Island News

Guiding comes of age with hopes of change

Written By : JOE ULUILAKEBA. During the Fiji Day long weekend, when the whole of Fiji was celebrating the Independence of our country from Great Britain, a group of girls
16 Oct 2010 12:00

image Written By : JOE ULUILAKEBA. During the Fiji Day long weekend, when the whole of Fiji was celebrating the Independence of our country from Great Britain, a group of girls from around the country were commemorating the 100th anniversary of an organisation they are members of at Fiji’s old capital on Ovalau, Levuka.
Celebrated worldwide on the 10th day of the 10th month of this year 2010, the centennial celebration was the World Girl Guiding and Girls Scouting Association, way to commemorate the founding of an organisation that has been instrumental in the upbringing of many young girls around the world.
On the local scene, the Fiji Girl Guides Association while living up to its expectation also saw the important meaning of the centennial celebration and opted to have Levuka as the venue for its celebrations.
Coinciding with the Fiji Day celebration, the FGGA’s choice of Levuka was no coincidence.
Levuka was meticulously chosen for its history with Guiding in the country. This was where a Methodist Missionary known only as Ms HC Hammett formed the first company of girl guides 86 years ago.
A teacher at Delana Methodist School, Ms Hammet unknowingly marched the girls of Fiji into the history books when she formed the first company in Levuka.
Ironically this was only 14 years after Sir Baden Powell and Lady Olave Powell developed the first training method for girls.
While delivering her speech at Nasau Park on the morning of Saturday 9th October FGGA President Dr Akanisi Kedrayate said that the Fiji Association possibly ranked as one of the pioneer association in the world.
“Perhaps it was the destiny of guiding to become a part of the development of many country and young girls around the world,” she said.
After Levuka, Suva was the next township to be swept with the guiding passion and a company was formed after the Levuka girls presented themselves before the Duke and Duchess of York during their visit in 1926.
There was no looking back and Guiding was introduced all over the country through the education system and became instrumental in the development of many young girls, enabling them to grow up and become good role models in our communities.
But we wonder as to what exactly is Guiding and its necessary role on the lives of the girls who are members.
Guiding emerged in 1910 when Sir Robert Baden Powell developed the first training method for girls to correspond with a similar method developed for boys which had led to the formation of the first company of Boys Scout.
Assisted by Mrs Olave Baden Powell the training manual was trialled and a Guide Movement was successfully formed. In 1919 the International Council was formed which became the stepping stone towards organised International cooperation.
It is therefore surprising that the first company to be formed in Fiji was in 1924, five years from when the International Council was formed and it can only be attributed to the influence of the early missionaries at the time.
Guiding took an outstanding role in the country and by 1930 nearly most of Fiji has had a company of Girl Guides in the many schools around the country.
“From a simple and yet historical formation the Fiji Girl Guides Association was born and in 1980 the Commonwealth Guides Association granted approval for self governance to the FGGA,” said Dr. Kedrayate.
“Fiji finally became a full member of the World body in 1996,” she adds.
Having an impact on most prominent members of society, guiding operates with a few simple promises and laws.
To join, a young girl must promise to do her best, to love God, to serve her country and to help other people not only during her stint as a guide but her whole life.
A simple promise but one that has had an impact on the likes of England’s Princess Mary who joined in 1920, Queen Elizabeth who became a guide in 1937 and in more modern time current US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Tennis super star Venus Williams to name a few.
Accompanying more than 300 girls and leaders to Levuka during the Fiji Day long weekend, Dr Kedrayate together with members of the Centennial Celebration Committee ensured the weekend while constructive will be unforgettable for the members of the FGGA who attended the weekend camp.
“The weekend was used not only as a celebrity occasion but as a learning experience for members of the FGGA and it also gave us a chance to reaffirm our ‘promises’ and ‘law’ and more importantly to sow the seeds of change,” said Dr Kedrayate.
Launched officially by British High Commissioner His Excellency Malcolm McLachlan, the celebration also saw the planting of a Centenial Tree to commemorate the 100th year of guiding worldwide and introduced programmes to be undertaken during the three year celebration.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts [WAGGGS] in commemorating the 100th year of Guiding have designed a special programme to run parallel with the Centennial Celebration which is to be celebrated from 2010 to 2012 with the Global Action theme ‘together we can change lives’.
“This programme encourages girls, young women and members of all ages to make a personal commitment to change the world around them and the Centennial Programme celebration that was launched in Levuka was the stepping stone to the many changes that members of the FGGA will try and make in our personal development, in our schools, community and in our environment,” Dr Kedrayate said.
“In doing so we are aligning ourselves to the theme for this year’s celebration, ‘planting the seeds of change’, she adds.
Mr McLachlan on the other hand said that it was worth reflecting back to 1910 and the vast difference between the role of men and women of then and of today and the changes it has gone through.
“In this world there are some things that change us and also we change some things,” he said.
“Things that change us are the world in which we live, the competition and the various different aspects in which we live our lives; these things all have an impact on you,” he told the girls.
“As young women, you can also change things. You can change the environment in which you live by looking out for climate change issues; you can change our own image to fit in with others sometimes and you can recognise your impact on other people and the positive changes you’ve made on them.”
“We need to accept and not be afraid of change. There are many motivations for change but the main one is to make things better and that means getting richer not only resourcefully but spiritually.”
“You as young women have a tremendous burden to carry in a sense because you are forging ahead into territories unknown where you will have tremendous opportunities and challenges to face and the way that you think about them and approach these challenges will help you to succeed through them,” Mr McLachlan said.
Mr McLachlan stressed the importance of the Centennial Celebration and posed to the girls to think about how they, in this changing world, can become leaders in their own way and own right.
“Through the core activities that you do and undertake as a Girl Guide you can learn the values and the skills of leadership and this will help you to appreciate the opportunities that changes brings,” he said.
Supporting this year’s celebration theme, Mr McLachlan urged the girls to think of changes in their own lives, to think about changes that will impact other people and what they think they can change that will make a difference in the world for the next three years.
“Let these challenges be planted in you as the seeds of changes in your lives and over the next year you can review it and improve on areas that need to be bettered but please remain firm to your commitment.”
Perhaps being a Guides is best summed with the words of Bua class eight student, Nisha who said; ‘being a Girl Guide is memorable, enjoyable and educational as well as it is favourable.’

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