bandages, blood bags and antibiotics into devastated areas during the still of the night. As the war continued this coalesced into an organised and structured humanitarian response. 
I had the good fortune to go on to work with several Syrian-led organisations and together we have been able to build six hospitals in Syria in last five years.

This is how in 2012 I first met the inspirational Dr Amina. Because there were no health care facilities left in her area, she was delivering dozens of babies on her kitchen floor, often sick and premature babies. I was working with Hand-in-Hand for Syria, a UK based NGO, at the time (and we helped Doctor Amina expand her home to include a delivery room and clinic; we then went on to establish a women and children's hospital - the only one in the area.

People like Dr Amina are the first and often only responders for their war-devastated communities. But she - and thousands like her - are being let down by a broken aid system.

It is a system that fails to recognise our expertise in our own country: that takes a one-size fits all approach to aid delivery - rather than listening to what is really needed in the context at the time. We are told that we don’t have “capacity” yet few organisations try to support us to build it. Worst of all, we don’t get the resources we need. As a result, successful services are shut down and hundreds of thousands of people are left with no health services because we - the local humanitarians who had the access and know-how - were being paralysed by the system.

This same system fails to acknowledge the citizen humanitarian. When I’ve asked my friends about charitable giving, most say they are disillusioned. They feel they give blindly with scant knowledge of where their money has gone - or even if it has arrived and what good it did. Sadly, the current humanitarian aid system has caused many of them to stop supporting humanitarian crises - full stop.

My experience of working with local, on-the-ground groups, networks and organisations in war-torn Syria made me realise that while they deliver 75% of the humanitarian work, they receive less than 1% of the available funds. Yet they are the local heroes, taking action and creating projects that change communities and save lives, but with no way to tell their story and articulate their needs to a global audience. 
At the same there are millions of us around the world who see tragedy unfolding in war zones, who long to help alleviate the suffering but feel powerless to make a difference. 

CanDo was born to bring these two groups together

Together we can save more lives

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