The Collection

Step by Step

BY MECHELLE MOORE | WRITER

Today Global Alms Incorporated published a media release announcing that as their CEO-Asia, I am now a new partner of the Kiah Elevating Excellence program. This might not seem so significant to you, but for me this is a big deal!

“We are excited to announce that our Chief Executive Officer – Asia, Mechelle Moore, has recently been selected as a new partner for the Kiah Elevating Excellence program.” – Global Alms Incorporated

Media Release | Global Alms Incorporated CEO is now a partner of the Kiah Elevating Excellence Program | November 2017

Although I am the CEO & Founder of RMJ United, my full-time position is currently as CEO-Asia for Global Alms Incorporated based on the Thai/Burma border. Global Alms Incorporated is a growing Australian based not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the elimination of trafficking, sexual exploitation and physical abuse of men, women and children.

The Kiah Elevating Excellence program is designed to focus on “selected individuals who inspire, create and make a difference to those around them, and with just a little help, could do so much more”, says John Glenn, Managing Director and Founder of Kiah Consulting.

“The Elevating Excellence program is our contribution—using who and what we know to give a hand to a few who have talent, a drive and a vision.  We call it Elevating Excellence because we aim to support our partners to level up, to take that jump to the next stage of their careers.” – Kiah Consulting

I have worked extremely hard over the last 6 years to help Global Alms Incorporated grow into what is it today. Thankfully, we have a great team of young men and women who are passionate about our work in Anti-Human Trafficking. In this industry it is extremely difficult to build an organisation from the ‘ground up’ without professional guidance, but with persistence and hard work we have done it.

The Kiah Elevating Excellence program will provide networks and resources for me to grow professionally and expand my work in both Global Alms Incorporated and RMJ United.  I have learnt it is extremely important to challenge yourself as an individual; not only investing in yourself, but in your team. The more I grow, develop and improve, the more my team will do the same. For me to invest in them, I need to first invest in myself.

I believe we should celebrate the small wins, not just the big achievements. This is an exciting time for me and also my teams.

MM.

 

Hidden in the Fields

BY KATHERINE THEN | WRITER

The migration of women around the world has remarkably increased in the last 40-50 years. Although many women and girls migrate voluntarily, others migrate as a result of war, ethnic conflicts, economic stagnation, and natural disasters.

In 2016, the Council of Europe reported that, “for the first time since the beginning of the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe, women and children on the move outnumber adult men”. “Women and children made up nearly 60% of refugees and other migrants crossing into Europe.”

According to the UN, between 2000 and 2015, the number of international migrants has increased by 41%, reaching 244 million. Almost half of them are women. Today, 50 per cent of the world’s refugees are women and girls.

This week, as part of our community collaboration efforts with Global Alms Incorporated, our team visited a family that has been in Thailand for 30 years living as undocumented migrants. Family members – most of whom were women, work in the agriculture sector- dealing with uncertainties, such as lack of work in low harvesting seasons, harsh working conditions, minimal pay, and maltreatment. Due to their undocumented status, they often face challenges relating to their safety, health, and economic security. Everyday they walk through these muddy rice fields, at times in the adverse conditions of rainy seasons, just to access their homes.

As reported by the International Labor Organization, agriculture contractors around the world often hire the most vulnerable laborers least aware of their rights to maintain low pay for long hours of work. In some countries, women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labor force. India, being the largest producer of tea, employs over a million of tea workers, mostly women. In the United States, approximately 400,000 women, majority of whom are immigrants, work in agriculture. In Thailand, migrant workers from Myanmar, more than half of which are women, make up a vast majority of the agricultural workforce.

Although most migrant women prefer to work in urban rather than rural areas – due to greater economic and educational opportunities, there are still many women that remain working in the fields – enduring and wading through despite cycles of insecurity and hardships.

KT.

Woman of Steel: Oula Awad

BY MECHELLE MOORE | WRITER

If you have ever trained at a ladies only gym in Greenacre, then chances are you have seen Oula Awad in action; motivating one of her clients on their journey to a healthy lifestyle.

My first impression of Oula Awad was, ‘this woman is tough and determined’. There was a natural gentleness in her eyes with an ‘I can accomplish anything’ presence about her. I wasn’t sure when or how that self-belief and assurance had developed, until I heard Oula’s story.

