Say a Little Prayer

I was going to write this week about how hemmed in I was feeling after being in the city for almost two weeks and how excited I was feeling at the prospect of open spaces and three hundred and sixty degree views of the horizon as I crossed the Breeza Plain, instead of bitumen, cement and skyscrapers. I was also eager to get back to the comforts of my own home and spend time with my family.

But considering what is happening in other parts of our world and just how many people have suffered the loss of innocent family members and friends, it all seems very shallow.

I think instead I’ll focus my thoughts and energy on saying a silent prayer for lives lost; a quiet thank you to the heavens over the open expanses for the freedoms we enjoy; and look forward to still being able to hug each member of my family when I arrive home.

For the remainder of my travel time I will be thinking about the terrible sense of loss those left behind must be feeling and hope that you will spare them a thought as well.

sunflower-fields-204183_640

What would we do without them?

Who? I hear you ask – City Members of the Country Women’s Association of NSW. Who’d have thought!!

Last week I included a short piece from Annie Kiefer, member of our Phillip Group, whose branches are situated in the heart of Sydney. We have branches right across the city and their support has been provided, unstintingly, almost since our inception in 1922.

I asked Annie, as one of many city members, to provide a “snippet” of her CWA involvement and representation; the following is her tale.

Living in Sydney affords me all sorts of opportunities to attend many local events, and all the while spreading the glad tidings of all things CWA of NSW!!

Today I am very excited; I am off to Radio Station 2RPH to do my first “reading”.  I have been chosen as a volunteer to read a variety newspapers over the radio waves. This is a service provided for not only the vision impaired, but for those who cannot read, folks learning English as a second language who follow the newspaper readings as they are read on air, hospital patients, those who are unable to hold a paper or book and it is even a great way of “reading” the newspaper whilst driving!! I am also told I have a great face for Radio!! I have had to learn about controlling not only my breathing, but my mouth muscles (did you know that some people have lip laziness?). Nor did I. I have learned to ululate!! I feel quite confident that I will now be quite at home in the Middle East and Africa, such is my ululating skill. Then there is the control of my saliva. I am NOT to dribble whilst reading!! Thank God they have pointed out the “COUGH” button, which takes me off air when I forget to ululate, get out of breath, sneeze, cough and cannot control my dribble.

Annie Kiefer and Aina at the Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House

Annie Kiefer and Aina at the Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House

Recently I attended an Australia Day Awards luncheon at Parliament House. This is an Annual “Celebrate Being an Australian” event, sponsored by the National Council of Women of NSW where awards are presented to a number of tertiary students to assist them in gaining higher qualifications. The field is wide and varied and the following are a small sample of the wonderful women who received awards. From Laura, whose honours thesis will focus on research into the processes that control the growth & progression of aggressive breast cancers, to Ashley who is studying and working with women, children and youth who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Then there is Venus, about to commence her honours in Visual Communication, who was born in Kabul, home-schooled by her mother because she was forbidden by the Taliban to attend school and whose family fled Pakistan when the threat of a forced marriage loomed. Finally I met Aina, originally from Russia but now a fully-fledged Aussie, whose passion is astronomy and in particular a long held interest of Black Holes in space.

Her Excellency the Honourable Marie Bashir was in attendance, as well as representatives from such women’s groups as Soroptimists, Catholic Women’s League, Australian Federation of Graduate Women, NSW, Zonta International, and the Ukrainian Women’s Association.

Thanking the guest speaker Verity Firth

Thanking the guest speaker Verity Firth

The guest speaker was Verity Firth, CEO of the Public Education Foundation, who gave a very lively and amusing talk on the importance of education and cited examples from her own personal experiences.

I was very lucky indeed to be asked to a belated International Women’s Day get-together. Over 80 women from various Associations, Organisations and Corporations were ferried to Warwick Farm where the local Community Centre had organised a day at which women who live in the area could display their craftwork and cooking skills. Pru Goward, the Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister for Women, was there to meet and greet everyone. There were about 30 stalls with some beautiful food, free massages and manicures, wonderful entertainment from all the countries represented and a most interesting spectrum of women from all walks of life to speak with.

Coming up for me next are Board Meetings at Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy as well as National Council of Women meetings. Then there is the exciting Women Walk the World Day and to round out the calendar Group President, Patricia Boyer & I have been invited, as Guest Speakers, to talk about the CWA of NSW at The Women’s Club in Sydney. I hope I don’t cough, splutter, ululate, become breathless or dribble. We’ll see!!!

 

 

“What big eyes you have, Grandma…”

DSC_1221-edit2

So now the countdown begins for one of our biggest fundraising events, the CWA Tea Room at the 2014 Royal Easter Show, which opens on 10April and continues until 23 April, 2014.

The call has gone out to members and friends to either volunteer their time during the event or to send donations of jams, pickles and fruit cakes which will be on sale at the tea rooms and my advice here is, if you want any of these items get your skates on because hotcakes are like the tortoise to our hare when it comes to how quickly they sell!!

Equally popular are the devonshire teas, evidenced by the almost 41,000 scones produced at last year’s event and customers often comment that their show ‘experience’ is not complete without a visit to our site. Not everyone partakes of the classic afternoon tea treat; some enjoy a savoury morsel, a cold drink, the weight of aching feet and a chance to chat to our ladies.

The CWA’s ‘mantra’ of late has been that we are more than just tea and scones and once lured into the “lair” by the “bait” we take every opportunity to ensure the “quarry” leave unscathed, well fed and watered, but with a better understanding of just how heterogeneous (love my thesaurus!) our organisation is.

This traditional city/country event affords us the opportunity to espouse the diversity of our membership; be it geographical, cultural, youthful and energetic or, older and wiser. It allows us to discuss the various community and state wide projects our members’ support, the total of which is almost $750,000.00 annually. Members also embrace the chance to explain how the organisation is evolving to continue to meet the needs of the women we support.

None of this would be possible without the mammoth effort put in by the members of the Show Committee; 9 ladies who work extremely hard before, during and long after all the other volunteers have waved their goodbyes and taken their weary bodies’ home. The tea rooms would/could not operate without their energy, enthusiasm, organisational abilities and of course, cooking skills! They are “on deck” all day, every day for not only the two weeks that the show runs but before, setting up and after, returning everything to its rightful place.

It’s definitely hard work, but the sense of achievement, the camaraderie, the response from and interaction with the public, are priceless. Sometimes we just assume they love it; they wouldn’t keep coming back if they didn’t, would they?

I’m hoping to volunteer a day, early to beat the rest of you for the best jams and pickles, so make sure you say hello…….if they haven’t got me on washing up duty!

DSC_1228