AIM to assist

AIM Breakfast co-organisers Deidre Poll, Libby Dowling, Tracie Holgate, Sam Ridley and Bernie McKenzie (absent) all celebrate the return of the AIM Breakfast series after close to a year respite due to COVID.

After a postponed event in February due to COVID and close to a year since the last event, the inspiring AIM Breakfast series was back again last Friday with approximately 117 ladies in attendance at the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.

This breakfast’s two speakers, Michelle Connell and Michelle Church had very interesting stories to tell about how they have assisted others in bettering lives, a passion they both share.

Michelle Connell spoke first and taught the local ladies more about the Days for Girls organisation that she is involved with which provides under privileged females generally in third world nations with reusable sanitary care items, something many local women take for granted.

“The Day for Girls organisation International was founded in 2008 with Celeste Mergens who was working with a foundation in Kenya assisting an orphanage,” Ms Connell said.

“In the wake of post-election violence, the population at the orphanage had swelled from 400 children to 1,400.

“The organisation raises funds to make washable, reusable sanitary care kits. These are then distributed to girls and women in need.

“The washable kits contain two moisture barrier shields, eight trifold liners, one hotel sized soap, two pairs of undies, one washcloth, two moisture proof bags and a pictorial instruction sheet.

“A Day for Girls kit lasts for three years and allows a girl to attend school every day of the month. Period.

“After being founded internationally the organisation later expanded to Australia and then Yarrawonga after a number of ladies from Yarrawonga had been over to these areas and explained the anguish they had felt seeing the children in the orphanages and the way girls had to navigate having their periods.

“We now meet at the old train station but people don’t necessarily have to join the group to assist, there are a number of women who assist by receiving the pattern and sewing from home or donating what they can whether that be money or products.

“Before the organisation started, girls used to sit on cardboard during their time of the month and it took away one week of education a month.

“We originally sent a kit of 60 over for the teachers and adults to try out before they were distributed to the girls but this took around a year to arrive so we are hoping things are a bit quicker now.

“We are now looking to send over another 150 kits after our initial test kits were well received with these small packages costing just $15.

“If anybody has any small soaps lying around, like the ones at motels, please feel free to donate them as we can add them to the pack and ensure the hygiene of these young females.

“A lot can change with a little bag.

“As well as in third world nations, Days for Girls is also pushing for free sanitary items across Australia and aim for the conversation surrounding menstruation to be normalised and not made awkward.”

First AIM speakers for 2022 Michelle Connell (holding a Day for Girls reusable sanitary care kit)and Michelle Church both spoke about how their work in assisting others.

Michelle Church who is the owner of Bodyshape Workshop also assists residents of Yarrawonga Mulwala and surrounds with her shapemaster equipment, a different alternative to conventional gyms and something that may just assist in curing your ailments.

“I was planning to retire but four days after I gave notice at my job I sustained a bad back injury,” Ms Church said.

“I had always been relatively active and was looking to spend much of my time gardening and playing golf, but with a bad back injury this was just not able to be in my short-term plan anymore.

“In an effort to gain relief I went to have a massage and they had a great number of machines sitting there that were not being used.

“I decided to try them a few times a week and found it worked so well for me that I stopped taking my medication. I also went home and said to my partner that we are buying the business.

“What is fantastic about the Bodyshape Workshop is that there is very little of these shapemaster machines in Australia and we have a number of them in Yarrawonga.

“Before returning to the workforce in the capacity of Bodyshape Workshop, I had worked in a number of industries, in varying places around the world with sport and recreation being a common job as well as business coaching.

“I have had a number of clients who have built up their businesses to now be multi-millionaires which is rewarding.

“More so after my injury I have lived by the mantra that as long as the sun comes up, it’s another chance for me.

“Life is a bag of gifts and a team sport. I’ve had a few bingles but I’m still here – my job isn’t done yet.”

With covid postponing the event on a number of occasions and people catching the virus in recent days having to pass on their ticket, the organisers were ecstatic to finally be able to host the event that creates great social networks for the women of Yarrawonga Mulwala.

Tracie Holgate was once again the MC, sparking up the women’s morning as well as taking the time to pay tribute to those women who have assisted or attended the series that are no longer with us and to advise the women to take their time to consider how lucky we are to live where we do.

“For most of us, our biggest issue this morning were whether to get up early to come to the breakfast,” Tracie said.

“Since our last breakfast, Australia and the world have had further issues with the pandemic and now we are seeing the war in Ukraine. We really are lucky to live in Yarrawonga Mulwala with our safety and to be able to access everything that we can right here.

“We love to hear from women in our communities and surrounds and are so happy to have the breakfast back again.

“It’s great to get together in a group of women and share our experiences and life journeys.”