It was only 6 months after giving birth to her son, Noah, when Oula decided to join a ladies only gym. “Due to pregnancy complications, I had doubled my weight and ended up around 121kg”, she says. “When I gave birth to Noah, I constantly looked at myself in the mirror and could not bear the sight of what I had become compared to what I was before pregnancy.”

It was through, “persistence, patience and proper eating habits over a course of a 2 to 3 year period” that she lost 45 kg. The rest of the excess weight came off slowly over time. “I was extremely depressed at the start and could not see any results”, she says. “Through patience, sheer hard work and dedication, I started noticing the changes and drop off weight.”

I remember Oula’s face lighting up when she explained the transition that occurred within her body and mind that took a while to be noticeable. “I could see other ladies in the same predicament”, she says. “I thought to myself, ‘if I did it, then I can help others to do it too’. I believed in myself and these ladies needed someone to make them believe in themselves too.”

It was during this time, that Oula decided to become a Personal Trainer. Through online studies she obtained a Certificate III and IV in Fitness. “I would still do my daily training at the gym and attend to my family’s needs during the day”, she says. “When they would all go to sleep, I’d jump online to study and complete assignments to achieve the desired qualifications to become a licensed Personal Trainer.”

Once qualified as Personal Trainer, Oula generously worked at a gym for a period of 4 years without drawing a wage. That kind of generosity towards helping women is rare. In Oula’s mind her “remuneration was seeing the ladies’ smiles and petite figures come back to them without negatively judging themselves”.

Oula shared that as a mother and wife, it can be extremely hard to juggle daily life with your ambitions. “Luckily and thankfully, I am surrounded by a man and kids that gave me the space and time to continue my career ambitions without the added complication of attending to the family life”.

When new to an industry there is usually someone that we look up to or influenced us in some way. For Oula that is her friend, Violet,. “[Violet] constantly pushed me and had her hand behind my back”, she says. “She helped me see every blockade in my path as nothing but a little hurdle to get over and keep moving.” Describing Violet as, “nothing short of a sister to me, I have so much love and respect for this woman for making things seem pretty easy”.

In every industry there are always challenges to face and rewards. “The best thing I experience, and I do experience this quite often, is seeing ladies achieve their results. I always receive phone calls from their husbands thanking me for changing their lives”, she says. “Husbands call me thankful for bringing back [their wives] for how they were; both emotionally and physically”.

For Oula to achieve her career goals she has sacrificed her own time and spending time with her husband and children. This is not an easy path to walk, especially with a goal of helping others. I admire Oula’s commitment to her goals and determination to complete what she started. She explains, “[I am] blessed with a beautiful family; without my husband and kids, I wouldn’t be where I am right now”.

We discussed her family and turning points in her life where she needed to ‘dig deep’ to survive. I was overcome with emotion listening to the journey Oula has travelled so far. There are similarities in our stories and her experiences hit a few nerves with me.

The most influential women in her life are, “women who have lost children and kept moving forward”. She explained that, “as a mother who has had 2 miscarriages and buried a daughter (Yasmine), I have nothing but love and respect for any woman who has experienced the same calamities”.

I think back over the interview and remember feeling comforted that I wasn’t the only one who had been through such experiences, but also anguish that someone else had been changed by such tragedies.

Oula is the most positive person I have ever met. Her sheer determination and self-belief is inspiring and something women need to see. “Believe in yourself; remain motivated; be consistent; never give up; stay strong willed and never feel that you’re alone”, she says. “Lift your head and be proud of who you are; life is a challenge, keep on going strong”.

I am humbled to have met such an incredible woman.

MM.

 

How far would you go?

BY KATHERINE THEN | WRITER

For many women who live in developing countries, a lack of geographic access to public health facilities inhibits or often limits use. Medical care can be long distances away especially for a woman with limited resources to attain transport services. In some countries, women walk 8 miles to reach the nearest public health facility, even during labor. At times, childbirth appointments are scheduled in advance to avoid complications and prevent risks to the mother’s and child’s health.

According to UNICEF, “over 800 women are dying each day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth”. They report that, “for every woman who dies, approximately 20 others suffer serious injuries, infections or disabilities; [with] almost all maternal deaths (99 per cent) occur in developing regions”.

