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Q & A with Caitlin Barrett

Continuing with our Mother’s Day theme, Caitlin Barrett shares her experiences with us when it comes to balancing motherhood, study, […]

Continuing with our Mother’s Day theme, Caitlin Barrett shares her experiences with us when it comes to balancing motherhood, study, and directing the operations of Love Mercy full time.

1. How did you get involved with Love Mercy and for how long have you been CEO?
I was the CEO from the day we started Love Mercy. Only now after 6 years have I started using the title and feel comfortable with it. It still makes me giggle… Eloise and I met in 2008 and both shared an interest in Uganda. I had been volunteering for Invisible Children, a U.S based organisation working to help rescue child soldiers. When I met Eloise, she told me she had a dear friend who was a child soldier himself. Later that year I met Julius and instantly knew that I needed to be involved in Eloise’s vision. She wanted to establish a formal way to help Julius in his dream to bring restoration to his home village of Awake. We met with a few other close friends and family members and formed a board of directors. I offered to take on the workload in a volunteer capacity, as I was studying international development at UNSW and felt compelled to put my knowledge into action. It all started from there and has grown incredibly since then.
2. Is it hard juggling family life with being CEO and studying a Masters at UNSW?
I finished my BA in in International Studies and Development, then went straight into my International Development masters. I have been working for Love Mercy almost the entire time I’ve been studying, and I love how I can practically apply the things that I learn at UNSW to my work the very next day. My daughter came along just as my masters began (she managed to time her arrival for mid-semester break!) so I have always had a lot going on. I gave up trying to find the perfect ‘work life balance’ and instead, tried to be present in each moment. If I am at work, then I am fully focused on the task at hand, whereas if I am at home, then I am a mum first and foremost (although I do still tend to struggle to not check my emails all the time!)
3.When & what made you decide that your career was best placed in the not-for-profit sector?
I always had a feeling that I was going to be a part of something new. I started my degree without any real idea of where it would lead to until I met Eloise and Julius at the end of my second year of study. I almost immediately decided that this would be my career path, and I still remember taking Eloise aside and saying something like, “I’m serious about this!” I love the flexibility that I have in the sector and enjoy being able to change and influence things that happen on the ground in Uganda without having to sift through reams of red tape. I feel like I am in the ultimate position in that Love Mercy is small enough to remain flexible and personal, but big enough to make a real and tangle impact in peoples lives.
4. What words of encouragement would you give to other individuals looking to start their own business or venture?
When we started, so many people that I really respected told me that they thought it was a crazy idea. They said it was too big and too difficult. I’m so glad that I trusted my instinct and went for it. The best thing you can do is follow your heart, but remember to ask for help along the way. I am at a point now where I need more help from others than ever before. I am learning not to be too proud to ask for help!
5. With regard to Love Mercy, what are your hopes and ambitions for the future?

We want to reach 28,000 women in our Cents for Seeds program by 2020. We need to raise $1 million to do that and I’m praying and hoping that by 2020 that the dream will be.

Thank you to our Media Team who have prepared these interviews. 

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