SI Karratha & Districts – SOROPTIMISTS ABROAD

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SOROPTIMISTS ABROAD In January this year Judie Pettitt from SI Karratha & Districts (SI-KAD) attended a meeting of SI Penang and later joined a number of members on a visit to one SI Penang’s major projects, the Women’s Program at the Eden Handicap Centre. It was a particularly moving visit hearing about how the Centre was established in 1991 on a dream and a prayer to provide free respite and development opportunities for men with a physical and/or intellectually disability from poor backgrounds. How through the perseverance of the founders and the generosity of the community the Centre has grown to include services to children and now to women through the support of SI Penang. The Eden Centre is an independent and charitable organisation that unlike most Australian equivalents does not receive any financial support from government but depends upon public donations.

The programs run by the Centre focus upon independent living skills that include sheltered workshop activities, the production of art and craft souvenirs as well as a recycling and cleaning service. It also provides hostel facilities for men and for children whose families live too far from the Centre, and a bus service for those members including all the women attending on a daily basis. SI Penang members have built up a strong relationship with the Centre staff and their charges, and it shows in the warmth and ease with which they all interact.

This project and SI Penang’s Best Practice ‘Blossom’ project are inspiring in that both are about personal, social and economic development. They enable women to learn skills that lead to their relative independence and empower them to move beyond the strictures of their debilitating circumstances. With thanks to SI Penang for their friendship and inspiration. Judie Pettitt SI-KAD

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