For mothers and expecting mothers, the wait can feel eternal – especially surrounded by the 4 walls of a maternity ward – where approximately 25-30 women wait. Dealing with feelings of pain, uncertainty, and anxiousness.

To put things into perspective, in order to travel to the nearest public clinic, this woman would have to travel by motorbike, the cost of 200 Baht ($6 USD) – equivalent to 13 meals for her child. After traveling 13.6 kilometers, the wait lasted 10 days. Thanks to the Mae Tao Clinic, a public clinic which offers free health care for migrants and refugees, she was able to give birth to her beautiful daughter – weight of 2.6 kilos.

Providing emotional support and connecting her with local resources (for transport, nutrition), she is ready to return home with her newborn baby and four year old son. We are very proud of her for her endurance and courage. We met M.A. 9 months ago and have been supporting her by connecting her with local support services and resources, which can be hard to access as a young woman/mother living as a migrant on the border.

KT.

*All names of community members are kept confidential to protect their identity. Permission was obtained to display photos presented.

**Article originally published by Katherine Then on http://www.globalalms.com for Global Alms Incorporated.

Interview by Allen Ray Jr for Ministry With Purpose

BY ALLEN RAY JR | JOURNALIST @ MINISTRY WITH PURPOSE

Interview with Mechelle Moore by Allen Ray Jr, published by Ministry With Purpose

Ministry With Purpose – Website Interview Link

Ministry With Purpose – You Tube Interview Link

Mechelle is a friend I met here in Thailand. Her and her ministry Global Alms have not only been a blessing to me and my family but also to the people of Mae Sot. We talk about her life growing up in Australia, difficulties in her life that broke her down, and how God built her back up.

AR.

 

The passion get’s me every time!

BY MECHELLE MOORE | WRITER @ A KIWI CHICK IN ASIA

*Article re-posted with permission from A Kiwi Chick In Asia

Mechelle B Moore

I constantly find inspiration through working with a friend of mine. The resilience of this woman just puts my puny weak mindedness to shame. My friend is visually impaired with only 15% left of her sight. Her childhood was not the most ‘easy going’ experience, with some very dark moments scattered throughout her teen years. Despite all the trials she has in her life, she manages to challenge me constantly with her ‘this will not break me’ positive attitude. Everyone naturally has moments of doubt and worry, but to date I have not met anyone that bounces back like she does. I love her quirky ‘Aussie inspired’ sense of humor and cheeky nature. This just adds to the beauty of her gorgeous independent nature.

My friends name is Khun Bunsiri Phuengkaew or ‘Boonie’ as we tend to affectionately call her. I feel totally blown away to have met her, let alone work alongside this woman. I…

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The Cost

BY JOANNE FRIEND | WRITER

“One didn’t really believe till one saw it demonstrated that giving one up completely to art, to emotion, to enjoyment, without planning for the future or counting the cost, produced dreadful disabilities and bankruptcies later.” – Edmund Wilson

Over the last few days I have been in a position of watching my daughter handle and attend the death of her young friend, 12 years of age. While I was watching her go through this traumatic time I was informed that a friend of mine was murdered doing what she loved; helping others that were in a very vulnerable position in their lives.

During these few days, I could not be with my daughter as she went through this heart wrenching time. I also couldn’t sit in a quiet place myself and grieve for what my friend went through; for what her family and friends were going through, the grieving of losing someone dear to them. Last night I sat with my special mum as I watched my daughter sleep. I felt lost. I felt I had let my daughter down. I wasn’t with her at this most important life changing time for her.

You see, in my life I have made critical decisions; some good, some bad, thankfully most were good. Being absent was a decision I made years ago, before I had a daughter (only recently adopted), it was for me to acquire and run my own business. It was not only to be a business, but to be successful in every way. To do that I had to count the cost concerning my life and what I was prepared to give up to achieve success. When you sit down and say, “oh yea working 12 hours a day, no problem” or “cutting down on my social life, no problem”. Everything was ‘no problem’, because I wasn’t facing any issue that may challenge me at the time of making the decision.

A wise old man told me when I was in high school, “The decisions you make today, you will see the results, 3-5 years further down the track”. I thought 3-5 years, that’s so far away and I’m only in high school. Surely decisions I’m making today aren’t going to affect me way down there into the future. I learnt quickly that not only decisions I made affected me, it also affects other people that were/are close to me.

