Mary T Murphy of GOAL was winner of the 2017 Dóchas Humanitarian Award. We spoke to Mary to gather her impressions on winning the Award and to learn more about her exceptional humanitarian work.
How did you feel when you found out you were nominated for a Dóchas Award? And how did it feel when you won?
It was a great honour to be nominated, I was surprised and really delighted when I won this fantastic award. I could not have achieved this on my own, the award is a recognition of all the wonderful colleagues and friends I have met and worked with over the years in the humanitarian field, especially with GOAL. I have been contacted by many old friends since I won the Dochas award. The commemorative plaque itself is very special and I will give it pride of place at home on my mantelpiece.
You won the Humanitarian of the Year Award – what is the most challenging part of your work, and what is the most rewarding?
The most challenging part of my work with GOAL is when we are setting up new programmes in response to emergencies, often in the height of the crisis there is always high mortality and that is difficult to watch. The most rewarding part of my work is when I see families managing their lives in safer and better settings and children especially are healthy and happy. It is very rewarding also when I have the opportunity to build up a team, I take great pride in seeing my colleagues implementing and managing quality programmes.
What’s next? What are you working on at the moment that you’re excited about?
I hope to continue my work with GOAL in 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. I work with a strong and committed team of Ethiopian staff delivering emergency Nutrition and Water Sanitation and Hygiene promotion programmes.
I am also working with GOAL on operational research for the under six month of age infants in two refugee camps in Gambella region with a total camp population of over 100,000 refugees. In 2015, GOAL integrated community-based management of acute malnutrition in infants under six months (C-MAMI) into nutrition services in two refugee camps in Gambella Region, Ethiopia. GOAL’s pioneering work in the Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition in Infants (CMAMI) has been commended and an article reviewing and sharing GOAL’s experience to date in CMAMI was published in Emergency Nutrition Network FEX Edition. 55, July 2017. FEX Edn. 55.
Who do you admire in the field? Name a few people who do similar work that you find inspiring, and tell us why?
I admire many people including John Rynne from Drogheda who worked for many years as a country director for GOAL in Ethiopia, Orla O’Neill from Belfast who works as a nutritionist for UNICEF, Emma Bonar from Donegal working in the education sector with refugees across the globe; their humanity and sense of humour is always inspiring. I have learnt a lot from many great Irish ladies including Fiona Gannon, Patricia Wall, Mary Corbett, they are all experts in their field and I have had the privilege to work with them over the years. In Ethiopia, I have been fortunate to work alongside my GOAL colleagues, Dinkneh Asfaw, Sintayehuc Chane, Kassahun Abebe, Hamelmal Getachew and Michael Abebe, I see them daily working in challenging settings, constantly trying to improve the lives of vulnerable people across GOAL’s programmes.