Home > Feature > Missionaries won’t stop until we create a world where no-one is left behind

Missionaries are in the business of transformation. In countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, they are working with communities to bring about lasting change, to ensure dignified lives.

This was the message from Heydi Foster, CEO of Misean Cara, as she launched the organisation’s 2018 Annual Report at its AGM in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin on Wednesday.

“In 2018, Misean Cara continued working, fighting the good fight. In more than 60 countries, 52 members implemented 265 projects worth over €13.4 million, targeting over 1,450,000 people,” said Ms Foster.
“Meeting Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone,” said Ms Foster, “I saw how the struggle to survive continues long after the TV cameras have gone on to the next breaking disaster.”

“Seeing the solidarity with which our members are staying with and advocating for Ebola survivors is inspiring and heart-breaking at the same time – inspiring because it is so deeply sincere, heart-breaking because it is necessary in the first place.”

Incoming Chairperson Justin Kilcullen, Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster, Outgoing Chairperson Lucy Franks, and Misean Cara Vice-Chairperson Fr. Brendan Carr. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Misean Cara’s 2018 Annual Report highlights how missionaries are delivering against four key goals linked to education, health, sustainable livelihoods and human rights. The report shares the compelling stories of the individuals and communities who have benefited from the dedication and skills of Irish missionaries.

“We’re fifteen years old this year. From Albania to Zimbabwe, using different languages, working with different cultures, thousands of life-changing projects have been implemented with one common thread: one of our members was working in solidarity with a community to address a real and immediate need,” said Ms Foster, “we will continue to keep working with communities until this need is met.”

Misean Cara Chairperson Lucy Franks addresses the 2019 Misean Cara AGM: “we very much value all of the support that we have received from Irish Aid. There’s a great recognition of the soft work done by Irish missionaries especially in the A Better World policy. All of the work being done by missionaries is so important to the foreign policy of Ireland it is part of the mainstream.” Photo: Jenny Barker.

In Singida in northern Tanzania, Eliwaja Samwell is an outreach worker with the Faraja Centre. Living with HIV herself since 2003, she visits villages, hospitals and schools to encourage people to get tested to know their HIV status so that, if they are living with HIV, they can access treatment and counselling to continue positively with their lives. Run by the Medical Missionaries of Mary, Faraja is considered by the Tanzanian government to be a centre of excellence in HIV treatment and prevention.

Michael Hanly from Edmund Rice Development and Misean Cara Development Mentor Michael Nkrumah. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Misean Cara Deputy CEO Seamus O’Gorman, with Cristina Duranti, Kate Tobin and Sr. Margaret Lynch from the Good Shepherd Sisters. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Migrants in Lima, Peru who live in the hilly concrete jungle of the barrio of San Juan de Lurigancho are using hydroponics to grow vegetables without the need for soil. Supported by the Presentation Sisters, the project has been highly successful with more than a 1,000 people growing their own vegetables and selling the surplus through a cooperative.

Maria Douglas from the Mercy Sisters and Sr. Ngozi Okoli from the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Climate change continues to have a major impact on the livelihoods of the poor. The demand for livelihoods and food security is on the rise. Even though two-thirds of the uncultivated arable land in the world is in Africa, the African farmer is increasingly susceptible to climate change. Last year there was more bad news about climate change with the UN IPCC saying that global temperatures will increase by 2.7 degrees by 2040.

Former Misean Cara Board member Donal MacDonald, Misean Cara Board member Sr. Liz Fletcher and Former Misean Cara Board member Pauline Conway. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Elisabetta Murgia and Sr. Noelle Costello from the Salesian Sisters. Photo: Jenny Barker.

Flooding in southern Kenya is becoming a regular occurrence as authorities struggle to manage the supply of water. The Spiritan Fathers coordinated with the Kenyan Red Cross to provide emergency rations of food to families displaced by floods in Wenje Parish on the Tana River in southern Kenya. Families in Bububu village lost everything and had to carry what they could save in their arms.

Ms Foster concluded the launch of the 2018 Annual Report by looking to the future. “The next 15 years are crucial to our organisation and the world. Imagine in that time we could achieve the goals of the SDGs and our world could totally be transformed. Missionaries will be at the forefront of this transformation, and together we will ensure no one gets left behind.”

Read our interactive 2018 Annual Report.

Check out our 2018 Annual Report micro-site.

View the 2019 AGM gallery.