“Who you hang around with, will dictate how people see you and what opportunities come your way.”

I knew someone from high school who had a lot of opportunities. If she had of just stayed away from people that didn’t have her best interests at heart, then this girl would be a very famous person today. She took bad advice, never counted the cost and turned into a compulsive liar. As a result, people lost their trust in her and it went from maybe becoming famous to just serving coffee. There is nothing wrong with serving coffee, but if you could have traveled the world making a difference in people lives, which would you choose?

Making decisions and counting the cost.

“Don’t do the right thing for the wrong reasons. It is the “why” that keeps us committed to our choices and defines our character.” – Shannon L. Alder

My friend, the young woman that was murdered, was also in the position of making decisions and counting the cost. She made a decision to leave her home, to start up a place of refuge that would feed women and children involved in domestic violence and sexual assault.

The decision she made was one she knew would come at a cost. Away from her family and friends all the things that she knew and were near and dear to her. There were many things she had to work through, e.g. finding accommodation, learning the language. She had to find out what the laws and street rules were for sexual assault, rape and domestic violence. Street rules are very different to laws and are dealt out by the people in the street.

One issue we would chat about often, was her safety and the safety of her clients. I would talk with her about the violence in the area; the violence from husbands and boyfriends that could happen at any time. This was a cost she was not willing to consider. She decided to start up this organisation, she had funding and clients; “What could possibly go wrong? … they love us in this community!”. Well, a few years down the track, she is dead, with her body being transported back to the States.

Yes, she made the decision to ignore safety concerns, but she didn’t work out the cost. In life, you can never work out the cost of everything, but violence should have been high on her agenda. She had staff, her clients and herself, so protection should have been right up there in the cost and decision making. Now, that decision she made a few years back, has cost her life.

Making decisions and counting the cost.

The reason I couldn’t be with my daughter … I was working three 12 hour days. When I made the decision to start my business, I knew the cost. When I adopted a young girl, I thought I knew the cost. I’m finding out not everything can be planned, but I can adjust.

As females, we are strange. We can be dictated by our emotions, by culture, by friends and by what we see in the press. To be business women, we need to consider the hours we work, looking after the home, having children and making sure our husbands are alright.

Why do we not break the glass ceiling?

Usually this is because we don’t do the things the men do and when we do, we are told “Oh you’re not a good wife” or “you’re not a good mother”. Why is that? I have found, as women, we do make a lot of emotional decisions in our lives. We are not as ruthless in business like men. Plus, we always seem to be living up to a role model that is 50 years past its use by date.

Please if you want to succeed, make the decision, but always count the cost. Whatever you do, can you live with the decisions you make? Can you pay the price if you make the wrong or right decision?

“People always say in the end you only regret the choices you didn’t make, but I really think you also regret the choices you were foolish enough to make.” – Melizena

JF.

Are Men The Enemy?

BY MECHELLE MOORE | WRITER

I consider myself a feminist, but as I have explained to many women, not all ‘feminists’ are the man hating, hairy legged, bra burning activists who wear pink beanies in the shape of nipples. It comes down to your version of feminism. When you say that word out loud, for many people it invokes cringe worthy expressions and reeks of a man hating vibe. I have seen women degrade men and rebuke their efforts to value women, simply because they are men. To these women, to stand for equality means making men obsolete.

For me … men are not the enemy!

As a woman, I have had moments in my life where men have treated me like dirt in a power-hungry rage. I have had unspeakable things done to my body. My spirit has been broken, my heart shattered and I lost myself-respect.

For me … men are not the enemy!

I have witnessed the aftermath of beaten bodies; women so helpless that they would prefer to kill themselves just to have a moment of peace in their world. I have seen human remains kicked and walked over like they are rubble and debris in the dirt. I have seen people strung up, hung from trees, like an upturned hung beast after slaughter. These are horrid things that one person has inflicted onto another when they’ve been fighting for a cause, or for their lives.

For me … men are not the enemy!

I admire people who marry, but I also love being single. I married young and it was a challenge. Looking back, there are many things that happened in my marriage that now I would handle differently, but the past cannot be changed. So, I move forward holding onto lessons learnt. I think for me to be in that position again, God will need to bring along an incredibly strong man to love me and walk beside me. I do not see marriage as a burden, it is a partnership and a blessing.

