Welcome to Misean Cara’s Annual Report for 2019. Misean Cara is a membership-based missionary organisation working in over 50 countries around the world. Read here about our work in education, health, livelihoods, human rights and humanitarian response.
In 2019, Misean Cara supported 357 projects, investing €15,261,608 in 55 countries, reaching close to 1.5m people.
Maria das Graças Marques Soares, a single mother of four from João Pessoa, Brazil, was unable to read or write and found it difficult to run her business and earn a living income. One year after joining a literacy group set up by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, she is able to calculate the correct change for her customers and keep records of all her transactions.
Photo: Sal da Terra
In 2019 Misean Cara supported 102 education projects, implemented by 38 members in 33 countries, worth a total of €5,171,458, reaching 232,310 people.
Many of Misean Cara’s members were originally founded with a focus on education and continue to deliver quality education services throughout the world. The projects supported in 2019 are typical of the work being done, including, for example, the Marist Brothers bringing education to children in Bangladesh whose parents work in tea gardens in the north-east of the country, where 74% of people live below the poverty line; the Redemptorist Fathers reaching out to provide education to orphans and other vulnerable children in Zimbabwe; the Daughters of Charity improving the facilities of a school in Ethiopia so that a nutritious breakfast can be provided to children before class; the Salesian Sisters rebuilding a school after an earthquake in Ecuador; and the Presentation Sisters providing in-service training for 50 teachers in 19 village schools in Pakistan.
A group of mothers welcomes Church Mission Society Ireland trustee Lou Talbot-Beirne, (front left) to the town of Jiri in Nepal. CMSI is supporting a community nutrition project in the town, promoting dietary diversity, the cultivation of kitchen vegetable gardens and more frequent monitoring of children’s growth.
Misean Cara supported 57 health projects in 2019, through 28 members in 19 countries, serving a total of 610,714 people, to a value of €3,637,830.
Misean Cara’s members have a record of delivering health care in diverse and complex contexts. The projects supported in 2019 include operating health clinics in remote rural environments in Kenya through the Spiritan Fathers and the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph. In Malawi, health care workers are being trained by St. Patrick’s Missionary Society while, in the Gaza Strip, the Franciscan Sisters of the Divine Motherhood are providing health care to elderly people. The challenge of rural water supply is being tackled by the Redemptorist Fathers in Mozambique and the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto Sisters) in South Sudan. In the Philippines, Edmund Rice Development is implementing a community water, sanitation and hygiene project.
Mary Adol Gumwel (l), a widow from Rumbek East County, South Sudan, her daughter Moch Adel and daughter-in-law Abang Maker Maidi, with kale harvested from Mary’s kitchen garden. Through a project run by the Spiritan Fathers, Mary is producing nutritious food for her family and selling the surplus for cash.
Photo: Spiritan Fathers
In 2019, Misean Cara supported 83,559 people in 15 countries through 35 livelihoods projects worth €2,042,649 implemented by 20 members.
Misean Cara projects in microfinance and in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises are empowering families in both rural and urban areas to have a sustainable livelihood. One example comes from western Kenya, where the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa trained thirty people as trainers in various income generating activities. They went on to train almost 1,200 people in turn. In the town of Igbo-Ukwu, Anambra State, Nigeria, ten young people are working in a new community bakery set up by the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary while, in the same project, 50 women received credit through their women’s groups and have started their own small businesses.
In the Borana region of Ethiopia, the Spiritan Fathers are improving the lives of 20,000 people through the construction of latrines and water supply schemes, the cultivation of kitchen gardens, and the promotion of adult literacy and savings schemes. In the Free State Province in South Africa, the diets of 10,500 people are benefiting from extra food produced in home gardens promoted by the Missionary Sisters of the Assumption. In northern Malawi, St. Patrick’s Missionary Society is working with 2,100 farmers in 18 villages, providing training in the sustainable management of land and forest resources while, in Kenya, a project run by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is assisting 3,965 people in Samburu County through kitchen gardens, honey production, heifer breeding, and building skills and knowledge in climate-responsive agriculture.
