The Collection

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.

**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.

My Person

BY JALAINE7 | WRITER @ LIVING WITH ANXIETY ME

Article re-posted with permission from Living with anxiety me.

Living with Anxiety Me

I was always told as a girl that I wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that no matter how good I am or how perfect I am, I still won’t be good enough for everyone.
As a young woman dreaming of one day finding the man of my dreams, and also watching my parents go through a troubling divorce, it was important for me to realise that even at my absolute best, I will still not be good enough for the wrong person.

I was always fearful of not being able to find a man who could accept me, anxiety and all. I imagined that having a girlfriend who will sometimes have panic attacks in public, a girlfriend who will overthink small things and who will sometimes be overly emotional and feel rejected by small hurts would be exhausting. Having a girlfriend who has no self esteem constantly looking…

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Deep in My Heart I Know I Am a Loner

BY KAMAND | WRITER

Deep in my heart I know I am a loner. I have tried to blend in with the world or be more sociable, but the more people I meet the more disappointed I am. So I’ve learned to enjoy myself, my family, and a few good friends.

I am a loner, I have a small circle of friends that I trust. They know my life, they know my heart and they know me. I don’t have a lot of people that I would socialize with, I am careful with who tries to get close to me.

“I have found loneliness isn’t always the enemy …”

Over the tears I have become more aware that people seem to want their needs met rather than try and meet others. If we showed less selfishness or ‘me’ attitude by helping other’s we would find our own needs being met by not dwelling on our needs/wants. I wonder over the years what we teach our children about life and what we show (mirror) them. Adults are supposed to have it all together, but we don’t. We are sometimes more of a mess then our children.

“Maybe I like to be in a place where I make the decision about my life!”

Today I was acutely aware of how I have isolated myself from people that are being negative or angry, they are not the only reasons. I have kept away from being put in hole that says I should be married I should have children you’re getting old no one will want you (I’m 25). Maybe I like this singleness!! Maybe I like to be in a place where I make the decision about my life! Maybe my future is controlled by me not everyone else’s desire for my life. I look around at people doing jobs they hate going home to a house full of people that they are not happy about. Some are in relationships that have gone past there use by date and are so locked in; they are dying.

I have found loneliness isn’t always the enemy, yours and people’s expectation are.

I choose what I do.

What I eat.

When I eat it.

What I spend my money on.

Who I spend my time with.

What I wear.

What I look like.

Yes, there are times when I’m at home and I wish somebody was there but it is my choice no one to blame but me. So, I am happy to be a loner because it is my choice. What is yours?

K.

Knock Knock!

BY AMINA | WRITER

KNOCK KNOCK …

Its night and cold, I lay on the floor close to the door, which has wood across it to hold it shut. To stop or delay the entrance of the intruders known as the Taliban, a group of terrorists under the guise of being Muslim. They rape and they kill! You can be beaten because there is no hot food for them or no food at all to feed them.

My sister lies at the other end of the room. My mother and my two younger sisters are in the next room with the door locked. Every night we pray that in the morning we will be alive, we will not be one of those that are dragged out at night beaten, killed or raped.

Welcome to my village and my house in Afghanistan; a Muslim country at war with itself.

I was in an area under government control maybe in the day, but at night the soldiers and the police go to the safety of their compounds and houses in secure areas, leaving the rest of us to defend ourselves. We were mostly women, children and old men. The young men have either been killed, kidnapped or left the area to survive.

In the middle of the night you hear voices, movement … your mouth dries up, your heart is beating. Is this the time they come for you or members of your family? Then it may be just neighbours getting up early or someone who is going on a long journey, so they start early to try and avoid the terrorists.

Then there are the times when you hear the voices of angry people yelling, doors being kicked in and the screaming of women and children. The terrorists, the cowards, are here they come at night they attack women, children and the elderly. As they brutalize the women, they call out, “Allāhu Akbar” at the top of their voices. So the killing and raping brings honour to Allah and the Prophet Mohammed (PHUH)? No, I don’t think so!

They lie by sending people to their death, telling them they will go immediately to Jannah (Heaven) killing other Muslims. No, this is not Islam.

My sisters lay close to the wall with a knife, in case they break down the door and take me and my other sister; then come after them, one 8 yrs old and one 10 yrs old. They will use the knife to kill themselves; rather than be taken, raped by half dozen men, then killed or kept for another day to go through it all again.

These men do this all in the name of Islam.

We escaped eventually and I work in another country. I look after people. I am now trained in security. I look after my employer’s child, a young girl, who has never seen the violence in the name of Allah.

Over the years of living in Afghanistan and wondering if I would be next, I never slept a full night. Even now, I wake up from dreams of violence. I wake up with a sweat not knowing where I am. No one knocks on my door at night, no one touches me while I am asleep because I sleep with a weapon. The only one that comes into my room at night, is the young girl of the house, it’s as though my senses pick her up and there is peace there. She knows …. when I have had a nightmare she comes into the room, jumps on my bed and reads to me soothing verses that give me hope and peace.

I was asked by my younger sister once, “why are people so angry with the foreigners that are here protecting us, but none of our brothers from other countries protect us?”. I couldn’t answer the question. Why as Muslims don’t we sort ourselves out? Why do we allow terrorists to hijack Islam?

It is easy to live in a peaceful country and be critics, BUT much harder to be where you have no food, no running water, bombs going off day and night. Yes, you give Dua for the people in these countries. Will you stand up against the bad element in your country that blacken what Islam is about?

I lived because I have a goal and a dream to live a better life style. My determination to live and get my family to safety was important.

When your father is killed in front of you by terrorists, your brother is blown up in the markets. You understand that it’s up to this 16 year old girl to lead the family to safety.

KNOCK KNOCK …

A.

Things girls in high school need to hear but no one tells them!

BY KENZIE ROBERTS | WRITER

If you are in high school listen up and learn from my lessons …

There is so much more to who you are as a person than what you look like. When you die, you will be remembered by the things you did in life and how you treated people, not that one time you got a really big zit on your nose.

Speaking of which, acne is so beyond normal. Acne occurs when hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil from the skin. It can also be caused by an excess of sugar in the body and fluctuating hormones. It happens to everyone, including that girl with the annoyingly smooth face. It may not be on your face either. It can be your arms, legs, and back as well. It’s totally normal. Find a nice powerful cleanser and a soothing moisturizer to keep your skin from getting too dry.

Nothing good happens past midnight. Seriously. Go to sleep.

That one time that you were caught without any pads or tampons and bled through your pants, yeah, so not a big deal. It happens to literally everyone. It’s totally mortifying in the moment, but next week, there will be something else for everyone to focus on. Don’t let stupid people make fun of you because you have your period. Your body and every process it goes through is beautiful. Don’t let people undermine that.

girl-holding-a-lightbulb-kevin-curtis

*Fun Fact: Your uterus is mad influential. It can sync up with other uterus’s so your cycles will occur at the same time (this is something I still have to convince others of which speaks volumes about what they’re teaching in Health class). They can get on the same wavelength so you and your sisters, mothers, aunts, girlfriends can ride the crimson wave together. 

You will survive through these next 4 years. I know this feels like forever with all the judgmental eyes and gossiping mouths. I seriously get it.

“Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

– Bernard M. Baruch

From junior high to my 11th grade year, I had a pixie cut. Think Shailene Woodley ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ era. I was called every name in the book. Lesbian, Butch, Man. I was asked if I wanted to be a boy now. People constantly told me I looked better with long hair and that I should grow it out; especially family members.

The comment that affected me the most was, “boys like girls with long hair”. I would get so upset and tell people (more like yell at people) that I don’t do things for boys and I don’t care what they like. I liked it and that was enough. Defend yourself but don’t drive yourself crazy. You are enough for the people that are really important.

You do not know everything. No matter how much it sucks to hear, you are still young. Find wise counsel, someone who has lived a bit of life (your friends may have good advice, but they are in the same boat as you), someone who is older. A youth pastor, a church leader, an aunt, the mom of a friend, even an older sister. Take what they say, and listen.

“Be professional, be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

– General James Mattis USMC

That being said, do not let yourself be silenced. I cannot stress this one enough. Your thoughts, opinions and ideas are just as important and hold value like everyone else’s. These are yours and do not need to be justified. Be respectful and do not let people interrupt or undermine you. Clearly I don’t think you should go around killing people, but you need to learn how to be strategic in the way you communicate with others.

There is so much more than romantic love. Do not take the lack of a boyfriend or girlfriend as a sign that you are a failure and unloved. The love from people in your life like parents, brothers, sisters, Grandparents, best friends is more rewarding than from your latest crush. There is so much more to love, than that which is romantic.

If your friends and/or parents are telling you that he isn’t treating you right, listen to them. You may not be able to see it, but they do. Also, if he cheats on you, do not rationalize it. Do not blame yourself and do not let him explain. There is no excuse. Drop him like it’s hot.

This one might be the most important. Stand up for other girls. We are in this together. If you hear a boy or girl talking down about a girl, stop them. Defend her. No matter how you feel about her personally. We are not supposed to be against each other. Life is not a competition between girls. It’s not one big cat fight. You are not impressing anyone by being bitchy and dissing another girl. Do not waste time tearing other girls down to build yourself up. When you call other girls names and treat them like crap, other people think they can do the same. And they will.

“The measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls.”

–  Michelle Obama

You are as much as a part of this society as anyone else. Treat every girl with the respect and consideration that you want and appreciate. These are your sisters. These are the girls who will stand in solidarity with you.

These girls will be lesbians, transgender, bisexual, straight, and everything in-between. They will have big teeth, small butts, tiny waists, big hips, broad shoulders, and everything in-between. These girls will want to be a doctor, stay-at-home-mom, counselor, marine, police officer, president, singer, actress, missionary, witch, and everything in-between. These girls will be geeks, cheerleaders, choir kids, sporto’s, teachers’ pets, rebels, and everything in-between.

Stand up with them, stand up for them.

KR.