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 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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