Susi Prescott

08/09/2013

 
When a traumatic event changed my comfortable life forever, I decided to head off and follow my dream of making a difference to those in need.  It’s not always easy, but I try to keep in mind the big picture – providing education to change the lives of neglected, marginalized children living in situations of abuse and abject poverty.
Susi’s well-planned life as wife, mother, French teacher and writer in Sydney’s northern suburbs, took an unexpected detour with the end of thirty years’ marriage, two months before her fifty-second birthday. Turning the disaster into an opportunity, she ran - as fast and as far away as possible.

Leaving behind her four young adult kids, she set out for Nepal in 2006, to wander the highlands; she then spent three months in orphanage schools all over the country training teachers of English, who responded to her innovative Australian methodologies with joyful enthusiasm.  In 2007, she travelled to Rwanda, to help a remote community re-establish the local school, once again guiding teachers and children alike in both English and French.  Her living conditions were novel - atop a hill in a round cement house with no water or electricity; her bucket-shower brought in jerry cans up from the river by villagers. Each day she climbed a slippery track in hiking boots, with a crowd of curious admirers, to reach the collection of mud brick classrooms. Although the teachers seemed stunned by her hands-on approach, her conversation activities and singing, the children caught on quickly; indeed, walking home she would hear her French ditties floating on the air, as students laboured in the fields.

In 2007, she set out again from Sydney, this time over the Pacific for the Peruvian city of Arequipa. More than six years later, she’s still there, ensnared by this country of surprising contrasts; its culture, its people, its customs, its language, and the 250 precious children of ‘Elohim’, a school in the desert slums which has become her life’s work.  She teaches English, provides support in Spanish for children with learning difficulties, sits on the board of the school as International Advisor, and works within Arequipa to raise awareness and establish professional and social contacts.  Susi has raised enough funds from Australia, Europe, U.S.A. and Canada to build a new wing with classrooms, administration area, toilets, library and computer room.

Susi is currently working on her sixth book.

 www.susitraveller.com

Location: Arequipa, Peru
 

Wendy McCarthy AO

26/10/2011

 
I  encourage young women to say yes to opportunity and worry about the risk later.

Wendy McCarthy AO

Wendy began her career as a secondary school teacher and remains passionate about the power of education and its ability to transform lives. For decades she has been a teacher, educator and change agent in Australian public life. Wendy has worked with government, corporations and community based organisations in education, women’s issues, public health, heritage, and media and she has held national leadership roles in all of these areas. She has represented Australia at conferences on women’s health and leadership, education, broadcasting, conservation and heritage and for four years was Chair of the Advisory Committee of WHO Kobe Centre, Japan. Currently she is the Chair of Circus Oz; McGrath Estate Agents; headspace Youth Mental Health Foundation and the Pacific Friends of the Global Fund. She is a Non-Executive Director to GoodStart Childcare Limited.  In November 2009, after 13 years of service, Wendy retired as the Vice-Chair of Plan International and as the Director of Plan Hong Kong and Plan Australia. In 2005, she completed a decade as Chancellor of the University of Canberra and she was a founding member of the Australian Chancellors’ Conference. As well as being a published author, Wendy has held executive and non-executive director roles in many of Australia’s leading private and public institutions. Her advocacy for the rights of women and children and leadership have been recognised nationally and in 1989 she was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for outstanding contributions to community affairs, women’s affairs and the Bicentennial celebrations. In 1996 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia and in 2003 she was awarded a Centenary of Federation medal for business leadership. Wendy thinks of herself as a tribal elder.

http://www.wendymccarthy.com.au/
http://www.plan.org.au/
http://www.headspace.org.au/


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney
 

Dr Leanne Piggott

17/10/2011

 
Education systems everywhere, in free and unfree countries alike, have largely reduced the education process to memorisation and recitation.  This is the opposite of real education. I want my students when they leave university to be imbued with the habit of questioning their preconceived assumptions, the determination and skill to research every question thoroughly, and the courage to base their conclusions on a rigorous analysis of the available evidence, no matter where it may lead them.

Dr Leanne Piggott

Leanne is a specialist in Middle East security issues, terrorism, counter-terrorism, and energy security. She is the author of the book, The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Timeless Struggle, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She began teaching Middle East politics some decades ago, with a focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. It was a subject that, in many cases, attracted students with pre-conceived assumptions about who was right or wrong, driven more often than not by their cultural and religious background. She learned quickly the importance of establishing an intellectual model for students that requires them to apply a critical lens to all narratives as a means of understanding why conflict exists and to challenge unexamined assumptions and biases that lie at the heart of all prejudices and, in the worst cases, extremist ideologies. Now located in The University of Sydney Business School, Leanne teaches about opportunities and risks in the business environment, including political and security issues.  Her research continues to examine the security environment of the Middle East generally and geopolitical factors that impact on global energy markets in particular. It remains a research realm that is largely the domain of male academics and policy analysts, who at times must struggle with their own set of perception biases as to what a woman might have to contribute to the world of security.  High on Leanne’s agenda is the need to provide research supervision for more women preparing to become professionals in the public and private sectors in the areas of international security and risk analysis.

http://sydney.edu.au/business/staff/leannep

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: The University of Sydney
 
 
I am motivated by the challenge of improving the lives of Australian children – the most vulnerable members of our society and our greatest future asset. My current work with Indigenous children highlights the fact that health, education and compassion are the greatest gifts we can provide to address disadvantage.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM

