This fundraiser isn't for me. It's for my friend Kelly (Kel, Kels, Kelsey) who wants to do the Camino de Santiago again. She last did the pilgrimage three years ago, just after being fired from Emirates after 16 years service as a flight attendant.
Her life changed in 2014, when after years of suffering, her body simply began to shut down. Hypothyroidism, psoriasis, chronic asthma, early onset menopause, rotator cuff injury, degenerative disc disease, insulin resistance, to name just a few.
Grounded from flying because of her heavy medication, she used all of her sick leave before she was pushed back to work, on the ground this time, running a new department. Weekly treatment shots from a rheumatologist not only stressed her liver, but also caused her to gain weight so that when she was medically cleared to fly again, Emirates grounded her for being overweight. After months of constant bullying and harassment that included weigh-ins and threats of being fired, Kelly developed an eating disorder.
Living only on liquids, she lost some weight and was cleared for flying... but the harassment was relentless. She was told that she was "not the Emirates brand". It all became too much for her. She had a nervous breakdown and started anti-depressants. Emirates immediately started the termination process citing her weight gain, her BMI at the time was 25,8 (mine is 27 on a good day)
To prevent legal action, they convinced her to resign, telling her that if they fired her, she would lose all her long service flying benefits. That was November of 2016. Two months later she left her life in Dubai and returned to South Africa, emotionally broken after years of illness and abuse.
She walked the Camino in June 2017 to start her healing but has been fighting depression ever since. Not the "I'm sad and tired" depression, I mean the really dark depression where you wonder what the point of it all is.
Just like in 2017, she wants to turn a page and let go of a lot of baggage preventing her from moving forward with her life. She wants to do this pilgrimage to do just that.
Kelly has been hustling jobs to keep afloat, so there's no way she can afford this trip.
I would really like to help her to do this but I can only do it with your help. She is one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. What was done to her is probably illegal but it is definitely morally abhorrent. Everyone deserves a chance at a new start, so maybe we should pay it forward
Kelly would like to do this trip next year, when hopefully, all this quarantine and isolation will be just a bad memory. If for any reason she does not do the trip, all donations will be refunded
Thanks for your help,