Extraordinary People

Taking action to make a difference! How woman formed unbreakable bond with struggling community

The Jilkminggan community in Australia live without proper access to water, power, and sanitation

Many people will donate some time or money to a charity then go about their day.

However, one woman has dedicated her life’s work to a struggling community after forming unbreakable bonds with their inhabitants.

Kelly Wright, a director at hairdressing giants TONI&GUY in Bondi Beach, kickstarted her mission after joining a friend on a drive to donate clothes to the Jilkminggan community.

On arriving to Australia’s Northern Territory, it was clear to Kelly that the residents needed more than just clothes ­as she discovered them living without access to water, power, and sanitation.

Speaking exclusively to Uspire, Kelly revealed how witnessing this first-hand back in 2016 gave her the ammunition to want to do more and led to her founding her charity just a year later.

She said: “When I was invited into the community for the opening of the shop, I quickly established, while the clothing was a huge impact, the community needed much more.

“People live in third world conditions in a first world country. Once I’d seen this, I couldn’t un-see or walk away, I decided to try to make a difference.”

It was then that Kelly began her charity, Deciding to Make a Difference, on a quest to help solve the housing shortage in Aboriginal communities in remote areas of Oz.

The foundation now works with the elders of Jilkminggan, hoping to raise money so the whole community can thrive just like their neighbours in the prospering area of Katherine just 90 minutes drive away.

Talking about their fundraising, Kelly explained: “Our aim is to facilitate and help community development across infrastructure, health and self-sustainability, allowing the community to grow and develop financial stability.

“I want to help the Jilkminggan community feel safe in their homes and proud of their achievements. The community are beautiful people; they can’t believe that people from all over Australia want to help them.”

However, Kelly said raising funds is no easy venture as people tend to donate to a cause that’s affected them, or someone they know, rather than one that doesn’t impact them.

Due to this, the initiative became a registered charity to allow Kelly and her peers to apply for corporate or government funding.

Now, that charity has become all-consuming and Kelly describes it as her “life”.

She confided: “The Jilkminggan community have become like my family, so you don’t stop helping and supporting family.

“The project was initially about getting housing, and while that’s still a focus, it’s not just the driver.”

Continuing their dedication, Kelly and her crew also purchased a mini-bus for the dialysis patients to travel to and from treatments, which is a three-hour drive away that is required three times per week. They are currently working to get a dialysis clinic in the community.

Kelly added: “We have a water filter going into the community in three weeks to access filtered water as now they have to drink bore water [groundwater] as their main resource.

“I listen a lot. I listen to the community as to what they want and need and then I help them facilitate it. The ideas are born from them, I’m just the person that steers.

“I feel very lucky and blessed to have been given the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people of my life. Aboriginal story time, knowledge and connection to the earth is a privilege to hear first-hand and I will be forever grateful to them for my teachings.”

As they say, not all heroes wear capes.

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