Thursday, 6 November 2014

Free Being Me: First National Event

42 eager Leaders from IGG and CGI met in Larch Hill on the 10th -12th October for the first National Training on Free Being Me for Leaders in Ireland.

All the Leaders at the training will go on to introduce Free Being Me not only to their own Units, but will train hundreds of other Leaders in the New Year! Our plan is that 16,000 girls in Ireland will learn to challenge body image myths.

Through fun activity workshops the Leaders attending the training learnt how to deliver the programme which will educate girls that all body shapes and sizes and colours are to be appreciated because the truth is there is NO IDEAL BODY. The Image Myth is what the media tries to sell to us. The participants took part in different activities to help them understand the programme for girls so that they would feel more confident delivering it.

Feeling proud and happy about the way you look is called body confident. When beginning the activities with the Pledge, all participants must shout (very loudly) their enthusiasm and willingness to participate!

During our session on the Image Myth, it was funny looking at the contradictions within the Image Myth e.g.: curvy body, flat stomach, large breasts or long legs and small feet. At the end of this session, the participants understood that the Image Myth is created and reinforced by society, that beauty ideals change over time and vary between cultures and therefore are not worth pursuing.

Another session was on airbrushing. The participants were given the before and after pictures and had to note the differences. Not a hair was out of place on the airbrushed picture of the person, eyes were widened, eye lashes extended, neck elongated, arms made slimmer, breasts enlarged etc. Another session was considering the costs/dangers of trying to match the Image Myth - how it can make young people around the world feel down, how it can stop them fulfilling their potential and how it can affect their local and global communities. Participants were given large sheets of paper on which they were asked to draw the outline of a person. The Patrols were then asked to brainstorm the downsides for individuals of trying to look like the Image Myth. Inside the shape they wrote comments like: difficulty concentrating in class, low grades at school, not wanting to do sports, jealous of friends etc. Then outside this figure they wrote about what the negative effects were for the person and their community.

Another activity included sharing the participant's own message and speaking out against the Image Myth. Everyone was given a speech bubble and  wrote their message. Some of the messages written included; “ You are amazing, just the way you are” “ Be yourself, YOU are the BEST” “I am Me, I am unique! Let's be Free together”  I love and value myself because I’m Free Being Me”. These were then displayed on the walls of the training room.

Examples of the 7 – 10 year old programme activities included a session on the participants sharing their role models (from within the group of participants at the training) & recognising that appearance isn't an important factor in forming friendships or valuing others. It was interesting that the 6 Patrols choose different people. One choose Aisling, a 20 year old participant who was assisting in the kitchen, cooking and being a participant, another choose Laura, the Peer Educator facilitator from Girl Guiding UK.

Another activity involved participants sharing positive messages with others that express what they have learned so far in Free Being Me. Participants were given a sheet of paper in which they were asked to draw a star. They were then asked to share a positive message with others, encouraging them to celebrate who they are and challenge the idea that everyone should try to look a certain way.

Another activity session took the form of a treasure hunt where 10 messages were hidden in the room. When the Six finds a message, the Sixer reads it out. The Six thinks of a positive reply which shows that there isn't just one way to be beautiful, so worrying about trying to fit in with a certain look isn't worth it. An example would be, “My friends won’t like me if I’m not pretty”. The Six could reply “Don’t worry, we don’t agree. People like you because of who you are, not what you look like.”

Patrols drew their ideal Princess in another activity while another activity found them reading different parts of a story about  Gilly and Millie, two little mice. Gilly who cared greatly about image while Millie on the other hand, wanted to run, have fun, jump in the pond and play and didn't care how she looked.

While it was an action-packed weekend, time was given to reflections both mornings. Check out the pictures of the group outside on the Saturday morning on the Free Being Me Ireland page on Facebook. It was a “fresh” morning, otherwise known as FREEZING cold. I led the reflections on the Saturday morning and had to add an impromptu exercise routine between each of the 6 reflections.

On the Sunday morning we linked up via Skype with the Free Being Me training which was happening in Hong Kong at the exact same time!  We shared our Free Being Me Ireland rap which one of the Patrols had made up.

