By any measure, 2020 was an extraordinary year. I joined Misean Cara in April of last year, shortly after the lockdown had been announced and we knew very little about what to expect in the coming months.
One of my first tasks was to assess how best to facilitate continued collaboration between Misean Cara staff and our members, as we settled into remote working. I commend all our staff and members for their resilience and ‘can-do’ attitude, adapting so quickly to new ways of working. It was a year of working apart, but much was accomplished through a strong spirit of real collaboration in a virtual space.
Throughout the uncertainty and difficulties of the pandemic our members forged on, implementing 384 projects aimed at bringing positive and lasting change to the lives of 1.87 million people around the world through improved education, health, livelihoods, human rights and emergency and humanitarian response. Whenever and wherever possible they continued with their planned projects or adapted them to work around lockdowns and restrictions, and often shifted focus to provide extra support to communities suffering from the impact of the pandemic. Members allocated funds to COVID-19 needs, whether it was Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), emergency food support for the poor, or information campaigns to help dispel myths about the virus and educate people on safety and hygiene during the pandemic. Their work in 2020 was carried out in 51 countries with Misean Cara funding totalling €13.7 million.
Thanks to Zoom we increased the number of member meetings with participants joining us from around the world - an option that isn’t available when these events are held in person.
Visiting members' projects to monitor progress is an essential component of Misean Cara's accompaniment model. Specific audit-focused project visits are another important aspect of our accountability agenda. With international travel effectively suspended in 2020, we developed fully distanced monitoring and auditing systems that have been very successful, even allowing us to observe some projects that due to security concerns we might not in the past have been able to travel to.
We took the Missionary Approach to Development Interventions (MADI) concept forward through new research into the specific aspects of the missionary development model that make it so uniquely positioned to reach those who are furthest behind.
Our Innovation Fund continued in 2020 with a focus on transformative child safeguarding, based on the good practice guidelines from the Transformative Child Safeguarding research report (2019). More than €120,000 in funds went to support 13 projects to incorporate these practices into their work.
Three external evaluations were commissioned to look at the effectiveness of members’ projects in supporting youth employment, gender equality, and disability inclusion. The evaluations particularly focused on the effectiveness of the Missionary Approach to Development in achieving impact. You can read summaries of these evaluations within this report.
Finally, I am grateful to Irish Aid for their continued support of Misean Cara and to our other donors, the GHR Foundation, the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities, the employees of Ornua Co-operative Empowered Fund for their funding support for missionary development, and the Brigidine Sisters for their funding contribution over the past three years. We are very grateful. It is with this commitment of funds that Misean Cara is able to facilitate the life-transforming development work of our members with some of the most marginalised people throughout the world.
“We took the Missionary Approach to Development Interventions (MADI) concept forward through new research into the specific aspects of the missionary development model that make it so uniquely positioned to reach those who are furthest behind.”