To enable vulnerable witnesses give evidence in court, human rights organisation Haki Yetu (“Our Rights” in Swahili), designed and supplied witness protection booths to courts in the Mombasa area of Kenya. In 2019, the use of one of these booths was critical in the conviction of a man who sexually abused his teenage niece for two years.
Photo: Haki Yetu
In 2019, Misean Cara allocated €2,685,360 to 46 human rights projects implemented by 21 members in 37 countries, targeting 387,612 participants.
Misean Cara’s approach to all of its work involves a focus on rights, and the holistic approach adopted by our members demands the right of all people to live a dignified life. In many instances, achieving that dignity requires fulfilling the right to education, health or a sustainable livelihood.
There are cases, however, where the demand to protect and promote rights is more acute, urgent or focused on a particular group. The types of projects funded by Misean Cara in this regard in 2019 reflected the diversity of challenges being faced by marginalised communities across the globe.
In South Africa, a project of the Holy Family Sisters of Bordeaux is trying to change the culture of violence that pervades some school environments by promoting different ways of addressing conflict. Defending the rights of displaced people is the focus of a project being run by the Jesuit Missions in South Sudan. In Albania, the Loreto Sisters are working with vulnerable adolescent girls to make them aware of their rights and the dangers of human trafficking, so that they can become change agents in their communities. In Liberia, the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary are advocating for the inheritance rights of unmarried women in long-term relationships.
Of the over four million Venezuelans who have fled their country in recent years, 40,000 are living in the crowded streets of San Juan de Lurigancho on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Edmund Rice Development provides services to the most vulnerable, and runs a drop-in centre and soup kitchen where Génesis Espinoza (l), Olga Sánchez and Olga’s two children, Jesús Gabriel (5) and Gabriela del Valle (7), enjoy a meal.
Photo: Edmund Rice Development
In 2019, Misean Cara provided emergency funding and humanitarian assistance to 89,502 people through 52 projects worth €769,802 in 15 countries implemented by 21 members.
In 2019, Misean Cara’s funding of humanitarian response and emergency work covered both sudden onset and chronic situations.
In March, Cyclone Idai left a trail of devastation in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, already supporting development projects in Chimanimani District in Zimbabwe, responded by providing shelter and household goods to 40 displaced families and by setting up a school tent for 80 three- to seven-year-old children, to bring some structure back to their lives.
In April, after the destruction caused in the Indian state of Odisha by Cyclone Fani, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy carried out repairs to two schools so that 3,150 students could return safely to education. In Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, a series of attacks on churches and hotels left 259 people dead and over 500 injured.
The Salesians of Don Bosco responded with counselling and therapy for a group of young people who were directly affected by one of the attacks, and also provided support to almost 290 children in seven schools who were affected by the three church bombings.
In Venezuela, the Society of the Divine Saviour provided breakfast to 620 school children left hungry by the continuing political and economic crisis. In Lebanon, the Jesuit Refugee Service delivered blankets, fuel and mattresses to over 3,500 Syrian refugees whose temporary accommodation was hit by extreme winter storms. In South Sudan, the Spiritan Fathers have been distributing food relief to 675 people in the community of Wulu. All of these situations have evolved out of longer-term crises that have led to chronic needs in the affected communities.
Misean Cara member projects often provide great examples of creativity and innovation, as project teams strive to find effective solutions to the challenges encountered by communities.
With the objective of gathering this experience and sharing it across the wider membership, in 2019 Misean Cara launched an Innovation Fund. The idea was that members who were doing something particularly innovative and effective could share their experience with other members, who could then seek funding to replicate or adapt the idea in their own projects. Members could also use the funding to try out new ideas of their own for the first time.
Three examples of innovation
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato si’, the Salesians of Don Bosco used innovation funding to organise an international conference on clean, green, renewable energy. It involved 38 representatives of NGOs, mission offices and Salesian institutions from 20 countries around the world and culminated in a final declaration containing specific commitments on care for our common home.
An initiative of the Loreto Sisters to keep teenage girls in school in South Sudan is being built into a project in Karamoja, Uganda, involving a collaboration between the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St. Joseph and the Mill Hill Fathers.
In Malawi, the Marist Brothers are experimenting with the idea of an open school, where school facilities and classes are made available to the wider community in the late afternoons and evenings, making the school a resource for adults and children alike.
