Stories of changing lives
Here are just a few of the stories from English speaking countries that we have received about how Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has changed lives.
Message for the centenary, Dr.Nighat Arshad from Pakistan
While the centenary starting for Girl Guides all over the world, for me its the beginning of a new era!
While we watch the world in turmoil, natural disasters and man made disasters girl guiding for me has bought some sense in the world. While people create their own spaces, it is the girl guides, and boy scouts that bring with themselves a message of selflessness, and the spirit or giving.
I may not be an active girl guide anymore, maybe because of lack of time.As life shoves its responsibilities on my shoulders with family life, I still at heart feel like a girl guide. I still feel the intense sense of helping others which I learned while we gathered relief packages for the flood affected people in the 90's. At heart I want to reach out to the less fortunate any time I can donate my time of my resources.
At heart I am still a Girl Guide, I learnt to face a little of the world in the guiding camps, in Murree in Pakistan, and also the pirates camp in Devon, England. I believe that I learnt so much from meeting other girls my age and older, from all sorts of backgrounds and races. I was in touch with my hostess Rosny from Exeter for a very long time, I met friends from Greece, England, and other parts of the world. I would call it a "real" experience while seeing, and meeting so many like myself.
I still feel like a girl guide at heart, as I use the knowledge that I learnt while earning my badges. From tying ropes to learning to cook outdoors to learning how to do batik, and tie and dye on fabric. I have learnt a lot and while I try to give back as much as I can, I still feel like a little girl on a journey.
I still feel like a little girl ambitious about learning new things, ambitious about making friends from just about everywhere, ambitious about just "learning". This ambition has been instilled in me because I was and always will be a girl guide at heart!
Best of luck for the next 100 years!
Guiding in my life, by Rena Bountouva–Mela from Greece
I joined Guiding in 1947 in the age of 14. Since then I adopted the principles and the values of this Movement which influenced the development of my character and my personality.
Our Law, formulated in its ten articles, had been my compass in life.
The Law and the Promise helped me develop and mature and put showed me the way how to live with other people with respect and solidarity and how to enjoy and protect the natural environment.
In Guiding I grew up into a self-confident, reliable and respectful and strong woman.
Having always a hand stretched out to everyone, being a team and living with the others with understanding, patience, affection and kindness.
No other organization has a holistic educational effect on its members as Guiding and Scouting have.
Personally, being a Guide played a key role in my life. I always tried to act according to the Guide Promise and Law. I really cannot tell whether I succeeded or not. I know that I tried. For one thing I am sure, that Guiding has always been in my heart. I feel lucky and it gives me a great pleasure to be still part of this Movement for more than 62 years!
Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow, Georgia Bekyra from Greece
In the beginning of 2008, I had the immense fortune of being chosen by the Greek Guides Association for a seminar in Our Cabaña, Mexico. The fact that I would visit a World Centre was an honor by itself, but the thought that I would interact with Guides from all over the world, made the prospect even more thrilling.
The reality, however, was in fact beyond my dreams. The seminar was beautifully structured and the personnel just awesome. We were divided in several groups with different topics to explore and to work on. My group was called "Las Chicas Listas" and our topic was AIDS. Our goal was to organize a type of seminar, which in collaboration with a local volunteering group would continue the educational seminar about AIDS in local communities. The pinnacle of the seminar, and one of my most memorable experiences in my life, came at the end of the seminar, when we visited a village in the outskirts of Cuernavaca, where we had to play out what we had been planning.
The interaction with the local people, mostly women, was unbelievable. It was a revelation, in the sense that I had never encountered before, people who experience life, like they do. There were mostly mothers, with 3-4 children, whose husbands have abandoned them for another life in the States, who had to endure sexual repression and who had to make ends meet out of nothing. Their knowledge on the subject of AIDS was incredibly limited and in some cases not even known as a concept. That was a true challenge for our group. Their attitude, though, was remarkable and their spirits high, despite of what seemed to be unbearable to the rest of us. That was a life lesson, I will never forget.
It was a great experience, one moment in time, I will always cherish.