To say it was a fantastic weekend would put it mildly. We rock -  we are brill -  we are great just the way we are and will be even better having rolled out the Free Being Me programme in Ireland. 

Check out page 15 of November/December's Trefoil News for details of our 2015 Spring Training Days. One day events that any Leaders interested in running the programme can attend. There will be one coming to a town near you soon. Hope to see you there. 

Marg McInerney
CIGA Free Being Me Committee

This event was organised  by the Free Being Me Ireland team Helen O’Reilly (IGG), Hannah Ridgway (CGI), Nicola Mangan (CGI)and Marg McInerney (IGG) and facilitated by Paul Bigmore, Head of WAGGGS’s Dove Global Programme, and Laura Ede, National Chair of Girl Guiding’s Peer Education Programme.

To learn more about Free Being Me please visit the IGG website.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Lessons From Chief’s: From Beara to Bosnia

Sheena Lydon - a former member of Moycullen Girl Guides and Galway Senior Branch - is cycling to Vietnam! Here she tells us something of her trip so far and how her Guiding experience is helping on her trip of a lifetime ...

I'm sitting typing this in a small hotel in Pejë, Kosovo. It's a beautiful country and the people have shown me kindness beyond all reason. I went to a shop yesterday and bought a can of Fanta: I wasn't allowed leave before sitting down with the lady who owned the shop, and her three teenage daughters, while they plied Sam (my boyfriend) and myself with meat pastries, cakes, Turkish Delight and drinks. And it wasn't the first time it had happened that day either. For a little country that I knew little about, I am so glad that we have decided to cycle through here. Sam and I are currently on our way to Vietnam on our bikes. We get up every morning, pack up all we own and pedal our way to our next destination. It's hard work, but the rewards of meeting new people, seeing beautiful places and learning more every day about the countries that we visit makes it worth each minute that we spend pedalling.

I joined the Brownies when I was five, working my way through the ranks until I became a Ranger and Young Leader. I loved being a Girl Guide: it taught me a huge variety of things about life (including how to steal your Leader's knickers and hoist them up a flagpole!), about myself (I have an endless love for proficiency badges) and opened up a world of possibility to me. Back in 2000, when I signed up to do the Chief Commissioner’s Award on the Beara Peninsula in West Cork, little did I realise the thirst for adventure that it would kindle in me.

A far cry from Kosovo I hear you say? To be fair, I often have as good a shot at understanding Albanian as I did the West Cork accent. It was brilliant and, much like my current adventure, we managed not to get blown away, met some mad, fun and interesting people and had a great time. We had our ups and downs too, of course, but learning to deal with those is beyond valuable. Although these two particular adventures may seem light years apart, the things that I learned on the Chief’s, and in the Guides in general, have prepared me for a lifetime of adventuring, exploring and hopefully going out into the world, at home or abroad and leaving a good impression.

I really can't say enough about the motto ‘Be Prepared’. Obviously, there's only a certain amount of situations and scenarios that you can be prepared for practically when you have to carry everything in a rucksack or on a bike. But for me, it's more about the mental capacity to adapt to a situation. We found ourselves waking up one morning in Croatia a few weeks ago to find that a river had topped its banks overnight and we were now camping quite definitely in the middle of it. What can you do? We took some photos of our belongings bobbing about, rescued as much as we could and had a cup of coffee and a laugh at the predicament we found ourselves in. The ability to turn a bad situation into good is paramount to enjoying your travels and one that I learnt while holding my tent up against a storm somewhere near Casletownbere on the first night of the Chief’s. Be prepared for things to go wrong, and when they do, keep your chin up because a few hours later it's quite likely you'll be laughing about it.