At a child safeguarding training course for Tutors of Resilience, staff from the De La Salle, Marist Brothers and Congregation of the Immaculate Conception of Castres communities learn about teaching resilience to vulnerable children. This course has been delivered to De La Salle members and staff in eight countries around the world.
Photo: Veronica Hurtubia.
In 2019, Misean Cara provided capacity development support to 26 members in 30 countries, through 34 projects worth a total of €521,685.
Misean Cara is aware that a well-structured and well-resourced team can contribute to positive outcomes for a community over many years and can build on experience to increase the breadth, depth and impact of its work. For this reason, we set aside a fund each year to support the capacity development of members and their project teams.
In 2019, this included providing funding to the Franciscan Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception to set up development offices in two countries, in order to ensure effective management and oversight of projects in those countries.
In another instance, the Mill Hill Fathers in Uganda worked on the development of an approach to community focused needs assessment, drawing on the experiences of the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph in Kenya. In Nigeria, the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary used capacity development funding to devise and deliver a five-day financial training course to its novitiate classes.
Mindful of the need for constant updating and renewal, in 2019 Misean Cara produced a new Capacity Development policy, through a process of discussion and development with member organisations.
Misean Cara Southern Africa Mentor, Andrea Cortemiglia (centre, wearing cap) with students and staff at the St. Mulumba school in Choma, Zambia. The school, catering for children with special needs, whether intellectual, visual or auditory, has been run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary since 1985. They now want to set up a skills training and sheltered employment programme for young people with intellectual disabilities, and invited Andrea to advise them on the planning and preparation of the project, for which they intend to seek funding from Misean Cara. If successful, staff will continue to avail of advice on project management, monitoring and reporting.
In 2019, the mentors made 255 project visits across 35 countries, working with a total of 59 members.
Misean Cara maintains a network of four regional mentors covering Latin America and the Caribbean (based in Lima, Peru), West Africa (based in Accra, Ghana), Southern Africa (based in Johannesburg, South Africa) and East Africa (based in Nairobi, Kenya). In 2019, the mentors made 255 project visits across 35 countries, working with a total of 59 members.
In addition to providing remote, online support, between them the four mentors spent 503 days with project teams, providing direct support to 834 individual team members.
The mentorship programme is an essential component in Misean Cara’s model of accompaniment, advising members and their project teams throughout the project cycle.
Misean Cara makes funds available to members through a range of funding schemes. Under all of the schemes, with the exception of the Emergency and Innovation Funds, members are required to provide at least 25% of the total budget for a proposed project. A maximum of 10% can be in-kind contributions, while a minimum of 15% must be in cash. In 2019 in total, members were required to provide at least €2.8m in cash from their own or other sources and could contribute up to €1.9m in-kind, out of a total project resource package of €19.9m. The members, however, mobilised over 50% of total project budgets. This has been the trend for many years, underlining the financial health of our members’ project work.
Misean Cara’s members around the world have been responding to the COVID-19 crisis in the communities where we work. To date, we have allocated €912,162 to 74 COVID-19 related Emergency Projects implemented by 33 members in 27 countries, targeting 400,920 participants.
Mothers and babies queue for a clinic at the Ruben Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. The Centre is the only healthcare facility in the Mukuru informal settlement, home to one million people; the facility serves over 250 patients a day.
Photo: The Ruben Centre.
Misean Cara is supporting Edmund Rice Development to introduce stringent measures in the Centre in order to protect staff and clients from COVID-19. These measures include the purchase of gloves, masks, goggles, scrubs, safety boots and surgical masks. The team is also setting up three triage points at the Centre in order to reduce crowding. Awareness raising activities include posters on the walls of the hospital, and messaging broadcast on Ruben FM, the health centre’s local radio station. The Centre is also setting up a toll-free number and employing a counsellor to provide psycho-social support to members of the community.
|Mwenda Kacana teaches at the Presentation Sisters Secondary School in Kaoma, Zambia. It was no surprise to Mwenda’s family when she decided to become a teacher – as a young girl, she would help her brothers and sisters with their homework. When she completed secondary school, Mwenda went straight into teacher training, first to teach at primary school and later to become a secondary school teacher.
