SUSAN Saleeba and Fay Alford help children in two difference countries and todaycame together as recipients of the prestigious John Curtin Medal.
Ms Saleeba established Nakuru Hope in the Kaptembwa slums of Kenya in 2008 and provides education, food and medical support to nearly 300 children and their families, while Ms Alford has welcomed more than 90 foster children into her home and has advocated for the rights of children and families for three decades.
Curtin University has awarded 43 medals since 1998 to people who have contributed to society and demonstrated former Prime Minister John Curtin’s qualities of vision, leadership and community service.
Ms Saleeba said she was grateful that she had been able to do the work she did in Kenya but it had not come without sacrifice.
“It’s not been easy but the sacrifice is worth it to give education, food and medical supplies to these kids,” she said.
In 2014, Ms Saleeba launched her new school in the heart of the slums and opened the doors to an orphanage for abandoned and abused children on the same site.
Later that year with the help of supporters, she bought a farm that grows food to provide 2000 meals a week.
Ms Alford, who is on the board of Kinship Connections that helps Aboriginal children transition out of state care, said she would never forget her time living in a children’s home from the age of eight.
“But that sent me on my journey of fostering,” she said.
“I’ve always had a strong community focus around the wellbeing and protection of children.”
Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Deborah Terry said the women were worthy recipients given their extensive community service.
Professor Terry said Ms Alford had volunteered her time to help WA children in need, as well as supporting and advocating for change to the system while Ms Saleeba, known as “Mama Susan” by the people of Kaptembwa, had created a charity that aimed to break the poverty cycle through education.