Marionne MacRitchie has successfully garnered widespread support from the financial services industry to continue her pro-bono work in East Timor through her Emerge Foundation.
A chance meeting with a group of Australians who were attempting to establish a teachers' training college in East Timor inspired Marionne MacRitchie into philanthropy for the betterment of the people of East Timor, particularly women.
With over 20 years of experience in financial services, and as the director of IMR Financial Advisors, MacRitchie has managed to demonstrate leadership by garnering the support of the financial services industry to support the Emerge Foundation, of which she has been co-chair since 2008.
"So we met this group of amazing Australians, and thought, maybe we can have a go and raise some funds for them to award scholarships for this teachers' training college," MacRitchie said.
That little seed of thought has burgeoned to such an extent that she has been able to raise over $1 million across three different projects.
The first project is teacher education for improved educational practice in the country's schools, provided by a teacher education centre in Baucau that provides a nationally recognised degree program for Timorese teachers.
Thus far, 267 women have graduated with a degree in teaching due to receiving scholarships.
With much of the East Timorese population facing illiteracy issues, particularly women, MacRitchie said she was passionate about providing women with an avenue to education.
The other project is Future in Youth, which takes advantage of East Timor's passion for football and organises competitions for young boys and girls, with the hope of fostering tolerance and trust in a country deeply divided by conflicts.
However, the project MacRitchie is most proud of is the Barefoot Nurses program, which collaborates with East Timor's health system to train nurses in general nursing and midwifery, with 168 nurses trained over the last two years.
"This is the thing that excites me the most because in the past people didn't go to a clinic or to a hospital because that's where you went if you were going to die. Since we have opened this clinic people are going and seeking treatment," MacRitchie said.
Accompanying MacRitchie in the category was finalist, Elizabeth Trotter, who the judges commended for actively involving herself in leadership roles with the Salvation Army, Crazy Ladies, and Healing for Hope.
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