An Auntie to hundreds of
At just 23, Tessa Henwood-Mitchell already has more than her fair share of nephews and nieces. As founder of Tia International Aid, a non-profit organisation working to improve the lives of Bolivian kids living in poverty, she has helped over 200 children so far. Tia (which is Spanish for Aunty) has provided running water to an orphanage, a music program for blind children and funding for life-changing surgeries.
Tessa’s achievement is an example of the amazing things that happen in Adelaide. As Tessa says, “Everyone has the power to make a positive difference; all it takes is the confidence to act.”
- Tessa Henwood-Mitchell, founder Tia International Aid
How did you come to start Tia International Aid?
I lived for four months in Bolivia, at an orphanage for 83 children all below the age of 14, as well as a rehabilitation centre for 35+ children who are blind. There was such a lack of support and opportunities for these children and their living conditions were appalling.
Returning to Australia I needed to take action, and hence I founded Tia International Aid.
What does it take to be successful?
Most people tend to equate success with money. That is, the more money you make, the more successful you are. Personally I don’t believe this to be true success. To me, by the definition of Ralph Waldo Emerson, success means to laugh often and much; to appreciate beauty; to have left the world a little better; and to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
What would you say to those who think there are limited opportunities for young people in SA?
I’d say they need to open their eyes and take another look – there are some absolutely incredible opportunities for young people in SA. It is such a nurturing and innovative environment, and we have the great fortune to have a true sense of community that not many cities in Australia have got. Without this sense of community and connectedness there is no way I could have grown TIA into what it is today. There is also the room to create our own opportunities in Adelaide that you won’t get in many other places. I am so grateful I live in Adelaide!