CELEBRATING 90 PLUS YEARS OF SERVICE TO OUR COMMUNITY
Welcome to SI Edinburgh’s news of our activities.
As members of Soroptimist International our work is focused on supporting women and girls in any way we can from local to international. At SI Edinburgh we also experience the warmth of international friendship and enjoy social activities.
Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow
Recently, during the meeting of COP26 Anna hosted a Soroptimist and fellow activist from Southern England to enable them to protest outside the Conference in Glasgow. They expressed their appreciation by contributing a donation to the Club, which has been divided between the 3S Fund and for a homeless supporting charity in Edinburgh.
Back to helping at Kids Love Clothes
Find out more information at https://www.kidsloveclothes.co.uk/
Members try to help regularly with sorting the many donations which are received. Recently a small group of members tackled some of the mounting piles to enable winter clothes to be distributed.
Getting ready for UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow
Club members have been knitting and stitching to contribute to a scarf drawing attention to climate change and its impact. This will join with many other contributions from Soroptimists and others to be handed over to Stitches For Survival to be included in their 1.5mile long scarf to be displayed during COP26.
Soroptimist International Centenary Year Trees
The club are joining with Soroptimists around the world to plant trees to celebrate the centenary of Soroptimist International.
Our orchard trees are growing and even beginning to bear fruit!
Thanks to the work of our dedicated Programme Action Officer we have now paid for trees to be planted at a primary school. They asked for orchard trees and these have now been planted.
3STrust and recipients of awards
SI Edinburgh supports the Scotland Region South 3s Trust regularly. (See our page on 3S Trust) We make contributions to the funds as often as we can. We also interview applicants and make recommendations to Region. When young people are successful and have completed their volunteer year we invite them back to tell us about their adventures. It is always rewarding to see how the young people have grown and developed. Occasionally one of the young people is so committed to the work they have been doing abroad that they want to return and help more.
We recently heard from one such young woman.
It has been a while now since my year in Guyana with Project Trust in 2018/19 and since I spoke to you on my return regarding how I got on and my plans to continue supporting the village. There’s been a lot of progress with the project recently so thought I would update you on how I am getting on. I am currently in Guyana (having made it out with just 2 days to spare before Scotland went back into lockdown!) and am on standby to fly into Chenapou, the village where I worked with Project Trust, tomorrow.
People keep asking me what the plan is, and the very honest answer is that there isn’t one, but things have been falling very nicely into place since I reached the capital city last weekend. The ministry of education and local airway service have caught word of what I am doing and are transporting the books for me free of charge and I have just found out that I’ll be living in the village office during my stay. Although there is no bed for me nor any stove to cook on, this is really ideal for the library as this is where I had originally invisioned it being based. At the moment it’s a very disused space which hosts empty bookcases, shelving units and lots of old benches – the skeleton of my library really. There is a lot of work needing to be done to turn it into a more inviting space however I’m sure once I tidy it up a bit, put some posters on the walls, and the books go on the shelves, it will become a great space.
I am yet to find out if I am allowed to work at the school during the day (actually, more importantly, I am yet to find out if it is going to reopen as it has been closed since March) but hopefully term will resume as normal, in which case I can work with the teachers to use the new books as part of the curriculum and to encourage them to set aside library time for each class during the week. After school and during any other free time I’ll then be opening up my door to encourage people to read and make use of the books. I had an amazing donation of non-fiction books from DK publishers which cover many of the topics in their science and social studies curriculum so I would love to teach the children how to use these books to find information and hopefully give them a bit more independence with their own learning. I will also be available to help out with their homework and personal reading as well as hosting reading sessions and story time. Some parts of the village are more remote and require a boat to transport students to and from school. As the parents from these areas tend not to like their children staying after school time, I will use the weekends to visit these zones with a selection of books to ensure that all the students are getting access to the library and not just the students living nearest to myself and the school.