Being open to the goodness in people is something that has always served me well. It's another lesson I took from the Chief’s: we were often stopped by people who wanted to know what we were doing and who offered water, directions or sometimes just a chat. On my current travels, I have lost count of the amount of times when people have gone way beyond what you could expect of someone and helped us out in one way or another. My favourite happened when we were travelling in West Germany. Running out of daylight, tired and in need of a place to camp, I decided to ask at a pub. When I went in, the lady at the bar spoke no English, she gestured in the direction of a man sitting at a table and I approached him and asked if he knew of a campsite nearby. He looked thoughtful for a moment, picked up his phone and made a call. When he put his phone down, he told me he had found somewhere with a friend of his and we were to follow him. Despite the fact that he had just had his dinner brought to the table, he hopped in his car, belted off like the clappers with me and Sam in hot pursuit. He pulled up in a lane and we caught up with him. He told us to wait for Axel, who had finished work and would be here in 15 minutes and promptly disappeared to attend to his rapidly cooling schnitzel. I pictured a large balding man in overalls as we stood at a bridge with no indication there was any field suitable for camping in the vicinity. As we discussed whether Axel might be some sort of a mad man, he pulled up and hopped out of his car. With his hair swept up in a ponytail, smartly dressed and a big smile on his face, he proudly announced that he spoke no English, led us down a lane past his goats to a small field complete with eating area and river running through it. He shook our hands and like that, he was gone. Not only did he save us the hassle of finding somewhere to camp as it got darker, he also allowed us the pleasure of staying in his lovely, well cared for field without a notion of who we were. Thanks Axel! I am so often blown away by the kindness strangers show us on a daily basis. Always be open to the kindness of strangers, and remember to show a little kindness yourself every once in a while.

Above all, the biggest thing I took away with me from the Chief’s was an enormous sense of adventure. The idea that I could spend time travelling around a small corner of a country that I had lived in all my life and still find things new and interesting and exciting was a massive revelation to me. Everywhere I go, there are unexplored, seldom visited nooks and crannies that people whizz by on their travels. And these are the places we get to see. We have been to countries that are a by-word for conflict, whose only associations for me were images of refugees on the news and I found nothing but kindness and hospitality. We have cycled through countries where it's perfectly normal for everyone, including the police, to have beer and wine for breakfast. We are currently in a country that is still under UN protection and where powercuts are the norm. In fact, there's one just now! It is all new and amazing and exciting and it never ceases to amaze me that when we pass over an imaginary line and hand someone over our passports, just like that, we are in a new country...... new language, new currency, new weird and wonderful ways! I will never grow tired of it.

If I were to list all that I learnt on the Chief’s, you'd be reading for quite some time! My award saw me jumping over bog holes, going through record amounts of blister plasters on one foot alone and having the time of my life. It prepared me, not just for my current travels, but for so many things I have experienced in my day to day life. I have a huge amount to be thankful to the Girl Guides for - not just my experiences, but the people that I have had in my life as role models.

So there you have it! Go out and experience the world whether it's Beara, Bosnia or anywhere beyond!

For anyone who wishes to follow our adventure, check out our website here or our Facebook page here.

~ Sheena Lydon

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bandon Guides launch ‘Homeless’ video

Well done to St Peter’s Guides in Bandon whose film on homelessness was well received at the recent Gold Awards in Dublin’s Gresham Hotel. You can watch the film on You Tube!

Here four of the Guides explain their role in making the film…

Eva Holland: “My role was to get a venue for filming and to get costumes for the actors. I had to see what costume best suited each actor and what venue was best suited for filming.”

Luigsech O’Neill: “I was the director. My job was making sure the camera and sound equipment was all in the right place. I also had to make sure the actors were in the right place at the right time.”

Jessica Gill: “We decided to make our film about homelessness after the Cork Simon Community visited our Guides. We collected socks, scarves and gloves for the homeless people that Simon works with. Then the opportunity came to work with the YMCA on social justice issues: this fitted in with our work for our Gold Award so we decided to make a short film. The film compares the life of a privileged person with that of a homeless person.”

Eve Cullinane: “I was the main actress. While making this short film I realised how much we have, how lucky we are and how homeless people don’t even have a quarter of what we have.”

Well done to St Peter’s Guides on producing such a thought-provoking film J

Monday, 29 September 2014

Gold Awards at The Gresham!

There was a great buzz in Dublin’s Gresham Hotel on Saturday when 86 Guides received their Gold Awards at a special ceremony. The girls were warmly congratulated by IGG President Maureen Dillon, who presented them with their Gold Award pins, and Councillor Dermot Lacey, who gave them their certificates.

