50 years of your compassion

The Columcille sets sail for Biafra on 6 September, 1968. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
The Columcille sets sail for Biafra on 6 September, 1968. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

This year, Concern has turned 50. Here we look back at the inspirational journey made possible by your compassion and generous support.

In 1968, at the height of the civil war in Nigeria, images of starving Biafran children were shown on television around the world. News of the conflict brought home by Irish priest Fr Raymond Kennedy motivated his brother and sister-in-law, John and Kay O’Loughlin Kennedy to start a fundraising campaign in Dublin. Africa Concern was born and, in just six months, our first supporters gave today’s equivalent of €5.3 million.

The Irish public respond

These children were thousands of miles away, but the world had seen their desperate need, and here in Ireland, the desire to help was overwhelming.

On 29 September, the Columcille arrived off the coast of west Africa, filled with vital supplies of food, medicine and equipment. Priests Aengus and Jack Finucane helped to distribute the supplies from 287 flights over an 11 month period. By the end of the war, supporters like you had donated the equivalent of over €16 million in today’s money.

Our journey

Over the past five decades, that same spirit of generosity has fuelled responses to crises and disasters across the globe. In countries crippled by conflict, climate change and natural disasters, the life-saving nutrition, health and emergency response programmes that you supported have transformed the lives of millions of families.

Always there in times of crisis

You’ve helped us to bring education to war-torn communities in Somalia and emergency care packages to displaced families in DRC. You’ve funded innovative treatment for acutely malnourished children in Malawi and provided cash transfers for Syrian refugees. And you’ve helped to bring financial security to families around the world through your Concern Gifts to loved ones at Christmas.

In 2017, chronic food shortages brought millions to the brink of starvation in east Africa. You responded with the same compassion that our very first supporters showed in 1968 and helped us to reach more than 2.6 million people whose lives were threatened by extreme drought.

Your donations are driving innovation

Your donations have helped to drive life-saving innovations that have changed the face of emergency nutrition response. In 2002, we pioneered projects in Ethiopia and Malawi to implement a nutrition programme called Community-based Therapeutic care, known today as Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM). This approach tackles malnutrition at a community level, meaning children can be treated with highly nutritious therapeutic food in their homes, so parents can stay with their families and farm their crops.  The UN adopted CMAM as best practice in 2007 and millions of lives have been saved across the world as communities have been empowered to understand and address malnutrition.

Dyness Banda with her daughter Loveness Patulani who received CMAM care in Malawi. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.
Dyness Banda with her daughter Loveness Patulani who received CMAM care in Malawi. Photo: Jennifer Nolan / Concern Worldwide.

Dedicated support for long-term development

Thanks to your support, our history is filled with incredible success stories. Tanzania is one shining example. In 2015, after 37 years in Tanzania, we handed operations over to local community-based organisations, and exited a country with improved land rights for rural farmers, clean water supplies and highly effective women’s collectives.

Thank you

Since our beginnings in Biafra, our supporters have helped us save lives and implement projects all over the world that bring long-term, sustainable change to communities. Thank you for your kindness and concern. Together we can nurture the passion ignited in Dublin 50 years ago and keep working towards a world free of poverty.

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