A big issue will be care of the books as surprisingly there is an extreme lack of respect for property in Chenapou. I did manage to enforce this a bit when I was sent books by my mum during my Project Trust year, but it was a lot of work ensuring that all the books were returned in good condition and that children didn’t break into my house to try and steal them. Thankfully the office will be a locked room and, as it will also be my home for the next 2 months, I will be able to oversea how the books are being used and cared for. I am hoping a parent or member of teaching staff will notice this role of overseeing the library while it is in use and that when I then leave the village someone would be willing to take on this duty. As there is no funding in place to provide any financial support for this role, I am unsure whether this will happen. Reiterating to both the children and parents the importance of maintaining the books to try and keep Chenapou Library sustainable is probably my most likely option at the moment. However, as I am unsure of what the response will be to the library, perhaps it will be something people in the community become invested in and want to support in this way.
Hopefully all goes to ‘plan’ when I reach Chenapou and I will try to send another update if there is WiFi.
Hope you are all well
We wish her every success in her ambitions and will try to continue to support her.
UN 16 Days to Orange the World Campaign to Eliminate Violence Against Women
Each year from 25th November to 16 December Soroptimists join with many others to support the UN campaign to draw attention to the various forms of violence against women and girls, from domestic abuse to child marriage to human trafficking and sexual exploitation to child marriage to FGM. We have posted every day on Facebook to remind as many people as possible about this dreadful alternative pandemic.
Implementing the SDGs: Helping the Environment
SI Edinburgh works in partnership with UN House Scotland which is based in Edinburgh. Each year UN House host a number of interns, students who are interested in working on international events, projects and other activities supporting the work of the United Nations. Recently a group of interns have produced a Guide of practical tips for helping the environment. It is a really easy read and full of very useful tips.
Soroptimist Service continues
One of our members has been busy while in lockdown providing tiny hats for premature babies at the Edinburgh hospitals. Her current rate of output is 3 per day every day since the lockdown started in March!
Playing our Environmental Part
During last winter Saughton Park in Edinburgh went through an extensive restoration and modernisation. The park, gardens and house have a magnificent part to play in Edinburgh’s history – for more details see https://www.edinburghoutdoors.org.uk/featureDetails.php?id=123 and SI Edinburgh were very fortunate to hear about the history as well as the plans for restoration from one of our speakers. Following that it was decided to donate a bush/tree to contribute to the rebuilding of the gardens to commemorate our own long history in Edinburgh. Before lockdown one of our members managed to visit shortly after planting so we now have evidence of our Loquat bush (Eriobotrya Japonica).
Supporting Indigeneous Women in Guatemala
On January 8th, Catriona Spaven – Donn had the pleasure of sharing with the members of the Edinburgh Soroptimist branch how Limitless Horizons Ixil, a women-led community development organisation in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, shares SI’s vision and mission. For the past fifteen years, Limitless Horizons Ixil (LHI) has been working with women and girls in the Maya Ixil Indigenous community of Chajul to ensure educational access and foster a culture of literacy and learning. In a community which was at the heart of the country’s 36 year Civil War and still suffers from a 93% poverty rate, the need for sustainable development solutions is acute.
LHI’s Youth Development Program provides middle and high school scholarships as well as wraparound services such as reproductive health and women’s rights workshops. In a community where early marriage and adolescent pregnancy is common, and only 5% graduate from high school, LHI is working to ensure that girls and youth in Chajul can achieve their potential and be change-makers in their community.
This year, LHI will begin construction of a girl-centred and women-led school to provide access to high-quality and empowering education for middle and high schoolers in Chajul. Through culturally responsive, rigorous and engaging academics, our graduates will become civic-minded youth, prepared for university and careers, and capable of breaking the cycle of poverty and gender inequality in rural Guatemala.
As International Coordinator of Limitless Horizons Ixil and along with the entire team here in Chajul, she is looking to build partnerships with organisations sharing our mandate to support the educational, economic and social development of women and girls.
To read more about Limitless Horizons Ixil’s work, including personal stories of the Maya Ixil girls we serve in Chajul, please visit:
Learning about opportunities for Women in STEMM
Soroptimist International of Edinburgh hosted a most interesting evening with Lorna Slater who has recently returned from the Antarctic where she was a participant in the Homeward Bound programme for women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine); launched in 2016, the inaugural programme culminated in the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica.
Several guests joined us for the evening and we were offered an insight into the Leadership programme which participants took part in as well as the clear impact of global warming in the Antarctic.