Here five of the girls share something about their journey to the Gold Awards …

Eimear O’Meara (age 16) of St Rynagh’s Guides, Banagher, Co Offaly said: “The journey to the Gold Award was a challenging one at times but, once I found a way to complete the challenges, I had a great sense of self-fulfilment,” she said. “I learned many new things which helped me to grow as a person and I also made new friends.”

Sinead Moran (16) of St Rynagh’s said: “I started in Ladybirds over 10 years ago and have always loved the sense of togetherness within the Guiding community. I have worked my way up the ladder of Guiding from Ladybirds to Brownies to Guides and so the obvious next step for me was to go on and complete the Gold Award. I am so glad I did put in so much work and I am now an active member of Senior Branch.”

Mary Ellen McMahon (16) of St Rynagh's said: “Looking back, it only seems like yesterday that I joined Guides and was enrolled. In reality though, it has been a long but rewarding journey to the Gold Award. I hope to be involved with IGG long into the future.”

Katie McDermott (15) of Si Gaoith Guides, Barna, Co Galway said she wasn’t sure if she would ever manage to complete the award. “The work for the Gold Award was difficult but I was really determined to complete it, so I kept working at it,” she said. “I’m really glad I completed it because I feel like I’ve achieved something. All the hard work was definitely worth it.”

Christina Coyne (15) of Si Gaoith said she also found it challenging but had kept going with the encouragement of her leader, Nonie Hickey, and by seeing how many opportunities Guiding had given her older sisters, Nicole and Katie.

“Now I can see that all the hard work was worthwhile,” she said. “I have learned so much from doing this award – things that will help me in everyday life, such as organising and talking in front of groups. The Gold Award has opened many doors for me in my life and I believe all my hard work has certainly paid off and will hopefully make me a better person in the future. I am grateful I had the opportunity to join Guiding and to get the highest award.”

Congratulations to all 86 girls! We wish them all the very best as they continue on their Guiding journey … 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Welcome to the new Guiding year!

Autumn time, when the evenings begin to shorten, and the turning leaves herald the start of a new Guiding year….

It’s hard to imagine that anything will come close to the excitement of the Brownie Centenary celebration, especially the 3,500 IGG members partying at the Brownies’ Brilliant Birthday event in the Phoenix Park and the cutting of the cake by Ray D’Arcy. When you think of all the Centenary Brownie camps and all the Regional, Area and District celebrations, it’s unimaginable to think we can top this. But the Guiding way is to embrace a challenge and we will do our best to be even bigger and better this year!

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) / Dove ‘Free Being Me’ programme for 7-10 year-olds and 11-14 year-olds is a new initiative which challenges young women to stand up and take action to build both body confidence and self-esteem. Following the programme and doing the Take Action project will earn you the ‘Free Being Me’ badge, and we all love earning badges!

Last weekend saw the launch in a few Units of the pilot stage of the New IGG Programme . This New Programme will be officially unveiled next March at something else I’m really looking forward to - TWIGG.  Many of you will already have seen the ‘save the date’ advert in September’s Trefoil News, but for anyone who hasn’t TWIGG stands for ‘Together We’re IGG’. It is the launch of the New Programme and the National Conference all rolled into one. In a way a mini type of Branch Weekend, hence TWIGG.

Ladybirds have the fun of the Table Quiz to look forward to in October as well as many exciting adventures in the coming year.

For Senior Branch the coming year holds exciting changes on the way involving the New Programme, and it’s an Explorer Belt year too.

Trefoil Guild are busy looking at new ways in which to fulfill their aim of supporting those interested in embodying the Guiding ethos whilst not actively involved as a member or Leader. I hear of the possibility of a Student Guild, a Craft Guild, a Hill-Walking Guild, and a Theatre Guild to mention just a few. So these are exciting times indeed!

As you can see, this Guiding year 2014/15 is sure to be fun-filled and has something to offer everyone. I, for one, can’t wait to get started.

My first job is to jet off to the Guide Gold Awards to celebrate with the 86 recipients of this prestigious award and it’s one I’m really looking forward to. 

~ Maureen Dillon, IGG President

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Chief Commissioner's Award: final weekend

It's all over for another year. 60km, €3.50 a day, 8 projects and carrying your home on your back. Our four teams have been amazing. They all finished saying they couldn't have given more of themselves than they did and that is exactly what we were looking for.

