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April 2019
Issue 118

In this issue:

Blog Posts
News Articles
Spotlight on Sierra Leone
Listen to Audio
Watch Videos
Publications & Downloads
Connect With Us


Welcome to our first MissionAid of the year. In this issue we share some incredible success stories from around the world. These are just a handful of examples of how missionaries make real and sustained differences to the lives of vulnerable and marginalised people. 

It has been a busy start to the year for Misean Cara and there have been a number of exciting developments. Congratulations to Loreto Sr. Orla Treacy for being recognised by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US First Lady Melania Trump with the 'Women of Courage' award. Sr. Orla was recognised for her contribution to girls' education in South Sudan. Franciscan Br. Peter Tabichi was recognised as 'Global Teacher of the Year' by the Varkey Foundation. Br. Peter is the first African to receive this award, and he selflessly donates 80% of his teacher salary to local community projects in Kenya. Congratulations to both Sr. Orla and Br. Peter for these amazing achievements.

In this issue we have a spotlight on Post Ebola in Sierra Leone. I recently visited the sisters who joined the ranks of the epic Ebola Fighters who remained with their communities when the Ebola epidemic was unfolding. Against all the odds and advice, the sisters reached out to communities where some families were barricaded inside their homes in quarantine. The sisters provided lifelines of medical care, food, psycho-social support and Ebola prevention information. Today they are supporting Ebola survivors who have been marginalised because of the stigma of the disease. 'Girls' Education: The Pathway From Poverty' tells the story about how access to education is transforming the lives of so many girls in Sierra Leone. 'The Impact of the Ebola Epidemic Continues in Sierra Leone' blog post and 'Life in Crisis: The Ongoing Impact of Ebola in Sierra Leone' video tell the story of people living in very extreme circumstances, and how the Sisters are making a difference. 

Thank you to RTÉ for allowing us to highlight some of the amazing stories, missionaries and work funded by Misean Cara around the world in the 'A Living Word' radio programme. The full scripts and podcasts are linked below so you can listen back at your leisure.

Special thanks also to Wendy Grace from Spirit FM and The Irish Catholic 'Missionaries Without Borders' for highlight the work of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny and the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary with Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone.

Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The anniversary hits very close to home as our Learning & Development Officer Colette Nkunda was interviewed by Alice Fordham from The Economist for a podcast about the anniversary. Colette spoke about her memories of the time when the genocide started in 1994 in Rwanda, her move to Ireland, the community traditional courts for justice, efforts of reconciliation, the current development that Rwanda is enjoying today, leadership, and challenges for the future. Please check out The Economist during this month to listen to the podcast.

Visit our website for more information on our members' work. Follow @MiseanCara and @HeydiFoster on Twitter, and like /MiseanCaraIreland on Facebook for news and updates.

Finally, I just want to thank you for subscribing to MissionAid, and taking the time to read about the inspirational projects we support. If would like to help, you can donate online at

Yours in solidarity,

Heydi Foster
CEO, Misean Cara

Health For All – Everyone, Everywhere

Access to health, clean water and sanitation is a human right and that honouring this fundamental right is vital to building prosperous societies and essential to sustainable development.

Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. We believe this is possible and it starts with strong primary health care. Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and well-being centred on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.

“Existing everywhere or involving everyone” that is the definition of the word Universal. Universal health coverage (UHC) is the theme for World Health day on the 7th of April 2019 and is the number one goal of the World Health Organisation (WHO). It means that all people everywhere can have access to the quality health services they need, in a timely manner when they need them with no financial difficulty. The success of this goal is largely underpinned by the availability of quality primary health care.

“Health for All” – the core objective of the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Healthcare which marked its 40th anniversary in 2018, arose as a significant turning point of the twentieth century in the area of public health as this declaration identified primary healthcare as the key to attaining the goal of health for all.

Click here to read the full blog article.

