Melissa Martin: Worldview with warmth

Melissa Martin will spend 12 months in East Timor as a field work supervisor for OHM. Photo: Brent McGilvary, Northern District Times
When Melissa Martin was 12 years old her parents took her on a family holiday back to their native home of Sri Lanka.

Little did she know that during her visit she would witness many people living in poverty and dire circumstances, sights which led her to dedicating her life to human rights and social justice.

‘‘It was an eye-opening experience and I realised how big the disparities between the rich and poor were,’’ Melissa said. ‘‘The rich had cleaners, drivers, gardeners whereas the poor were unable to provide even basic living necessities for their families. It was fundamentally unjust.’’

The Beecroft resident, 25, who recently graduated with degrees in international studies and law from the UNSW, will begin on a 12-month placement in September at Maliana in rural East Timor.

‘‘It is the poorest country in South East Asia and until recently the world’s newest country,’’ Melissa said. She will live with a local family and become a field work supervisor with Haburas Moris, a nongovernment organisation, to help with staff development.

‘‘These staff go into villages to train locals in gender advocacy, nutrition and health, community infrastructure, agriculture and environmental sustainability,’’ she said. ‘‘I’ve always been interested in community development and poverty eradication and this placement will enable me to put what I learnt into practice.’’

Read the full Northern District Times article in PDF format

Article written by Nour Azhar. Reproduced from Northern District Times

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I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands
to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. - Mohandas Gandhi