Humanitarian Award

For an individual who has shown exceptional commitment to a cause or country, and action beyond expectation in a humanitarian programme


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The Finalists!

Sr. Anne Griffin, Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Chigwell), member of Misean Cara

Sr. Anne Griffin has been a missionary with the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary for 40 years. She began her life as a missionary nurse working with children with special needs in England, and then Zambia at the height of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. She then journeyed to El Salvador where she has dedicated her life's work to accompanying the community of El Mozote after one of the worse massacres that saw 1,000 people murdered, 400 of whom were children.

How has Sr. Anne alleviated suffering or saved lives?

For decades, the suffering of the few survivors in El Mozote was met with indifference. Sr. Anne and her sisters worked with the community for justice by forming the Promotion of Human Rights Association. After a long fight, they were successful in achieving a landmark ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that El Salvador should investigate the massacre, and the local community would receive reparations. Probably most inspiring is that the fight for justice created a great sense of healing amongst the survivors, and reinforced the friendships of the community.

How does Sr. Anne’s work demonstrate respect for human rights and dignity?

After the horrific massacre, Sr. Anne and her sisters worked with the survivors of El Mozote to fight for justice. They understood that justice should take advantage of the legal system in and outside of El Salvador to highlight the human rights and dignity that so many of them were denied.

Is Sr. Anne inspiring, determined and motivated?

Sr. Anne and her sisters never gave up despite the long fight. She mobilised community members to advocate for justice despite risks to their own personal safety. Probably most inspiring is that the fight for justice created a great sense of healing amongst the survivors.

Mary T. Murphy, GOAL

Mary T is Refugee Programme Manager with GOAL in Ethiopia. She works between the Tierkadi and Kule refugee camps in Gambella region in the south-west Ethiopia, and Berhale and Asayita Refugee Camps in Afar Region in the north east of Ethiopia. GOAL is responding to the humanitarian needs of refugees in these camps.  Mary T has built a strong and committed team of Ethiopian staff delivering emergency Nutrition and Water Sanitation and Hygiene promotion programmes.

From Renanirree, in County Cork, Mary T has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Dublin City University, with qualifications in paediatrics and intensive care from Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin. She is a qualified midwife, attained at the Coombe Hospital. She has a Masters in Exercise and Nutrition Science from Chester University, UK.

Whether it is in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Burundi or Ireland, Cork woman, Mary T. Murphy, has spent her entire working life caring for and supporting those affected by illness, drought, conflict and poverty. She has more than 27 years’ experience working to improve the health of the poor in the developing world, specialising in areas such as healthcare, nutrition, HIV and AIDS, mother-and-child healthcare, and gender equality.

How has Mary alleviated suffering or saved lives?

Mary T is responsible for planning, implementing and managing GOAL’s refugee programmes that cater for tens of thousands of South Sudanese and Eritrean refugees. During the recent Ebola crisis, she spent two separate stints in Sierra Leone directing and managing GOAL’s Ebola response programme.

How does Mary’s work demonstrate respect for human rights and dignity?

By working with refugees every day – people who have lost everything – Mary T and the GOAL team make sure they have access to the basic rights of life, but that also, crucially, they are afforded their basic human rights and are treated equally, and with dignity at all times.

Is Mary inspiring, determined and motivated?

For 27 years, Mary T has worked in some of the inhospitable, underprivileged and challenging parts of the world, tending to people who have been deeply affected by poverty, conflict and hunger, and who have been side-lined by the global community. She is a humanitarian in the truest sense of the word. 

John O'Loughlin Kennedy, Concern

John O’Loughlin Kennedy is the co-founder of Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s largest international aid agency. In 1968, John was working as a Senior Consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit of Ireland when he learned of the developing famine in Biafra. Horrified by the report of his missionary brother, Fr. Raymond Kennedy, who was the first to penetrate the military blockade, John and his wife Kay were spurred into action. They held a meeting in their flat at 82 Northumberland Rd., inviting family, friends and people who had worked in West Africa to discuss ways in which they could help.

At this meeting on the 19th March 1968, now almost 50 years ago, Africa Concern (now Concern Worldwide) was founded and what turned out to be the largest humanitarian response Ireland had ever seen was launched. Over the years, John was instrumental in sending aid to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable, dedicating himself to the establishment and development of Concern, where he served as Executive Director and Board Member. He remains a passionate member of Concern to this day. In the 80s and 90s, John also served on the Board of the Irish NGO Aidlink. He was founder and first Chairman of the Irish Refugee Council.

Throughout his life, John has helped deliver life-saving and life-altering assistance to people in over fifty countries across the world.

How has John alleviated suffering or saved lives?

In 1968, John mounted one of the largest humanitarian responses Ireland has ever seen, providing life-saving assistance to the people of Biafra during the famine there. In the years that followed, he was instrumental in sending aid to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

How does John’s work demonstrate respect for human rights and dignity?

Respect for human rights and dignity has always been intrinsic to John’s work given that it is essential for development.  In 1988, he was involved in setting up the Irish Refugee Council, to ensure that the rights of refugees here are respected and protected.

Is John inspiring, determined and motivated?

These words describe John perfectly. When the Biafran famine occurred, many sat by & watched, but John & Kay took action, setting up Concern & spearheading a massive response. Almost 50 years on, he still helps Concern in its work in any way he can. He has never tired of helping those most in need.

The Judges! 

Our external judge for this award was Ruadhán Mac Cormaic. Ruadhán is Foreign Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paris Correspondent and Migration Correspondent.

His first book, The Supreme Court, was published by Penguin Ireland in 2016. Since 2006, he has reported from more than 35 countries for The Irish Times and worked regularly on the broad theme of international affairs and development. While Paris Correspondent (2009-2013), he covered the Tunisian revolution, the Sarkozy presidency and a variety of topics in north and west Africa. He has covered two wars in Gaza and travelled widely in Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe. Most recently, he covered the latter stages of the 2016 US presidential election.

This category was also judged by Dóchas Head of Programmes and Policy, Louise Finan.