We spent our final weekend at the Chief's having interviews, visiting  Father Ted's House, surfing and. of course, having the all-important ceremony and banquet.

We chose Poulnabrone Dolmen for our ceremony as it is one of the enduring monuments of the Burren. The sun shone (although storms were forecast) and the girls' squeals of joy could be heard all over as one by one we announced that they had all received cert, woggle and pin.

Gillian, Colleen and Cathy couldn't have asked for a more perfect end to a great week. Well done again everyone and we'll see you on the Explorer Belt! 

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Chief Commissioner's Award Day 4

Another fine sunny day here in the Burren. All our teams have now checked into their final campsite for their final night under the stars. After months of planning and training their adventure is coming towards it's end.

The teams have explored the Burren and now know the area as well as the locals. They have visited local highlights including Inis Oírr, Doolin, Doolin Caves, the Burren Smokehouse, the Cliffs of Moher, Fanore, Lisdoonvarna, Caherconnell Stone Fort and lots more we'll hear about tomorrow.

There have been highs and lows, some injuries, happy tears and sad tears but they are a brave and determined group of women who won't let anything get them down.

They are all in their various campsites tonight furiously working on finishing logbooks and projects by torchlight. We can't wait to hear all their stories tomorrow and we'll share as many as we can. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Chief Commissioner's Award so far....

Monday morning the sense of nervous excitement was thick in the air. Bellies were stuffed and cars were loaded as they headed into the unknown for a great adventure.

They were dropped at various points around the Burren, handed their folders (their bible for the next five days), had a final photo taken before their hair got mussed and were left to begin their journey.

Áine, Aisling and Lauren were dropped at Doolin Pier and decided to head to the Cliffs of Moher before heading back to Doolin to catch the ferry to Inis Oírr to spend the night. Orla and Lucy started in Ballyvaughan and completed an epic journey through the woods and down the coast to Fanore Beach. Mairéad and Ciara were dropped at Doonyvardan and after careful planning headed to Lisdoonvarna. Eimhear, Laura and Vera were dropped near the Cliffs of Moher and walked along the picturesque cliff walk before lodging in Doolin.

Over the past couple of days they have been making friends, investigating projects and searching for service projects (always a tough task to complete). The teams are doing projects on things like: living on an island; local crafts people; festivals; caves; cliffs; tourism; development education; the Geopark and lots more. They also have to write a song about their experiences and create a brochure to entice people to the Burren.

So far we've been lucky with the weather. Some wet spells but mostly the sun is shining on our Teams.

Keep sending your messages to the girls and help keep their spirits high. 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Chief Commissioner’s Award – Gathering Day

4pm and we all gathered in the Lidl carpark in Oranmore.  After all the months of preparation and anticipation the time has finally come.  Still unsure of where we were headed we bundled into the cars and  headed on the road – driving through beautiful countryside to our final destination which for tonight is the Burren Outdoor Education Centre.

Our evening consisted of chats and reminders about the week ahead – managing the 2 big risks we face – roads and cliffs.  We must walk safely on the proper side of the road and remember not to lie over the edge of cliffs – it seems straightforward enough!! We then had our final pep talk – we’re all going to be grand!!! 

We had our bag check.... How many shorts do you really think you need? Do you think you should be  bringing that amount of hot chocolate?  All sensible questions and we did make some decisions that I’m sure we’ll be delighted about later in the week having had the rucksacks permanently on our backs.

Now it’s time to head to bed before tomorrow’s adventure begins for real.  We’ll be dropped off in the morning and have to head towards our first campsite.  Exciting times!!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

So D-Day is approaching ... or C-Day I guess we should call it!

Lucy O'Donovan (left) and
Órla Reilly all set for Chief's!
Rucksacks are at the ready, boots are worn in, tents have been put up and down countless times and the last minute excited jitters have set in. It can only mean one thing .. The Chief Commissioner's Award 2014!

It feels like just yesterday Órla and I discussed doing Chief's together and signed up, but the days just flew by and now it's right around the corner! When we first decided to take on the challenge we sat down and planned a training schedule  (this wasn't easy as Órla and I both had holidays, Guide trips and shift work to get our heads around)! 

