Deeply moved by the plight of street children he encountered on a trip to Kolkata (Calcutta), John O’Shea founded GOAL in 1977, and for over 40 years, GOAL has responded to almost all of the world’s major humanitarian crises since, working with vulnerable communities in more than 60 countries.
While GOAL continues to be an agile first-responder to humanitarian crises, it is also committed to working with vulnerable communities to help them survive crises and support them on the road to recovery.
GOAL’s purpose is to save lives and empower communities to develop resilience and greater control over their lives and livelihoods. GOAL aims to increase the resilient wellbeing of the world’s poorest people and focuses on those who are excluded or marginalised, particularly those who are vulnerable due to socio-economic status, gender or age.
GOAL believes in a world where poverty no longer exists, where vulnerable communities are resilient, where barriers to well-being are removed and where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.
GOAL works with the most vulnerable communities to help them respond to and recover from humanitarian crises, and to assist them build transcendent solutions to mitigate poverty and vulnerability.
GOAL was established in 1977 by Dublin sports journalist John O'Shea and four friends. Deeply moved by the plight of street children they encountered on a trip to Kolkata (Calcutta), India, they decided to set up an aid organisation dedicated to helping the world's poorest and most vulnerable people.
From these humble beginnings, GOAL emerged as an important humanitarian response agency, capable of responding quickly and effectively to crisis and disaster. GOAL staff, or GOALies, have been recognised for their commitment, courage and willingness to go the extra mile to help those in need.
GOAL responded to famine in northern Uganda and was one of the first Western agencies to enter Cambodia after the genocide there claimed over two million lives. As images and stories of the genocide emerged, the world was shocked, but GOAL staff continued to support those affected.
GOAL's experience in Cambodia would prove valuable during it's response to the Rwandan Genocide nearly 15 years later.
As one of the largest famines ever recorded unfolded in Ethiopia, GOAL response was the biggest in the agency's history up until that point. Hundreds of GOAL staff from Ireland, including nurses, doctors, engineers and logisticians, volunteered to be part of the enormous relief efforts.
Part of that response included a massive vaccination programme, cholera response and huge food distributions that would see over 20,000 families receiving food aid every day for months. Recognised at home and globally for its response, GOAL continues to be an important agency in nutrition programming in Ethiopia to this day.
As the Gulf War unfolded and tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees were forced to flee their homes, GOAL was on hand to deliver food and medical supplies to the communities who sought safety in the mountains. The failure of western powers to intervene in a timely way meant GOAL staff were in country for an extended period despite the danger and difficulty in operating in Iraq at the time.
GOAL continues to have a presence in Iraq today, focusing on livelihoods, agriculture and resilience programming.
Ravaged by conflict and war, Somalia was faced with large scale famine in 1992, with the harrowing images travelling around the world in real time. GOAL supported tens of thousands of individuals and familieswith food and medical aid, with dozens of GOAL volunteers supporting the response over a period of more than two years.
President Mary Robinson was one of the world leaders who visited to see the impact first hand, and the Irish public's generosity ensured GOAL's response was fast and effective.
The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 shocked the world when the full extent of the loss of human life was made clear. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, with many more facing injury, disease and starvation. GOAL provided emergency aid and assistance after the genocide in what was at the time the agency's largest ever emergency response.
GOAL, through its staff and volunteers, provided water and sanitation, helping prevent the spread of cholera. Many of these volunteers would go on to become long term GOAL staff or life long supporters of the organisation.
Thanks to the unprecedented generosity of the public GOAL responded quickly and effectively to the needs of thousands in the aftermath of the Tsunami which devastated South East-Asia. The massive devestation caused by the tsunami meant that rebuilding work was difficult and slow.
GOAL provided emergency shelter for those who lost their homes and was involved in rebuilding projects, in particular in Sri Lanka, where GOAL built many new schools for communities across the religious and political spectrum.
GOAL began working in Haiti in January 2010 following the catastrophic earthquake which killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless and living in makeshift camps.
GOAL continues to work in Haiti today, delivering programs that provide clean water and sanitiation and focusing on livelihoods for under served communities.
A drought crisis in the Horn of Africa affected several of countries where GOAL was working including Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. Famine was officially declared in southern Somalia, with close to 13 million people across the region in need of emergency aid.
GOAL scaled up its existing operations and responded in new areas, delivering food aid and medical assistance to thousands in critical need.
GOAL began operations in Syria in 2012, providing emergency relief to families devastated by the conflict which broke out in 2011. Today GOAL is still in Syria supporting more than 800,000 a year. Through the rehabiliatation and maintenance of water infrastructure, GOAL ensures communities have access to clean and safe drinking water everyday.
GOAL's program in Syria is the organisation's largest ever response. GOAL's Syria team face acutely challenging circumstances everyday while delivering critically needed support to Syrian families and communities caught in the middle of a long and protracted conference.
In 2014 GOAL responded to the Ebola Virus outbreak in Sierra Leone, taking charge of a newly-constructed Ebola Treatment Centre at Port Loko. The same year the Syria programme became the biggest in our history.
GOAL's Ebola response was complex and required huge commitment, courage and skill from our team members on the ground. Our work helped to keep thousands safe and healthy, combining medical and social and behaviour responses and approaches.
The Nepal Earthquake, measuring a huge 7.9 magnitude, left thousands dead and many more homeless and in need of humanitarian aid in April 2015. GOAL's response was fast and effective, with an Emergency team dispatched within days who supported the coordination of the delivery of food items, shelter and sanitation support.
Today, GOAL continues to be operational in 14 countries and provides advisory services in a further six countries, primarily in Latin America. Our work focuses on emergency response, protracted crises and longer term development.
Reaching over 18 million people last year, GOAL works closely with our local and global partners to deliver lasting solutions for communities experiencing crisis and poverty.
GOAL around the world
GOAL believes in a world where poverty no longer exists, where vulnerable communities are resilient, where barriers to well-being are removed, and where everyone has equal rights and opportunities.
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