Melissa Muscio (Malaysia)

Melissa Muscio (eHomemakers, Malaysia): Melissa graduated from Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service with a BS in Foreign Service, and a concentration in International Relations, Law and Organization. She then worked as an account executive at a high-tech public relations agency in San Francisco and as an English teacher for Centro Panamericano de Idiomas in Costa Rica. Melissa also worked as a legislative assistant, and as a marketing and public relations manager for the trade association United Telecom Council (UTC) in Washington, DC. At the time of her fellowship, Melissa was studying for a Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School, where she focused on human security and development, particularly in predominantly Muslim regions of the world. She speaks French, Spanish and Turkish.

“If he doesn’t get his operation, he won’t survive more than five years . . .”

19 Jul

Recently, eHomemakers has been helping to organize assistance for a brother and sister who both have degenerative diseases and are confined to wheel chairs. Until her disease destroyed her dexterity, the woman was one of Salaam Wanita’s best weavers and even invented a new technique for more creative basket designs. The brother and sister are taken care of by their elderly parents who must continue to work in order to support their adult children. By talking with its various contacts, eHomemakers managed to secure donations that would provide them with lightweight wheelchairs, which would help their parents, who must push them around to their hospital appointments. The brother has been appealing for money to help pay for a needed operation in China, which will halt the progression of his disease. Without it, he isn’t likely to live for more than five years. He has raised RM17,000, but is still short RM14,000 (about US$3,888). The story is heartbreaking, but sadly, not unique.

While their case doesn’t necessarily fall under any particular project of eHomemakers, through our work, we come into contact with many people who need help and it is difficult to turn them away. At the same time, there is a lot of administrative work that goes into finding funds and donations – and this is just for 2 people. For a small organization like ours, however, it can be a difficult dilemma to choose between spending time on fulfilling urgent needs of a few or to work on larger projects affecting more people. To try to ease some of the burden of calling people individually for help, eHomemakers has decided to leverage its website by creating a “Network of Angels”, where people can see who needs help and make donations.

Understandably, groups that donate equipment or funds often want some kind of accountability. So, there is often quite a bit of paperwork to be filed, even just to secure one wheelchair. We need to get copies of ID cards, interview the recipients and find ways to certify their conditions and needs. Because our members are spread all over the country and often do not have access to fax machines, it can become quite time consuming to gather all the necessary information. Sometimes I see that my coworkers here are wondering, “Why can’t this be easier?”

But then, we have our angels. After unheeded appeals, in the past couple of we have begun to see things falling into place. Volunteers are coming forward and organizations surprise us by sliding an envelope across a table during a meeting that pays for someone’s medical bills, or contributes to a fund for the disadvantaged or buys a computer to allow a single mother to work from home. I feel I’ve witnessed a turnaround where the hard work of my coworkers is paying off. I’ve witnessed a string of angels offering their help, offering hope to people who have previously felt ignored and rejected.

It is hard to describe the shift in luck that we are feeling. We know that there are many people in need of help and our resources are limited, but to those who look at the misery in the world and throw their hands up, asking what can one person do – I’ll pass along a story I was recently reminded of, which I can relate to: a boy was at the beach and saw that a large group of starfish had been washed up on shore (in my case, it was a group of non-stinging jellyfish that a visiting neighbor boy had thrown onto the rocks). The boy started picking them up, one by one and throwing them back into the water. A man approached him and asked what he was doing? It was useless, he said. There were too many starfish for him to save. He told the boy he couldn’t possibly make a difference. The boy replied, “Ah, but for that one starfish I can throw back into the water, it makes a difference.”

Although I know they sometimes question themselves, in my short time here, I have already seen that eHomemakers is making a difference.

Posted By Melissa Muscio (Malaysia)

Posted Jul 19th, 2006

1 Comment

  • webmaster

    September 19, 2008

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