We started training by carrying those large 5 litre bottles of water in our rucksacks and walking around 8km. It sounds crazy but it really worked! We started to up our mileage and started adding things like the trangia, sleeping bags and sleeping mats to our rucksacks as the weeks went on. Then when we had put everything we might have needed for Chief's into our bags, we took out the 5 litres.... what a relief! Now the bag was much more manageable as we had got used to carrying so much more.

All my friends thought I was utter bananas when I explained I was being dropped in a place I didn't know for a week, with a strict budget to live on, camping in a tent every night, carrying everything I needed on my back and, oh yeah, the fact I would be covering 60km! And I would be enduring all of this in the hopes of getting a certificate, a woggle and, hopefully, a pin. But I guess that's Guiding for you! For Guides, this is a great opportunity.. but to others it's complete insanity! 

I'd be lying if I said I'm 100% confident and not at all scared about the challenge ahead. I'm quite nervous! (Did I mention that we don't actually know where Chief's is being held until the day?) but I've heard so many great stories about previous participants' adventures and how they got involved in the communities they walked through, so I'm looking forward to making my own. I know I've got a great partner in Órla who has exactly the same drive and humour as me and I'm sure we'll laugh and joke our way through the tough bits!

I hope you've enjoyed this little snip-it of my Chief's journey to date. Keep an eye on this blog during the 3rd-10th of August for updates and on the IGG Facebook page, Chief Commissioner's Award page and Senior Branch Facebook page as well as IGG twitter.

We won't have access to technology at all during the week (another part of the challenge), so if anyone has some final words of wisdom or encouragement for me, or any of the other Chief's participants. please let us know in the comments below as soon as possible! 

~ Lucy O'Donovan, Abbey Rangers, Kinsale

Friday, 11 July 2014

Proud to be Irish!

We have come to the final day of the conference and it's another emotional one. The 600 of us here in Hong Kong came together to share ideas and discuss policies and strategies so that Guiding/Girl Scouting can reach even more girls than it already does. This is part of our Vision 2020 and means every organisation needs to grow membership by offering quality non-formal educational programmes to our young people. This can be a challenge but I found great solace in the organisations here who increased their membership by over 200% in the triennium. I hope that we too can do that in IGG. Wouldn't it be great if every girl in Ireland had the option of Guiding in their local village or centre? 

Standing in the conference hall, it was great to think of the contribution IGG has made on the global stage of WAGGGS - we have 'produced' the head of the World Board in the past, the head of the Europe Region, we have had members on various world committees, we hosted the World Conference and today it was great to have our own Lorna join forces with her fellow Drogheda woman, Mary McPhail the Chief Executive of the entire world association. Up Louth!

The final day was a day of workshops and sharing of best practice and then the final voting session. It was quite a long session given all the motions and amendments we had to consider but we got through them all and well done to all those on the relevant committee who remained calm and professional throughout the whole process. These decisions shape the future direction of our organisation and are important to enable us to move towards good governance, transparency and compliance with charity regulation. As we here in Ireland, go through the same steps with the pending implementation of the Charity Act, we can empathise with those who put in long hours to ensure WAGGGS is also on the right track as a charitable organisation. 

And then came the goodbyes and farewells. Some people whom we have met before at other events and were reconnecting with, others who became good friends in a short space of time. Our new World Board Chair Nicola Grinsted gave each of us her personal commitment, and that of her committee, that they will work to ensure we continue to be the most powerful organisation for girls and young women in the world! 

Then we headed to the Closing Ceremony to round off the conference in style! Thanks to all who ensured this event happened and was a success. 

Helen & Lorna

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

All equal, all different, all united…

Helen Concannon with delegates from Kuwait 
The world of Guiding is divided into 5 Regions - Arab, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Western Hemisphere - and each one had their regional gathering on the morning of Day 3. It’s amazing to see how much each Region is similar yet different and to consider the vast array of organisations we are sisters with.

This led us to electing the Committee which will work on our behalf and represent all regions in the coming triennium. It was an electric vote which enabled us to see the results after each round and so therefore celebrate as each new World Board member was announced. A lot of emotion filled the room and we would like to say well done to all 14 who were nominated, and congratulations to all 6 elected.

