MOIRA Kelly has stepped back from her Children First Foundation but that doesn't mean she is no longer a dynamic advocate for making the world a better place to live.
As well as caring for her family that includes children from a number of countries with a range of disabilities, she also devotes time to projects such as Global Gardens of Peace and being an ambassador for Carers Victoria.
Warrnambool and Port Fairy play an important part in her hectic life, with her annual holiday here for the Fun4Kids Festival giving her and her family an opportunity to unwind.
Ms Kelly said she was very grateful to the festival and many hospitality providers that allowed her, and disadvantaged families she also brought along, to enjoy the festival. This year her group totalled 22, that included seven in her own family.
Ms Kelly stepped back in 2009 from the Children First Foundation she helped found 15 years ago to care for her family that includes twins Trishna and Krishna Mollick, from Bangladesh.
The twins, now seven, were cranially conjoined but separated in a marathon operation in Melbourne in 2009. Ms Kelly said the twins changed her life and the special needs of Krishna prompted her to devote more time to their care.
The twins’ parents have since joined Ms Kelly in her Melbourne home and they recently had another child, Matthew. Ms Kelly’s big heart pays little regard to whether those in her home are adopted, under her guardianship or on temporary visas and includes them all as family.
Her home presently accommodates 11 people and extensions are planned. Her family includes Ahmed, 22, and Emmanuel, 20, Iraqi brothers whose limbs were severely underdeveloped due to chemical warfare.
Also in her clan are Mimoza, 16, from Albania whose arms are disabled, and Papa 0o, a 12-year-old Burmese girl who is legally deaf and blind.
With the help of Ms Kelly’s indefatigable spirit, the children have been able to pursue a range of interests from singing to art and swimming.
While Ms Kelly is no longer running the Children First Foundation that continues to bring to Australia children in need of medical treatment, she said her smaller projects were continuing to prove to her that individual acts of kindness can make an impact against large-scale tragedies and injustice. She said she started the Global Gardens for Peace project to create a safe playground for children and their families in Palestine’s Gaza Strip after finding a graveyard was one of the few beautiful places in the area.
“I thought if they could do it for the dead, why not do it for the living,” Ms Kelly said.
Her time working as a carer 24 hours a day had given her a strong motivation for her role as ambassador for Carers Victoria, she said. “My loneliest time was caring for the twins,” Ms Kelly said.
More care needed to be given to carers because they often did not look after themselves very well, she said.