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President’s Message March 2022

Dear Members,

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, our thoughts must turn to the terrifying situation in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of women and children have fled, separated from their men folk and leaving behind their homes, to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

So far, most of the Refugees have arrived in Poland, with the nine Soroptimist clubs there helping to coordinate supplies to support the women and children, initially with clothing, toiletries and bedding, before assisting with finding places for them to sleep.

I have heard from SI Europe President Carolien that on Thursday, she had a meeting with four members in Ukraine from three cities, one was sitting in a basement, another in a corridor where they live, to keep away from the windows in the front of their apartment, a third member had to leave the meeting as the sirens went off.

Hungary is now desperate as more refugees arrive; also of real concern is the situation in Romania and Moldavia, both of whom are overwhelmed with refugees and are already poor countries themselves.

I understand members’ wish to support any Friendship Links they may have in any of these countries, however, I have received a direct appeal from President Carolien for any donations to be made to the SIE Disaster Relief Fund, rather than to individual clubs, so that they can be directed to where they are most needed in any of the surrounding countries involved in this humanitarian crisis.

Donations can be made using PayPal via the SIE website – https://www.soroptimisteurope.org/donate/disaster-relief-fund.

14 March sees the start of the sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which again this year is a virtual event for most of the delegates.

The Priority theme is:  Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.

Over the last fifteen months, SIGBI members throughout the Federation, have contributed to combating the climate emergency by planting a magnificent total of 94,770 trees. I want to thank you all for this is extraordinary achievement and I am confident and excited at the prospect of achieving our goal of 100,000 trees for 100 years!

I know that the planting season in the UK ends this month but it’s possible to continue planting in other countries in the Federation. If for whatever reason, you have been unable to plant your own trees, you can send funds in support of other schemes, for example, the planting of the Mangroves. The Trustees of the Kori Project are also aiming to plant a forest in memory of Johanna Raffan, in honour of all her work involved in setting up the project together with members of S.I Thames Valley.   Rose Hutchinson is now the Chair of the Trustees and can be contacted, if members wish to find out more about the Kori tree planting project.

The SIGBI Tree Planting Working Group are also asking members to use social media, to announce a public pledge to plant ‘X’ more trees, so that by the Belfast Conference in October 2022, we can announce that we have reached the 100,000 trees, we are so nearly there!

My congratulations and thanks.

In friendship

Cathy