Tena Koutou Katoal!
As I landed into Christchurch late that Thursday afternoon on May 03 last month, I forgot how tired I was supposed to be! It had been a long journey, flying two hours to Changi Airport, Singapore. I arrived at 04.00 PM. not to leave upto 07.00pm in the evening for connecting flight to Auckland Airport, NZ at the same day then arrived at 10.00am on another day in the morning with the 10 hours on the plane and arrived at 2.00 PM. The story then started !
We had three Soroptimist members from Cambodia, Bunthary Srun, a President, Sineat Som, a National Representative and I. I traveled alone since I got a visa late, anyways it was such a great journey and honor attending Soroptimist International South West Pacific 18th Biennial Conference of Clubs from May 4th-6th, 2012 in the Theme’s Educate to Lead. I was taken by the Hotel Car and arrived at 2.30pm – I immediately saw many Soroptimist sisters were waiting for the bus city tour and I might be so lucky that I could arrive on time for touring around the Christchurch City. Amazing! Amazing I must say! I do love the city even it was extremely destroyed by earthquake.
The conference was absolutely held at Christchurch but the federation decided to hold the conference at Shanty Town Heritage Park at Greymouth after February earthquake badly damaged the Christchurch. Wonderfully, West Coast was so amazing to be held the conference as well since all the Soroptimist sisters could see the sightseeing on the train from Christchurch to Greymouth, I could really see the Southern Alps along the way.
We all arrived at noon then went direct to Shanty Town where we were being wait to say Hello from the lovely people there – the lovely and friendly students sang and performanced in the traditional maori welcome (Powhiri) at the entrance of Shanty Town. There are more than 300 Soroptimist sisters from all over the world, and a handful of (previleged) men! These women are from the world over, and beauty shows, in their dressing, faces, presentations, enthusiasusm, passion, and love. All the women chit chat. Everybody has something to tell, something to share, something to give, and to receive!
I was so touched to hear many successful works from Immediate Past President, Yvonne Simpson, as well as the new president Siew Young about the Flower Power-Strength in Diversity. Also, the one quote from International President, Alice Wells, “Don’t be AFRAID to DREAM BIG”, and many inspiring ideas of SIGBI, President Maureen Maguire, SI Treasurer Pat Carruthers, SI Procedural Consultant Carwen Wynn-Howells and Montreal Convention Chair, Yvonne Machuk.
Other guest speakers – Peri Drydale, a founder of Snowy Peak Ltd, Helen Clark (on Video), administrative of the UN Development Programme, Julia Bradshaw, the Director of Hokitika Museum, Debra Taylor-Hayhurst, Executive Director of Dress for Success Christchurch Inc, Tony Kokshroom, Mayor of Greymouth, Brittany Packer, a young talented lady involved in youth engagement, climate change and education and Jo Goodhew, a Minister of women’s Affairs.
One of the most current projects of the SISWP’s is Birthing in the Pacific – BIP was established in 2010, focused in Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 – Improve Maternal Heal as SWP believes this project will endeavor to minimize the risk of maternal and infant morbidity and mortality by improving maternity skills of midwives, nurses, birthing attendants through out Papua New Guinea (PNG).
I am also tempted to talk about my heartful thanks, because of the overwhelming sponsorship that I got there! There are Robyn Cain and all sisters from Soroptimist International of Western Australia who tried the best to make a fund-raising to get me in there as well as Lynn and Kathy for helping me to process the visa – I feel so honored I want to cry. Also, I am also thankful to the house owner where we were hosted – they are really friendly, helpful and kind to all of us. Moreover, sincere thanks to SI Business on Collins, Lynn and Helen for the donation to SI Phnom Penh. The conference was full of wonderful women, world changers! I cannot forget what I have experienced there.
The last, I would like to say congratulations to SISWP new president, president elect, all the winning projects of the 2012 Best Practice Awards, all SWP’s clubs and an individual member for the work well done. I am so proud to be called a Soroptimist sister!
Te Aroha (Love),