The world is used to seeing Jessica Gomes – model, actress and the face of David Jones – immersed in the glamourous high fashion scene.
But last year, she tossed off her high heels and swapped the catwalk for the dusty streets and mountain trails of Peru – and discovered that the threads of our shared humanity run deep.
As one of our newest ambassadors, Jessica relished the opportunity to see World Vision’s work first-hand in some of the poorest communities in South America. The daughter of a Portuguese dad and a Chinese mum, she described the experience as “humbling”.
“The trip was such an eye-opener for me,” Jessica said on her return. “We live such a ‘cushy’ life in Australia and I’m so glad I got out of my comfort zone.”
While in Peru, Jessica visited communities where World Vision is helping to improve children’s health and access to quality education, and empower women to increase their incomes through small business training.
“The education that World Vision gives children and women changes their lives,” Jessica told Marie Claire magazine.
“They teach women how to set up a business, like alpaca farms, they teach them how to make money from knitting and weaving, and they teach them important health and hygiene skills. Giving women this knowledge gives them power, and it’s so inspiring to see.”
Despite the language barrier, Jessica developed instant connections with the women and children she met in Peru. She joined in reading and puppet shows in the classroom, and shared a feast with a group of mothers who have turned their baking and craft skills into a thriving business.
Even though these women were living such very different lives to her own, Jessica was struck more by what they shared in common.
“The reality is, all humans are suffering from similar issues – family, money, relationship, politics, health and social issues. All the mothers I met just wanted their children to have a chance to do better than they did.
“It just made we want to be a better person and to be aware of how doing a little good can make such a significant difference.”