Partnership and Catholic Relief Services
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PARTNERSHIPS AND CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES CCIH Conference May 26, 2007 My name is Annemarie Reilly and I serve as the chief of staff to the president of Catholic Relief Services. But prior to returning to the US about a year ago, I spent 12 years working in overseas programs and that experience has profoundly shaped how I understand and approach partnerships. Partnership goes to the heart of the identity and mission of CRS and how we function. Around the world, CRS has been blessed to collaborate with a rich and diverse group of partners with whom we closely collaborate. The work of CRS would be impossible without them. From one narrow point of view, our partners increase our reach and provide a multiplier effect that greatly broadens our ability to effectively respond to the needs of the people in the communities we serve. A recent example is the conflict in Lebanon this past summer. More than 900,000 people were displaced by the bombing, creating a massive humanitarian crisis. CRS responded through our partners at Caritas Lebanon, which has 36 offices around the country, a staff of nearly 100 and a volunteer base of thousands of people, mostly students. Through this collaboration, we were able to serve about 100,000 people by providing shelter, medicine, food and living supplies and trauma counseling. Our partners include many local NGOs, some community-based and others that operate on a regional or national scale. We also work with groups on an international and ecumenical level. Our closest collaborators are the agencies and institutions of the Catholic Church. These relationships stretch from the parish and diocese through various levels all the way to international bodies like Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella for Catholic social development agencies around the world. I’ll speak a bit more about these various levels of partnership in a bit. First, I’d like to talk about how CRS approaches our partnerships. As an agency of the US Catholic Community and as a member of the worldwide Church, we are guided by a long tradition of what is called Catholic Social Teaching. That is a body of thought that has developed over about a century of papal encyclicals that has been boiled down to a series of principles that guide our actions as Catholics and as members of the one human family. Among these principles are several that relate directly to partnership. One is the option for the poor, which goes to the heart of our mission as a relief and development agency. Another is the notion of solidarity, the idea that in a globalized, interconnected world, loving our neighbor has global dimensions. Associated with that is a commitment to right relationships with those we serve. The difference between a genuine partnership and a contract is this spirit of solidarity. Another principle is subsidiarity, the idea that the people closest to a situation or problem should be empowered to solve it, and not be “big footed” by a larger or higher level organization. Local organizations are generally better placed and more informed to reach those most in need. Our role as a large, international agency is ideally one of accompaniment and support. We believe that this approach to partnership will be a means toward achieving the solidarity that is our mutual goal. These principles come most clearly into play in our relationships with local partners. These relationships should be characterized by mutuality and solidarity, recognizing that each partner brings unique resources to the table, such as knowledge, history, finances, expertise, and relationships. And that each partner is accountable to the other for achieving results. Having said this, it is clear that the capacities of local partners can vary widely. In some instances, we must focus on building the capacity of a partner, providing the technical assistance, leadership and organizational development training and other assistance that will lead to sustainability. In other cases, the capacity of a partner is much more developed and we play more of a facilitating role. For example, this strength through partnership is particularly evident in South Africa, where our health work focuses on preventing HIV and caring for people affected by the pandemic. Here, we collaborate closely with the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference and its associate agencies to provide a spectrum of vitally needed health services. In South Africa's Archdiocese of Durban, Sinosizo Home-Based Care is a model of excellence in providing training and support for home-based care volunteers. These volunteers offer a vital link to people with HIV and AIDS who don't have access to hospitals or clinics because they live too far away or are too sick to get there. St. Mary's Hospital in Durban has a Community Outreach Center — also funded by CRS — which offers a variety of services to people from poor communities severely affected by HIV and AIDS, including care and support for the growing numbers of orphans. And with the assistance of the Bishops' Conference, a CRS-led consortium is providing antiretroviral therapy to more than 10,000 people with AIDS at 25 treatment sites, which are located in eight of South Africa's nine provinces. In addition, this effort is providing general care to more than 22,000 people with HIV. Along with these programs and services addressing the HIV and AIDS pandemic, CRS supports the Catholic Health Association network, which provides quality health care to communities in need. And we also assist the Missionaries of Charity in Johannesburg, helping the sisters pay for medicine, food and supplies needed to care for the sick and dying at Mother Teresa's Home. Although we collaborate closely with the Church at all levels, we also partner with organizations from across the ecumenical spectrum, as well as non-sectarian NGOs and institutions. One example of this cooperation is our work with technical institutes to address regional issues through the use of innovative technology and the latest research. In East and Central Africa, deadly plant diseases are threatening two primary food staples, bananas and cassava. Banana Wilt Disease causes early ripening and rotting of fruit. Eventually it wilts and kills the plant. An unusually severe strain of Cassava Mosaic Disease has expanded into a pandemic with devastating effects. Together, these two crop diseases are affecting more than 70 million people. They pose the largest, natural threat to food security that this Great Lakes region of Africa has seen in decades. CRS is addressing this crisis through the USAID-funded Crop Crisis Control Project, which we simply call C3P. We are working with national and regional research institutes in Africa, including the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), one of Africa’s leading research centers, to educate farmers about how to manage these two diseases. We are also distributing diseaseresistant strains of cassava that help alleviate the costly impact of Cassava Mosaic Disease. The result is that farmers are being enabled to build back up their crops. Finally, on an international level, we work closely within the Catholic Church with Caritas Internationalis, the network of church-based social service agencies. Nearly every country has a Caritas agency that provides emergency services and fosters long-term development. In the United States, there is a Caritas agency for domestic work, which is Catholic Charities USA. And there is a Caritas for overseas relief and development, and that is Catholic Relief Services. The 162 members of the Caritas confederation, which form one of the world’s largest humanitarian networks, provide assistance in more than 200 countries and territories without regard to creed, race, gender, or ethnicity. Catholic Relief Services also works on an ecumenical basis with groups like Christian Connections for International Health and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, which advocates on the issues of global trade and HIV and AIDS. We believe that participating in these organizations increases our ability to influence policy and amplifies our institutional voice. Finally, while we work with partners on many different levels and in many different ways - and in some ways as a matter of course - we don’t take our partnerships for granted. We know that we have to work hard at them. In fact, half way through our 10 year agency strategy, we identified partnership with our local Church partners as a strategic objective that needed renewed focus and explicit attention. We know we’ve made great progress in working with partners in cultivating relationships built on mutual respect and solidarity. But we also know this is an ongoing process of relationship building that can’t just be left to happenstance. Relationships between CRS and Church partners, which reflect all Catholic Social Teaching principles, but demonstrate subsidiarity and mutuality in particular, will assist us in striving towards our visionary goal of solidarity and operational goal of better service to those in need. A humble and respectful spirit of accompaniment is critical. Thank you for the opportunity to share my agency’s perspective and experiences with you today. I welcome an opportunity to respond to questions about our approach to and experience with partnerships.