the story of exchange
Exchange Foundation was founded by Kat Alexander in 2015. Kat, who has grown up with a deep Christian faith, was moved when she was alerted to the suffering of women with severe trauma in her own community, to leave her career in design and work with women in trauma recovery programs.
kat's personal story
“It was in January 2004 that my eyes were opened. I was volunteering as a connector at a counselling drop-in tent at Parachute Music Festival in New Zealand. As a graphic designer, the extent of my experience with people in need was volunteer youth work and the basic course the festival team gave us in preparation time.
"After a long weekend, my very last connection was a young woman who was severely depressed, lonely, and had been self harming. Knowing the issue was beyond my level, I called in the psychologist and we went to a private counselling area to finish our conversation. The psychologist asked the young woman if she could show us where she had been harming herself. She lifted the leg of her shorts to reveal many wounds on her upper thigh. I was shocked, I had never seen anything like it. Not just shallow scratches, but deep, wide wounds.
"On the drive home that day I was distraught. I never knew how far the effects of abuse could cause someone to suffer. I cried and prayed and asked Jesus to speak to me, and he did. He spoke to me so clearly it was unmistakeable : I was asked to leave my career and my country and go overseas to work for a leading organisation treating women who were suffering from the effects of trauma. On the 1st of November 2004, I touched down in Australia to begin my journey of caring for these beautiful, brave, young women.
"My work with women continued for many years in various not-for-profit roles including rehabilitation centres, church based womens ministry, international community development. It was in 2014 that God spoke to me again and asked me to use my wealth of experience gained over the decade to create a unique solution for women in crisis. The need was and is still overwhelming.
"After a pre-launch of Exchange Foundation in late 2015, I went through a life crisis of my own that turned my world upside down, my life would never be the same.
"In 2016 I experienced a very traumatic family situation and through time I developed c-PTSD, panic attacks, chronic insomnia disorder, and in 2017 I had a stress induced heart attack. Although I had been through many difficulties in life, I had never experienced the level of trauma that I suffered during this season.
"Throughout that traumatic time, I had a deeply moving experience of the suffering of the women I had worked with, and would be working with in the future. There were months where every day I would wake in panic feeling like I would not survive the trauma, every day was a battle to coach myself to believe that I would get through it and be able to help others going through the same. What kept me going was the presence of my Jesus in my darkest times and the unshakeable faith he had given me.
"With the support of my GP, psychologist, counsellor, mentors, friends, and most importantly my relationship with God, I was able to recover from c-PTSD by late 2018. This was incredible to me and the support network around me, as many people suffer from the aftermath of trauma for many years. There is deep truth, pure gold, I gained during the trauma and in recovery that I could not have learned any other way.
"Now is the year that dreams come true for myself and every other person who has been waiting for Exchange Foundation to launch. My prayer for you is that this year and beyond will bring you a brand new future full of hope!”