Elizabeth is a paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, dedicated to enhancing child health and wellbeing through clinical care, research, education and advocacy. She is Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Sydney and Founder/Director of the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit, which facilitates research on rare, debilitating childhood diseases, and instigated development of a national plan for rare diseases. She is Chief Investigator for the Lililwan Project –to address fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the remote Fitzroy Valley in the Kimberley, WA. She holds a prestigious Practitioner Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. Since 2005 Elizabeth has run education workshops for clinicians in remote Dien Bien Province in Vietnam to address high maternal and child mortality. She attended the Prime Ministers 2020 summit, was twice a NSW finalist in the Telstra Business Woman of the Year awards and in 2008 received an AM for service to paediatrics and child health. Community contributions include to the SMILE Foundation, Cure Kids Australia, Steve Waugh Foundation, Women’s College (University of Sydney), SCEGGS Darlinghurst, NSW Guides and the Hoc Mai Australia Vietnam Medical Foundation. 

www.apsu.org.au
www.thewomenscollege.com.au
www.girlguides-nswact.org.au
www.smilefoundation.com.au
www.sceggs.nsw.edu.au
www.georgeinstitute.org.au/marulu
www.nhmrc.gov.au
www.chw.edu.au
http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/hocmai/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: The University of Sydney
 
 
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 Encouraging others – especially older women – to realise their potential as writers and researchers has been the most fulfilling aspect of my career.

 Professor Emerita Elizabeth Webby AM FAHA

Throughout her life, Elizabeth has helped give a voice to many women writers and researchers, encouraging their development and pursuit of their artistic or scholarly ambitions. She has mentored women for decades, influencing the ways they explore the human condition and opening their minds to new ways of thinking. Elizabeth taught at the University of Sydney for 32 years and from 1988 to 1999 was the editor of Southerly, Australian’s oldest literary quarterly. In 2004, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her service to the study, teaching and promotion of Australian literature, for her support of Australian authors and for fostering links between academic and general reading communities. Many Australian students and authors have been helped by Elizabeth’s calm support and gentle guidance, as well as her passion for the written word.

http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/
http://www.womenwritersnsw.org/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney
 

Laura Wellink

27/07/2011

 
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 I believe that every classroom teacher should gain an understanding of what it feels like to really struggle when learning something new. It is the only way we will be able to empathise with students and therefore be fully committed to making lessons as interactive, relative and informative as possible.


Laura Wellink

Fighting for her rights and the rights of others, Laura is using what some people may call her disability, and turning it around to try and help others. Laura’s neurosurgeon gave her parents little hope of her survival, and if she did survive, then little chance of being educated, due to the trauma inflicted on her brain from hydrocephalus. Laura has learned to manage her learning issues by focusing intensely on the subject at hand. She has become an advocate for other young patients suffering from the disease because of her ability to communicate what is going on inside her head. Laura is at university now studying to become an Early Childhood and Primary teacher, and has a specific interest in Learning Difficulties as she has genuine empathy and understanding of what children with learning difficulties face when presented with complicated tasks. During Practical Sessions, Laura has been able to identify learning difficulties in the classroom and implement different strategies that help a struggling student to succeed. Laura has faced people in her professional life who don’t believe she can teach because of her disability. Her outrage and dertermined fighting spirit has ensured her future in teaching and helping others.


email Laura: laura_wellink@yahoo.com.au


Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Castle Hill, NSW
 

Ruchika Sahai

21/07/2011

 
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Every child is born with the ability and desire to do good. I wanted to create a product, a company, and a brand that instilled my sincere belief that it’s never too early to cultivate the will to make a difference in our children.

Ruchika Sahai

Sitting pregnant on the balcony one night with her husband, Ruchika was contemplating how they could instill the values and ideals that they held dear and the concept of making a difference into their children. Ruchika decided that she wanted to create a company based on the principal of reciprocity. She created Booda Brand on the premise of “One for You, One for Humanity.”  For every single Booda Brand product purchased, a book would be gifted to a child in need through the incredible organization Room to Read. The company makes organic newborn and baby clothes, each emblazoned with the words “I will make a difference,” and packaged in a gift box resembling a book. Last year, Oprah took notice and put the Booda Brand tees on the “O List”  in her magazine and on her website.   

http://www.roomtoread.org/

http://www.boodabrand.com/

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney
 

Jennie Orchard

21/07/2011

 
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Room to Read was founded on the belief that World Change Starts with Educated Children® and since 2000, it has impacted more than six million children. Having personal connections with many of the countries where the organization is working, particularly Laos and South Africa, I am inspired to tell the story again and again, encouraging others to join the movement to change lives by delivering literacy and gender equality through education.

Jennie Orchard

Books, reading and literature have always been at the core of Jennie’s life. With a background in publishing, when she moved to Asia with her family in early 2002, she became involved in the non-profit world, initially contributing to a women’s organization (CWAJ) in Japan, then becoming involved with Room to Read while living in Hong Kong. In early 2008 Jennie returned to Sydney and led the team which has established a highly successful fundraising and awareness-raising presence for Room to Read in Australia, becoming Development Director for Australasia in 2010. Since launching with a Wine Gala in February 2009, nearly $5m has been raised and there is now a network of six volunteer chapters around Australia, with chapters also starting to develop in New Zealand. Jennie’s personal commitment to Room to Read derives from strong connections with many of the program countries, including South Africa and Laos. Her husband worked in Vientiane for three years and they celebrated their marriage there with a baci ceremony in October 1983. In February 2008, before returning to establish Room to Read in Australia, Jennie and Ivor visited a remote community in northern Laos to see the Room to Read school they funded to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

http://www.roomtoread.org/australia

Photographer: Diane Macdonald
Location: Sydney