India was the theme as Clearwater’s Guides, Brownies and Sparks celebrated Thinking Day at Dutch Lake Community Centre on Friday, Feb. 19.
Guider Heather Adamson provided intriguing craft activities with Indian designs, and a fun team game the Brownies, called Bulbuls in India, play with one balloon or more. Ranger Hanna Wadlegger, dressed in her salwar talked animatedly about her trip to Idaipur, India last summer. She also donated ingredients for delicious samosas made by Jackie,a local lady.
The girls, including friends and little sisters, participated happily in everything. They bounced around the spacious multi-purpose room or sat quietly, responding to instructions respectfully as the situation required. Guiders Judy Shipley, Jane Olsen, Jean Nelson and Kris Olsen, stepped up to the plate wherever they could to help and assisted the girls at each craft station.
Hanna, now in Grade 11, has worked her way through the Guiding Program in Clearwater so she knows what it is like to be a Spark, Brownie, Guide and Pathfinder. Last year she earned her Canada Cord, the top award for girls. Hanna and six other BC Pathfinders and Rangers flew from Vancouver with two Guiders to Mumbai and thence north to Ubaipur. They spent a week near here, living and working with the Me to We program (also familiar to local girl Zoe Ovenden). Her slide presentation showed daily programs and some photos.
“We made cement first,” she told us, “and then bricks using dirt, sand and mud. Gloves protected our hands as we mixed and then poured the mixture into molds. These were used in building an Angewate – a combination of clinic for women and day care centre. The women are very shy, often covering their faces with pretty shawls. Because they don’t want to go to a male doctor, some die from comparatively minor ailments. This happens often, even though health care is free in India,” Hanna explained. “Day care provides a free meal for kids – so welcome in this poor neighbourhood. There are incentives for locals to receive education in the field of medicine, and then come back to their own rural community.”
I asked about experiences with her B.C. group. “Yes, I am still in close contact with my new friends in Guiding,” she smiled happily. “Our Guiders helped us make the most of our experience by encouraging us to try new things. The food cooked for us at the Me to We Centre was great, but very different, and a couple of the girls had tummy troubles.” They did some touristy travels after their week of work and there they were able to take photos. “At the centre we could take a few pictures, but only after we had been there for a several days, she told us. “We had to build up a comfortable relationship with the locals first.”
A school had already been built to replace the original tiny one, allowing many more students, dressed in uniforms, to attend. “One word to describe your experience, Hanna,” I requested. I watched as memories flickered through her mind and were reflected in her face.
“Incredible,” she eventually offered, then, “Life-changing!” she added, her face brightening. “It opened my eyes to the difficulties of obtaining health care in a rural area in India.”
Thinking Day, Feb. 22, is commemorated worldwide by all ages of girls and women who are members of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Both Lord and Lady Baden Powell had their birthdays on that date. Clearwater’s girls had the perfect opportunity to enjoy learning about the International aspect of the Guiding Movement.
“You could travel as I did if you stay involved,” Hanna finished her presentation.
There was one other international flavour at lunch time. The prize the girls had won for the Christmas Tree Decorating Contest at Rotary’s Light up in December, 2015 was a gift certificate at the Double R Pizza Place. Laden with varied toppings, slices went very well with the veggie samosas.
The event ended with the traditional Brownie Grand Howl to thank Hanna and Heather for all their work in opening our eyes about India, and for offering such a worthwhile way to mark Thinking Day, 2016.
Inset Photo: Kaitlyn Vaisnis holds a samosa to go as part of Thinking Day lunch. Photo by Kay Knox