10,000 manic miles delivering Mercy to Mongolia.

Imagine driving over 1/3 the surface of the earth. Across 3 deserts and over 5 mountain ranges. On bad roads to a complete absence of roads. In a vehicle anywhere from a fire engine to a Fiat Panda – all in the service of charity. Sound like a ripping great adventure?

Then you’re ready to sign up for the Mongol Rally 2010—  like Jim Edgeworth & Marcus Nimmo, two retired directors in England, who will be driving a Front Line Ambulance this summer from Goodwood, England to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. Most of the private cars from the 500 teams participating will be auctioned off by the charities to raise additional funds, but Jim’s ambulance and other desperately needed emergency vehicles will be donated to the Mongolian community.

The trusty vehicle -- it will never be this clean again.

The Mongol Rally mongolrally.theadventurists.com begins on July 24, with teams leaving from England, Spain and Italy, and ends some 4 weeks later in Mongolia’s capital. Each team charts its own course (from as far north as the Arctic Circle to as far south as Afghanistan) because apparently, having a designated route would violate the Mongol Rally Code: “Fighting to make the world less boring.”

"I was supposed to take a LEFT at Pakistan?"

The good news is that all this madness raises over 200,000 British pounds for charity – and Marcus & Jim will be at the forefront of that effort, with their donations going to support Mercy Corps’ work in Mongolia.

Bat Ulzii School

Since 1979, Mercy Corps www.mercycorps.org has given $1.7 billion in assistance to people in 107 nations around the world and last year alone, helped 16.7 million people in 40 countries. Its mission is to help turn the crises of war, economic collapse and natural disasters into opportunities for sustainable, positive change. And 95% of Mercy Corps’ 3700 Team members are nationals of the country they work in.

Mongolian Bakery project

In Mongolia, which is suffering from a severe drought, Mercy Corps is working to help rural nomadic people and herding families live independent and healthy lives. One of the most sparsely populated countries on earth, in the very heart of Asia, Mongolia has only 3 million people, one-third of whom live in rural areas with few development opportunities. In the past three years, Mercy Corps has helped 49,000 rural families and has 20 new development projects in the works this year, from night clinics for homeless street kids, to Blue Skies Ger Village, and traditional handicrafts and bakery collaboratives.

The original waterboarding

All of which will be helpfully funded by about 500 insane (in the best possible way) teams racing across the wilds of Asia in underpowered vehicles with no GPS. My $100 today goes to Mercy Corps and Mongol Rally, through Just Giving. Absolutely brilliant!! justgiving.com/teamalliance-mercy-corps

Mercy Corps is a Four-Star Charity Navigator organization.