For me … men are not the enemy!

In life, terrible things happen to people. What one person, irrespective of gender, does to another can be incredibly horrific or an absolute marvel. I think everyone is capable of evil acts, not just ‘bad’ people. The difference is the choice we make and whether we choose to act or react on our feelings, impulses or urges. Sometimes violence and terrible circumstances are unavoidable, but it is how you collect yourself, learn from these instances and move forward that counts.

For me … men are not the enemy!

I have always been taught the character of a man is the key to understanding how he will treat you. If you see a man’s character in action, you will have a better idea of who he is as a man.

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Malcolm S. Forbes.

A friend taught me to watch how a man treats his mother, sisters and aunties, as that will show you how he treats women in his life. Nothing is ever 100% foolproof, but putting in the time and watching their actions will show you who that man really is, especially when he is angry or under pressure.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller

My father was the first man I ever loved and his corny jokes still make me laugh. He taught me the values of remaining approachable and teachable, that prayer is a necessity and to seek wisdom from others. He taught me to consider all aspects of a situation and to choose my battles wisely. He is quiet and reserved; only speaking when he has something to say. He considers his words carefully and will sit back watching a situation rather than diving in head first callously. These are the men I admire.

I think men and women go hand in hand. Men and women have different aspects that complement each other; one without the other in life leaves a massive, gaping hole. Understanding, acknowledging and appreciating those differences, renders them insignificant. There is a reason we were created one from the other.

Despite loving my independence, I have found that I want strong men in my life. I purposefully seek them out. I appreciate learning from men with wisdom, experience and perspective. Many are friends, teachers, colleagues and some now my mentors. The more I learn from our experiences, both good and bad, the more I am driven towards success.

For me … men are not the enemy! In fact, they are my ally, and yours too.

MM.

 

Shape of You

BY RUTH LESMANA | WRITER

I have this friend …

From a very young age, she had always struggled to accept and love her own shape.

“You’ve gained weight!”Body Image

“Be careful, don’t eat too much …”

“You’re not as skinny as you were when I first met you.”

“You don’t need to eat that.”

“You’re so big now! Not fat … but big and strong!”

At first, she didn’t really understand why people felt like they had the right to make such comments. She grew to believe that these observations meant she wasn’t good enough. That she fell short of society’s standards, and the standards of those she trusted.

So she wore baggy clothes that would cover up her curves; and pants or shorts that would help to tuck everything in. She preferred to stay under the radar in order to draw less attention to herself.

Over time, this friend of mine began to accept herself for who she was; but also to heed the concerned advice of those who loved her. So she, along with the help of her friends and family, began to change her lifestyle. She exercised, she changed her eating habits, she listened to herself to develop healthier habits. Her curves and folds began to minimize, and although they still exist, she could see the differences developing in herself. But still, sometimes … she felt less than others.

She also began to notice that she wasn’t alone. That throughout her life, the hurt, tears, feelings of inadequacy that she felt – were mirrored by many others. As if not being ‘skinny’, or having fat or curves showing through clothes meant that they weren’t beautiful. As if not being curvy, or having certain bones or muscles showing through meant that they weren’t ‘womanly’. Funny that, huh? Who can win, with standards like that? Who can feel accepted, with values like that?

Nonetheless, my friend eventually realized that she was capable of many good things, and that their comments weren’t appropriate standards of measurement. That just because people voiced those opinions or tried to change her, that she was her own master. That within her, there were many more important things to be concerned about rather than her shape.

This friend of mine …

My body

Has taught me many things.

She has taught me that I am strong.

That I am capable of continually improving and become a healthier version of myself, when I choose to do so. That I am capable of working hard and to the fullest, as long as I take good care of her. That I am capable of setting a good example for others, so that they too can live confidently and with acceptance of their own bodies – instead of listening to condescending voices. That the shape of her gratitude, compassion, humility, and attitude; were the qualities worth prioritizing. And most of all, she has taught me to own her, and not allow anyone else to have any say in what happens to her.

“It’s not my responsibility to be beautiful. I’m not alive for that purpose. My existence is not about how desirable you find me.” – Warsan Shire

It’s taken me a long time to love and accept my friend for who she is. But I’m glad that I have, because she carries me.

RL.