Handing the Baton
Wasn’t it great to have the distraction of the Olympics a few months ago? The events I love to watch the most are the relay races – both swimming and athletics. On school sports carnivals, I loved to enter the relay races because it meant that I could bring the best I had to the team environment and together we worked to do the best we could. Each person individually on the relay team does not have all the right skills, but bringing them all together as one unit working for the same goal, they are better.
I remember starting World Hope International in Australia 20 years ago in October 2001. I felt completely inadequate but I knew that this was what I was called to do and Dr. JoAnne Lyon had given me the go-ahead to set up the organisation in Australia – she must have believed in me! So we registered as World Hope Australia Inc and later re-launching as World Hope International Ltd in 2016 as part of the global WHI Alliance with WHI USA and WHI Canada to be strengthened as a team with one mission and vision.
Over the years WHI Australia has impacted communities in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, The Philippines, and Cambodia through programmes that focus on clean water and energy, global health, protection and social ventures.
We have also responded with disaster relief to communities around the world, starting with the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 where we partnered with WHI USA and Canada to bring relief to communities in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. As I reflect over the 20 years since WHI AUS began, I remember various interactions which have spurred me on.
I can clearly remember the little boy in remote Papua New Guinea who came to sit with my friend and I as I was waiting for my small Cessna plane to arrive and take me back to the main town. This little child was asking what it was like to be up in the sky in a plane and my friend began to describe it to him. She then told him that if he went to school and studied hard and passed his exams, that he too could become a pilot and fly a plane one day – his eyes became wider and wider with the wonder of that idea and I saw him begin to dream at that possibility – I then got really mad because there were so many barriers stopping this child from even receiving a basic education in his community!
I went home from there determined that I would do what I could to provide education opportunities for him and others like him and so began our Elementary Teacher Training programme led by Cecila Anderson.
I remember Grandma Esther in Zambia who was left to care for her 6 grandchildren after her children had died from HIV Aids. She invited us to her home and as we sat in chairs in her yard, she was embarrassed that she did not have food to serve us. We were able to establish social ventures in her village which provided an income for Grandma Esther to feed and clothe her grandchildren and send them to school. I think of the little girl who was brought to our Assessment Centre in Cambodia, staff told us she had been severely raped and traumatised, yet within 24 hours I watched as she ran and played with the other girls at the centre. She opened up and received the care and love from the house mothers – this little girl knew she was safe and her life was going to change for the better.
I think of the young couple who I met in Kampong Cham Cambodia, who had just begun their first Mushroom House as part of WHI’s Thera Metrey Social Venture. They spoke of possibilities for their future of being able to afford house renovations and basic things like a toilet of their own as well as being able to set aside savings.
Each one of these individuals and many others have spurred me on in my passion to see World Hope International’s mission and vision carried out – to promote dignity and build opportunity and hope in communities we work alongside globally.
However, none of this could happen without the value of a team approach – the strength of collaboration as a global WHI Alliance, the talented staff in Australia who go above and beyond over and over again because they believe in what we are doing, the WHI – Australia Board of Directors who support with their wisdom, the in-country staff who have the understanding of culture and a commitment to see vulnerable communities empowered, Australian Churches who step up to support and fundraise and advocate, donors who give financially and other partners who all provide their unique talents, expertise and abilities to see those in need raised up.
As in any relay race, there comes a time to hand the baton to the next person who will not only carry the mission and vision of WHI and take the seed that was planted, adding their gifts and talents to strengthen and grow on the solid foundation that has been built. In the same way I felt called to begin WHI in Australia 20 years ago, I feel that now is the time for me to transition out of the role as CEO and to hand the baton to the next person who can lead WHI AUS onward and upward to bigger and better things. Someone who will lead through the next phase of WHI AUS.
I am grateful for the privilege of serving in the role of CEO for so many years, for the chance to build World Hope International in Australia, to work with so many amazing and talented team members around the world. I am grateful to have been part of bringing opportunity, dignity, and hope to so many. I look forward to seeing how God brings the next leader with the gifts and talents needed for the next ‘leg of the race’.
If you are interested in the role of CEO for World Hope International – Australia or know someone who may be, learn the next steps and how to inquire here.
To support these efforts, you can make a gift to The Hope Fund, which allows us to respond where and when it matters and continue projects centered on clean water & energy, protection, global health, and social enterprises.