SI Bridgend and SI Karachi – links.
In April 2008 Lily Laesser and I (Rayner Rees) attended Anne D’s study weekend in Miskin Manor. We listened to the presentations from other clubs in our region we were very impressed with the International links that they had established and the support that they gave to other clubs in our Federation.
SI Bridgend supports many worthy causes and we both agreed that maybe we could look for links further afield and that in the true spirit of Soroptimism we should;
‘Inspire action and create opportunities to transform the lives of women and girls through a global network of members and international partnerships.’
In the first instance we spoke to all our club members and they all agreed that it would be a good idea to explore this possibility. We discussed links with other Federations but in the end it was decided that it would be better to find a link within our own Federation. As a result I contacted Georgie Larson who put me in touch with SI Karachi and the then President – Talat Pasha.
On Thursday May 22nd, 2008 SI Karachi Central granted scholarships to thirty eight female students studying in Chanesar Goth. Ten of the students were from the Sindhi Medium School and 28 from the Urdu Medium School. Students were also given a new uniform and dresses.
It was at this point that SI Bridgend became involved and our club voted to support another five girls every year – at a cost of £20.00 per girl. If we raised more money then we gave Talat the go ahead to use the funds in whatever way the school needed support.
Fundraising began in earnest with me making cards and corsages and with our other members putting their hands in their pockets to buy them. At first the cards were not wonderful but (if I say so myself) they have improved. I also sold to friends and family and received donations. As a result by the time the Barbados conference came around we had raised over £200.00 – enough to sponsor the girls and to buy much needed books. (You can view the presentation on UTube)
In SI Bridgend we have continued to support this project and since returning from Barbados we have raised enough funds to support more girls and to buy them books and uniforms. We have also involved one of our local schools where the head teacher Christina Bach is a Soroptimist. The school held a non uniform day and pupils were ‘fined’, the ‘fines’ are a part of our donations to Chanesar Goth School. This school in Bridgend has helped us help SI Karachi meet their commitments.
For me this project has made me much more aware of how very lucky we are in this country to be free and able to pursue our chosen careers and while our education system and health service may not be perfect it is available for all no matter what their status.
I like to think that we learnt a great deal about each others culture although I think that Talat is much more informed about us than I am about life for women and girls in Pakistan. She really is a woman to be admired, a true Soroptimist in every sense of our organisation and I feel privileged to have met her and support her project.
And finally in Talat’s words:
• Together, by doing our bit, we’re making the world a better place for all.
• By educating girls, we will help advance our work to empower girls in the fight against poverty.
A world where girls are empowered to lift their communities out of poverty.
It can happen!
Rayner Rees SI Bridgend. 2nd March 2009
2014 project jointly through SI Karachi, the provision of solar power for a water filtration plant.