5 - 7 November 2015
Soroptimist International of Great Britain and Ireland - Federation Conference
Lots of Soroptimists from all over the world
Following a very successful couple of Christmas collections of used stamps, we are now collecting both used stamps and old or foreign coins on a regular basis to support the Royal National Institute for the Blind.
In November six Garstang Soroptimists joined over 1,000 Soroptimists from 29 countries in Glasgow for what turned out to be the best Conference ever!!
The opening ceremony of the parade of flags was the usual colourful and moving start, with the flag bearers from the Girls Brigade accompanying a representative from each country or region. As we listened to the roll call – Bangladesh, Caribbean, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, along with the UK regions – it was quite a spectacle!
And the entertainment on the first night was equally colourful – the Ayaware West African Percussion and Dance group.
The next morning the hall was abuzz as we awaited the arrival of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, who spoke to us on her work for Save the Children. A cheque was then presented by Federation President Jenny Vince for their work with refugee children in Syria.
Our other speakers for the day were equally exciting as we listened to Jo Fairley, co-founder of internationally successful Green and Black's organic chocolate, relate how she looked for ways to support cocoa farmers very early in the Fairtrade movement.
Dame Stella Rimington DCB MA was appointed Director General of MI5 in 1992. She was the first woman to take the post, and spoke of her remarkable working life leading up to this appointment. Dame Stella is known to millions as the role model for the character “M” played by Dame Judi Dench in the James Bond films.
We listened and were entertained by Sarah Montague, one of the main anchors on Radio 4’s Today Programme. With a keen interest in Education, Sarah was responsible for two new BBC Radio 4 series “The Educators” and “My Teacher is an App”. Her advice to women was “don’t always try to be nice!“
The following day we listened to The Hon. Justice Rowan Downing QC, who has worked internationally for 23 years dealing with law reform, human rights law and many other aspects of law in countries like Cambodia. It is hard for us in this country to appreciate living in a place where there is little or no law to support us. This theme continued with Andrew Bevan from the International Justice Mission talking about the horrendous problems of everyday violence and slavery in places such as Mumbai and Chennai.
Olivia Giles was our next speaker. Whilst working as a lawyer in 2002, she developed meningococcal septicaemia and had to have her hands and feet amputated to save her life. This remarkable young lady walked to the podium, and told her story of fight-back and recovery in a most engaging way.
In 2007 she founded the charity 500 miles which supplies prosthetic limbs to developing countries. Olivia showed a short film on the success of this life changing work.
During the conference time we heard reports of how our many overseas projects are progressing, one in particular was the work of Soroptimists in Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake.
We were thrilled to welcome a member of Soroptimist International Katmandu and see, through her presentation, the devastation and the work that has been done in providing tented schools in order for the children’s education to continue, along with many other support systems.
Our chosen charity for 2021-22 was AfriReuse - a community-based, not for profit, social enterprise, empowering the girls of West Pokot, Kenya to have their periods safely.
The charity prioritise training and employment for girls who have been rescued from FGM and raise funds through the production of dignity packs: Each dignity pack includes: 2 moisture-resistant fabric shields; 8 washable liners; 2 pairs of underwear; soap a wash cloth; a small protective bag to discreetly carry used liners home). https://afrireusepads.org/ We have raised enough money to fund 200 Dignity Packs!