Girl Scouting is my life, Susana F. Malihan from the Philippines
At the young age of six I was inducted into the world of Scouting through the songs, dances, stories and activities of elves, pixies, toad stools and the laughter of kookaburra sitting on an old gum tree. I was a Brownie learning the promise and law, the motto and the signals.
I enjoyed the life of a Brownie so much that when another opportunity came along I joined the Senior Scouts as a high school sophomore. Outdoor activities made us responsible citizens of our environment and community.
I got hooked to the movement when I became a teacher. I attended the Basic Course for Troop Leaders to learn the tools of leadership and since then, my life revolved around the Stars, Juniors, Seniors and Adult Leaders, during Star Holiday, Playdays, Encampments and Ceremonies.
After some years the Council sent me to trainings to become a Trainer. For me, this stage in scouting brought me to the pinnacle of success. My potential as a leader was unearthed and my skill to train was honed as I dealt with adults, community women, barangay girl scout committees and young girls. My ability to network with other agencies was improved and my self-confidence was fully developed.
I had retired from government service yet I’m still with the girl scout movement. Girl Scouting helped me realized my dream to serve my fellowmen in my own little way and for all these, I give thanks to our Almighty God for inspiring my parents to let me become a Brownie fifty seven years ago.
My Guiding Story, Beryl Earls from South Africa
I was just an ordinary little girl living in a convent in Cape Town, South Africa in the 1940s. One Friday evening, we were herded into the school hall and told that we were starting a Guide Company. Although it only lasted one year, it was the beginning of a change in my life which has remained with me ever since. My captain used to travel all the way from the other side of the city in a tiny car with headlights covered for the blackout. That is what I call commitment!!
One day, we were told that we were all going to Pinelands to meet an important Lady who was stopping in at Cape Town. Just before the lady arrived, my Captain suddenly realized that I was still not enrolled as I kept on muddling the promise. So we all gathered in a circle near the outside toilets and I made my promise which I have tried to keep ever since. Not a respectable beginning for such an important milestone but it didn’t worry me and I was so proud of my trefoil badge. The important lady was Olave Baden Powell who was travelling from Kenya on her way home to England. I will always remember how proud I was as I saluted her.
Over the years, when I was able to do so, I ran two Brownie Packs and a Guide Company at different times and I am now happily settled in a Trefoil Guild. Once a Guide always a Guide.
Leading the first troop of Guides in my school, Mariam from Oman
Hello. My is Mariam. I am a Girl Guide leader. I am 36 years old. I started guiding when I was young as a Brownie but I become a leader by chance.
In my country we have Guides mostly at schools, so in 1992, I graduated from the colleague and I started teaching.
When I went to school, the headmistress told me all the teachers had already chosen their activities and you have to take the Guides activity. I said OK and I took that as a challenge. I worked very hard and I published the first troop of Guides in my school. I started to read about Guides and I attended training courses in my country then I attended a Juliette Low Seminar in 1994 in Sangam.
Since that date I didn't stop. I attended many events on both national and international level.
Now I am an International Commissioner and an Arab trainer and I hope one day to be on the World Board.
A Journey from Brownies to Trefoil Guild, by Jackie Blundell, South Africa
I am Jackie Blundell - Helderberg Trefoil Guild, Cape West, South Africa - born Jacqueline Haider in Pinner, England in September 1939. My mother was keener than me that I became a brownie and I was enrolled in the 7th Pinner Brownie Pack sometime during 1948. I did not really enjoy it much but it was better than I expected. Main thing learnt - how to set a table correctly.
In September 1950 I 'went up to guides' - the 7th Pinner Guide Co. and from that day things looked up. I was not a clever child, nor could I swim well so I did not get my First Class but managed quite a few proficiency badges. The strange thing was I still seemed not quite to fit in and from the six patrols in the Company I was moved through five - so I was a Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Blue Tit, Robin and ended up PS. and PL. of the Swallows - guess the Chaffinches did not need me!