“At home, if there was a difficult sum to be done, Dad would call me and say, ‘can you come and help your siblings with their homework?’ He was a head teacher and at his school he did not have enough teachers. When I was in Grade 12, he would ask me to teach one of the lower grades in case a teacher was not in or there wasn’t one available at all. Before sending me to the class, he would guide me on what and how to teach. Everyone kept saying that I taught very well. They once secretly recorded me teaching and when they showed it to me, I liked it and told myself. ‘I’m going to be a teacher!’ ”
|Good Shepherd Sister Catherine Mutindi, seen here with a group of children in Kolwezi, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, was recognised by the Opus Prize Foundation for her pioneering work in education, livelihoods, empowerment and human rights with the artisanal and small-scale mining communities in the area.
|In Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs (NPFS – Our Little Brothers and Sisters) is an organisation that looks after the needs of orphans, vulnerable children and children with special needs. Viatores Christi volunteer Gena Heraty (seen here with a group of children at NFPS) has worked with NFPS since 1993 and is Director of its Special Needs Programme. Gena received the 2019 Humanitarian of the Year award from the Irish Red Cross.|
|In Johannesburg, South Africa, the Marist Brothers’ Three2Six project brings education to refugee and migrant children who cannot access the formal education system. The project uses existing school facilities outside normal school hours (i.e., from 3:00pm to 6:00pm). For its innovative approach, the project received a Silver Award at the 2019 Reimagine Education Conference.
|Young mother Mwuese Ahar with her new-born daughter, Ngohile Alexzandra, at the Daughters of Charity DREAM clinic in Kubwa, 35km from the Nigerian federal capital, Abuja. Mwuese is living with HIV, and wanted to ensure that her child was born without the virus. She attended the prenatal clinic run by the DREAM project, where she learned about minimising the risk of transmission, and delivered her baby at the clinic’s maternity unit. She was overjoyed to learn that Ngohile is HIV-negative. Since the Daughters of Charity set up the project in 2006 to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, no HIV-positive child has been born at the unit to a HIV-positive mother.
|Jane Kabugi is a teacher of KiSwahili at the De La Salle School in Karemeno, Kenya. As part of the ongoing development of staff capacity and skills at the school, Jane took part in a training course on child safeguarding, learning about the moral and legal obligations of care that a teacher has towards children; what amounts to child abuse and what action should be taken; how to behave towards children and how to maintain a position of trust.
“Sometimes you find students who don’t interact, play or do activities with other students. You can easily assume that they are either undisciplined or that they are introverts, yet in most cases they are going through a difficult time and need someone to listen to them. Some have given up on life. I have learned to listen to them and when you listen, you learn that they go through a lot. They appreciate being listened to and being given some advice. In case I cannot handle a particular issue, I refer it to the school principal. Back in the [previous] school where I used to teach, the teacher had the final say in any matter. I don’t think that was fair!”
|Frederik Serem is a Laboratory Technologist at the Salawa Catholic Mission Health Centre in Baringo County, Kenya.
Set up in 1991 by the Franciscan Missionaries of St. Joseph, the Salawa Centre has 14 staff who provide health care to a population of 116,000, including outreach to remote parts of the county. Conscious of the need for good record-keeping, the sisters availed of the services of a Viatores Christi volunteer to set up a computerised record keeping system. The Centre has a fully equipped laboratory, and Frederik Serem knows the value of an efficient testing process.
“When a patient arrives, they are examined and in case there is need to do a laboratory test, the nurse enters it into the computer system. I view it, perform the test and send the patient back to the nurse with a printout of the test results. Before this system was put in place, the patients had to wait much longer to be served because it took long to retrieve records”
|Bisto Bai Meravi, 32, from a marginalised tribal community in Madhya Pradesh, India, was married off by her family at 17. In 2015, she joined an economic justice project being run by the Good Shepherd Sisters. An enthusiastic participant, she soon had a thriving goat farm and was cultivating her own fruit and vegetables. She became a role model for the women in her community and is now President of a 150-strong women’s cooperative society. In 2019, having never previously left her district, Bisto Bai travelled to Paris to receive a global Women Stop Hunger Award from the Stop Hunger organisation.|