MISEAN CARA, COVID & INTER-CULTURALITY
Misean Cara is a faith-based organisation that receives funding from the Irish government’s foreign aid budget to distribute to congregations active in Ireland for use on their missions in needier parts of the world. Perhaps our collaboration with Misean Cara (and other donors) promotes the congregation’s quest for interculturality in an unintended way: the need for clear and detailed information stirs up a desire and need to appreciate more deeply the realities of mission life, both of the sisters and of the people they serve.
The new clinic, Yaka Yaka
A Missionary Development Officer (MDO) is someone appointed to liaise with Misean Cara. In this role, Colette Landy had become expert in listening to and understanding the needs of different missions and in presenting their proposals in the format needed by Misean Cara.
In 2019 alone, funding was granted towards six projects:
- improving the clinic in Tamba (Senegal);
- a new clinic in Yaka Yaka (Congo),
- a new kitchen/dining area for St. Ida’s school Ejinja (Kenya),
- equipment for the nursery school in Chemba (Tanzania),
- a new health centre in Bombambili (Tanzania)
- an additional storey to the Community College in Jokalandi (Bhubaneswar).
Having first-hand acquaintance with the sites, of course, helped her understand the needs of the people and the sisters.
In 2020, the Covid pandemic put a stop to travel, but the new MDO and sisters on the missions came to know each other quite well, managing to share news and information via WhatsApp, email and Zoom.
Replacement kitchen/dining room for St. Ida’s School, Ejinja, nearly finished
To replace its traditional meetings in Dublin, Misean Cara itself was quick to make full use of Zoom to keep in touch. This meant that people from all over the world could take part. For all the sorrows and anxiety Covid has brought, we can be thankful for this enriching breakthrough in communication.
Among the many sessions, particularly useful were the 3-day training programme for new MDOs and inputs on Safeguarding, Monitoring & Evaluation and Covid Support. The Covid meetings led to successful bids for funding for Senegal, Vizag and Bhubaneswar to help chiefly with emergency PPE, equipment, medication and food for people who could no longer earn their daily bread because of the pandemic.
Covid or no Covid, Misean Cara is accountable to the Irish government for effective use of the foreign aid. As staff could not visit the missions, they devised a new system of Distance Monitoring. Our projects at Bombambili and Ejinja were chosen for this. Part of the process was filming local people being interviewed about the benefits the project would bring their area. These videos were then sent by WhatsApp to Misean Cara.
Of course, Zoom and WhatsApp can never fully replace those spontaneous, informal chats over coffee that take place when people come together in person. They have, though, helped Misean Cara be more aware of the language they use with us. For negotiating with funding donors, they need a highly technical English, but we ordinary folk prefer a simpler English. Now, the many forms we fill in are being simplified, for which this new MDO is very grateful!
While praying that the pandemic will soon be under control, it could be said that it has helped us a little to make progress in the interculturality that we seek.
Sr Anne Rutter (MDO)
St Joseph's Community College, Jokalandi, with its extra storey