Home > News > Defining Resilience: Not Just Bouncing Back, Building For The Future

Current humanitarian disasters like the Mediterranean Refugee Crisis and Irish-funded response to West Africa’s Ebola outbreak were the hot topics at this week’s panel, ‘Building Sustainable Resilience through Humanitarian Response: Lessons from Four Interventions,’ hosted by the faith-based charity Misean Cara.

"Resilience goes beyond the risks of natural hazards it's the political decision to address marginalisation," said Justin Kilcullen.

“Resilience goes beyond the risks of natural hazards it’s the political decision to address marginalisation,” said Justin Kilcullen. Photo: Keith Arkins.

Former Trócaire Executive Director Justin Kilcullen facilitated the conversation with leading experts from the international development sector in Dublin’s Wood Quay Venue.

Bouncing back after disasters strike is where responses are directed to support people and communities. That resilience carries through to the realm of international development assistance. For too long, development agencies differentiated resilience between the two realms despite the fact that responses to humanitarian crises and international development should flow into the other.

Misean Cara, a charity with 90 member organisations of Irish missionaries, brought together representatives from Irish Aid, Concern, the Jesuit Missions and Trócaire. The event cast a spotlight over recent and current events, illustrating lessons learned for government and development agencies as well as missionary organisations.

One year after the Ebola crisis devastated West Africa and created wide-spread panic around the world, people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are rebuilding their lives. They are a model of resilience, surviving a nightmare by summoning every piece of strength to stay alive and remember their dead. While the global response to Ebola has been called an “egregious failure,” the lessons learnt by governments and organisations, in particular to focus on the strengthening of health systems, will ensure the three affected countries can save more lives if another future epidemic erupts.

"For decades missionaries focused on developing the resilience of communities, there just wasn't a word for it. Our members are committed to sustainable development, making them effective agents in the chaos of a crisis," said Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster. Photo: Keith Arkins.

“For decades missionaries focused on developing the resilience of communities, there just wasn’t a word for it. Our members are committed to sustainable development, making them effective agents in the chaos of a crisis,” said Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster. Photo: Keith Arkins.

“We organised this event to highlight resilience in action,” said Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster. “I have seen many people, after some of the most horrific events, somehow find the strength within to keep going. Some call it faith, others call it humanity, but wherever people get it from, it is truly remarkable.”

Here at home, we are debating the plight of migrants and refugees, who must be resilient in the face of adversity. While many Europeans turn their backs, others are speaking out. Risking their lives for a better future, refugees see the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean as their only course of action to escape their war-torn countries.

“International development agencies, and agencies that respond to humanitarian crises, play an important role in mobilising the human spirit. Our event showed us how empowering it is when the global community works together, instead of fighting each other,” Ms. Foster added.

Photo Caption: [L – R] Former Trócaire Executive Director Justin Kilcullen, Global Health Advisor with Irish Aid Lorraine Gallagher, Assistant Director David Moriarty with the Jesuit Missions, Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster, Humanitarian Coordinator with Trócaire Conor O’Loughlin, Misean Cara Chairperson Lucy Franks, and Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning with Concern Connell Foley at the event. Photo: Keith Arkins.