As you open the pages of our 2020 Annual Report, you will read a lot about the impact of COVID-19 on the work of our members, but also about the many swift, vigilant and practical ways they adapted their development projects to the urgent requirements of the global health crisis.
Living within the very communities they serve, missionaries were able to quickly identify pandemic-related challenges and responded to help slow the spread of the virus, distribute vital food aid in the face of pandemic-related hunger, and overcome obstacles to ensuring education during lockdown, especially for vulnerable girls.
Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as an organisation we accomplished a great many initiatives in 2020 that furthered our purpose to enable life-transforming missionary development work. Thanks to Irish Aid and other donors, we helped fund 384 projects in 51 countries.
In April 2020, we welcomed a new CEO, John Moffett, who has just completed his first year with Misean Cara. I would like to congratulate John on this anniversary. With his steady, incisive and encouraging leadership he has done an outstanding job guiding the staff and membership through the constant, turbulent change that has been a hallmark of the pandemic. Thank you also to the Misean Cara staff for your commitment, flexibility and hard work throughout the year.
Important work was started in 2020 by a working group of the Board to explore and envision the future purpose of Misean Cara by reflecting on how our members are adapting their organisations and development work as the number of Irish missionaries overseas reduces. This work will continue in 2021 culminating in a new five-year strategy for the organisation that will launch in 2022.
The Board has also been overseeing the follow-up of recommendations from an organisational audit commissioned by Irish Aid in 2019. The audit report provided recommendations related to governance, financial systems and procedures, project funding, ICT and fundraising. The Board and staff of Misean Cara have been steadily making progress to ensure that appropriate action is taken to address the recommendations, which will serve to strengthen the organisation for the future.
While the past year has been challenging for most, I would like to acknowledge the particularly difficult year that was had by several Misean Cara members who lost retired and active missionaries to COVID-19. Fr. Brendan Carr, Vice-Chair of the Misean Cara Board, and a member of the Spiritans, commented in a recent reflection to members, “These remarkable men and women of many congregations, including my own, laid foundations for the solidarity between so many developing nations and our new emerging nation. Their work fed into the overseas development policies of the Irish government resulting in the establishment of diplomatic relationships, the beginning of bilateral aid, the founding of APSO and eventually of Irish Aid and Misean Cara.”
Lastly, as of the 2021 AGM meeting in June, I will officially step down from the Misean Cara Board of Directors and my role as Chairperson. Throughout my six-year tenure with Misean Cara, I have had the good fortune to collaborate with many talented, dedicated staff and fellow Board members as we supported the work of Misean Cara. I wish to give a special thanks to all Misean Cara members and their partner organisations for their work to uphold the right to education, health, livelihoods, and human rights for people in some of the most impoverished and disadvantaged parts of the world. Their inspiring ability to build relationships of trust and their long-term commitment to see out real change, is what brings hope and transformation to the lives of so many.
It has been a privilege to be a part of this endeavour.
“Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as an organisation we accomplished a great many initiatives in 2020 that furthered our purpose to enable life-transforming missionary development work.”