I went to Rangers in 1955 but it was a rather unmotivated unit and when I was approached by the Brown Owl of 8th Pinner Brownies to help her I moved across and was warranted as Tawny Owl when I turned 18. In 1963, when I married Mike prior to coming to South Africa, my brownies formed a guard of honour outside the church - what a happy photo.
For the next 11 years there was gap but when my daughter wanted to be a brownie in 1974, I made enquiries in Somerset West - and was back in uniform as Tawny Owl to 2nd Somerset West Pack, Helderberg Division. A year later I took over 1st Somerset West Pack as Brown Owl and stayed there until 1978 when I 'went up to guides' to be the Asst. Guide Guider of 3rd Somerset West Coy. for about 3 years. In 1985 I received my 10 year service award.
I can't quite remember how it happened but the next thing I was the Somerset West LA Chairlady and so sat on the old Cape West Regional Council under President, Mrs Janet Meynell, who invited me to join her in attending the SA National Council meeting in Johannesburg in 1989.
In July 1993 the Helderberg Trefoil Guild was formed. I was a founder member, the first Secretary and have also been Treasurer and Co-ordinator. I am presently their Secretary and also the Secretary for the EXCO Committee of the Cape West Guilds. I find the friendship and fellowship from my Guild friends to be one, if not the most, special aspects of my 'golden years'. In 2008 I was greatly honoured to attend the Chief Commissioners' Dinner held in Pinelands, Cape Town, prior to SA's WC8 - this is probably the highlight of my 60 years in Guiding. Now in 2009, I look forward to many more years as a guild member.
I am so pleased I joined the brownies all those 60 years ago - think what I would have missed in life.
A Passion for Girl Scouting, by Yasuko, Japan
As my two brothers were Boy Scouts, I asked the patron of Ashiya Boy Scouts to establish Girl Scouts. Then Troop 20 of Hyogo Council was born in 1952, and finally I could become a Girl Scout! Since then, I have belonged to the same troop for 57 years.
To support Girl Scouting as a volunteer is worthwhile and has become my life’s work. My passion for Girl Scouting has not changed. In 1957, I went to the USA and Canada as a Japanese delegate of the Juliette Low Session and I went on to volunteer in various camps. These experiences were very useful for me in my later Girl Scout life as a leader, a trainer and a Board member of Girl Scouts of Japan. My friends are spread not only all over Japan but also all over the world because of Girl Scouting. I met Lady Baden-Powell at the 19th World Conference that was held in Tokyo.
I had the pleasure to meet HRH Princess Benedikte at the general meeting Olave Baden-Powel Society. I visited the USA headquarters in New York last year after 51 years, and they treated me like family.
I always hold the Promise and Law in my heart. I could get over a difficulty with the Girl Scouting spirit. I want to continue to support youth development and work with Girl Scouting to achieve world peace.
Making a Difference through Girl Guiding, by Priyanthi Hemamali Rajapaksa from Sri Lanka
In 1968 in my school I saw girls wearing different types of uniform and they were different from my other friends. So I wanted to join. In 1969 I become a Guide and soon I was able to join the Ranger company One day, my senior Guide Captain asked to see my mother. She told her that I would have to leave Guiding if I were to be chaperoned each week. My mother got the shock in her life as I am the eldest in the family and I had not gone alone anywhere. The Captain made arrangements for me to go with another Ranger after the meetings.
I was always the quiet one in the troop, but little by little I was given the responsibility of a service project once a week
I went with some of the Guides to carry out programmes. After some time I was able to do things and I came out of the shell.
In 1976 I was selected to attend a conference in Sangam. After I came back I felt that I was strong enough to carry out even more. I ended up volunteering for the UN Drugs Programme. I eventually opened several pre-schools in rural area for low income families.
I have worked on many rural community projects, many funded by UNICEF.
Girl Guiding makes you a whole person as I am now. I have been honoured to carry out projects which have changed the community.
Some of my highlights…meeting new friends and visiting new places. I saw Lady Baden-Powell when she visited Sri Lanka although unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to meet her, I got a chance to visit 3 of the WAGGGS’ World Centres.
Guiding has changed me to help others when they need.