In 2008 I was invited to join a board called Global Dialogue Foundation (GDF)[u], which at that time was gearing up to spread its wings across the Pacific Basin to help with the redistribution of surplus resources from hospitals first, and then schools. I was instated as the coordinator of Pacific Operations. I was recognised because of my link, passion and involvement with Kiribati and Tuvalu, the primary props for the international debates on Climate changing, environmentally challenged zones of the remote Pacific.
I was also working at Ernst & Young(EY)[v], looking after Partner Matters, where my daily role and annual KPI’s was to deal with all administration of the Partners databases and HR protocols, inductions and annual assessments. I was inspired by the 447 Partners I looked after, throughout Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Jakarta. I saw where big monies were set as targets and quality performance with integrity was the final sign off for annual bonuses.
While I appreciate the EY tag was a big drawcard to my name, I honestly believe that those who knew me, trusted me to be doing to the right thing for my people (The families in Kiribati and Tuvalu) and was not on a self-promotional campaign to increase my own popularity.
However many people in both my own Kiribati and Tuvaluan communities, based here in Melbourne, would utter the whispers that ‘It’s just Emeretta trying to promote her MerethanVision business’. I initiated MerethanVision when both communities would not become incorporated with an Australian Business Number – and the organisations that could offer funds for performers needed that string of numbers (ABN). MerethanVision was merely a blanket to cover the Youth I called to represent their Kiribati or Tuvaluan connections. So that NGO’s and Councils could refer to an ABN in their administrative red tape of processes. To this day, it is merely my personal email address. Not really a business. (I was constantly reminding myself, Light does travel faster than the speed of Sound – people often missed the Enlightenment, but jumped at the Sound)
In attending board meetings with GDF and sharing the developments amongst any who would listen at EY – I was motivated to keep pushing for a robust activity, where the communities in Melbourne, could engage with a transport company, to distribute surplus materials to their own needy regions. Partners and Hospitals came to the table of initial discussions. “The Can-do” cards were played and the lists of sponsors and contributors began to take form, to make a difference in the regions that needed the most help. Starting with Kiribati.
Kiribati Independence 2009, I won the round trip ticket to Tarawa and there was the final tick for me, personally, that I COULD DO THIS!
December 2009 I headed off to Tarawa with my 7 yr. old son and began the many conversations with Ministers and officials in the Health Sector and Transport Industry about bringing containers of supplies. More ticks, more personal motivation.
Jan 2010 – after New Year’s celebrations, I was afflicted with a mosquito bite that festered in the tropical heat and became the size of a big biscuit in 7 days. The angry, blood and pussy crater was the result of a common virus that eats flesh and had evolved aggressively due to the higher concentration of salinity in the rain or fresh water catchments in Kiribati. Lucky for me, I was heading to Suva for 2 weeks, some R&R with my son. I spent 6 days in Suva hospital and had a chance to think and reflect. This is yet another tick in my quest to improve things for Kiribati. If this is what happens to me as an adult, what about the small children and babies who couldn’t speak?
I returned to Melbourne with a healing gaping sore on my right shin. It healed eventually leaving a scar that looks like a purple full moon on my lower right leg. I see it every day as a reminder that children in remote communities suffer.
March 2010, As Pacific Operations Coordinator for GDF, I had promoted that GDF had a container earmarked to leave Melbourne for Kiribati. However, there was a strategic change of plans – and GDF were no longer looking at container movements, rather, they were going to focus on their alignment with the UN-Alliance of Civilisations (UN-AOC)[w]. A conference called ‘101010’ was the new priority. Meanwhile my words in Kiribati circles – promising a container seemed to fall to the ground and in my heart made a sound of emptiness.
GDF CEO Peter Georgevski is a man of his words; he introduced me to North Essendon Rotary who took up the mantle of sending a container to Kiribati. I Introduced the Melbourne Kiribati Community President to the Rotarians and left them operate at their own accord. Through fundraising and networking, they have already sent 2 containers to Tarawa.
September 2010 – I resigned from the GDF Board, as the priority with UN-AOC didn’t match the outcomes I was intending to facilitate – container movement.
My peers at EY reminded me that NGO’s are a dime a dozen globally, but EY success as a global firm was primarily because they have a stringent selection criteria and they hold their values in the highest stead. Individuals in the company are a priority and while the clients and accounts remain their economical modus operandi, their targets and goals are shared on a whole.
During this time – EY experience a major shift in geographical terms of business zones. Our Oceanic region became Asia Pacific. My 4 countries of Partners became 22 – and the numbers of Partners we administered to went from 447 to 572. My Executive Director (I reported to the one person) became head of HR Oceania and our workload became immensely detailed. I was given the option of choosing another division, or changing my flexi-attitude from juggling community engagements and focusing totally on the role. A pay-rise would have been in order and my reputation would have been catapulted in wider parts of the company. I am a natural at being the centre of attention, if I want to be. (My Octopus-like aptitude of changing between cultures, a gift from God – I believe quintessential gifts are meant to be shared.)
In another blog – I’ll relay the period between my exit from EY to the community sector.
Time has a magnificent way of making one realise they are traveling on an endless train track. Often running parallel to other trains that vary in sizes and colour. On tracks that are Inter-weaving, or smoothly passing another train going in the other direction. Picking up and dropping off passengers you meet along the way. Many times solitary, over vast, desolate plains where the threat of a breakdown is risky, but the challenge to reach our final destination is the priority. Picking up something new, not in age but in learning and dropping off excess baggage or people when the carriage is heading for havoc.
The news of refugees in Nauru[x] is what is making me scratch my head. The history of that island, ravaged by the mining of their rich phosphate and the economical vantage they held during the 70’-90’s where empirical towers were built in capital cities around the world – the Iconic Nauru Houses, which have since been refurbished or sold by mostly government sections of Planning.
I wonder. How come we had no Advisory capacity where dialogue has existed for a number of years to connect the tracks of containers and surplus resources to those regions that need? Why is there a knee-jerk reaction to dealing with the influx of refugees from the various regions that are having difficulty? If the Australian government thinks our voice will be heard on a UN-Security Seat[y] why can’t we demonstrate that we know how to fix that state that Nauru sits?
My communities in the regions would be able to offer support, in building and security. Employment for those regionals has been offered by DEEWR to bring islanders to Australia to pick fruit[z]. In both Kiribati and Tuvalu, the Public Service Office (PSO) manages a register of Human Resources, who are skilled and versatile, adaptable and quite compatible with the weather conditions in Nauru. There is an available task force in both Kiribati and Tuvalu, to manage, counsel and support the needs of the refugees who come from different terrains, cultures, religions and above all things; they are from a strong Patriarchal order. The respect and dignity that men lack in detention would be freely administered, by likeminded men.
When Australian’s land in Nauru, they are first met with a blazing heat, which quickly turns to motivation for them to hurry back home. As contractors, they do their job and move on out.
From Corporate to Community – lots of money is spent on talking, but nothing coming to fruition for the people who need real direction.