Two interesting sessions followed on Leadership and Self-Esteem. With very powerful speakers and examples of research, it was thought-provoking to think that 6 of every 10 girls will stop doing something they like because of how they feel about their body. That is something we must work to change and we are delighted that IGG in partnership with CGI will be taking on the Free Being Me project in September with support from Dove. The impact of having low self-esteem is so far-reaching that we must take action - and this Free Being Me programme is a proven way of tackling the issue. Look out for September’s Trefoil News and keep an eye on our website for further info on how to get involved and help girls

It isn't always internal matters that limit our achievements and the Nigerian Girl Guides that are here have kept us aware of the horrifying situation in the north of their country currently. Because of the kidnapping of girls from schools, many parents have stopped sending their girls to school. And because many of their Girl Guide Units operate in schools, many Units have had to close down. We wish them strength and courage as they deal with the realities of conflict. 
Lorna Finnegan at the World Market with WAGGGS
 Chief Executive Mary McPhail and Margaret Treloar,
former WAGGGS World Board Chair

As a way of supporting organisations WAGGGS organises a World Market at these events so that members can sell items from their country to raise funds for their work. It was an assault on all our senses to literally walk around and taste, smell, feel, touch and see the foods, fabrics and feasts of the world in one room!

Looking forward to Day 4 of the conference tomorrow as we will vote on the final motions of the conference.

Helen & Lorna 

For a full report of Day 3 at the conference check out WAGGGS conference website

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

From Pembroke Park to Papua New Guinea ...

IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon
with Papua New Guinea delegates
Another busy day in Hong Kong with important discussions and decisions being made for the future of Guiding.

The highlight of today was when Emily David, the Chief Commissioner from Papua New Guinea, approached us to say how they love to receive the copies of our international edition of Trefoil News each year because they have so few resources and this provides new ideas and activities. She explained that they hadn't received this year's one as they had changed their address.

Emily told us how when the different regional leaders come in from the islands to national meetings they are given photocopies of Trefoil News, along with other resources, as many have no means of accessing such resources. These women have limited electricity and some have no internet access.

The idea that our resource is so useful to others around the world made us very proud. And what an inter-connected world we live in!

So as the deadline for submissions to TN looms each month, I will look differently as I now realise how a game, song, activity or idea we include in it may end up being used by girls in Papua New Guinea!

Well done to our TN editor and all who submit articles and contributions!

~ Helen Concannon (Chief Commissioner) and Lorna Finnegan (International Commissioner)

Monday, 7 July 2014

35th World Conference of WAGGGS in Hong Kong

Well, who would have thought?! Here we are sitting in a conference room with 600 women from 145 different countries representing Irish Girl Guides! It is an amazing privilege and we are delighted to be a voice for IGG’s 12000 members at the global level of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Being here with so many different languages, cultures and people demonstrates how each one of us and each one of you, are 1 in 10 million WAGGGS members around the world. There is strength in numbers and to see the difference Guiding & Girl Scouting is making in the lives of so many people is inspiring!

We arrived in Hong Kong a day or two early to acclimatise to the venue and the 30 degree heat. But its not just the weather thats warm - the welcome from the local Hong Kong Girl Guide
Association has been fantastic. Their organising committee and service team are doing a great job and it brings back many memories of being on the 1999 World Conference team in Dublin! Hard to believe that was 15 years ago! Guiding has offered both of us such wonderful opportunities since then and we are happy to apply all those experiences to ensure we learn from this event bringing information back to IGG and also bringing IGG’s opinions and voice to share with the others present at this conference! 

Day 1 of the World Conference was a day of high emotion with some associations receiving full
membership, an inspiring speech from Princess Mabel Van Oranje and a wonderful Opening
Banquet with local and international dignitaries. It was also an opportunity to meet with new and
old Guiding friends and discuss some of the important topics of the conference - membership,
finances, federations and the fifth world centre project! 

For full report see  !
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And check in tomorrow for more updates from Hong Kong.
Helen Concannon (Chief Commissioner) and Lorna Finnegan (International Commissioner)