Misean Cara welcomes new Irish development policy – targeting the ‘furthest behind first’

Misean Cara made a submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in response to Irish Aid’s public consultation on the new White Paper on international development. In collaboration with our member organisations, Misean Cara's submission stressed the need to indicate Ireland’s real commitment to supporting and resourcing civil society organisations, and particularly missionaries, as a vibrant, distinctive movement in development, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence in February 2018.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney launched A Better World, Ireland’s new policy for international development. It is a strong political endorsement of Ireland’s development cooperation programme and state commitment to achieving 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2030.

Misean Cara has strongly welcomed the launch by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney of A Better World, Ireland’s new policy for international development, in a strong political endorsement of Ireland’s development cooperation programme and state commitment to achieving 0.7% ODA/GNI by 2030.

The new policy commits Ireland to “making a step-change contribution” on four key priority areas – gender equality; reducing humanitarian need; climate action; and strengthening governance – in order to direct Ireland’s development supports to ‘the furthest behind first’. In addition, it will see Ireland focus on specific clusters of targeted interventions in relation to protection, food and people.

A Better World, rooted strongly in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), provides the framework for an expanding development programme, as the Taoiseach and Tánaiste pledged anew that Ireland would reach the UN’s target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance (ODA), better known as overseas aid, by 2030.

Click here to read the full blog article.

Keeping children safe in Kenya: The Misean Cara members’ Inter-congregational Child Safeguarding Steering Committee shares an experience we can all learn from

Insights from the recent Inter-Congregational Child-Safeguarding Steering Committee

Keeping children safe is fundamental to the policy and practice of every development project supported by Misean Cara. It is underpinned by the core missionary values of Respect, Integrity, Compassion, Justice and Commitment: Where these values are truly lived, no child will come to harm.

And if that is not enough, it is further guaranteed by Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parents, legal guardians or any other person who has the care of the child.”

And yet, in the complicated, tough and often violent world we live in, guaranteeing this simple human right to the children we work with, educate and care for is full of challenges, problems and pitfalls.

Missionaries have high standards and deep compassion, but nonetheless have faced their fair share of difficulties along this road. At the same time, thanks to their experience of confronting and overcoming these difficulties with scarce resources (or none at all), in many places they have become recognised experts, innovators and beacons of excellence in keeping children safe – or “Child Safeguarding” as it is now known.

Click here to read the full blog article.

Other Blog Posts


Misean Cara Welcomes New Board Member Sr. Jo McCarthy

Sr. Jo McCarthy Director of the Cork Migrant Centre has joined the board of Misean Cara.

Misean Cara welcomes one of its newest board members to the Misean Cara family.
Presentation Sr. Jo McCarthy (PBVM) Director of the Cork Migrant Centre, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Misean Cara, an Irish faith-based NGO that supports the development work of Missionaries worldwide.

“Missionaries have huge experience. They bring a particular vision and they can be focused on people more than projects. They have a wider lens than a particular project,” said Sr. Jo, “Missionaries play a longer waiting game because they’re there for a longer time and they know people and what they can do. They can stand back a bit from the project and say ‘this is working this is not working and we can change it.’ I think they bring a lot of experience. Missionaries are also people focused, and they can influence the direction that a project can take because of their years of experience.”
Click here to read the full article.

Misean Cara Welcomes New Board Member Larry O’Loughlin

Mr. O’Loughlin retired Regional Manager for Advisory and Education services in Teagasc has joined the board of Misean Cara.

Misean Cara welcomes one its newest board members to the Misean Cara family.Mr Larry O’Loughlin, Regional Manager for Advisory and Education Services in Teagasc for 40 years, and recently retired, has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Misean Cara, an Irish faith-based NGO that supports the development work of missionaries worldwide.

“Irish missionaries in developing countries continue to make a significant contribution to community development, rural development, health, education and human rights,” said Mr. O’Loughlin.
Click here to read the full article.

In The News

Gallery: Members' Meeting February 2019


Girls' Education: The Pathway From Poverty

Today more than 130 million girls do not go to primary and secondary school worldwide.

In Sierra Leone, only half of girls aged 15 to 24 years are able to read and write. But educating girls greatly improves lives in the long run. A child born to a mother who can read and write is 50% more likely to survive past the age of 5.

Click here to view the video on the Misean Cara website.

