GOAL is an international humanitarian
agency dedicated to the alleviation of suffering amongst the poorest of
the poor. GOAL works towards ensuring that the poorest and most
vulnerable in our world and those affected by humanitarian crises have
access to the fundamental needs and rights of life such as food, water,
shelter, medical attention and primary education. Founded in Dublin,
Ireland, in 1977, has spent more than €720 million ($925 million on current exchange rates) on the delivery of
aid to the poor in more than 50 countries.
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GOAL Ball in New York
An astonishing $250,000 was raised for some of the poorest people in the world at the annual GOAL New York Ball 2012. View some of the photos from the 2012 Ball here.
Syria Crisis: GOAL’s Largest Humanitarian Challenge in its 36 Year History
By Joseph M. Rinaldi, GOAL USA Board Member
In mid-June, Jonathan Edgar, GOAL's Chief Operating Officer, invited me to join him on his next visit to Antakya, Turkey where GOAL's humanitarian relief effort for Syria is based. We met there the following week. I had hoped to go into Syria to see GOAL’s programs, but for security reasons, I was unable to cross the Turkey-Syria border and instead stayed at the GOAL base in Antakya.
Antakya is in southeast Turkey, close to the Syrian border. It is the modern name for the ancient city of Antioch. GOAL is one of only three NGOs registered by the Turkish government to operate inside Syria from their Turkish base.
The area where GOAL is currently working within Syria is centered on the town of Harim in Idlib Province, just across the border from Antakya. Aleppo is due south of Harim and farther south is Damascus. The fighting seems to be following the ancient road that runs from Antakya to Damascus.
GOAL is providing food and other lifesaving supplies in kits to Syrian beneficiaries. Trucks carrying the kits cross from Turkey into Syria through the normal border crossing, which on the Syrian side is controlled by the Free Syrian Army. However, non-commercial traffic, i.e. people, must quietly cross the river that separates the two countries via a raft ferry (equivalent to six or eight fifty-gallon drums lashed together and covered by a tarp).
Turkish border guards are posted in watchtowers along the border. They tolerate passage between the countries recognizing the serious humanitarian situation. Coupons, which permit people to buy sundries and other items from 10 or 15 shops with whom GOAL has contracted, are also distributed to beneficiaries. The shops accept the coupons in payment and GOAL reimburses them in local currency.
GOAL is receiving most of its funding for Syrian relief efforts from the U.S. and Irish governments. USAID, the responsible agency, is considering substantially increasing its funding. The increases being discussed would make this program the largest humanitarian relief effort ever undertaken by GOAL.
In Antakya, GOAL has its “A Team” – a group of humanitarian crisis management staff. They are GOAL’s first responders – dedicated professionals who know how to organize efforts and function effectively in a chaotic situation. Most are veterans of GOAL's efforts in places like Uganda, South Sudan, Darfur, Haiti, Pakistan, Bosnia, etc. They are incredibly impressive people who are willing to bear difficult living conditions and extremely dangerous environments. Although Antakya itself is not difficult, there are frequent forays into Syria by some members of the team. They take great pride in what they do and strongly believe that GOAL is one of the best in the world at what it does.
One of most challenging issues that was discussed is how close to get to the fighting. GOAL's mission is to care for the poorest of the poor, or in this case the neediest of the needy. The closer one gets to the fighting, the greater the needs of the people. However, the ability to verify that the aid is in fact getting to the intended beneficiaries diminishes as the severity of the conflict increases.
The closer one gets to the conflict, the more dangerous it becomes for GOAL employees, volunteers, and contracted agents. Striking the right balance between need, efficacy and risk is a daunting challenge for both donors and GOAL senior management. These decisions have ethical and moral dimensions that most of us do not necessarily deal with in ordinary life. These are real issues that affect many lives and the responsibility is great.