No matter where you travel in the world, she has probably been there serving and helping children and communities in need. This feisty Australian woman has spent her life roaming the world in search of the sick and wounded. Moira Kelly’s actions and her fundraising efforts have saved countless lives and improved numerous communities. When she perceives a need, she rolls up her sleeves and personally goes to work.
Moira Kelly was born in Melbourne, Australia on January 31, 1964. Her life of devotion to serving the needy began when she was only eight years old. Inspired to make a difference after viewing a documentary on Mother Teresa, she would hop the fence that separated her primary school and the neighboring special needs school. Day after day she would help feed and engage with the often ostracized children during her lunch break.
At age 18, Moira realized that her efforts could be expanded if she had a greater understanding of those she was helping. She took courses to become a special education teaching assistant. Then a few years later she studied and trained to become a probation officer of troubled youth and a lay missionary. With her skills and training, Moira set off to Western Australia to work amongst the impoverished Aboriginal children.
“The greatest act of kindness changes generations. Wherever there is the greatest evil, the greatest good can be achieved.” – Moira Kelly
By the age of 21, Moira Kelly wanted to expand her education and service. She sold her car to purchase a ticket to India to learn and serve alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta. When her visa expired six months later, she returned to Australia with a greater understanding of poverty and ideas of new places to travel. She traveled to Botswana to help start a self-help program with the Kalahari Bushmen. After some time there, she moved on to South Africa to serve intellectually impaired students, then to Albania to start a school for children who were classified by their race as “foreigners” and denied education. Within the next few years Moira visited the Bronx to nurse crack babies, set up a soup kitchen and help for the homeless in India, and to Romania to help children born with AIDS.
When war crimes caught children in the crossfire, the 30 year old Kelly headed to the refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina to organize aid and welfare programs. She soon became a regional program director for Nobody’s Children and coordinated a core of volunteers to assist in aid efforts across many refugee camps, such as dental and health care clinics, pharmacies, education and recreation programs. Most significantly, during her five years as a director, she was responsible for organizing the medical evacuation of the critically ill and injured to overseas hospitals. It was this activity that would inspire Moira to a unique mission that she would continue to this day.
“All you need is a sense that there is no such thing as ‘no’ and everything is possible” -Moira Kelly
In 1999, Moira Kelly returned to Australia and begged her friends and family to donate money to start a non-profit organization dedicated to providing transportation and healthcare for children with urgent needs in developing countries. Her efforts paid off and the Children First Foundation was formed. Moira began networking with hospitals and doctors in Australia, Canada, the United States and Ireland who would be able to donate their services to children in developing countries who have serious health problems that cannot be treated by local doctors. Children First Foundation raises funds from charities and donors for the transportation of the children to the Western doctors, surgeons and specialists.
In the past two decades the foundation has orchestrated the medical evacuation and treatment of over 200 impoverished children from dozens of countries. Albania, Bangladesh, Djibouti, East Timor, Fiji, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Tibet, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, Palestine, and Zambia to name a few. The children’s needs have ranged from burn victims and war injuries to paralysis and heart surgery.
“Its a funny world we live in really, where what passport you own determines whether you will live or die. Someone really has to change that” – Moira Kelly
With the help of Rotary, the Children First Foundation was able to purchase a farm outside of Melbourne and build a dormitory for the children in need of extensive rehabilitation. After their treatment and rehabilitation, they are returned to their communities in their native homes and often provided with additional services such as funding for housing and education.
Moira is hands on to this day. She has adopted a few of the children who came from orphanages and is usually the person who travels to meet with the families and discuss options prior to the medical evacuation. Though she certainly isn’t working for the honor of the tile, she is a Moral Hero in our books. We are inspired by Moria Kelly’s personal sacrifice, passionate commitment and her life-long dedication to doing whatever it takes to save and heal children from all over the world.
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Moira Kelly on Wikipedia