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Melanie Noden

How The Hunger Project Chooses to Challenge

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The Hunger Project Australia is celebrating one of our favourite days on the calendar – International Women’s Day!

This year’s theme is “Choose to Challenge” which aligns so beautifully with THP’s work challenging the status quo about what people – particularly women – are capable of when their potential and leadership is unlocked and unleashed.

We invited THP leaders and partners from across Australia and the world to share how they choose to challenge the status quo. This is what they said…

“To me, choosing to challenge the status quo means to rethink the way things are and create an inclusive world. Empowering women to be key change agents is essential to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. So wherever we work, The Hunger Project aims to support women and build their capacity to create brighter possibilities for tomorrow, today.”

“Choosing to challenge the status quo means creating a world of equal rights and opportunities for women who constitute half the planet. Let us commit ourselves to this now till the job is done.”

“We are challenged to bring about positive change and development.”

“The status quo works for no one. Equality means leaving no woman behind.”

“I choose to challenge because we as women leaders need to rise up to the challenges of our community.”

“I choose to challenge the status quo because as a woman I can use my capabilities to support the development of my community.”

“Choosing to challenge the status quo means means creating a more human world of work, where people are focused, calm, resilient, and even happy at work.  Through the mind training work I do with the Potential Project, I’m proud to be making a tangible difference through partnering with THP on their work unlocking and unleashing the leadership of women globally to end hunger. If you care about lifting women up to create more potential, then follow them on socials or better yet make an investment in their work if you can.”

“I choose to challenge because women of Bangladesh are subjugated, marginalised and deprived because of the patriarchy. We men largely represent patriarchy, so when you’re confronting patriarchy we are really fighting with ourselves, and this is what we are engaged in.”

Make an Impact.

The biggest way you can make an impact today is to invest in women who are bringing clean water and electricity to their villages. Invest in a businesswoman who is putting her dreams on the line to bring economic stability to her family. Invest in the women leaders who are standing up against hunger in their communities.

Inspiring Lessons from our Changemakers Series: Finding Your Voice

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On a cold winter morning in Melbourne on Wednesday, 60 people braved the weather to attend our second Changemakers Series event. It was a morning of breakfast, networking and conversation with panel speaker guests Tessa Sullivan, former politician and sexual harassment advocate; Tanya Southey, expert in helping people and organisations realise their potential; and our very own THPA CEO, Melanie Noden. They shared their own perspective on the event’s theme ‘Finding Our Voice’, from the workplace in Australia speaking up for their rights, through to women in rural villages stepping into their leadership to end hunger.

There were so many nuggets of wisdom that we struggled to narrow it down to a few, but we have compiled some of the most inspiring lessons that you can take with you through your work and daily life.

 

Tessa Sullivan

If you’re from Melbourne, you may know Tessa from her former work as a politician or the Officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria. She has shown immense courage by surviving and blowing the whistle on sexual harassment in the workplace by a former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, and her resignation from her political role created new laws to address the lack of policies in Government regarding workplace safety.

“The reason I found my voice was because I felt like I was anonymous and voiceless, and through trauma I realised I do have a voice. There are a lot of voices and the only one that matters is your own. Everyone has experienced tragedy, and people have an innate need to act. You cannot unsee what you’ve seen. Inaction is a crime.

I was clueless and frightened. Find some courage. Hang in there. Dig deep within yourself.”

Tanya Southey

Tanya is an expert in helping people and organisations realise their potential, and women to gain financial freedom. In her last role at Carlton United Breweries, she was part of a team of executives who worked on the largest merger in the history of the London Stock Exchange. After years working in the corporate sector, Tanya now pursues her passion for reading and writing and is a children’s book author.

“Have the conversations that you would normally shy away from. Prepare to hear no. If you want to drive change, you have to start with yourself. There will be noise when a dynamic changes. You need to be prepared for the noise, and you need to stick to your conviction. When you change, the system will change.”

Melanie Noden

Melanie is the CEO of The Hunger Project Australia, part of the global THP organisation. The Hunger Project empowers women as key change agents to sustainably end chronic, persistent hunger.

“What’s important to me is holding true to my values, identifying purpose and creating possibilities for others. You have to act despite fear. Fear is healthy, and leveraging that fear is finding your voice. There will always be detractors. I’ve had my career threatened for speaking out. You are your own role model, so act with dignity and respect.

