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Sass and other superpowers #DayoftheGirl

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This weekend we are celebrating International Day of the Girl!

The global theme is ‘The Power of the Adolescent Girl’ or if you met some of the Girls we support you could also call it SASS!

Girls are powerful creatures. Contrary to the fairy tales that tell us Girls need saving from their weakness, Girls can move mountains. One of their superpowers – breaking chains of poverty in a single generation.

On #Dayofthegirl we are celebrating this superpower and asking for your help to help them bring it to life! We have created a Crowdfunding campaign called 60 Girls Back to School and your gift will help us get them there in 2016.

What better launch date than #DayoftheGirl ?! We will keep it open until Christmas and every donation over $20 will receive a beautiful set of Gift Cards in the post!

a Girl & her world started with one Girl. She was 14 and wanted to get back to her school in rural Fiji but there were barriers. Like fees, travel fares, stationery and uniform/shoes.

Sanitary pads were also not easily available and her school didn’t have toilet paper or running water, so once a month things got tricky.

So we just supported this Girl and her family to come up with their own solutions to overcoming these barriers. Five years later she’s about to graduate high school and we’re supporting 60 others! Many will be the first woman in their family to complete their education, let alone tertiary studies that we will support many of them to pursue. It really is a game changer.

We need up to $10,000 by early January to get the first lot of expenses sorted. This campaign and our lush Christmas cakes which you can soon order, will help bring us closer!

Thank you – We adore these sassy, powerful Girls and believe in a better day for them.

Love you to connect with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Warmly,

Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’

 

‘No prestigious hotel for us!’ a Blog by Helena

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Helena is an Ambassador for a Girl & her world and recently visited the community we work in with a group from her school, our great supporters the German International School Sydney.

Having the opportunity to go to another country to interact with people my age and learn about different cultures from the people themselves is quite amazing. Fiji is known as a resort island. Beautiful beaches, gorgeous water and delicious fruit. I had never been to the country before and only knew what I had been told from my family who had visited it a year prior. I knew that wasn’t the side of Fiji my friends and I were going to get to know. No prestigious hotel for us! And I am so happy that we got the experience that we did. The thing about resort vacations is that you may get a great experience, but nothing that feels real, a vacation that you may forget about. We got to hang out with Fijian kids our age, we got to learn about the culture and we were taught how to cook traditional foods.

IMG_1832The people in Fiji are special. I have truly never met people so friendly and welcoming anywhere else. They are what made this experience worthwhile.

We had planned to visit a few rural school where a Girl & her world works and do some cyber safety and art workshops for the students there. After we arrived we were ushered into a prepared room and sat down, so that they could properly greet us. We were part of three welcoming ceremonies during our stay, and I’ve never felt as welcome as I did then. We were given flowers and necklaces, even sulus! The Fijians are givers, no matter if they already own hardly anything, what’s theirs is yours. The kids that we met were all very nice, a bit shy at first but as soon as they had warmed up to us they were friendly and open. We had expected kids that didn’t have smartphones or Facebook, we were surprised when it turned out that some of them had better phones than us! They knew all the music that we knew and we took more selfies than I can count. We realised that the kids there are no different from the kids in Australia.

They were very grateful that we came to the schools to spend time with them, and we were grateful that they opened their hearts and their homes to us in the way they did.
During the second part of our journey we did a homestay with international students. It was fun to get to know people that have had similar experiences to ours. During that time we also renovated a year one public school classroom, it was a lot of work. We first removed all the furniture from the room and then divided into two groups. One group would be outside and sanding the previous coats of paint off the furniture so we could repaint them properly, the other group would be inside painting the classroom walls. The result was a beautiful classroom with colourful furniture, a mural and the alphabet written above the blackboard in gorgeous colours.
During the homestay it became obvious to us how divided the country’s social groups are. Evidently most people that we stayed with were international students, and had moved to the country because of their parents jobs. Living with them was very different from our prior experience. I stayed with a girl who’s father was managing a hotel on an Island called which is the “resort island” of Nadi. There everything is the way Fiji is portrayed on those tourism webpages. It’s clean, there are palm trees everywhere, the pools have ocean view, the staff is friendly….It emphasized how little people know about what life in holiday destinations can really be like, and how little a lot of people care to know.

