‘Women Who 2018’ celebrates women who LEAD, INSPIRE, FIGHT AND CARE. These visionaries from the worlds of entertainment, media, science and politics—among others—challenge the status quo by empowering others through their stellar achievements and passionate dedication to their cause. In the third of our groundbreaking four-part initiative in conjunction with Holden, we honour Women Who Fight, including Australian humanitarian Moira Kelly for her selfless quest to help children with severe health challenges and vulnerable women.
Moira Kelly was only 18 when she flew to Calcutta to work side by side with Mother Teresa—her first step on the path to becoming the global force for good she is today. Kelly’s work with sick children hit the headlines in 2007, when she brought conjoined Bangladeshi twins Krishna and Trishna to Australia for life-saving surgery.
Today, the girls, 10, live with Kelly, 52, at the Melbourne home she shares with other children with complex health conditions, and women who’ve survived trafficking and rape. At Kelly’s house of hope, they heal each other, as she tells WHO’s Karina Machado. “I see miracles every day.”
Through the Moira Kelly Creating Hope Foundation, Moira continues to care for sick and needy children, their families and displaced women. Funded entirely by charitable donation, the foundation offers comfort, hope, protection and safety to those who need it most.
YOU TAKE IN CHILDREN OTHERS PUT IN THE TOO-HARD BASKET. WHAT GIVES YOU THE STRENGTH TO DO THAT?
The thing that gets me to want to fight is seeing so many injustices … and also believing that there’s no such word as no. We have no right to say no when you know someone’s life is involved—I always believe that a piece of [bureaucratic] paper shouldn’t dictate a child’s life, or any human being’s life.
HOW CAN WE ALL LEARN TO OPEN OUR HEARTS TO BE MORE COMPASSIONATE?
Just because we’re Australian doesn’t mean the problems in Syria aren’t our problems. We’re universal … We can’t do everything but Mother Teresa always said, ‘Little things in great ways.’ So as human beings, don’t wait for the other person to always to it, we can always do something. Kindness goes a long way.
TELL ME ABOUT THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN YOUR CARE AT THE MOMENT
Well, we’re just a big family! I’ve got 11 nationalities in the house … that’s what we do best, use some of the great medical science in Australia to benefit those who don’t have access to it. I take on children who are challenging, and in the last 18 months or so I’ve gotten involved in helping women, and some of their journeys are terrible … There’s a wonderful sense of healing watching this magic come together [between them]. One of my little girls, Shahd, 8, from the Gaza Strip, has a condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. She makes two weeks’ worth of skin every night. But she wakes up and never complains. She smiles.
WHO ARE YOU FIGHTING FOR AT THE MOMENT?
I’m fighting for a little girl in Baghdad, Farah. She’s got a bilateral cleft palate and she’s going blind and if we don’t get this little girl over here before she’s 8, we probably can’t save her sight. This is the thing that absolutely drives you. Sometimes little children are voiceless but they just need people like us to step in.
For more on Moira Kelly and her lifelong mission to help others, pick up this week’s issue of WHO, on sale now.