Overcoming systemic issues isn’t only about changing laws — it’s about changing people’s mindset about their rights and their capabilities.”

Special thanks to WeWork for providing a space for our event and Melissa Hobbs for photography.
Don’t miss our third event in the Changemakers Series! Register here.

An update from our CEO Melanie Noden

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To our valued partners in the end of hunger,

My year has started off on a high, literally and figuratively!

Recently I spent a week in the foothills of the Himalayas in India meeting elected women. I was there alongside 16 women taking part in our 11th Business Chicks immersion program, and the Business Chicks CEO Olivia Ruello. The simple yet clear vision of one woman I met, Hansa from a small village called Khanachuli, really resonated with me: “For women to live with dignity and self-respect, and to value themselves so they are no longer pushed around by men.”

Hansa was trained over her 5 year term by The Hunger Project, and has gone on to: stop illegal sales of alcohol; install CCTV cameras for safety in her town square; enable 150 women to find employment; set up a dairy that 50 families sell their milk to; build roads and paths; activate women to plant trees; protect natural springs and build water harvesting systems; and more! Hearing Hansa’s incredible achievements in service of her community gave me cause to celebrate what’s possible for people when given the right opportunity.

Another high that I’m delighted to share with you is that in 2018, due to your generosity, we raised over $5.2 million in Australia for the end of hunger and over $4.2 million in commitments for future years. Globally, the 2018 funding has had a powerful impact – enabling us globally to reach over 15.9 million people living in Hunger Project communities. With each new person we reach – thanks to your partnership – we are moving closer to achieving our vision of ending hunger in our lifetime. 

In this Newsletter we have given you a snapshot of this impact in our stories – including the following:

Thanks to all of you for your vision and persistence in creating a better world for everyone. I hope that this International Women’s Day (8 March) you can celebrate with us, at one of the many International Women’s Day events featuring speakers from The Hunger Project, or online.

Yours in ending hunger, 

Melanie Noden

Farmer by trade and tradition; generous by nature 

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The power of The Hunger Project is driven in large part by the generosity of investors in Australia and globally – strategically paired with the time and energy invested by our village partners. Ivan Halbert has been investing in THP consistently for more than 20 years, and recently gave his largest investment ever. We spoke to Ivan from his humble one-bedroom flat in Perth about his lifelong commitment to The Hunger Project.

Originally coming across the work of The Hunger Project in 1995, Ivan immediately knew it was something he wanted to be involved in.

The Hunger Project Australia CEO, Melanie Noden, with Ivan Halbert

“I thought it was a good program and it fit with my ideas of giving back to the world,” Ivan said.

“My thinking on giving internationally is that if all the countries The Hunger Project works in reach self-reliance and improve their local conditions, then the whole world improves.”

Ivan is a farmer by trade and tradition, but he pressed pause on his life on the land to open a health and wellbeing retreat with his wife. They ran this for 10 years and, throughout that time, The Hunger Project remained a big part of Ivan’s life.

“Being part of The Hunger Project was integral to my family’s upbringing. It first started with my wife and I, and then on to my daughters, who have been involved in The Hunger Project’s work as well. It has just been a big element of my life,” Ivan said.

He said his family’s charitable heart and his established hard working ethic has influenced his lifetime of investment in organisations like The Hunger Project.

“I became partners with my dad on our farm and I carried on with it for years. It was a very large farm and I feel I was very privileged to have owned it,” Ivan said.

“Giving was part of my upbringing. My dad and my mum were very generous; generosity was bred into me.”

Deborah Protter (THP WA Board Member), Melanie Noden (THPA CEO) and Ivan Halbert.

A few years ago, Ivan was in Uganda on a personal visit. His experiences in Africa cemented in his mind why the work of The Hunger Project is so important.

“I was talking to a taxi driver in Uganda and I told him I was involved in The Hunger Project. After that, he completely opened up and took me around to see the level of poverty. I went to a quarry where children as young as five were working and smashing rocks all day,” Ivan said.

“Seeing the levels of hunger and poverty firsthand was eye-opening.”

Reflecting on why he has chosen to invest in The Hunger Project for more than two decades, Ivan said the level of transparency and effectiveness makes investing in THP worthwhile.