Missionaries Without Borders

Irish religious are still making a difference around the world, Greg Daly is told

“Being a missionary is a life choice, and it is a choice for life – the notion of retiring doesn’t even enter into the equation,” Heydi Foster, CEO of Misean Cara, tells The Irish Catholic. Citing the example of one 87-year-old sister who in the last decade has set up internationally recognised schools in Haiti, she continues: “Missionaries do not retire at 65 – they keep working to make a difference in the world.”

Misean Cara means ‘friend of missions’ and Heydi explains that the Faith-based organisation is tasked with supporting 91 Irish missionary organisations around the world, channelling funding from the Government and private donations to help missionaries in the work worldwide.

“We accompany our members to work with the most vulnerable and marginalised – we were set up to work with the vulnerable,” she explains, citing how last year Misean Cara supported 263 projects in 51 countries, working with 1.5 million direct beneficiaries. The knock-on effect of this is, of course, incalculable.

Click here to read the full article.

The Impact of the Ebola Epidemic Continues in Sierra Leone

Heydi Foster, Misean Cara CEO writes that Sierra Leone’s Ebola survivors are living on the margins of society due to the stigma of the disease. But Misean Cara’s members are offering support and hope.

Five years ago the Ebola epidemic wreaked havoc in the country of Sierra Leone. During the epidemic the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny and the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary risked their lives by going where no other aid workers would – into the places where the disease was rampant. The Sisters went to the poorest communities and visited and delivered food to people in quarantine who were suspected of having Ebola.

Despite the panic and fear of the epidemic, the Sisters stayed in solidarity, providing lifelines in the form of medical care, food, psycho-social support, and Ebola prevention information. Fearlessly, they worked in the front line against the disease, bringing hope and saving lives.

Click here to read the full blog post.

Life in Crisis: The Ongoing Impact of Ebola in Sierra Leone

Ebola survivors are living on the margins of society

Five years on since the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Ebola survivors are living on the margins of society due to the stigma of the disease. Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster visited the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny and the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary to see their work in action. The Sisters have been supporting Ebola survivors with food, access to health care and love and kindness.

Click here to view the video on the Misean Cara website.
Listen to

Spirit FM – Interview

Two Misean Cara members - the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny - are supporting Ebola survivors to rebuild their lives.

In this interview, Heydi speaks about Ebola survivors who are deprived of human contact because of the stigma of having had the disease.

Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster spoke to Wendy Grace about her recent visit to Sierra Leone where she met Ebola survivors living on the margins of society.

Click here to read the full story and listen to the episode.

A Living Word – 5 New Episodes to Listen Back

Misean Cara CEO Heydi Foster delivered RTÉ Radio 1’s A Living Word programme from 18th March to 22nd March 2019. Heydi highlighted the work of Misean Cara members in Ghana, Haiti, Sierra Leone, and the Lebanon.

Episode 1
A Living Word – Heydi Foster – Being Irish in the 21st Century. Listen Now.

Episode 2
A Living Word – Heydi Foster – The Gift of Sight. Listen Now.

Episode 3
A Living Word – Heydi Foster – Retirement, what’s that? Listen Now.

Episode 4
A Living Word – Heydi Foster – Can I hug you? Listen Now.

Episode 5
A Living Word – Heydi Foster – Displacement. Listen Now.

From The Archives

  • The Brickfield Schools of Kolkata, originally broadcast on Newstalk FM, this documentary highlights a unique Misean Cara funded education project, run by the Loreto Sisters, for children living and working on brickfield sites on the outskirts of Kolkata city and throughout the state of West Bengal in India.
  • Listen to an interview on Connemara Community Radio with Heydi Foster, CEO at Misean Cara. Heydi discusses the work of our members and her experience visiting Maban County in South Sudan.

The Missionary Approach to Development 

Research conducted for Misean Cara in 2017 identified five key features which, when taken in combination, describe a way of doing development work that is unique to missionaries. Misean Cara has produced a series of videos on the Missionary Approach to discuss and reflect on these five key features. 

This video explores the first of the five features: Long-term commitment. The video hears first hand from missionaries through a multi-media presentation incorporating audio, video and photography footage from the archives of Misean Cara members and from Misean Cara media projects.

Click here to visit Misean Cara's Vimeo page and watch more videos. 

Caught Between Conflicts

"Thousands of people who have had to flee war... find themselves here in a country that is also experiencing its own conflict."
 Fr. Tony O’Riordan SJ, JRS Project Director in Maban. 

Photojournalist Paul Jeffrey visited the refugee camps in Maban County, South Sudan. Watch the video to see the incredible work of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), transforming lives in this extremely challenging environment. 

Click here to watch the video on our website. 
Publications & Downloads

Misean Cara’s Annual
Report for 2017

'Welcome to Misean Cara’s Annual Report for 2017, which will introduce you to this vibrant membership organisation at the forefront of community based development work around the world. What you read here will give you a taste of the transformative power of their work, 'to the core', in education, health, livelihoods, human rights and emergency response.'
 From the Foreword by Lucy Franks, Chairperson.

The Misean Cara 2017 Annual Report was launched on Wednesday 27th June 2018 at our AGM at the Emmaus Centre in Swords, Co. Dublin. The report shares the compelling stories of the individuals and communities who have benefited from the dedication and skills of Irish missionaries. 
Click here to read the 2017 Annual Report. 

Peace-building in practice

In 2017-2018, Misean Cara commissioned an effectiveness review of peacebuilding and human rights projects established by Misean Cara Member Organisations in Kenya.

Click here to read the Learning Brief on Peace-building in practice: Learning from a 2018 Effectiveness Review of Missionary Peacebuilding and Human Rights projects in Kenya .

Facilitating the Journey to Transformation

A long-term perspective is inherent in the Missionary Approach to Development, and the notion of living in solidarity is a core principle. Many of the projects included in the meta-evaluation involve a missionary presence of more than ten years, with one of fifty and two of twenty-five.

Click here to read the Learning Brief on Facilitating the Journey to Transformation: Findings and Lessons from a Meta-Evaluation of Misean Cara Project Evaluations.

Missionary Responses to Ebola Virus Crises

'In Sierra Leone, the Sisters’ response to the Ebola crisis can be understood as a journey that they undertook in order to accompany the people among whom they lived and worked as they struggled to find pathways that would lead them safely through the crisis and onwards to the rebuilding of lives and communities. By travelling alongside the people in this way, the Sisters gave hope and built trust where previously there had been neither.'
Missionary Responses to Ebola Virus Crises, Conclusion.

Click here to read the Learning Brief on the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary’s effective responses to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016.

Other Publications and Downloads

Project Cycle Management & Research Methologies Course 

Duration: 1 Month.
Dates: Saturday 13th April 2019 until Saturday 11th May 2019.
Location: Viatores Christi, 8 New Cabra Road, Dublin 7 and online.

Who is this for?
Existing or prospective MDOs, volunteers, development workers and missionaries who wish to gain greater knowledge of the principles of Project Cycle Management and Results Focused Planning as well as field based research methodologies.

An adult learning approach will be used which will be a mixture of didactic instruction, group work, case study, and shared experience.

This is a part facilitated and blended, web-enhanced course using expert facilitators and an online Moodle platform to provide learners with a integrated system to create personalised learning environments with a focus on interaction and collaborative discussion.

Facilitated Sessions
Project Cycle Management (Full Weekend Workshop)
VC HQ, Dublin 7
10am-5pm on Saturday 13th April & 2pm-5pm on Sunday 14th April 2019

Research Methodologies (3 Hour Session)
VC HQ, Dublin 7
2pm-5pm Saturday 11th May 2019.
Online, web enhanced modules.
Delivered using Moodle platform.
All modules are guided, monitored in an integrated system.

Click here to read the course outline.

Transform Lives By Donating To Misean Cara

Support Misean Cara and our members by making a donation.

Your donation will help to support the vital development work missionaries undertake around the world and change the lives of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities.

Our members are responding to humanitarian emergencies in Mozambique and Zimbabwe as a result of Cyclone Idai, floods in Kenya, Syrian refugees in the Lebanon, and internally displaced people in Southern Nigeria.
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