Helena

Often we go on trips like this to make a difference or to change lives. What we don’t anticipate is that the lives being changed are usually ours.

Warmly,

Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’

Feeling the thing we fear

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Last week I started crafting a blog about the heaviness of the asylum seeker crisis, of seeing little boys that could have been my nephew lying dead on the sand and how I feel like all I write about is that heaviness and how to carry it (perhaps this is my occupational hazard).

I was going to write about the amazing women I spent a few days with at a retreat where raw honesty brought healing and was celebrated in a lush setting with catering by chef who has worked with Jamie Oliver.
I started writing about holding darkness and light in opposite hands and how not engaging with pain, your own or the world’s, doesn’t make life easier, it sort of just removes you from reality and makes it so much harder when your bubble bursts.
Putting it all down helps me make some sense of it all because I still find it all so hard to accept, a world with such unbearable suffering, where people groups, religions and political parties are right with such certainty and their opposers so wrong, causing hatred, war and conflict on so many levels.
I had lots of words and some lovely pics and planned to post them over the weekend.

Then on Thursday morning, we heard that a year 10 girl at one of the schools where we work in rural Fiji had been attacked and killed on her way home the day before. Her father was in hospital with injuries sustained from trying to protect her from a crazed cane cutter and her mother was beside herself with desperation. A group of her friends who were on the same bus home saw it happen and the perpetrator ran free (he has now been apprehended).

It took my breath away. As I spoke to our coordinator and heard the grief and fear in her voice, I was shaking, hiding away in a room at work trying to hold it together. I could picture the faces of the girl and the students who witnessed it all, I could see the road, the bus, the community.

We know that school well, we have supported girls there right from the start of a Girl & her world. The principal and his wife are huge advocates for girls’ education and work closely with us to identify the needs. Recently when a group of our supporters from the German International school in Sydney went to visit, they opened up their community for a valuable time of cultural exchange. Their girls taught the German students how to cook Indian curry and roti and they painted tee shirts together and danced.

Their school is grieving, we have offered to support them to provide local trauma counselling for the students, which may prove to be challenging in a rural area with no mental health services. We will walk with them through this painful journey and feel inadequate that we can’t do more to lighten the load.

But that’s the thing with pain, it demands to be felt.

There is no easy way to avoid it, grief is not for the faint hearted, it requires the strength of an ox and a commitment to the long haul. We can numb it and compartmentalise, drink, get high, form addictions to distract us, but yet there it is, waiting to writhe its way out of our hearts, kicking and screaming. That’s the part we fear.

And we are all grieving something, disappointment, abuse, broken dreams, loss, unfulfilled potential. I feel freer in my forties than I have ever felt but am aware that it doesn’t take much to reconnect with sadness and as I wrote about in my last blog, when we are given permission to grieve publicly over an event that affects us all in some way, the floodgates often open up a surge of emotion.

I gave myself permission to be sad at the $&*@$ up state of the world this week, the precious young life that was taken, the refugee crisis, pain and injustice, the powerful and arrogant towering over the poor and vulnerable, all the things that make me angry and motivate my work.
I also continued to find joy at the way I had just last weekend witnessed a group of women letting go of some way too heavy burdens. They chose to move bravely through the writhing of grief and pursue freedom. Then we drank champagne!

Sadness and grief are scary to face, but if we numb the darkness, we also numb the light. We have to feel the thing we fear so we can also feel life’s great joys and experience its beauty. There is a time to weep, but also a time to dance.

If you would like to help us support our friends in Fiji to process their loss, you can give here.

We are so grateful for this great community of people who are on the journey with us and support the Girls in Fiji in so many ways.

Warmly,
Jane for team ‘a Girl & her world’
*If you need help processing your own loss or sadness, here are some organisations you can reach out to beyond blue and lifeline both have free phone services.

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