“The ethos of the Hunger Project of training the local people to lift themselves from their current situation to see the possibility of rising above “what is” to a new level of life is inspirational. It’s not about giving money; it’s about giving skills,” he said.

“Another thing for me is that The Hunger Project’s program work is virtually run by volunteers. When I give a dollar, I know that a majority of that will go directly to the people who require it. It is important that the money goes directly to where it should be going.”

The Hunger Project Australia thanks Ivan and his family for their dedication and generosity throughout the past 20 years, and acknowledges the enormous impact they have had as a result.

Join Ivan and his family in the efforts to end hunger:

A message from our CEO

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To our valued partners in the end of hunger,

There always seems to be so much to celebrate within The Hunger Project community! I am thrilled to share this newsletter with you; it is packed full of acknowledgement and achievements. Rumi’s story in particular brought tears to my eyes to hear her and her friends’ strength and determination. You will also read an inspiring story from Ivan Halbert with whom I had the privilege to have lunch recently in Perth – his unwavering commitment to the end of hunger over 20 years is amazing.

I’m also excited to tell you that the Mpingo Epicentre  reaching 9,465 people in Malawi has just reached Self-Reliance. I went with a group of Australian leaders and investors to Malawi recently, and we were fortunate to be part of the celebrations with the Mpingo community. The Massy-Greene family and the Eureka Benevolent Foundation from Sydney generously funded the last few years to Self-Reliance. That very same family foundation continues their generous investment in the end of hunger, this time in the Pemba Epicentre community in Malawi, where THP began work just 2 months ago. As a result, the future of the people in Mpingo and Pemba will look dramatically different to their past. This is just extraordinary.

I would also like to highlight the power of our partnerships with Australian businesses – in particular DECJUBA, MECCA, Camilla and Hey Tiger. All four businesses are led by incredibly empowered women entrepreneurs who are passionate about advocating for the empowerment of women, both in Australia and globally. The beauty of these partnerships is the opportunity they provide us to engage new groups of people – particularly via DECJUBA’s THP tshirts and Fearless campaign marking their 10th anniversary, MECCA’s limited edition THP product for International Women’s Day, Camilla’s The Butterfly Effect initiative, and Hey Tiger’s launch. These partnerships enable us to expand and grow our community.

Thank you for your commitment and generosity. With you, we are enabling people to transform their lives.

Yours in ending hunger,

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia

Photo: Melanie Noden pictured in Senegal with young girls who are living in a self-reliant community and are growing up with a brighter future ahead of them.

Read on about the latest results from The Hunger Project’s work in Bangladesh: 

Reflecting on the power of our work: A message from our CEO

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To our valued partners in the end of hunger,

I recently travelled to Senegal with a group of 20 incredible women on one of our Business Chicks immersion programs. This was my first opportunity to experience a self-reliant community 18 months after they had reached their targets for self-reliance, and I was inspired by all I saw.

Since the Ndereppe community reached self- reliance, they have continued to flourish through constantly looking at what is possible. In the millet seed loan scheme, new processes meant for the first time in their history they achieved 100% repayment – creating a reserve of $8,000 towards a new millet mill! A women’s circle has doubled their self-reliance grant through strategically investing in women’s small businesses. But what struck me most was how healthy, happy and energetic the children were – in them I saw a wonderful future for the community.

On International Women’s Day I reflected on the empowered women leaders I have had the privilege to meet. I wanted to share with you the words of one of the women leaders – Coumba in Coki Epicentre – who when asked what advice she would give women said “yeewu, yeewu, yeewu” or “awake, awake, awake”. This is a strong call-to-action to all of us to press forward and progress gender equity and to think, act and be gender inclusive.

Thank you for your solidarity and optimism for the future. With you, lives are being transformed.

Yours in ending hunger,

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia

A message from our CEO

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To our valued supporters,

In the last month I have met so many inspiring women from across Australia who are bold and think big and who and who want to transform their world. They have all joined Unleashed Women – a powerful global movement empowering women to end hunger.

We all flourish when we lift each other up. It’s mind blowing how women around the world can truly transform lives when we each act as global citizens and contribute our love and actions from right here in Australia for something big like ending hunger.

I’d like to recognise each of the Unleashed Women for being global citizens and creating a brighter future for women everywhere.

Thank you for joining us on this journey to end hunger. We are so grateful for your ongoing generosity and support.

Yours in ending hunger,

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia